American sniper? No, says the Right Wing talk radio host. American SAINT!
I'm no theologian, but I suspect that Jesus would tell that God-fearing, red-blooded American sniper [Chris Kyle], “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, for dispatching another Godless jihadist to the lake of fire.”
That’s Starne’s gloss on American Sniper.
I looked through my bible and couldn’t find the passage where Jesus said, “Shoot all your enemies dead,” but I’m guessing it’s from the Sermon on the Mount, right around where he said “Love your neighbor”.
Tell you the truth, I didn’t know who Todd Starnes was, didn’t even know he existed, in fact, until I read he said this, and now I’m sorry I do. If you didn’t know either you’re probably sorry to have found out and I apologize for being the one delivering the news.
As Atrios and plenty of others like to remind us, a lot of what Right Wingers say they say just to piss liberals off. But there’s something else at work, as well. They’re trying to piss each other off too. They like being angry. More to the point, however, their pundits, their talking heads, many of their politicians, their halfway intelligent bloggers, all following Rush Limbaugh’s lead, are trying to piss off the conservative base. It’s a strategy. Make the yokels boiling mad and keep them mad at those Others and they’ll be too worked up to think about who’s really been screwing them over.
This is an inherent evil of the American Right, an evil it perpetrates upon itself as much as upon the rest of us: its divisiveness.
And this is not an effect of its rhetoric or its politics. It is the intent.
The object is to divide ordinary people from their fellow Americans, keep them from making common cause, and gull them into seeing people as enemies who are in fact their neighbors. Conservative “thinkers”---pseudo-intellectual apologists for the economic rapacity of the owner class---like to talk about rational self-interest. We don’t need the government to regulate the marketplace, they say; the people will naturally choose to act in ways that are orderly, civil, generous or at least moderate, because that is the best way to protect their own interests. But the object is to short-circuit rationality, replace thoughtfulness with gut feeling, convince the people they’re being cheated and robbed by THEM, the same THEM who are cheating and robbing the owner class so that they will mix up their interests with the interests of the owners. The intent is to divide them from their own self-interests and want not what’s best for them but what’s best for the owner class that’s exploiting them. The intent is to bamboozle them into thinking they belong to the owner class by giving them group after group of Others to look down upon the way the owners look down on them. Take them up on a mountaintop to show them the world spread out before them and say “All this is yours to despise.”
In short, the object’s to make suckers of the rubes and enlist them in their own fleecing.
Todd Starnes is one of the sideshow barkers in this carnival of thieves.
Starnes’ moment of exegesis reads like it was scripted not like something said off the cuff in a moment of inspired stupidity and rage while on the air. Which means he took time to think about it, about what to say, how to say it, and what effect he wanted it to have. I don’t know if he thought about whether it was true, that Jesus up in heaven is as bloody-minded and vindictive as his father’s portrayed in the Old Testament. Maybe he believes it. But I doubt he does or cares if it’s true.
In fact, I doubt he believes in Jesus or God at all. Not really. Not to any extent beyond a shrug of acceptance. If he did, he’d know that that’s the kind of vicious and hateful thinking that could get you dispatched to the lake of fire yourself. There’s at least of four of the Seven Deadly Sins finding expression there. Maybe he puts too much faith in God as all merciful and forgiving and he expects that when the time comes to explain himself to St Peter a sincere-sounding apology will save him. More likely, though, when the time comes, he’ll have forgotten he said it. When reminded, he’ll deny it---three times, of course---then plead innocence on the grounds that an all-knowing God must know he didn’t mean it. He was just doing his job. Maybe. But, like I said, I doubt he believes God, or in anything.
