Column for 11 March, 2007
“Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.”
Two parallel current scandals, in Austin and Washington, DC, illustrate how the blasphemous Republican philosophy of Social Darwinism inevitably leads to criminal neglect of at least two segments of society whose protection should be our top priority: children and veterans. In Washington, the despicable treatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed is merely the tip of the iceberg, a mere symptom of the Bush Administration's delusion that Iraq would be a “splendid little war.” True, the Secretary of the Army has been thrown under the Congressional bus, but it's not just Walter Reed--the VA is riddled with bureaucratic idiocy and indifference. And Cong. Steve Buyer of Indiana, the Republican who was responsible for overseeing VA hospitals until 2007, is downplaying the uproar as “just politics.” At the same time the Right Wing Noise Machine loudly denounces anyone who dares question the catastrophe in Iraq as a traitor or appeaser, the sheer unvarnished hypocrisy of that very same Right Wing abandoning veterans of that war to their fate is absolutely overwhelming. FOX News, for example, devoted twelve times more coverage to the death and paternity issues of a dissolute, drug-addled D-List celebrity than this horrific scandal. Undeterred by reality, the Noise Machine is frantically trying to spin this heartbreaking betrayal of faith as, if you can believe it, proof that “government health care” doesn’t work! These are the people who have the temerity—the unmittigated gall, the brass monkeys—to call dissent treasonous?Meanwhile, back in Austin, the Texas Youth Commission stands revealed as a chamber of horrors, where pedophile guards are protected and the State is shielded against any meaningful civil liability for the callousness that allowed it all to happen. A special investigation team has already uncovered 150 more instances of abuse of child inmates, on top of the ones that caused the scandal to erupt in the first place, broken by the venerable progressive monthly, The Texas Observer. Of course, this investigation team is itself headed by Jay Kimbrough, a tainted crony of the feckless, venal and supercilious Rick Perry, whose primary mission appears to be providing political cover for the governor. Had these juvenile inmates broken the law? Yes, or they were accused of having done so. Is that then a justification for abandoning them to be manipulated and sexually assaulted? Of course, this is the same State of Texas that has repeatedly and routinely locked up innocent children (some of them American citizens) in a private prison in Williamson County solely because their parents are accused of immigration violations. I suppose under the circumstances these children should be grateful they weren’t surrendered to the tender mercies of the Texas Youth Commission.But these scandals cannot be so easily dismissed as mere “incompetence,” of the sort we have become painfully accustomed to under Republic Party rule. No, rather both of these scandals are symptomatic of the foul ideology that is the fundamental basis for GOP governance (or the lack thereof). Under what passes for conservative “thinking” these days, the weak are to be despised. Any suffering they bear is their own fault, God’s judgment against them for moral failure. This must be true, because the reverse (the wealthy are wealthy solely because God has shown them favor) is the cornerstone of the unholy blasphemous union between Right-Wing Christianity and Right-Wing Crony Capitalism. Wounded veterans of the Iraq Debacle must be hidden from view, for they are living reminders that the Dear Leader is, in fact, a mere mortal. Besides, Walter Reed might shine an uncomfortable light on the GOP mania for privatization, a mania that is also implicated in the TYC scandal. And children, whether they are the uninsured children of working families or juvenile offenders in custody, can be ignored because the sins of the parents are the sins of the children. Besides, children don’t vote and they don’t donate money to candidates. This is the same philosophy that in the past treated African-Americans as beasts of burden, Native Americans as wild animals to be hunted, and workers as disposable cogs in the machine. This philosophy is utterly alien to the teachings of Christ. It is, in fact, almost the polar opposite of Christianity, which makes the use of Christianity as a fig-leaf for these views, aided and abetted by apostates like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Pat Roberston, all the more damning. There is, to put it simply and bluntly, no way to reconcile Social Darwinism’s message of “survival of the richest” with Christianity. You cannot love both God and Mammon. You can only love one and must hate the other. These scandals should come as a surprise to no one; they are the inevitable result of the anti-Christian, un-American, anti-capitalist economic philosophy that undergirds the modern Republic Party: money talks.