“I was not hiring a talk radio host; I was hiring a very brilliant political mind, someone that has been in South Florida politics for 20 plus years. But unfortunately the liberal left showed that I guess they are threatened and intimidated by me, and so they went into the attack dog mode, which is something that they did the entire time in our campaign.” [See full video]
That’s what Congressman-elect Allen West (R-FL) told CNN on Sunday. West was referring to his hiring of radical right-wing talk show host, Joyce Kaufman. Kaufman’s comments that “if ballots don’t work, bullets will,” is now directly linked to at least one person threatening to “do something big” that caused 300 schools to close down on Thursday. Kaufman declined the position as West’s chief of staff while West continues to support Kaufman despite the controversy. What is troubling here is not that there is a controversy, it is the nature of the controversy and the results of Kaufman’s statements that our new congressman is far too quick to overlook.
Not too long ago, “controversy” for political operatives might have been failure to disclose a DUI on their employment application when one was a hapless, irresponsible teenager. A nasty divorce might prove to be controversial. In today’s political climate with the new far of the far right gaining traction, a single DUI or a nasty divorce would be a welcome change to the growing and ever ominous cry of utilizing one’s second amendment rights.
What is troubling is that we are electing into our government people who support violence as a means of resolving disagreements. What is troubling is that we have elected someone, Allen West and other tea party members, who talk about the preservation of western civilization against the practice of Islam.
While West encourages everyone to read the Koran, albeit through his eyes along with his distorted, one-sided viewpoint, which is far from visionary, he should also delve into history a little deeper and check out the search for the holy grail and the crusades. [Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon or Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici]. The Knights Templar, as they were commonly referred to in the 12th century.
Officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church around 1129, the Order … grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights … were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the Order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, innovating financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building many fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.
The Templars’ existence was tied closely to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the Order faded. Rumors about the Templars’ secret initiation ceremony created mistrust, and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Order, took advantage of the situation. In 1307, many of the Order’s members in France were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake.
The inquisitions were in response to growing religions movements that sprang up primarily in France and Italy due to a growing corruption among the clergy in the Roman Catholic church. Corruption that included marriages, which were illegal, lavish lifestyles, i.e., money. In order to maintain the status quo, folks like Joan of Arc and others were burned at the stake. Some were stoned. Others were told to “repent” and say the devil made them do it, etc.
Fast forward a few centuries right on our own shores, the Puritans who came to the new world and settled on New England’s northern shores. In 1692, the Salem witch trials began in Massachusetts.
From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft; dozens languished in jail for months without trials until the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts subsided.
It is not a religion that is the problem, it is people who use that religion for their own self-interests; something that has been done throughout the history of the human race. Such practices are still a part of our most recent history. Just look at The People’s Temple founded by James Warren Jones (“Jim Jones”) wherein 914 misguided folks drank the kool-aid of death, literally.
Jones, who held degrees from Indiana and Butler Universities, began as a Christian minister of a new idea in Indiana, a multi-racial church that grew to about 900 followers in the 1950s. Over the years, his teachings became less about Christ and more about Jim. Jones began preaching about nuclear holocaust and the only place that could survive was in Ukiah CA (and then later to San Francisco). My favorite “City by the Bay” has had its share of folks who don’t seem to fit anywhere else [sigh].
Prescription drug abuse caused Jones to become increasingly paranoid and most likely led to problems Jones starting having about his “translation” theory (mass suicide to go to a better place and live happily ever after) arose that caused him to move from California to Guyana far away from prying eyes.
Is Christianity a bad religion because of what the Puritans did in 1692, or what the Knights Templar did when helping in the Crusades or the many battles they fought, or what was done by some of the Catholic bishops and who lead various inquisitions and turned the lives of people who stood up against their corruption into living hells? Is Christianity a bad religion because of what Jim Jones did; or was it his own tormented soul and mind haunted by drug abuse and paranoia.
As human beings we like to think that we have evolved beyond persecution of other human beings because of our differences. Differences in the way we look, the color of our skin, our economic standing, our chosen religion. We cherish our development and our Constitution. Historically, our nation has proudly worn the mantle of “freedom fighters” in our quest for the American dream at home and democracy abroad.
As a nation, it is our diversity that has historically set us apart from any other and has placed us with a responsibility to respond to discrimination, violence and ill will of any kind with justice tempered by creating value as the ultimate goal of our actions. West’s commentary, despite his eloquent delivery for the most part, does not rise to such responsibility. Dress them anyway you wish, hate, bigotry, fear and lies are what they are; they spurn violence and despair.
Our task ahead is to monitor closely those individuals who use the basest elements of human behavior to lead our great nation and call them out every single time. Let these individuals be the ones who are one-term officer holders. In our quest to elect responsible leadership, let’s seek out those who will inspire hope, will champion tolerance and embrace that which makes us great and not push us back to the dark ages of violence, murder and fear.