But aren't certain ideas outside the conservative mainstream?

A post by Ann Althouse got me thinking about agents provocateur, and frankly, it's giving me the heebie jeebies.

Thanks to all my readers who gave immediate and overnight pushback to a vile new commenter...

... who I assume was pro-Obama and writing under a pseudonym here with the object of making this blog -- and more generally, criticism of Obama -- look racist. This coward put up his comment on my 9:50 p.m. post -- "Should the President be insulting pop stars?" -- at 11:52, presumably to maximize the time that it would be up on the blog and that it would sit here as long as possible before I would take it down, which I did as soon as I got on the blog this morning at around 9 (Central Time).

The commenter, Metlife, had never posted here before and had a profile showing that he'd joined Blogger just this month. He wrote -- and the asterisks are mine: "can someone murder that f***ing n***** fast? It will be a good day when Hussein is murdered by one of our southern patriots."

My suspicion is that the commenter is an agent provocateur, and I think there will be more of them.

I wouldn't have written a post about this, except I stumbled onto an interesting tidbit I hadn't known about before -- that the AR15-holding black man (who the MSM tried to characterize as white) was a member of a crackpot "church" run by a "Pastor Steven Anderson." The latter says he hates Barack Obama because God wants him to:

"God Hates Barack Obama, I hate Barack Obama. I hate Him. God wants me to Hate Barack Obama." "Someone who commits murder should get the death penalty."
Not only does Anderson pray for Barack Obama to die, but he doesn't think it would be murder if someone killed him.

Nor does he think it is murder to kill gays.

MS: You want all gay people to be executed, correct?
SA: That is correct. It is what the Bible teaches.
MS: If somebody were to go out with a machine gun and spray down a crowd of gay and lesbian people, would you think that was okay?
SA: I would not think it's okay because I believe in due process.
MS: Whould that person be a murderer?
SA: No, I would not judge them as a murderer, no.
As far as I'm concerned, the guy is a whackjob, even if he does make amusing videos about how real men pisseth on the walls. Maybe whether he is in fact an agent provocateur like Fred Phelps shouldn't be the point so much as who he is really helping.

As far as I am concerned, Anderson is helping the pro-Obama left, whether he is doing so deliberately or not. Countless left wing bloggers are doing everything they can to link this nut to the right wing. Those right-of-center bloggers who have taken the time to check him out have of course condemned him, and so did this Ron Paul site. But because he has tried to insinuate himself into the Tea Party movement he has also been praised (most likely by people who really aren't familiar with him).

I'm no different. If someone appears to be "on my side," I'm generally reluctant to criticize him, and it never occurred to me that the black guy with the AR15 was anything but a hard core libertarian gun nut.

Anyway, because the guy with the AR15 is one of "Pastor" Steven Anderson's congregants who listened to the "Why I Hate Barack Obama" sermon shortly before his gun-toting escapade, I think it's relevant. Andrew Breitbart has a video here of the whole uncut "sermon." (I warn you, it is very long, probably too long for most people to get through.)

A theologian I am not, but I did a little digging and learned that Anderson has been criticized from a religious perspective by people who seem to know him back when he was in Hammond, IN:

Pastor Steve Anderson has twisted some basic Bible doctrines, perverting the truth of Scripture. What is truly sad is that he teaches his wife, children, and church his doctrines. Pastor Anderson rarely spends time anymore discussing Scripture, preferring instead to provoke fights with police officers, dragging the name of Christ through the mud as he attacks the United States government, praying that Obama will be killed and his wife and children left widowed and fatherless. One must pray for his salvation.
Then there's this plea from an apparently disgruntled member of his "congregation":


I have no idea what that's about and I cannot verify it, but considering what a nut the "pastor" is, it seemed worth including.

As I said, I have no idea whether Anderson is in fact an agent provocateur. No idea where he came from, what he may have been taught, or where he might have been taught it.

And I know even less about his apparent follower -- other than the fact that not long after listening to the "sermon," he showed up with the AR15, and he also expressed the hope that Barack Obama would die.

But I remembered an interesting comment thread at Jeff Soyer's blog. There are few stauncher Second Amendment advocates than Jeff (my original blogfather), but even he had serious reservations about the AR15 guy. However (as Jeff noted wryly),

if the White House has no problem . . .
I like the dot dot dot.

