Tonight, Rachel Maddow aired a bonechilling interview with former fundamentalist leader Frank Schaeffer in which Schaeffer accuses evangelical zealots and far-right wing nuts of fomenting violence against our president.
This new "American Taliban," Schaeffer says, is essentially "trawling for assassins," using coded, Biblical language in hopes of inciting some lunatic to kill the president.
Apologies in advance for the quick and dirty diary, but I found this interview so deeply disturbing, I wanted to share it with the Daily Kos community.
Rachel's interview was sparked by a Christian Science Monitor story, "Biblical anti-Obama slogan: Use of Psalm 109:8 funny or sinister?
The story's lead:
There’s a new slogan making its way onto car bumpers and across the Internet. It reads simply: "Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8"
A nice sentiment?
The psalm reads, "Let his days be few; and let another take his office."
Presidential criticism through witty slogans is nothing new. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats with "1/20/09" commemorated President Bush’s last day in office.
But the verse immediately following the psalm referenced is a bit more ominous: "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."
I did some Googling and this slogan is available on t-shirts, on bumper stickers, on coffee cups, on just about any merchandise you can think of. And while some find humor in this, Schaeffer sees grave danger.
A partial transcription of Schaeffer's comments:
The situation that I find genuinely frightening right now is that you have a ramping up of Biblical language, language from the anti-abortion movement, for instance, death panels and this sort of thing, and what it's coalescing into is branding Obama as Hitler...as something foreign to our shores, we're reminded of that he's born in Kenya, as brown, as black, above all, as not us. He is Sarah Palin's "not a real American." But now it turns out that he joins the ranks of the unjust kings of ancient Israel, unjust rulers to which all these Biblical allusions are directed, who should be slaughtered, if not by God, then by just men. So there's a direct parallel here with Timothy McVeigh's t-shirt on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing in which he said the tree of liberty had to be watered occasionly by the blood of tyrants. And that quote we saw again at a meeting at which Obama was present being carried on a placard by someone carrying a loaded weapon.
Schaeffer says this Biblical sloganeering, combined with a daily diet of hyped-up scaremongering from right wing outlets like Fox, is tantamount to "trawling for assasins."
This is serious business. It's unAmerican, it's unpatriotic and it goes to show that the religious right, the Republican far right, have coalesced into a group that truly wants revolution and if it turns out to be blood in the streets, so be it.
Schaeffer stresses that these messages shouldn't be dismissed, especially in light of the fact the threat level against Obama is 400 percent higher than at any other time in 52 years.
This bumper sticker simply says to them, 'It's open season.'
Schaeffer notes that no one in the GOP leadership or the evangelical community is doing anything to tamp down on this rhetoric...this from a community that routinely denounces Islamic leaders for not speaking out more forcefully against terrorism. "Where the hell are you?" he asks. "And be it on your head if something happens to our president...Until they speak out, they're culpable."
I urge you to watch this interview in full to truly understand what our president is up against, and to heed Schaeffer's final plea:
Obama supporters had better start speaking up in support of him and not sniping at him all of the time because he's not moving towards change as fast as we'd like in every area. This is serious stuff. The chips are down, he has real enemies--some of them are violent--and as far as I'm concerned it's time to support our president, stand with him and not only wish him the best, but pray for his safety in the face of these religious maniacs....There are not many steps left on this insane path.
UPDATE: A great suggestion from Regina in a Sears Kit House:
We can not stand idly by, while this fringe bunch takes and keeps the stage. I think each of us should write a letter to the editor and if we belong to a faith community, tell our rabbi, pastor, priest, mullah, that we need them to be very clear about respect and caring for everyone.
We need lessons in the difference between disagreement and dislike. Somehow there are enough people who don't get the difference to make difference dangerous.
I hope DKos people talk about this tomorrow. I saw TRMS tonight too, and found it unspeakably scary.
We should discuss and debate policy, but we must protect the man and I daresay, his family.
