Thursday, August 23, 2012

Akin & Geller: Comrades in Crazy

Everyone has by now heard of the inflammatory, idiotic statement made by Congressman and Senatorial candidate, Todd Akin of Missouri. In response to a question about his stand on abortion in cases of pregnancy from rape, Akin replied: 
“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  
Of course in the furor that resulted—with even Republican pooh-bahs, including Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, urging Akin to drop a candidacy that was not only hurting Republican chances to unseat current Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri, but Republicans across the country—Akin tried to clarify his remarks and apologize (but not drop out of the race). It was only his “words, not what’s in his heart” that he was expressing, insisted Akin. Just a little word mistake—the explanation of our time: “I misspoke one word in one sentence on one day and all of a sudden, overnight, everybody decides, well, Akin can't possibly win.” Gee, what’s a public figure to do? That one word, according to Akin, was “legitimate” which he insists people misapplied to the “rape” rather than “the female body shutting down.” And Akin then cited anti-abortion quack Jack Willke, who wrote a letter supporting Akin’s claim that women often make false claims of rape—as in the whole Roe v. Wade case, whatever that means. What, are Repubs now saying that Roe v Wade was supported by ‘illegitimate’ rape cases? These people are something, aren’t they?
            But even if we grant him his “misplaced modifier” excuse, Akin’s past record as a Congressman, and the entire Republican Party’s, for that matter, gives the lie to that excuse. In fact, Akin and the House Republicans sponsored and passed a 2011 bill to redefine rape—The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act—further restricting the use of federal money in cases of rape or incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. That is, the word ‘rape’ would have been changed to “forcible rape,” presumably so that no mild rape cases (i.e. not “legitimate,” which is to say, I suppose, “fake” rape) would qualify for abortion funding. So we can see that here is where Akin’s mis-speaking actually derived from. He apparently wants to make sure a women is beaten good and proper before she can qualify for an abortion—and even then. Because as McCaskill pointed out, Akin opposed a Missouri law against spousal rape because of his fear that such a law “might be used as a tool against husbands in a ‘messy divorce.’” And we couldn’t have that, now, could we? More than that, the now-sanctimonious Republican leaders urging Akin to withdraw, aren’t doing so out of any moral scruples or late-breaking concern for women. It’s all political to them—because now, this Akin flareup has drawn attention to their default stance on rape and abortion. Which is clear to see in the already-written Republican Party Platform about to be rolled out (or covered up) next week. Even as the Akin bomb was exploding, that is, the Republican Platform Committee was approving draft language for proposing a “Human Life Amendment” to the Constitution that would give legal protection to the unborn (with no exceptions for rape or incest). That would, of course, make any abortion quite problematic, if not outright illegal, jeopardizing as never before Roe v Wade. And to add a little spice to the idea, the platform committee later passed a measure to oppose FDA approval of drugs like RU-486, thus effectively preventing the sale of “any drug that terminates life after conception.” Thank god these things are “only” in the platform and stand little chance of passing into real laws. But still, as an indicator of how the zealots in the modern Republican Party are thinking (and note, the Human Life Amendment proposal was there in the last party platform as well), it’s pretty scary.  
            To top off the comedy, another Republican Congressman, Steve King of Iowa, supported Akin’s no-pregnancy-from-rape assertion by saying that he, King, just hadn’t heard of any cases brought to him “in any personal way,” but would be open to discussion about it. Juan Cole then pointed out, in a response to King, that not only are 32,000 American rape victims made pregnant by rapists every year, but that “science has actually found that raped women are more likely to get pregnant” (Juan Cole, Reader Supported News, August 22). Cole also referred to the thousands of pregnancies that result from rapes in war zones like Bosnia and elsewhere across the globe. But of course, such “facts” do not impress the likes of King and Akin, or, for that matter, the Republican Party zealots like Paul Ryan.
            Which leaves the rest of us with the hope that ever more Republican crazies will keep putting their stupid feet in their stupid mouths right up through election day.
            Speaking of which, yet another crazy has managed to get her racist venom plastered on Muni buses in the city of San Francisco. Here’s the “ad” Muni buses currently carry:
            “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”
            The author of these “civilized” sentences is one Pamela Geller, head of the American Freedom Defense Initiative—an organization deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (isn’t it amazing how racists/fascists always manage to portray their hate as “defense” of “freedom”?). Geller has managed to browbeat Muni to run her ad because she claims that the First Amendment protects her right to free speech. Her claim was given added force by a federal judge last month who, in a case Geller brought against the New York Metropolitan Transportation Agency—which refused to run her ads—ruled against the NY Met agency by saying the ad was protected speech.
            But doesn’t implying that Muslims are “savages” sound like hate speech? It does to me. It apparently sounds like hate speech to many American Jewish groups as well. But not to a federal judge. And so, Muni buses in our bastion of free love, San Francisco, are carrying Pamela Geller’s crazy hate message emblazoned on their sides.
            In case you don’t remember Pamela Geller, she was one of the main organizers of the demonstrations and anti-Muslim rant against the downtown Manhattan project, known originally as Cordoba House and later as Park51, to build a mosque and community center. With Robert Spencer, she took over an organization known as Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) that has continued its inflammatory campaign against Muslims in America. Her blog regularly insults Muslims, such as in a video implying that Muslims practice bestiality with goats, and cartoons depicting Mohammed with a pig’s face. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, she has also denied the genocide of Bosnian Muslims by Serb forces in Srebrenica, calling it a myth. She has spoken favorably of Stalin’s forced relocation and execution of Chechen Muslims after WWII, arguing erroneously that the Chechens were allied with Hitler. She has also claimed that President Obama is the “love child” of Malcolm X. Below are some other Geller gems cited by the SPLC:
            “Obama is a third worlder and a coward. He will do nothing but beat up on our friends to appease his Islamic overlords.” (on her blogsite, 4/13/10.)
            “Islam is not a race. This is an ideology. This is an extreme ideology, the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth.” (on Fox’s “Follow the Money,” 3/10/11.)
            “Hussein [meaning President Obama] is a muhammadan. He’s not insane…he wants jihad to win.” (on, 4/11/10.)  
            Pamela Geller is not insane either, at least not clinically. What she is is another wealthy zealot (her money came from two car dealerships enabling known drug dealers and thugs to buy cars using fake identities) who has gone off the rails trying to defend against what she calls “fallacious anti-Israel propaganda,” and who has become, according to her onetime collaborator, Charles Johnson, “an anti-muslim ‘hatemonger.’” As the SPCL points out, after Geller criticized the Islamic halal practice of slaughtering animals for food in September 2010, Johnson pointed to the almost identical kosher practice, observing, “My GOD she is stupid.” (see the whole file on Geller at SPCL’s website:
            Sadly, stupid and/or crazy people with money and/or influence can punch large holes in the fabric of democracy. And we seem to have, in this nation at this time, an ample supply of them. It’s going to take work to prevent them from taking us down the well-worn path.   
(P.S.: Just yesterday, yet another crazy, this time in New Hampshire, vowed that, as sheriff, he could use deadly force to stop an abortion doctor. His name is Frank Szabo, he’s a Tea Party Republican, and he’s running for sheriff of Hillsborough County, the largest county in New Hampshire. Republican crazies: the gift that never stops giving.) 

Lawrence DiStasi

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