Rape Gaffes Highlight Growing Influence of Religious Right in the GOP
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 04:05:02 PM EST
"Incest is so rare, I mean it's so rare. But the rape thing, you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept the child, gave it up for adoption and doesn't regret it. In fact, she's a big pro-life proponent. But, on the rape thing it's like, how does putting more violence onto a woman's body and taking the life of an innocent child that's a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?"

--Republican Congressional candidate John Koster (WA), 10/28/12

Now that candidate John Koster and Newt Gingrich have each so graciously pitched in, with just a few more of these cringeworthy Republican rape statements and there will be enough for a 4-column version of the Republican Rape Advisory Chart. But until then, the new 3-column chart will have to suffice (here's where the chart originated.)

"Rape Tourettes" now afflicts large swaths of the GOP, whose politicians apparently can't help themselves from blurting out jaw-droppingly insensitive statements, like Koster's, which is begging for savage parody (consider the song "Wild Thing", by Eric Burdon and The Animals...)

It's fair to say that just about every woman in America has herself been raped or knows someone who has been raped. That this is not foremost in the minds of leading members of today's GOP, as they continue to dig themselves in deeper by emitting yet more obtuse misogynistic verbal ejaculations, in clumsy attempts to tamp down the festering scandal, is telling.

On the upside, this is helping to surface a long-overdue national conversation, as victims of rape come out publicly and tell their stories.

Like a Rhode Island-sized iceberg breaking off Antarctica as the atmosphere warms,  Republican sensibilities seem to have sheared off from the American mainstream:

Seminal rape gaffes from Republican candidates for Senate Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were hardly the beginning - from Rush Limbaugh's radio jihad against Sandra Fluke, in which he called the college student a "slut" for arguing that health care providers should cover birth control, to the early 2012 Republican-dominated all-male Congressional panel on birth control, the entire election year seems to have been a prolonged GOP insult to slightly over 1/2 of America - we don't care what you think (or feel.) Just shut up and get over it.

But thanks to the new, "improved" three-column Republican Rape Advisory Chart, that's unlikely to happen anytime soon (note - for readers who want access to text-based versions of the statements featured in the chart, see the Stephen Colbert-inspired website http://www.dayswithoutagoprapemention.com/.)

As a parting note, I'd add this - Republican politicians whose statements are featured in the Republican Rape Advisory Chart are not saying such things for political gain. They are honestly stating their views - on abortion, rape, birth control, and women's rights - which are overwhelmingly based in their religious beliefs.

A now well-entrenched narrative held widely on the American left and in the secular mainstream holds that foot soldiers of the religious right are cynically manipulated by non-religious string-pullers in the GOP, who promise to deliver on culture war issues but never do. But most of the politicians featured on the Republican Rape Advisory Chart are in the religious right. They are true believers.

While the left berates the Fox News-addled right for the factually-challenged nature of its political narratives, the left holds its own conveniently fact-free narrative, in which the religious right has not gobbled up the once-secular Republican Party, a party that once staunchly supported women's rights, including legalized abortion and even the Equal Rights Amendment.

But What's the Matter With Kansas-style narratives, which claim Republicans manipulate the religious right and never deliver on culture war issues, cannot accommodate the uncomfortable fact that the takeover began decades ago:

In 1986, when the well-disciplined cadres of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition were taking over state-level Republican Party structures, a widely distributed memo from Pat Robertson to his troops read,

"How to Participate in a Political Party

Rule the world for God.
Give the impression that you are there to work for the party, not push an ideology.
Hide your strength.
Don't flaunt your Christianity.
Christians need to take leadership positions. Party officers control political parties and so it is very important that mature Christians have a majority of leadership positions, God willing."

By 2000, according to a survey sponsored and published in 2002 by Campaigns and Elections, the religious right had gained "strong" influence in 18 Republican state party structures and "moderate" influence in 26 others. As the last few years have demonstrated, that influence has only continued to grow.

Many pundits have been led astray by the rise of the Tea Party movement, and have come to believe that the Koch brothers-backed movement is secular. That is not true, according to a survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, released in October 2010, which showed that over 80% of Tea Party members surveyed considered themselves Christian and 57% considered themselves part of the Christian conservative movement.  

In short, there's a reason the 2012 Republican Party platform opposes legalized abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Republican Rape Tourettes Syndrome is only an outgrowth of that party position, which in turn reflects the now-almost complete dominance of the religious right over the political party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Teddy Roosevelt which once upon a time, but not really so long ago or far away, in the days of Barry Goldwater, supported a woman's right to choose.

No longer.    

I know that I shouldn't laugh, but your comment about "Rape Tourettes" actually did cause me to do so.  These guys so clearly do not view women as inhabiting the same plane of existence as them, it's scary.  And frankly, every time I have run across one of these statements, I have had to check to see if I have accidentally clicked on "The Onion."

by coralsea on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 01:08:25 AM EST
...I used "Tourette's" in the title. Then, in the comments I was called out by someone with Tourette's who was deeply irritated, as in "Oh no, not another "__ Tourette's" joke." So I changed the title. What else could I do ? I did leave the reference in the body of the piece.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 05:37:47 AM EST

One cold night, as an Arab sat in his tent, a camel thrust his nose under the flap and looked in. "Master," he said, "let me put my nose in your tent. It's cold and stormy out here." "By all means," said the Arab, as he turned over and went to sleep.

