William Rivers Pitt: The Theocrats
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 19 April 2005
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.
- Bob Dylan, 'With God on Our Side'
Ten years ago today, an anti-government extremist named Timothy McVeigh parked a Ryder truck filled with fertilizer and fuel oil in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. At 9:02 in the morning, the truck exploded and carved out the guts of that building like a gourd. 168 people, including 19 children, died in the blast. It remains today the most devastating act of domestic terrorism in American history.
McVeigh was birthed from a movement that became all too prominent during the 1990s. The militia people, they of the Black Government Helicopters and the theory that the United Nations was getting ready to take over the world, made up the far-right flank of Newt Gingrich's GOP back in the day. After Oklahoma City, however, the militias petered out and faded into the backwoods background from whence they came.
That breed of extremist was on the outside looking in at the time. They have been replaced today by an extremist movement of surpassing menace. Like the militias before them, this new breed likewise represents the far-right flank of the GOP. Unlike their predecessors, however, this new breed enjoys unprecedented insider status. They are represented vigorously in Congress and the White House, and are calling many of the shots.
McVeigh and his militia ilk wanted to destroy the government so they could keep their guns and pay no taxes, basically. McVeigh destroyed the Murrah building to strike a blow for this cause. As catastrophic as that attack was, it pales in comparison to the damage this nation will endure if these new extremists are allowed to have their way. Their vision of America does away with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the separation of church and state.
They are the Theocrats, the Christian Taliban right here in America, and they are deadly dangerous both to this nation and the world entire. These people do not in any way represent mainstream Christianity, yet sadly they are redefining the meaning of that faith across the board. They would annihilate all that America has stood for these last two hundred years to 'save' the nation, literally as far as they are concerned, and right now, they believe they have the power to get everything they want.
It remains to be seen if they are correct in this assumption. While they make up only a small minority of the populace, the Theocrats enjoy the sponsorship of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, House Majority Leader Tom Delay as well as George W. Bush. Yet their most recent foray into power politics, the Terri Schiavo debacle, blew up decisively in their faces. Some 80% of the populace decided they did not like these people placing themselves into the role of mother, father, husband, wife, doctor and priest all in one sitting.
The most recent polls indicate this ghoulish sideshow has cost the Republican majority and the White House significant standing with the citizenry; each now is suffering the lowest approval ratings to this point in their tenure, and if DNC Chairman Howard Dean's words are to be heeded, this issue will be used as a barbed stick to be wielded by the Democrats during the upcoming 2006 midterm elections.
The Theocrats lost that particular fight but are gearing up for the next one, and it is upon the coming battleground that a good portion of the future health and well-being of this republic will be decided. Majority Leader Frist is teaming up with the worst elements of the Theocrat armada in an attempt to paint Democrats in Congress as 'anti-Christian,' the ultimate purpose of which is to undo the generations-old recourse of the Congressional minority, the filibuster.
Though we live today in an age where official hypocrisy is as common as sunlight and shadow, the reasons for Frist's looming attack on the filibuster forge new precedent in the annals of foolishness. Twelve of 204 Bush nominations to the Judiciary have been stopped by the Democrats, those twelve being far feathers on the right wing who have no place on the bench. This equals a Judicial nominee approval rate of 95%, which is a far cry from the obstructionism of the Republican Congress during Clinton's term, when one out of three seats in the Federal court system were left empty thanks to the efforts of the Gingrich brigades.
Why were these twelve nominees singled out and blocked? Let us look at a few examples. One Bush nominee, Jay Bybee, was one of the wonderboys who told Bush he could ignore laws forbidding torture. Bush nominee Carolyn Kuhl ruled that a woman's right to privacy was not violated by a doctor who invited a drug salesman to personally observe her breast exam. Bush nominee Charles Pickering once described a cross-burning as a "drunken prank." Bush nominee Jeffrey Sutton believes the Americans with Disabilities Act "is not needed."
Frist's desire to do away with the filibuster is being referred to as the 'Nuclear Option.' It is aptly named, for the results of a Frist victory in this will be monstrous. The destruction of the filibuster is about far more than these twelve forlorn nominees. If Frist and the Theocrats are able to do away with this last lingering firebreak, the Theocrats will have a wide-open highway on which to drive through the most terrifying aspects of their agenda. The despicable invasion of privacy that was the Schiavo mess will be a forgotten footnote compared to what will come if Frist and the Theocrats have their way with the filibuster.
Imagine this scenario: A bill is introduced in the House to require children to say the Lord's Prayer each morning in every American public school. Arguments in favor of American pluralism and freedom of (and from) religion fall on deaf ears. Thanks to the massive GOP majority in the House, the bill is passed and reaches the Senate, where outraged Democrats are powerless to stop it without the filibuster. It passes there, and is placed on the desk of Mr. Bush, who happily signs away yet another barrier separating the church and the state.
Crazy, right? Wrong. This is a benign hypothetical compared to the draconian legislation the Theocrats would like to see passed. Should they get their way, you will not be safe in person, thought or deed if any of these cut against the fundamentalist grain. America won't become a land of bourkas and beheadings, probably, but if you don't have a Bible in your hand at all times, you'll probably lose your job and credit rating. For starters.
Frist and the Theocrats do not have the destruction of the filibuster sewn up quite yet, however. The GOP has a 55-44 majority in the Senate, with Jeffords the Independent caucusing with the Democrats. 51 Senators are needed to kill the filibuster. The Democrats can count on all 44 of their Senators to oppose, and can likewise count on Jeffords to do the same. At this point, GOP Senators McCain and Chafee have also stated they will oppose the action.
Seven GOP Senators are on the fence: Collins and Snowe of Maine, Hagel of Nebraska, Lugar of Indiana, Murkowski of Alaska, Specter of Pennsylvania, and Warner of Virginia. Whoever convinces a majority of these undecided Senators will win the filibuster fight.
We have seen how ugly, bloody and dangerous things can get in other countries when religious extremists gain complete political supremacy. It can happen here. Unless it is stopped, right now, it will happen here.
Pitt is the senior editor and lead writer for truthout.
He is a New York Times and international bestselling author
of two books - 'War
on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and
Greatest Sedition is Silence.' Join the discussions at