Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
Like the rest of the nation, the staff at Between The Lines has been watching with horror, dismay and anger as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina unfolds. Horror at the devastating wreckage Katrina left in its wake. Dismay at the victims left stranded and displaced. And anger at a relief effort that seemed to unfold at a snail’s pace while people starved to death and drowned in the world’s richest country.
Our hearts go out to all directly impacted by this disaster. In fact, no American can say he or she is not touched by a national disaster of this magnitude. It is our hope that our deeply divided nation can come together during this time of crisis.
There is nothing like tragedy to put things into perspective and reshape priorities. Which is why the charge that New Orleans, a city known for its parties and free spirit, was “asking for it” came across as especially callous. Leaders in the anti-gay industry were quick to issue statements like Repent America Director Michael Marcavage’s rant that “this act of God destroyed a wicked city.” Marcavage was quick to blame gays for the destruction.
Right wing news service Agape Press, claiming the title of “Reliable News from a Christian Source,” led its Sept. 1 email with the headline, “Katrina’s Devastation – God’s Punishment for New Orleans’ Wildness?” The headline linked to an article by Don Wildmon, the founder and chairman of the American Family Association, that began, “We are in the midst of a spiritual war.” Though Wildmon’s piece never mentioned the hurricane or New Orleans, the association was obvious.
That Repent America and the AFA would use this tragedy to bolster their ideological war against gays and lesbians and anyone who does not think like they think while thousands of poor black people are dying clearly illustrates just how bankrupt and perverted these so-called Christian organizations are.
In fact, it is sickening to think of the millions of dollars spent across the country to push and combat anti-gay marriage amendments. The Catholic Church alone in Michigan spent nearly a million dollars to discriminate against gay and lesbian families last year. There are countless families who right now could use the food and water and shelter that money could buy. In fact, even before Katrina hit, the poor and suffering were there in need, and attention was turned away from helping them in favor of hurting gay families.
The Republicans in office have consistently used gays to rally support for their right-wing agenda, never mind that many of the poor who were swayed by Bush’s “moral values” rhetoric are now getting a terrifying picture of just how empty this administration’s values really are.
The priorities of this administration are clear. While Bush has been in office, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer. It is telling that one of the first items on the To Do list of the Republican-controlled Congress when it returned from vacation this month was eliminating the estate tax, a tax only the richest of the rich in this country ever have to contend with. The estate tax repeal has been shelved for now.
It is a fact that while the Bush administration trumpeted its support for an anti-gay marriage amendment to the United States Constitution to please groups like the AFA, it was also slashing the budget for flood control in Louisiana. Of course, only the marriage amendment made the news.
It is our hope that the anti-gay smoke screen the Bush administration has used to hide behind as they advance an agenda that is anti-poor, anti-family and anti-environment dissipates in the wake of this disaster. May we finally be able to focus on the real issues facing America and have the important conversations about race and class and power we have, as a country, been avoiding in favor of lesser, politically invented demons.