Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rest in peace, you blowhard.

Timothy Noah over at Slate has a great article looking back on the life of the "The right's holy fool":

God, they say, is love, but the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who died May 15, hit the jackpot trafficking in small-minded condemnation...


On news of Falwell's death, McCain said in a statement, "Dr. Falwell was a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country."

Nonsense. He was a bigot, a reactionary, a liar, and a fool.

At which point he backs it up with a long history of Falwell idiocy, which always managed to make the day’s news cycle and further bloat the guy’s image as a big joke in the eyes of anyone with any kind of connection to reality. And even though I am painfully familiar with pretty much all of the incidents he cites in the article, I still found the list humorous to read in a kind of sadistic, self-tortuous way.

I stumbled upon the Slate article via another great post by Steve Benen over at the Carpetbagger Report entitled “An ‘unshakable moral compass’?” in which he details how the House Republican caucus and the White House stumbled all over themselves ignoring the man’s history while praising him as a:

“great leader of America’s conservative movement” whose “strong set of values” and “unshakable moral compass” had made America “a better place.” “More than we all realize,” one member of Congress said, “we are very blessed the he came our way.”

In Steve’s words:

I realize that when a prominent national figure passes away, many will want to paint his or her life in as positive a light as possible. It just seems polite.

That said, the praise showered on TV preacher Jerry Falwell this week on the House floor was galling, even by the embarrassingly low standards of the House Republican caucus.

Steve ends the post with a quote from Americans United:

The Rev. Jerry Falwell’s funeral was yesterday and, predictably, President George W. Bush sent a representative. Tim Goeglein, White House liaison to religious groups, stepped into the pulpit of Thomas Road Baptist Church and praised Falwell as a visionary.

As the Associated Press reported, “The White House sent Tim Goeglein, its liaison to religious groups. He called Falwell a ‘great friend of the administration’ and told mourners that Falwell had trained young people now serving in the Bush administration – ’so a man of great vision has seen a vision fulfilled.’”

A man of “great vision”? What vision might that be? Falwell’s vision was one of an officially “Christian America” — Christian by his narrow definition of that faith, of course. His “vision” would have excluded not only Americans who happened to be Jews, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists and other non-Christians but also millions of Americans whose Christian faith is less rigid.

Is Falwell’s great “vision” his legacy of ugly gay bashing and his crude personal attacks on anyone who dared to stand up to his narrow-mindedness? Perhaps the “vision” the White House celebrates is Falwell’s constant attacks on the great constitutional principle of church-state separation (which he repeatedly said was a lie and a myth) or his often-stated desire to tear down the public schools.

But maybe the “vision” Goeglein celebrates is the one Falwell outlined two days after Sept. 1, 2001. With the wounds of that horrific attack still fresh, Falwell went on national television to blame the mass killings of nearly 3,000 people not on the evil terrorists who executed it but on Americans who disagree with him on political issues. […]

Have we forgotten already? The White House apparently has.


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