Some collisions of civic and religious forms of asshattery are just that powerful. Many approach the fray, but few who enter it ever leave. The stupid, it sucks. Literally. It’s a black hole. Abandon all brain ye who enter here.
Amazingly, this stuff is almost mainstream. Speakers who spout this kind of garbage at official events under the auspices of the Republican Party, one of the two major US political parties, are not banned from future events on grounds of moral turpitude, mental defect, or general embarrassment. They’re hardly even marginalized, except in rare cases of exceedingly clumsy language, as Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin can attest. The real sin for which the GOP’s kingmakers tried to bully Akin into falling on his sword wasn’t misogyny, but undue candor. Basically, dude fucked up the talking points pretty severely. It takes a special person to make Claire McCaskill, mediocrity of Blue Dog mediocrities, look like a beacon of principle. Todd Akin, authority on women who probably wanted it because they didn’t psychosomatically shut off their wombs while being raped, had what it took for Claire McCaskill to point at his train wreck of a platform and shut that whole thing down.
I totally heard a bird of Akin’s feather squawk at the nation on “Christian” radio this afternoon. He was a bit subtler than Akin, after a fashion. Akin was foolish enough to accuse women, a majority electoral demographic with above-average turnout rates, of being a bunch of tarts who enjoy the illegitimate kind of rape. Today’s speaker, whom I’ll introduce in due time, had the good sense to go after illegal immigrants, a constituency that by definition is disenfranchised. A cohort of foreigners working in a country under dodgy circumstances after having evaded normal immigration channels rarely has its host country’s sympathy. It’s the kind of demographic that a savvy asshat scapegoats if he doesn’t want to get beaten in his next electoral campaign by a charisma-challenged triangulator.
But what I heard on the radio today wasn’t just any screed against illegal immigration; it was a screed against illegal immigration in the name of Holy Scripture. Pretty brazen stuff.
Usually, when I get vulgar ideas in my head, I try not to justify them with scriptural references. If I muse about Tijuana’s de minimis regulatory approach to massage parlors and its huge potential client base, it isn’t because I learned about any of that from the Book of Leviticus. (Leviticus is merely an exhaustive list of licentious suggestions framed as prohibitions). Rather, it’s because I am, in Disraeli’s parlance, ape and angel, or, as Robin Thicke would have it, an animal.
In other words, a TJ massage parlor isn’t religion, but business. Similarly, immigration policy isn’t religion, but civics, although business interests certainly like to infest the debate, the better to concern-troll it. Business, civics, religion: these are nonoverlapping magisteria.
Not on the Bott Radio Network, they aren’t. I tuned in while I was on the road between Fresno and Merced this afternoon, just in time to hear some dude with a thoroughly neutral accent and affect calmly but sanctimoniously intone about illegal immigration and the Bible. Hoo boy.
I had no idea who this guy was, but I was transfixed. The biblethumping was exquisite. Defenders of illegal immigration, he told us (I paraphrase), often cite scriptural references to being a friend to the foreigner. What they don’t realize is that that there are three Hebrew words for foreigner, two of them referring to foreigners who have permission, and this scriptural reference in Leviticus refers to foreigners with permission, not those without permission. This was why Moses made a special effort to lead the Israelites around a kingdom that was blocking their way to the Promised Land, so that they wouldn’t illegally stray into its territory. (Forgive us our trespasses? Eh, never mind. And maybe the detour had something to do with not getting massacred? Again, never mind.) Furthermore, calls for amnesty ignore the Apostle Peter’s exhortation to submit to civil authority, which includes immigration authorities. Besides, if we provide amnesty to all illegal immigrants, how is that fair to the illegal immigrants who are waiting in line to be legalized under the current process? (Huh? He actually said something like that.) Now, people can have different opinions about illegal immigration (passive-aggressive-smarmy much?), but they shouldn’t use the Bible to defend the amnesty bill currently before the Congress. It just isn’t in there. It isn’t biblical.
It wasn’t until the end of this ridiculous authoritarian pastiche that I heard who was behind it: “I’m Kris Kobach, and this has been Kobach’s Commentaries.” The crazy had just gone into overdrive. I’d heard of Kobach before, usually in reference to his being an extremist Republican kook, and here he was carrying on about illegal immigration and the unfairness of amnesty on an aggressively “Christian” “family” radio station in the name of the Word of God.
Notice that he concern-trolled illegal immigrants who had allegedly found their way into some regularization process (despite having entered and worked in the United States illegally) and were waiting their turn in line, because WAAAAHHHH FAIRNESS. I was baffled by whom exactly he was trying to describe, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the story was some kind of hard-right nativist myth.
To be clear, Kris Kobach does not give a damn about the welfare of illegal immigrants for the duration of their presence in the United States. He is a professional immigration policy troll who has worked in multiple states to litigate against policies benefiting illegal immigrants and to draft legislation to hound them out by any means necessary. He has also been involved in Voter ID campaigns, again on grounds of “fairness,” the fairness including vile arguments that if one can’t buy Sudafed without a government ID, one shouldn’t be able to vote without one. The obvious purpose of Voter ID laws is to disenfranchise the poor, i.e., mainly blacks, because they vote heavily Democratic.
Kobach has the evil, classic right-wing conception of fairness as a zero-sum commodity that is cheapened if someone else somewhere got more of it than you got or got it more promptly. By his reasoning, if all the prisoners are released in a mass pardon, this is unfair to the old lifers, and the lifers should be seething with resentment that the younguns got more time off than they did. If the 3:45 train is delayed by mechanical problems and its passengers are transferred to the 4:45 train, they should all be angry and resentful that they had to spend an extra hour in the depot because TEH FAIRNESS. If the layabouts who showed up in the vineyard an hour before sundown are paid the same amount for their work as the diligent squares who showed up at daybreak, the squares should be resentful–hey, that’s not what Jesus said, now, is it? Yeah, we’re Christians, so let’s ignore that buzzkill, what’s-his-name….
Basically, if there’s any kind of dysfunctional or cruel policy that finally gets fixed, but only after one has spent years trying to navigate the former, broken system, one should be angry at anyone who didn’t have to put up with just as much grief for just as long. If you were waiting in a checkout line at Safeway for half an hour only to see people in a nearby line get through in ten minutes because the backup cashier finally arrived, maybe you should go deck the backup cashier and hurl eggs and canned goods at his customers, you know, just as a matter of equity. That would even things out for you and everyone else who got in line before the backup cashier arrived, right? It might be a good idea to brandish a can in front of the lead cashier, too, in case she calls all available associates to checkout and lets some lucky bastard get through in five minutes.
That, folks, is hardline Republican policy in a nutshell: everyone will be reduced to the most degraded level of existence that I, resentful shit, have ever had to endure. Kris Kobach has words of encouragement for the whole barrel full of crabs.
Oh, and he’s the sitting Kansas Secretary of State. What’s the matter with Kansas, indeed. Once the spiritual home and nerve center of grange socialism, and now this. It’s a long way down.
By the way, I have very serious, visceral objections to current immigration policy in the United States. It’s a systemically corrupt clusterfuck, one that keeps many immigrants perennially in limbo, under constant threat of detention, deportation and separation from their families, and allows unethical employers (especially farmers) to run their recruitment and personnel operations as criminal cartel rackets. It badly needs to be reformed. The problem is that people like Kris Kobach will happily trash civil society in the process if they’re given free rein.
Good God, y’all.