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Cross-posted here.

Illustrating the power of one individual to hijack the national discourse, Pastor Terry Jones' plan to burn the Quran has compelled Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama to weigh in:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you  about Pastor Terry Jones. He gave a press conference today. Says he's  going to go through with burning the Korans. Is there anything you can  say to him to convince him not to?

OBAMA: If he's listening, I just hope he understands  that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values of  Americans. That this country has been built on the notions of religious  freedom and religious tolerance. And as a very practical matter, as  commander of chief of the Armed Forces of the United States I just want  him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could  greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq,  who are in Afghanistan. We're already seeing protests against Americans  just by the mere threat --

Republican leaders have also spoken out against the planned Quran-burning. President-in-exile Sarah Palin and Speaker-to-be John Boehner chose a different approach, equating the burning of a religious book with the construction of a mosque and cultural center.

Boehner:

"To Pastor Jones and those who want to build the [so-called Ground  Zero] Mosque," Boehner said (drawing an equivalence between Koran  burning and the Cordoba House Project in lower Manhattan) "Just because  you have a right to do something in America, does not mean it's the  right thing to do. We're a nation of religious freedom -- we're also a  nation of tolerance. I think in the name of tolerance, people ought to  really think about the kind of actions they're taking."

Palin:

Book burning is antithetical to American ideals. People have a  constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is  insensitive and an unnecessary provocation – much like building a mosque  at Ground Zero.

Digby elucidates:

Boehner basically defines religious tolerance as not inflaming passions  on both sides. What that means in practice is that Christians shouldn't  burn Korans and Muslims shouldn't build mosques. Can we see what's wrong  with that picture?

It's distressing, but the public discourse in the Obama era is even more unhinged than it was under Bush. Any hope for a return to sanity and rationality is out the window. The rightwing noise machine is at full throttle and Orwell would be proud of our strides backward:

  • George W. Bush is steadily and surely being rehabilitated and now the question is how much gratitude we owe him.

  • Sarah Palin can move the public discourse with a single tweet,  promoting a worldview consisting of unreflective, nationalistic  soundbites.

  • Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox are dominating the national  conversation, feeding a steady stream of propaganda packaged as moral  platitudes to tens of millions of true believers.

  • In the face of overwhelming evidence, climate deniers are choking  the life out of the environmental movement and willfully condemning  humanity to a calamitous future.

  • From ACORN to Van Jones, liberal scalps are being taken with impunity.

  • Feminism is being redefined and repossessed by anti-feminists.

  • Women are facing an all-out assault on choice.

  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is being co-opted by a radio jock.

  • Schoolbooks are being rewritten to reflect the radical right’s anti-science views.

  • The rich-poor divide grows by the minute and teachers and nurses struggle to get by while bankers get massive bonuses.

  • We mark the end of a war based on lies with congratulations to all,  and we escalate another war with scarce resources that could save  countless lives.

  • An oil spill that should have been a historic inflection point gets  excised from public awareness by our own government and disappears down  the memory hole (until the next disaster).

  • Guns abound and the far right’s interpretation of the second amendment (the only one that seems to matter) is now inviolate.

  • Bigotry and discrimination against immigrants, against Muslims, against gays and lesbians is mainstream and rampant.

  • The frightening unconstitutional excesses of the Bush administration  have been enshrined and reinforced by a Democratic White House,  ensuring that they will become precedent and practice.

  • Girls and women across the planet continue to get beaten, raped,  ravaged, mutilated, and murdered while sports games induce a more  passionate response.

You can add to the above list equating building a place of worship with burning a religious book.

Imam Rauf, the man behind Park 51, appeared on Larry King Live and spoke about his objectives and the controversy around the "Ground Zero mosque."

Contrast Imam Rauf's appearance with Pastor Jones' CNN interview:

Palin and Boehner don't see the difference?

America, a deeply religious nation, is becoming unhinged from reality. There are numerous indications: the success of climate deniers is a glaring example. An increasing percentage of the population is willing to risk the future of humanity for no good reason other than to spite environmentalists.