If he was a truly thoughtful Christian, he’d know Jesus would never have taught anything like that. In fact, Jesus said something the very opposite. Here it is, chapter and verse. Matthew 5:43-44.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…
And If Starnes was a truly intelligent Christian and not a half-educated bigot, he’d know that Jesus was a good Jew and probably didn’t believe in a lake of fire or hell of any kind or even much of an afterlife at all and the little the gospels quote him as saying on the subject was probably put in his mouth by whoever were the actual evangelists we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I know. Too much to ask. Doesn’t matter, because, again, like I said, I doubt he believes anything, let alone his slander of Jesus.
But you’d think there’d be plenty of Christians tuning in who’d be bothered by his characterization of Jesus, at least momentarily, that they’d know it didn’t square with what they learned in Sunday School.
But for all their God-bothering, Right Wingers don’t really think about their professed religion and what it means to be a Christian. They certainly don’t read the Bible. They don’t need to. They know what it says. They know because they did read it, some of it, anyway, back when they were kids. It’s the same with everything they “know.” They learned it when they were kids and see no need to re-learn it. Which is why they were better educated when they were twenty-two than they are at forty-two and fifty-two. They’ve spent the years in between forgetting what they once knew while filling their heads with alternative history, alternative science, alternative economics, and alternative religion, all of it geared towards teaching the same lesson: that they’re right to be selfish, and greedy, angry, hard-hearted, and spiteful. They learn an alternative English too in which those words have as their synonyms self-reliant, practical, clear-eyed, tough-minded, and, judging by the way Starnes interprets the gospels, Christian.
If they want to think something’s true, then they know, they just know, history or science or the bible backs them up.
There probably are some real Christians among Starnes’ listeners who, even though they whole-heartedly support the shooting of terrorists on the grounds of better them than me and mine and might be anti-Islamic bigots, know that, necessary as they believe it is, killing isn’t really doing Jesus’ work, and are offended by Starnes’ insulting the Savior like this. But Starnes very likely meant to piss them off too. He doesn’t care whom he makes mad or if they get mad at him as long as they keep tuning in. He’s happy to stir up any sort of trouble because trouble boosts ratings.
I’d like to be able to end things there, with what’s evil about Starnes and the rest of the Right Wing demagogues in the media. But the sad fact is their sins aren’t original. Like all the rest of us sinners, they sin unorginally but to their own particular purpose. The inherent vice of the Right Wing media is an inherent vice of all media: the stirring up of trouble just to boost ratings, bait clicks, attract eyeballs, sell the sponsors’ products.
I keep hoping against hope that the rest of the mainstream media will notice what the Right Wing media has been up to and make it a mission to expose it for the propaganda machine it is.
But they know what’s going on and their reaction has been: We want us some of that!
They don’t see what the Right Wing Media does as a corruption of journalism or a threat to democracy. They see it as a successful business model.
They want those ratings, those eyeballs, those clicks, that audience share. They want that money.
Before it’s anything else, before it can be anything else, journalism is a business. It has to make money to stay in business. And like any business it’s prone to the temptations that arise from the need to make money. The inherent evil of the business of journalism is that the easiest way to make money is by successfully appealing to the worst in people or, at any rate, to the basest in them.
You don’t want your target audience to think. You want them to feel. You want them to react from the gut and the heart and not use their heads. You want their response to be emotional, the more visceral the better, because emotions are the addictive. Addict them to their own feelings and they’ll do your work for you. They’ll keep coming back for more of the jolt they get from feeling angry and afraid and jealous and full of desire and want.
Rile them up, stir up trouble, make people mad, make them afraid, make them want that, make them want more, feed them a steady diet of spectacle and scandal. This is what puts the paying customers in their seats. This is what keeps them planted in front of their screens, checking their smart phones, turning on their radios, even, because it still happens, buying the paper and subscribing to the magazine.
This is what sells, and selling is the lesson of the gospel Todd Starnes and his colleagues in the Right Wing and mainstream media truly believe in.
Read the whole story by David Edward, Fox radio host: Jesus would thank ‘American sniper’ for sending ‘godless’ Muslims to ‘the lake of fire’, at RawStory.
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