Over the past several months, ISIS elements have either been in the headlines and news shows, particularly for their use of force, violence, and media savvy in getting across the point that nothing is sacred, except their own narrow beliefs, in their attempts to establish an Islamic religiously-based nation state. To this end, ISIS operatives have beheaded journalists, tortured and killed anyone who does not believe as they do, destroyed ancient cultural artifacts, sold whatever they could to raise funds for their holy crusade, and made it crystal-clear that women are not the equal of men and should be their slaves.
Much of the world, including the United States, has been appalled, disgusted, often horrified, and made the point that ISIS is not what a civilized nation should be, particularly because ISIS denies any freedom to anyone that is in the slightest against what they regard as Islamic Sharia law.
Yet…everyone tends to forget that we have an analogue to ISIS right here in the United States. And no, they’re not Muslim. They regard themselves as God-fearing, good religious Christians who often cite the U. S. Constitution – or at least their version of it – in much the same way that ISIS cites the Koran to support its horrific actions. If you haven’t guessed, yet, I’m speaking of the extreme right-wing, fanatical Republicans.
These people aren’t terribly interested in anyone’s freedom except their own, no matter how much they declare they are, except perhaps for the freedom to carry deadly weapons [another similarity to ISIS]. Their idea of freedom is exemplified most recently by Kim Davis, the county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because the idea of gay marriage is against her faith. Let’s get this straight. No one is forcing Ms. Davis personally to marry someone of the same sex. The law and the Supreme Court have stated that any two single individuals, regardless of gender, have the right to get married. No one is forcing anyone into a single-sex marriage. But her freedoms are infringed because she can’t impose her views of marriage on others?
These right-wing groups also oppose environmental regulations in almost any form, claiming that such regulations are everything from excessive to unwarranted because the costs infringe on their rights to make money. In effect, they’re claiming that their right to make money trumps the right of the public to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and not to inflict huge ocean level rises and higher global temperatures and more massive storms upon our children and grandchildren.
Despite the fact that the minimum wage is well below a living wage, the right-wingers insist that they should be able to make a living by paying other people less than is adequate for those people to make a living… and then they complain that government should cut back on programs for the poorest Americans because taxes, especially on right-wing capitalists, are too high.
Likewise, in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court declared that, under certain reasonable conditions, women had the right to have abortions. The most violent members of the Republican right wing are insisting, literally, that a woman who will die if she brings a child to term has no right to save herself by having an abortion. This is anything but the defense of freedom; it is the use of religion to dominate someone else.
And let’s not get into the “life is sacred” or “right to life” simplistic mantras. Both are largely right-wing hypocritical propaganda. The same people who spew this crap are the very ones who oppose all the programs for the poorest and most disadvantaged. If there is such a thing as a right to life, then it should be manifested by support of all lives throughout their lives, not just until they’re born… and then left on their own. As for the sacredness of life, where did that come from? From religion, of course, and that means that using religion to restrict a woman’s freedom to control her own body — and to survive – is effectively using the law to arrogate one particular set of beliefs over every other… and that is, at least in spirit, the use of law to push a particular religion, and not all that different from using the law to create a nationally required church [which, by the way, is in fact forbidden by the Constitution]. Also, as for life being sacred, these are the same people who want, under the right to bear arms, the right to defend themselves by killing other people, waging war on other nations, and using and shooting every form of life that can be hunted, while supporting actions that have effectively resulted in the latest great extinction of planetary life-forms, suggesting that what life they regard as sacred is a tiny fraction of planetary life, and essentially white-skinned.
Admittedly, the Republican right wingers are making this assault on the personal freedoms of those who do not share their values largely through two essentially American tools – money and law – although in some cases, a few more fanatical right-wingers have actually used weapons to gun down doctors who performed abortions. Not only that, but each year the extremists push for more and more measures to restrict the freedoms of others, continually threatening to shut down government if they don’t get their way.
And, frankly, like all too many moderate and good Muslims, who are loath to strongly and publicly criticize Islamic extremists, all too many of the more decent elements in the Republican party have also been loath to speak out, largely because, I suspect, they immediately tend to be attacked, ignored, or ostracized.
As a life-long Republican, who retains his registration in spite of seldom being able to find a Republican candidate I can support, and who served in positions from precinct committeeman, state delegate, Congressional Staff director, and the politically appointed director of the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs at the U.S. EPA during the Reagan Administration, I am absolutely disgusted and appalled that the most conservative elements of the Republican Party have more in common with ISIS than with the Constitution drafted and envisioned in their writings by the Founding Fathers… and that they fail to realize that fact.