The Republican Party, marching in lock step with the radical right, embraces illogic, courts cognitive dissonance, defies common sense. Unfettered, they'd return America to the 19th century. Democrats, mortified of appearing weak, more often than not refuse to resist, refuse to seize the moral high ground, refuse to fight for rationality.

How else to explain this:

Among other policies, the Obama national security team has authorized the C.I.A. to try to kill a United States citizen suspected of terrorism ties, blocked efforts by detainees in Afghanistan to bring habeas corpus lawsuits challenging the basis for their imprisonment without trial, and continued the C.I.A.’s so-called extraordinary rendition program of prisoner transfers — though the administration has forbidden torture   and says it seeks assurances from other countries that detainees will   not be mistreated.

I shudder to think of where things are headed with this leadership void.

Originally posted to Peter Daou on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 06:12 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm so sick of these Christian (8+ / 0-)

    hypocrites. SP is a dimwitted bible-banger capable of teaching the Pharisees a thing or two about hypocrisy. Boehner has either let the tanning bed bake his brain or he's just a hateful opportunist--more likely the latter, although it does not take much a a brain to promote hate and division.

    You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

    by FrankCornish on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 06:23:03 AM PDT

    •  Honestly, I don't view them as hypocrites (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FrankCornish

      so much as con-men.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 07:17:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some of them definitely are, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader

        but despite the opportunism I think SP actually believes the shit she spews and she really is a devout follower of the end-of-times Christian cult that she belongs to. That does not stop her from taking advantage of her recent enrichment opportunities, but you know the American Prosperity Gospel is just a step away from Calvinism and the idea of "The Elect." Someone as dimwitted as her probably actually believes she is rightfully among the righteous.

        You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

        by FrankCornish on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 07:25:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree that self and inculcated delusion (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FrankCornish

          permeates the inherent values and associated practices of folks like Palin, many Republicans, even a number of Independents and centrist Democrats.

          My point is to note that - conscious or not - these people are using common themes to defend their guiltless and selfish desires, almost without limiters.  So, in effect, even the true believers can be viewed as fully duped con-men, part of a pyramid scheme that they may not fully fathom, but fully support in mind and soul - all the while knowing that not supporting that scheme will leave them out of the running for potential, future benefits.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 07:52:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  there are more problems with text books (7+ / 0-)

    how about nothing meaningful on labor history in many American History textbooks?

    How about increasing misrepresentation of the positions of the founding fathers on many issues?

    How about a long period where our teaching materials have been influenced to glorify capitalism without ever examining some of its deleterious effects, here and abroad?

    As a teacher, it can be depressing.  Fortunately thanks to the internet it is possible to provide ready access to alternative materials, unless one is in a school or district where the materials you use are narrowly defined and use of outside materials is proscribed.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 06:27:25 AM PDT

    •  Textbooks certainly are bad, (0+ / 0-)

      but how much do you rely on the actual textbook?

      When I taught, I used textbooks for basic background and supplied the detail from elsewhere.

      You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

      by FrankCornish on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 06:42:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we are required to issue (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FrankCornish

        and if students have a textbook and you offer something that is contradicted by what is in the textbook, you then sometimes have to deal with parental inquiries or worse.

        I do a lot of my teaching outside of what the textbook provides.  Not all teachers do.  Many have fairly rigid curricula based on textbook materials, which nowadays include a lot of supplemental stuff beyond the book.  

        My comment is about history books in particular, even though I teach government -  I have taught both US and World history.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 08:12:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  As TeacherKen points out, many districts forbid (0+ / 0-)

        the introduction of information not in the textbooks.

        Such is the dire straits of education in American.

  •  Reality is what you pay attention to. (8+ / 0-)

    And what we pay attention to is a lunatic with 50 followers who, with the complicity of the media, has caught the eyes and ears of the pope, and the president.

    We have all lost our minds.

    •  I agree. And I also should say that, (0+ / 0-)

      "we" includes those, if any, threatening violence because of it. I say "if any" because I've only heard about such threats from certain of our politicians, officials, and media.

      That's one unfortunate thing about the web- most everything is exposed to the view of the whole world now, and somebody will inevitably notice it and bring it to a wider audience than in former times.

      Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

      by billmosby on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 09:18:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's a rec for your diary, because I think the (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CJB, wader, ActivistGuy, AnnetteK, barkingcat

    issue of public insanity is an important one. I could wish for a little more discussion of the issue you raise, and hopefully the comments will follow up -- though comment threads around here nowdays seem more like rival cheering sections than thoughtful exchanges.

    Indeed, one can see the public insanity everywhere we turn, but most disheartening of all is the apparent endlessness of it. We are nowhere near the point where it will have played out and a return to reason might prevail. Just this morning, NPR announced the formation of a new television network -- "Right TV" to ply the extreme right's views of all things political and social.

    I've been saying for some time that I might have to leave the US in my last years, because I cannot live if I am not free. I'm taking that seriously, but everywhere I look, rightist fascism is on the march; even liberal France seems to have lost its ethical moorings and is now stripping citizenship form gypsies and kicking them out of the country. Canada offers some promise, but is easily manipulated by the US; Austria, Greece, even the Scandinavian countries leaders are parroting the cryptofascist garbage.

    As a student of history, I have not seen such a time since the 1920's, when the twin scourges of communism and fascism swept across the world. The difference now is that, instead of being the last democratic hold out, the US is the leader in curtailing liberty, identifying harmful "others" to persecute, and attacking the Renaissance ideals that forms the philosophical foundations of liberty.

  •  If journalism had any standards... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CJB, wader, Foxwizard, barkingcat

    ... Soledad O'Brien would be fired after this interview.

    She just blithely rips off one winger talking point after another and COMPLETELY ignores the thoughtful and intelligent responses coming at her from Imam Rauf.  

    And Anderson Cooper is not much better.  Anyone who supports the nonsense being spouted by Pastor Jones will just point to Coopers browbeating interview as an excuse for not changing their point of view.

    I agree with the diarist pointing out the massive credibility gap between Imam Rauf and Pastor Jones, but these two CNN interviews also illustrate the sad state of the traditional media.

    Tipped and recced.

  •  That was much stronger (0+ / 0-)

    than what I expected from a mainstream figure such as yourself.  Well done.  I'm not certain whether it's a leadership void as you say, or complicit leadership, but the effect is the same either way.

    American business is about maximizing shareholder value. You basically don't want workers. ~Allen Sinai

    by ActivistGuy on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 08:25:17 AM PDT

  •  The equation is partially right (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    billmosby

    From a legal, constitutional perspective, they're the same thing. That's not even arguable.

    From a moral one, it isn't. Even though I don't see what's the big deal with the guy burning some books. I remember hearing about clerics burning religious books before and nobody cared much.

  •  Even Imam Rauf seems to have said.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cordobes

    .. that the controversy over the community center has him wishing he could build it somewhere else and that the main thing keeping him from exploring that possibility is the possible repercussions among some (many, I think he actually said) in the Muslim community. At least he seemed to be saying that in the AC 360 interview last night.

    So I think there is at least some sort of equivalence between the Koran burning and building the community center at the present site. At least there seems to  be plenty of outrage built up by both scenarios. Move the community center, improve relations with various non-Muslim groups (according to Rauf). Don't burn the Korans, improve relations with Muslims (according to almost everybody).

    I should note that I believe the community center should be built as planned. And that the Korans not be burned, of course.

    Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

    by billmosby on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 08:51:48 AM PDT

  •  the only reason race-baiter palin said this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AnnetteK
    She's such a buffoon in attempting to draw a false equivalent between the hateful act of burning the holy book of another's religion to the building of a community center.

    Does this woman have a wholesome bone in her body?

    This is the woman who began the cancer of racist hatred which is coursing through this country right now.

    The ONLY reason she weighed in AT ALL was not to condemn this nutjob's act of racist hatred but to draw a totally false equivalent.

    It's clear now that this woman has no common sense but also is also spiritually bankrupt.

    Where the hell did this woman come from?

    www.onenationworkingtogether.org

    by larkspurlane on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 10:09:23 AM PDT

  •  All the Foxheads are saying this. (0+ / 0-)

    She didn't write it, or invent it.  It's all in their script.

    "A Canadian is merely an unarmed American with health care." John Wing

    by marigold on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 10:56:38 AM PDT

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