While one commenter approvingly called the man "Chris the Libertarian," commenter Mike O was not as convinced, and seemed to think the White House knew all about him:

They especially would be, since the most heavily armed individual (AR15) was part of the pro-Obama group in Arizona. I love how the media tries to trim down the picture to only the guy's shirt and gun (to hide the fact the bearer is black) when they imply that he was a member of the anti-Obama forces (when he definitively was not). And naturally, there is no interviews with him; it might turn out his intent was to intimidate the dissenters.
Another commenter asked,
I wonder what gives with that turn of events?
And another expressed a more paranoid thought:
A dark, cynical, and suspicious thought: this attitude by the socialist bastard makes me wonder if he wants somebody to take a shot at him. What could possibly discredit the protests more than a nut with a concealed-carry permit trying to kill the president in public? Opposition to both socialist health care and gun control would be completely marginalized, instantly.
It is worrisome to me, but of course this is all pure speculation, and speculation can lead to paranoid conspiracy thinking, much to the delight of agent provocateurs (like Alex Jones, who interviewed the "pastor" after he was allegedly arrested and brutalized).

What is not speculation is that there are people with very wacky ideas out there running around. There are, in fact, radical extremists who really do believe believe in killing homosexuals in order to uphold their interpretation of Biblical law. These people are not mainstream, and I don't think it would be fair to call them conservative. Not only won't I call them conservative, I won't even call them right wing, as I don't think advocacy of killing homosexuals is a right wing position.

Anyone who thinks it is, please explain. I'm all ears. Opposition to gay marriage is one thing, and I'm a compromiser.... But this? I can't believe I'm even having to discuss it in a blog post.

Let me just say that if -- and I do mean if -- the penumbra (the big tent) of conservative thought includes the belief that homosexuals should be killed, then conservatism as a legitimate political force is doomed. And should be.

Whether my fears are legitimate or not, for years I have been concerned about a well-funded, well-organized religious outfit which holds precisely that belief -- that homosexuals should be killed. I refer to Chalcedon, founded by the late R.J. Rushdoony. I was first alerted to their stealthy, even hegemonic presence back in the mid 1990s, when I saw a full page ad the Washington Times featuring a conference led by Rushdoony and a number of prominent conservatives, whose pictures were featured in the ad along with Rushdoony. When I learned what the man thought about executing homosexuals, it gave me pause. And it gave me the creeps that "conservatives" would be sharing the stage and promoting him at a conference major enough to be running a full page ad in America's leading right wing newspaper.

This is not a question of free speech. Rushdoony and his ilk have just as much right to articulate their views as Holocaust deniers (which Rushdoony has been accused of being, BTW...) It's a question of what is part of conservatism, and it is just as legitimate to raise questions about whether Rushdoonyites are welcome in conservative circles as it is to ask whether Bill Ayers is welcome in liberal circles.

Nor is the question one of guilt by association. Just as in the case with Bill Ayers, it's not so much whether someone has a connection with a loon, but whether they endorse, agree with, or think the loon's views should be part of the mainstream.

As to what is mainstream, and what constitutes endorsement of lunatic views, the devil is in the details. But to me, being a follower of a loon who advocates killing homosexuals crosses a certain line. Along with others, I objected when Tom McClintock's campaign manager was found to be a Rushdoonyite, because I don't think such people should have legitimacy in conservative circles.

Much to my horror, I was reminded recently that Rushdoony followers are alive and well in conservative circles. At least this one is:

A contact kindly forwards me a new interview with Doug Giles, posted at the Chalcedon Foundation. Giles relates his early years as a junkie (although the youthful arrests for burglary are no longer part of his shtick) and how a charismatic church caused him to "clean up" his act (no mention of His People either). However, these charismatics were "defeatist", so he turned to Rousas Rushdoony, now deceased but whose sinister visage frowns out from the Chalcedon page.....
There is an important distinction between Rushdoony's group (who keep their advocacy of killing homosexuals discreet) and the raving lunatics of the Fred Phelps/Pastor Steven Anderson variety. The latter rave while the former quietly insinuate themselves -- in a determined manner that reminds me of the Communist Party -- into positions of leadership and, if you will, respectability. Their goal is legitimacy and power. Giles is a respected Townhall blogger, and his daughter (of recent ACORN sting fame) seems to be doing quite well for herself too. Whether her father believes in the book on his desk and actually wants to kill homosexuals, who knows? (I am not the first to ask "is Doug a Charismatic Reconstructionist, but downplaying his links with the movement in order to reach a wider audience?") Wider audience is right. But what does he mean when he says
The thing I like about Rushdoony and the others -- they know we're gonna win this thing.
What is this this "thing"? Does his up-and-coming daughter share her father's views?

