Thursday, December 24, 2009

Liberals killed Jesus?

I haven't written much about the right-wing postmodernist effort that is Conservapedia, a site which purports to answer the supposed bias of Wikipedia by creating a site which filters reality through a conservative ideological prism. There are mainly two reasons I've ignored the site:

1. It's too easy. The site is so poorly written, so factually challenged, that I can't bother with it. The writing level seems so juvenile and amateurish that it doesn't just feel right responding to it, kind of like how it wasn't right for Billy Madison to play dodgeball with his new classmates.

2. The articles are so absurd that I have trouble believing that pranksters aren't editing them as satire.

For instance, when I wrote this I was trying to come up with the best way I could think of to satire the site's efforts to re-edit the Bible, conservatively. If I had actually gone about satirizing the enterprise itself, I would have joked about describing Satan as a liberal or writing that liberals put Jesus to death.

And then I actually come across this

“The trouble is, new translations of the Bible are done by professors at liberal universities who overwhelmingly voted for Obama,” Mr. Schlafly said. “Their political bias seeps into their translations and we felt it necessary to counteract that with one that uproots and eradicates any liberal bias.”

In Mark 3:6, for example, they have changed “Pharisees” – the Jews who were regarded as antagonists of Jesus – to “Liberals” though one user helpfully suggested “self-proclaimed elite.”
And the Conservapedia entry on "Pharisees" says that "they were the 'Democratic Party' of their day"

Right, see? Conservapedia has solved that pesky problem of the long history of various Christian sects blaming Jews for deicide. Jews didn't kill Jesus - liberals did. If you happen to have a Manichean, authoritarian framework of viewing the world - and the group that formerly was your scapegoat is no longer socially acceptable to hate - replacing them with a more generic group (i.e. "liberals" for "Jews") is about the only way that particular meme can survive.

Just tune into AM radio. You're not going to hear much talk about Jews waging war on Christianity and such, but you'll find no shortage of voices going on and on about "liberals" doing just that.

And this doesn't have to be any kind of conscience, explicit effort to hide anti-Semitic tendencies, so much a process of cognitive dissonance and rationalization that over time shifts the preferred scapegoat group from "Jews" to "liberals."

To see the transposed hate, consider this: when the Conservapedia crowd watches The Passion of the Christ - a film that seems quite apparently to have the marks of Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic upbringing - they must consider the movie's villains to be "liberals." Now, as Charles Krauthammer observed

In none of the Gospels does the high priest Caiaphas stand there with his cruel, impassive fellow priests witnessing the scourging. In Gibson's movie they do. When it comes to the Jews, Gibson deviates from the Gospels -- glorying in his artistic vision -- time and again. He bends, he stretches, he makes stuff up. And these deviations point overwhelmingly in a single direction -- to the villainy and culpability of the Jews.

The most subtle, and most revolting, of these has to my knowledge not been commented upon. In Gibson's movie, Satan appears four times. Not one of these appearances occurs in the four Gospels. They are pure invention. Twice, this sinister, hooded, androgynous embodiment of evil is found . . . where? Moving among the crowd of Jews. Gibson's camera follows close up, documentary style, as Satan glides among them, his face popping up among theirs -- merging with, indeed, defining the murderous Jewish crowd. After all, a perfect match: Satan's own people.
So I suppose"liberals" are Satan's people for the Conservapedia crowd. As Arthur Goldwag noted in Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies, a meme developed during the '08 election that Barack Obama was actually a literal minion of Satan via his admiration for Saul Alinksy, because Alinsky had made a dedication to Satan in Rules for Radicals. Nevermind that Alinsky made that dedication in the same spirit of various poets and artists (Goldwag cites William Blake) who made use of Satan as a symbol of rebellion against establishment or authority. A jaunt around Free Republic will find you several discussion threads about President Obama being a Satanic agent, based upon that very Alinsky dedication. The general perspective of such individuals, as Goldwag put it in an e-mail exchange is that, "Satan personifies liberalism--that's why Saul Alinsky liked him so much. Boil down the liberal enterprise to its essence and it's mostly infant sacrifice (legal abortion)--just like in the days of Moloch." This mentality is exemplified in Ann Coulter's Godless, in which she argues that "liberals" are monsterous, murderous atheists who worship abortion. (See here to view Goldwag's own post on the Conservapedia Bible project.)

And now I see that Chuck Norris - who apparently is a credible conservative pundit because he's an accomplished martial artist and has starred in numerous bad action flicks - has imagined that liberals/progressives would have retroactively aborted Jesus.

I reiterate for the nth time, I find it remarkable how casually acceptable this sort of hate is in our society, that it has such currency.

No comments: