The Value Voters Summit this weekend, a yearly conference for the leaders of the Republican Party and the Religious Right, apparently featured the sale of boxes of waffles with racist caricatures of Barack Obama on them.
Apparently the people who made them originally rented a booth at the convention and started selling them for $10 a box.
Considering that the vast majority of the Religious Right leaders care about abortion or homosexuality is because direct appeals for racial segregation lost its ability to garner votes for the Republican Party back in the 70's, this should really come as no surprise.
Evangelical leaders remained dormant for years after Roe, mainly because those Protestants saw abortion as more of something that gets Catholics all up in arms, but wasn't a moral issue at all.
Although various Roman Catholic groups denounced the ruling, and Christianity Today complained that the Roe decision "runs counter to the moral teachings of Christianity through the ages but also to the moral sense of the American people," the vast majority of evangelical leaders said virtually nothing about it; many of those who did comment actually applauded the decision. W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press wrote, "Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision." Indeed, even before the Roe decision, the messengers (delegates) to the 1971 Southern Baptist Convention gathering in St. Louis, Missouri, adopted a resolution that stated, "we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother." W.A. Criswell, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, expressed his satisfaction with the Roe v. Wade ruling. "I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person," the redoubtable fundamentalist declared, "and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed."
The people gathered at the Value Voters Summit this weekend were there mainly for two issues: abortion and gay rights. While fighting gay rights is a big deal for these people, abortion plays a central role in their organizing.
While they didn't care about it at the beginning of the 70's, becoming "values voters" was a calculated measure to push racial segregation.
During the following break in the conference proceedings, I cornered Weyrich to make sure I had heard him correctly. He was adamant that, yes, the 1975 action by the IRS against Bob Jones University was responsible for the genesis of the Religious Right in the late 1970s. What about abortion? After mobilizing to defend Bob Jones University and its racially discriminatory policies, Weyrich said, these evangelical leaders held a conference call to discuss strategy. He recalled that someone suggested that they had the makings of a broader political movement - something that Weyrich had been pushing for all along - and asked what other issues they might address. Several callers made suggestions, and then, according to Weyrich, a voice on the end of one of the lines said, "How about abortion?" And that is how abortion was cobbled into the political agenda of the Religious Right.
The abortion myth serves as a convenient fiction because it suggests noble and altruistic motives behind the formation of the Religious Right. But it is highly disingenuous and renders absurd the argument of the leaders of Religious Right that, in defending the rights of the unborn, they are the "new abolitionists." The Religious Right arose as a political movement for the purpose, effectively, of defending racial discrimination at Bob Jones University and at other segregated schools. Whereas evangelical abolitionists of the nineteenth century sought freedom for African Americans, the Religious Right of the late twentieth century organized to perpetuate racial discrimination. Sadly, the Religious Right has no legitimate claim to the mantle of the abolitionist crusaders of the nineteenth century. White evangelicals were conspicuous by their absence in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Where were Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington or on Sunday, March 7, 1965, when Martin Luther King Jr. and religious leaders from other traditions linked arms on the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to stare down the ugly face of racism?
Falwell and others who eventually became leaders of the Religious Right, in fact, explicitly condemned the civil rights movement. "Believing the Bible as I do," Falwell proclaimed in 1965, "I would find it impossible to stop preaching the pure saving gospel of Jesus Christ, and begin doing anything else - including fighting Communism, or participating in civil-rights reforms." This makes all the more outrageous the occasional attempts by leaders of the Religious Right to portray themselves as the "new abolitionists" in an effort to link their campaign against abortion to the nineteenth century crusade against slavery.
Indeed. We can talk until our heads are blue about whether and how racism and sexism are connected, but for the Religious Right the equation was simple: use the so-called values issues like abortion and homophobia to push racism, all in order to keep money in the hands of the already-rich.
At heart, the Republicans are first and last and always about tax cuts and pillaging the treasury for their own needs.
And while they talk personal responsibility when they want to cut social services for the working and middle classes, the only way they can get working and middle class people to vote for such programs is to turn the image of people who need and use them into caricatures of lazy black folk. How many times did they go around repeating "Welfare queen" in the 80's, knowing full well the image that it would conjure? And how many white voters went to the polls to help shut down those programs, many of whom were former or possible future recipients of that help? Why are conservatives so hesitant to spend comparatively little money on social spending but spend outrageous amounts of it on no-bid contracts?
But that's not enough to win national elections, and so the Right have been playing the value voters cards for some time now, even though they're the same damn people who would have opposed school integration half a century ago. And while the folks over at the Value Voters Summit aren't running around shouting the n-word (although those box covers are pretty close), their entire movement is simply a pretext to push racist policy, the direct marketing of which went out of fashion decades ago.
So I'm not really at all shocked to find out that the folks who'd organize against our (LGBTQ people) humanity would find drawings like that hilarious. It's their movement's heritage and it's their goal, and they'll put forward whatever face they need to in order to win an election.
But the FRC is media savvy enough to put out a press release like this:
We strongly condemn the tone and content of materials that were exhibited by one of the vendors at this weekend's Values Voter Summit. The materials represent an attempt at parody that crosses the line into coarseness and bias.
I'm sure they completely condemn it, but there was simply nothing they could do to hold back the racism of people attending and setting up shop at their own conference. And I'm absolutely sure that the values voters who showed up would have given these people a piece of their mind, but they were simply too busy fighting for the lives of fetuses. And I'm sure they have no idea why these people would show up at their good conference that was only about cutting social spending, limiting choice for women while not providing services for pregnant women, and shouting "faggot" to get votes for McCain?