A little later the Arab awoke to find that the camel had not only put his nose in the tent but his head and neck also. The camel, who had been turning his head from side to side, said, "I will take but little more room if I place my forelegs within the tent. It is difficult standing out here." "Yes, you may put your forelegs within," said the Arab, moving a little to make room, for the tent was small.

Finally, the camel said, "May I not stand wholly inside? I keep the tent open by standing as I do." "Yes, yes," said the Arab. "Come wholly inside. Perhaps it will be better for both of us." So the camel crowded in. The Arab with difficulty in the crowded quarters again went to sleep. When he woke up the next time, he was outside in the cold and the camel had the tent to himself.

This tale illustrates what happened to the GOP. Republicans wanted to use religious southern white votes to gain power, but also wanted the religious right to go away after they voted. The GOP allowed these preachers and flocks into their tent, and now they have all but taken over. Republicans absolutely cannot win without their votes, and now the party leaders must bow to the most base and racist elements of their party. It does not bode well for the future of America.

A quote from Barry Goldwater is appropriate here:
'Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.'
Said in November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006)

by COinMS on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 10:15:39 AM EST

also clearly demonstrates why the "Religious Right is moribund/dying/on the way out" meme is, to be polite, a fallacy.

They're very close to winning.

If they win, I expect the rapes to start multiplying.  I also expect that within a year or two, those of us who have opposed the dominionists will start facing death or imprisonment.

Their leaders already unofficially condone rape as a means to marriage -  their "Ministry students" heading for taking a position as pastor of a church are heavily pressured to get married young, as they specifically tell their students that a young family is more attractive and acceptable to churches than singles.  I've heard from a few people that has and does lead to proposal-by-"date rape".  I even heard about it as a problem back when I was in the cult!!!

To further the understanding of their attitude towards women, their female ministry students are ALWAYS steered towards "lesser ministries", because it's "against the Bible for a woman to be higher than a man".

I heard that from an ex-ministry student (female) recently - and it's only been a few years since she walked away (because of severe physical - and then emotional - abuse from both an ex and his church (and his pastor father).

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 11:01:47 AM EST

...in narratives on the left which see the religious right in decline and the movement's influence in government.

I don't think the two frames are really at odds - the homophobic religious right has been in slow retreat for decades and the movement really is, I think, losing the younger generation.

But it's getting increasing amounts of cash, and that enables a slowly dwindling minority to achieve a whoppingly disproportionate influence. And if the movement gets back G. W. Bush-level access to the executive branch... look out.  

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 01:39:57 PM EST

a few kids at school who started out being liberal, got involved with the churches, and turned virulently dominionist.  Shoot, that's what happened to me 33 plus years ago - and I was conservative until reality hit me so hard with the truth about what I'd been taught (that it was all a lie), that I went beyond what I was as a kid - I'm about as far left Liberal as you can get.

I will be very happy if they really are decreasing in numbers, but of course we don't see it here.  I think there's something in the water here that affects people.  

(To be a bit more serious - it could be the local dominionist ersatz "university", which does teach things like homophobia and the lies such as you hear from the churches, along with "How to invade churches and other organizations" and "How to block people from making a choice or learning the truth".  While I admit that some of my knowledge of the place is a bit dated, they USED to teach rabid conservatism alongside of dominionist "Christianity" and I've heard that the kids still get huge doses of it.)

by ArchaeoBob on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 11:08:21 AM EST

...I can see the spread of this movement in my own backyard, in MA ; a growing new church, with bigger weekly attendance than possibly the biggest Catholic church in town. It has rock music, a Starbucks kiosk, a hip young pastor... all the fixings. It was planted by a fundamentalist church about 15 miles away, and is in the ARC umbrella.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 09:44:37 AM EST

Two of my nieces were basically "married off" to young men of my brother-in-law's choosing.  One of the nieces didn't really like the guy, but, as my mother archly told me, "He will be a good husband and it's better for young people to get married, you know...."  

Of course, the "you know" was that they might have sex or kiss or something.

These girls were homeschooled and have been kept away from everything that isn't Christian (they live in Alaska, where it's easier to isolate people."

Now my third niece is 18, and my brother-in-law has been talking to various young men who apparently are interested in her.

by coralsea on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 01:44:32 PM EST

That is the type of thing the Quiverfull movement members, and specifically the Duggars recommend. They don't talk about the toll it takes on family members.

by khughes1963 on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 09:43:24 PM EST

Suggested addendum to Pat Robertson's Memo "How to Participate in a Political Party" :

 -- L. Ron Hubbard

by Jafsie on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 10:41:30 AM EST

Koster claims he knows a rape victim who carried the baby, put it up for adoption, was glad she did, and is a big pro-life supporter, yet he doesn't offer her name so we can actually get a comment from her. Funny how this is always just men making these stooopid statements.

by bjohnmasters on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 08:08:55 AM EST

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by dennishobson on Tue May 21, 2013 at 10:08:18 AM EST

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