UPDATE 2: It seems that both CafePress and Zazzle.com are selling this merchandise (h/t karenc13). Let them know what you think of that here and here.
*****UPDATE 2A: Great news! Thanks to all of your e-mails and calls, CafePress has pulled their Psalm 109 merchandise. Here is their response per Eric RoM:
As you may know, CafePress.com provides an automated service to a rich and vibrant community of international users. Unfortunately, because our service is automated, sometimes content that is not consistent with our Offensive Material & Prohibited Content policy is posted on CafePress.com. We appreciate that you have brought this content to our attention and it has been removed from our site. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
UPDATE 2B: According to kalmoth, Zazzle.com has now taken down some of their Psalms merchandise, but not all. Let's keep bugging them.
BREAKING NEWS: Ypu guys did it! Zazzle has just posted the following message on their website:
Dear Zazzle Member or Concerned Citizen—
Today, there has surfaced a great deal of discussion and debate over certain products in the Zazzle Marketplace which reference text from Psalm 109 in combination with reference to President Barack Obama. We at Zazzle are aware of the issue, and would like to take this opportunity to respond in a unified and public fashion to all parties and viewpoints.
Zazzle puts great value on its Marketplace as a forum for discussion and debate of the issues of our day. We are proud of the fact that no matter how arcane or apparently esoteric a subject may be, there can often be found Zazzle products pertaining to it. We are particularly sensitive to Zazzle as an open forum for the expression and debate of political viewpoints. The rigorous debate and discussion of political issues, including candidates for political office, our elected leaders, and pending and actual legislation, is something that drives the very democracy that in turn allows for our freedom as citizens to make these expressions in the first place.
With that in mind, it is only after great thought that we have determined that these products, in the context of the full text of Psalm 109, may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest physical harm to the President of the United States. In deference to the Office of the President of the United States, and in accordance with federal law prohibiting the making of threats against the physical wellbeing of the President of the United States, Zazzle has therefore determined that these products are in violation of the Zazzle User Agreement and not appropriate for inclusion in the Zazzle Marketplace. We have begun efforts to remove them from our website, and we will be vigilant to the publication of similar products moving forward.
Zazzle will continue to allow and encourage the submission of products that express disapproval or approval of the President’s policies and actions, but Zazzle will not permit products that may be interpreted to suggest violence toward the President.
The Zazzle Team
GREAT WORK! Zazzle is also accepting comments on their decision here.
UPDATE 3: Thanks to Stuart Heady for this one. He e-mailed email@example.com, the e-mail listed at the bottom of UpYoursObama.com, which sells a lot of the designs seen on Cafe Press and Zazzle.
More from Stuart. Perhaps we can make this person a little uncomfortable.
firstname.lastname@example.org (1+ / 0-)
This is the email address for the administration contact listed on WHOIS for UpYoursObama.com, the main originator for content that people have been complaining to Cafe Press and Zazzle about.
Theresa Taylor is listed as the owner and is listed only by a PO Box in Santa Monica.
I just emailed email@example.com to point out that a lot of buzz has been generated by the campaign to call for Obama's assassination, apparently being promoted on this website and perhaps they should look into it - especially since they might be getting some unwanted attention from the Secret Service, et al.
I recommend everyone send something similar to them.
FINAL UPDATE: For those who don't feel like digging through more than 1200 comments, I want to highlight some amazing investigative work by Stuart Heady, mahakali overdrive and foggycity. The relevant thread is here: unmasking the people behind UpYoursObama.com. It is fascinating reading and the upshot is that the person behind this website and the Psalms 109 merchandise has been reported to the Secret Service. In fact, this entire thread has been sent to the SS. Kudos to them for helping make our president a little safer today.
I also want to thank all of the many people who commented here. There are some fantastic ideas for combatting this poisonous and dangerous rhetoric--far too many to list here in an update. It would be great to collect them all in some kind of action diary. I'm tired of watching this venom being spewed day after day and doing nothing.