|Ted Cruz attends "Kill the Gays" gathering|
Even before I learned of the horrors occurring in Paris yesterday where we have again seen the ugly finger prints of fundamentalist religion, I had planned to write about the American media's silence on the the attendance of several GOP presidential nominee candidates at the falsely named National Religious Liberties Conference where the execution of gays was called for numerous times. Imagine if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders attended an event where the murder of Christians (or blacks or Jews) was advocated - the media would be beside itself and the coverage would have been non-stop. But the advocating of the murder of gays bu the "godly folk" gets almost a free pass as do the GOP contenders who attended. Yes, the GOP candidates are all claiming that they did not know about the agenda of some of the event hosts - even though in Ted Cruz's case he had been asked about the very issue BEFORE he attended the event - but all that proves is either (i) they support the execution of gays, (ii) they are liars, or (iii) that their campaigns are so poor at vetting events that the candidates are too incompetent to ever occupy the White House. A piece in Huffington Post looks at this disturbing near silence. Here are highlights:
Last weekend Senator Ted Cruz, along with fellow GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, spoke at a conference in Des Moines headed up by a man who advocates the execution of gay people -- per his interpretation of the bible -- and who made his call for mass extermination once again, onstage at the event, the National Religious Liberties Conference. Pastor Kevin Swanson has said in the past that Christians should attend gay weddings and hold up signs telling the newly married gay and lesbian couples that they "should be put to death." He was an advocate of Uganda's infamous "Kill the Gays" bill, which he saw as a "model."
At the confab over the weekend, where he introduced Huckabee, Jindal and Cruz to the audience -- and where Ted Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, an anti-gay Tea Party crusader, was a star speaker -- he reiterated his death penalty call . . .
On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, using extensive clips of video of the speech that had been posted by the indispensable Right Wing Watch, covered the conference in depth, and was rightly horrified that it even took place and that presidential candidates were there.
"This is a political event. This is a Republican presidential candidates' event," Maddow said. "It really was a 'kill-the-gays' call to arms. This was a conference about the necessity of the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality."
But except for scattered online media coverage and blog posts, that was it. CNN's Jake Tapper asked Cruz if it was appropriate to speak at the conference before the event -- and Cruz dodged the question, claiming to know nothing of the pastor's views, and spinning back to religious people supposedly being under attack -- but there was no coverage I could find on CNN after the conference and focused on this evangelical leader who called for a future genocide after introducing presidential candidates who lauded him. As far as I can tell, no broadcast networks or major American newspaper covered the blood-curdling speech in which several times Swanson said the punishment for homosexuality is the death penalty.
It's 2015 and much of the media seem to accept, still, that LGBT people can be talked about this way at an event attended by presidential candidates and that it's not news. They view it as par for the course, religious conservatives doing what they do. It's as if they have blinders on. Indeed, if Ted Cruz -- or Huckabee or Jindal -- attended an event at which the host hinted at mass murder of Jews, African-Americans or any other group it would be a massive media story. He'd be forced to answer questions about it, at debates (and it didn't come up at the last debate), in press conferences and in interviews non-stop.
Swanson may not be Huckabee's, Jindal's or Cruz's own pastor, but they attended a hate conference organized by Swanson, who introduced them onstage, in the middle of a presidential primary race. The fact that it seems to be viewed as just another ho-hum campaign stop suggests we've not come as far on LGBT right as we all like to tell ourselves.
Hate flourishes when not challenged and condemned. Just look at ISIS. What is frightening about Swanson and the tacit endorsement of his views by Cruz and the other GOP candidates is that it sets the stage for some Christian fundamentalist to decide to put the call to murder into action thinking, just like the murderers in Paris, that they are doing god's work. And most of the American media will be complicit in it because the haters were allowed to go unchallenged. And people wonder why I hold "journalists" in low regard?