Or is it rude of me to ask? (As I explained yesterday, I don't like to go on the offensive, and I try to be polite. Is there a polite way to ask about such things?)

All I can say -- and I mean this sincerely -- is that I hope she doesn't approve of killing homosexuals. I can't believe I'm even saying that or imagining that she might think such a thing. But there are people do think such things, and what would Rushdoony's book that advocates them be doing on her father's desk? I raise these questions not merely because I don't want such views to be a part of the mainstream, but because I absolutely loathe ACORN, and I wouldn't want them to be able to claim that they were the victims of a group of people who believe homosexuals should be killed.

I'd be a lot more comfortable if the man would state for the record whether he agrees with Rushdoony that homosexuals should be killed.

If someone in a similar position of power and influence had the works of Stalin or Mao on his desk, I'd also have questions.

And I'd be called a "red baiter" for asking whether they approved of mass murder, because supporting Communism is acceptable to the mainstream.

(I hope that asking conservatives whether they approve of killing homosexuals is a fair question, and not "Rushdoony-baiting.")

UPDATE: My research has alleviated any concerns I might have had about Doug Giles. He may have Rushdoony's book on his desk, but in his Townhall blog, he makes it quite clear that he does not agree with executing people for homosexuality:

...before the reflexive left gets there neckerchiefs and their thongs in an irreversible knot, I'm not homophobic. And I couldn't care less what adults do with other adults in the privacy of their own homes. If men want to have sex with other men, let 'em have at it. Just don't expect me to wear a special ribbon in support of it or to cheer it on during the Testicle Parade when you march through my city, OK?

The axe I have to grind is with the criminal advocacy of men seducing and raping underage boys.
OK, that's fair enough for me. (And I wasn't planning on marching in his city's Testicle Parade, so I don't expect any special ribbons!)

Moreover, Coco and I both liked what he said about pit bulls:

The pit bull epitomizes courage and persistence. They are little, scrappy warriors who will not back down. They face difficulties with a win-or-die perspective. They love the battle . . . they love the heat . . . they love the fight . . . and everything that is good, praiseworthy and noble comes through difficulty.
Yeah, and it can be difficult sometimes.

I'm just glad to have found those quotes.

I of all people should remember that it is possible to admire even a crackpot like Rushdoony without agreeing with everything he said.

posted by Eric on 09.16.09 at 12:26 PM


That stuff about Hannah Giles is already starting to depress me. If it is true it will really depress me.

But I have to say that in politics scum rises to the top. Just as it does in fetid pools of water.

My grandfather used to say "they are all crooks". That was far too mild. I'm going with "they are all scum".

M. Simon   ·  September 16, 2009 2:04 PM

I'm not defending her, I have no idea what her views on gays are.

Let's say that she does think Fred Phelps is too wishy-washy about gays, does that change what she's done?

I'm not voting for her or following her, I'm enjoying watching her and the white Huggy Bear take down a criminal enterprise with links to the highest places in our gov't.

Stalin once helped us with Hitler after all.

Veeshir   ·  September 16, 2009 3:13 PM

No, it wouldn't change what she's done (or the value of what she's done) at all. After all, many great films were made by Communist Party members, just I'm sure that Holocaust Deniers are capable of valid accomplishments.

My concern is that wacko beliefs like Rushdoony's not become a part of mainstream conservatism.

Eric Scheie   ·  September 16, 2009 4:03 PM

Do conservatives approve of killing . . . Good lord.

I'm sure that some do, probably in the same proportion to the overall group as exists in the general population itself, but I'm assuming you mean, is there something about, or within, conservatism that would lead one to such a moral position . . . .

No. No, no no. Frankly, when you get past surface slogans, I know more "liberals" than "conservatives" who are willing and able to condemn and vilify others based on some group membership - including sexual preference.

Neal Stephenson has a good treatment of this theme in Cryptonomicon, talking about the ability of one group to fall back on an "owner's manual" of tradition and moral rule-accepting, while the other group simply crashes when confronted with readings outside of their own accepted parameters - meaning, the first group can separate the "sin" from the "sinner", while for the second, the "sinner" is simply evil and vile and must be removed.

bobby b   ·  September 16, 2009 6:48 PM

My point is that it is not conservatism, and should not be conservatism. That people who hold such views (while they have a right to hold them) should not be allowed to get away with characterizing their views as conservatism. They should be treated the same way Holocaust Deniers are treated.

Eric Scheie   ·  September 16, 2009 7:40 PM

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