Monday, August 25, 2003

Behind the tablets

Here's an interesting and amusing report from Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is located in Montgomery, Alabama, site of this week's excitement over the Ten Commandments:

Just in case anyone's wondering about extremist content in re the 10 Commandments brouhaha in Montgomery:

Last Saturday, the rally for the 10 Commandments included as speakers Howard Phillips of the Constitution Party (formerly USTP), along with Jerry Falwell and Alan Keyes and a number of lesser lights. The crowd was about 50 percent neo-Confederate, with flags and such, even though organizers were supposedly turning Confederate flags away. The crowd was working class and overwhelmingly white -- a careful count by me concluded that out of a maximum 2,000 present (it may have been closer to 1,500), there were at most 20 black faces.

A funny moment came when a clueless Falwell invoked Martin Luther King, saying that Roy Moore was just like King. The entire crowd skipped a beat ... silence ... and then the most tepid applause you ever heard.

Later, Falwell compounded the error by referring to America as a land of immigrants, and actually quoted Emma Lazarus. This time, the crowd's answer was deafening silence.

Ha ha ha ha ha. You'd think by now Falwell would remember who his audience is.
Meanwhile, in the crowd was our good friend Neal Horsley, along with his scary sidekick, Jonathan Toole. The First Freedom, Olaf Childress' patently racist (and now anti-Semitic, complete with references to the "Jew World Order") and neo-Confederate paper, was being handed out, along with a variety of radical anti-abortion tracts and even several pieces of literature attacking Catholics ("papists," etc.).

One guy had a sign that read, "The 10 Commandments or..." then, on the other side, "The 10 Planks of the Communist Manifesto." Now, there's a choice!

Overall, the whole thing has had the flavor of a New Yorker cartoon, the classic depicting a guy with a long white beard and a sign screaming "REPENT!" Lots of sackcloths and ashes, etc. Trucks with giant photos of aborted fetuses, another one painted all over with Irwin Schiff anti-tax propaganda.

Of course, the chief extremist in all of this is Roy Moore.

FYI, I would say that public opinion in Alabama (yes, Alabama) is running against Moore. You can see this in the TV coverage, the letters to the editor page, the people you hear on the street. Moore is seen as incredibly arrogant (moving the thing in in the middle of the night, etc.) and not particularly charismatic. God willing (so to speak), he has no chance to be our next governor, which is the real underlying program here. There have been a lot of arrests (30-plus), but they seem to all be of professional arrestees (that is, anti-abortion activists, most from out of state, who make a practice of getting arrested as a routine political matter.)

Mark also informs me that Hutton Gibson was in the crowd. I also gather that Flip Benham of "Operation Rescue" notoriety has been hanging out in Montgomery. Among the other extremist participants:

-- W.N. Otwell, who leads camouflage-garbed protesters at abortion clinics and who has protested "race-mixing," calling America a "white man's country."

-- Greg Dixon, the leader of the extremist Indianapolis Baptist Temple.

-- Michael Hill, president of the neo-Confederate (and definitively racist, not to mention openly secessionist) League of the South.

-- John Cripps, a noted neo-Confederate.

I wonder how many supposedly "mainstream" Christians are embracing these people's quest?

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