Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wonder which way Reverend Falwell went?

SAFER? Now Reverend Jerry's gone, Tinky-Winky can come out again.

THERE is not much in the way of good news these days. In Gaza, as if the effect of sanctions and Israeli siege and attacks was not enough, gunmen working for rival gangsters have terrorised people off their streets. In Portugal, the parents of a missing little girl called Madeleine cling frantically to hope that she is still alive though the search for her has got nowhere.

In France a right-wing son of emigres from Hungary promises to get tough with immigrants, and take away working people's hard-won rights. In Britain, it looks like Gordon Brown is on his way unopposed to Number 10, though for how long we don't know. Not enough Labour MPs could be found to back left-winger John McDonnell. Trade unionists whose real pay has been cut by Brown as Chancellor of the Exchequer must watch union leaders trying to make backdoor deals with Brown for promises about what he will do as Prime Minister.

So as we look around for something to cheer us up, here's one piece of good news. In the United States, the Reverend Jerry Falwell has snuffed it. Popped his clogs. Gone to meet his Maker. Or to t'other place, if you believe it exists.
My fellow blogger Janine Booth gives you a flavour of Jerry Falwell's preaching:

On Apartheid: a "bulwark for Christian civilization".

On AIDS: "the wrath of a just God".

On Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement: “the Civil Wrongs Movement.”

On the 9/11 attacks: "I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, and the ACLU and People For the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say 'You helped this happen.'"

"He also held some wacko theory about the forthcoming day of 'Rapture', when God would pop down to Earth and spirit all his true followers away to Heaven. They'd vanish - just like that. And everyone else would die in some gory global wipeout. Nice".

I met journalist Christopher Hitchens once on the road between Tuzla and the Dalmatian coast, when our bus was detained for hours by Croatian president Tudjman's charming cops. We had a beer together later, though not a long chat as he was more interested in chatting up Julie Christie, which was fair enough. I have been sorry to see him go off since then on a political bender, winding up more right-wing (on the Iraq war at any rate) than his brother Peter who worked for the Tory Daily Express. (Peter Hitchens moved on to the equally right-wing Mail. Both Hitchens brothers were at one time members of the International Socialists, which became the Socialist Workers Party). But Hitchens, recently naturalized an American citizen, has remained an atheist and an opponent of religious reactionaries, racketeers and bigots like Falwell.

Here is him being interviewed about the Reverend Jerry by Anderson Cooper on American TV:

Cooper: Christopher, I'm not sure if you believe in heaven, but, if you do, do you think Jerry Falwell is in it?
Hitchens: No. And I think it's a pity there isn't a hell for him to go to.

Hitchens points out how the good Christian Reverend, recipient of a Jabotinsky Award from the late Menachem Begin, made antisemitic innuendos to please his goyish constituency at home, while at the same time supporting the most extreme right-wing Zionist settlers in Palestine. He also alludes to the worrying fact that such seemingly way-out preachers of Armageddon can be well-in with the president in Washington.
Hitchens: "The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing, that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called reverend. Who would, even at your network, have invited on such a little toad to tell us that the attacks of September 11 were the result of our sinfulness and were God's punishment if they hadn't got some kind of clerical qualification? People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign and selling pencils from a cup."

Hitchens: "...[T]he country suffers, to a considerable extent, from paying too much, by way of compliment, to anyone who can describe themselves as a person of faith: Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Chaucerian frauds, people who are simply pickpockets..."

Cooper: Do you believe he believed what he spoke?

Hitchens: Of course not. He woke up every morning, as I say, pinching his chubby little flanks and thinking, I have got away with it again.

Cooper: You think he was a complete fraud, really?

Hitchens: Yes.

Cooper: You don't believe that, I mean, in his reading of the Bible, you don't think he was sincere in his—whether you agree or not with his reading of the Bible—you don't think he was sincere in what he spoke?

Hitchens: No. I think he was a conscious charlatan and bully and fraud. And I think, if he read the Bible at all—and I would doubt that he could actually read any long book of—at all—that he did so only in the most hucksterish, as we say, Bible-pounding way.

Cooper thanked Hitchens, reminded the audience that he's all about diverse opinions, then ended the segment on this note: "Coming up, we are going to look at Jerry Falwell's war on homosexuality, blaming gays and lesbians for 9/11, among other things, [he] even warned about the Teletubbies, as we mentioned. What was his problem with Tinky-Winky? Find out next on 360."
I only ever watched the Teletubbies programme once, and having first cut my political teeth on the CND marches when "Spies for Peace" drew attention to Britain's secret nuclear bunkers, I was a bit alarmed at seeing a children's programme in which some mutants in strange suits appear briefly on a grassy mound then have to disappear underground again whenever the siren goes. Did the makers know something that we should?, I wondered. (My generation feared a war between two super-powers. It's funny how fewer people seem worried about nuclear weapons now every Tom, Dick and Harry has them. Could They be putting something more soporific than fluoride in our water these days?).
Still the arrival of Teletubbies, from pre-school fare to a cult programme among those of student age has arguably been good for the nation's youth, as many who would not otherwise be up before noon began getting up to munch their cornflakes in front of mid-morning TV.
But Jerry Falwell's complaint was different. These god-botherers can always spot stuff we might otherwise miss (remember Mary Whitehouse denouncing 'My Ding A Ling"?) and in February 1999, Rev.Jerry denounced the Teletubbies, declaring that Tinky Winky was a sinful homosexual, his evidence being that: "He is purple - the gay-pride colour; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle - the gay-pride symbol." Not to mention the handbag.
At least Tinky Winky and his pals can breath a sigh of relief now. Aah...
The rest of us can worry that while Rev.Jerry goes down, the man he helped into the White House is still there, still waging war on the infidel, and backing Zionist aggression, and still dangerously close to that "Rapture" button.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home