A Gathering of Haters

 Every once in a while I like to sink my teeth into one of those epic Stephen King, edge-of-your-seat thrillers about evil coalescing in the countryside while the residents plod on with their humdrum lives not knowing a fetid malignancy is seeping into the ground water and turning their children into zombies. They always end the same way, with the forces of good and the forces of evil in a pitched battle for the fate of mankind. Great fun on the pages of a horror novel! Not so in real life. But the forces of evil are gathering in Brenham Texas this weekend, so the forces of good must be ready.

If life were as perfect as a Stephen King novel, right about now the people in the Brenham area might be noticing buzzards circling over an unusual number of road kill casualties on the highway up to old Judge Pressler’s place. At night, long haul truckers passing through Brenham would report spying swiftly moving black limousines with smoke glass windows to thwart prying eyes. Any enterprising journalist trying to snap a photo of these arrivals would find nothing but a dark smudge where the image should be, and his camera lens permanently fogged. As the Haters gather, low hanging clouds would begin to form over the area, throwing lightning bolts at any interloper who wanders too close. And if your car should break down on the road to Brenham and you need to seek help? Whatever you do, don’t let on that you’re gay.

But it’s not a King fable to curl up with on a cold winter’s night. This is real. This is happening right now, and it is scarier than anything King could write. The Haters have been summoned to the ranch of longtime conservative activist, retired Texas Judge Paul Pressler. They may call themselves, “Conservatives” or “Evangelicals”, “Baptists” or “Christians”, but make no mistake, what the people answering the call to Brenham have in common is a burning hatred for anyone who does not share their vision of an American theocracy.

The Iowa Caucus has the Haters spooked. They understand how the splintered social conservative vote can enable a Romney victory. And Mitt Romney is not one of them. Yes, he said he would veto the Dream Act and repeal DADT. And yes, his foreign affairs advisors are the same Dick Cheney neocons who brought America a decade of war. But the Haters suspect Romney is faking his hard-line positions. He is not filled with their sense of righteousness. No venom drips from his perfect toothy smile. They need a Hater! They need someone dark enough to force women to incubate their rapist’s baby. Someone who thinks gays are an aberration unworthy of human rights. Someone who believes the unemployed are lazy and that ten-year old poor kids should muck out the bathrooms of ten-year old rich kids. Someone who will bomb Iran. Who will electrocute immigrants as they try to swim our alligator infested Mexican moat. Someone who will put immigrants on a bus back to wherever they came from, anchor babies be damned. Someone who will hate! Hate is where their strength comes from. Hate is their power base. And they know they need to agree on a single man to carry their banner or the forces of Good might win!

The list of invitees is not readily available – evil operates best in the dark. But we can surmise from the cast of characters we know will be hosting, and those who have said they would be attending, that the invitation list looks very similar to membership roster of the old “Arlington Group” that whispered in the ear of Karl Rove and the Bush White House. I don’t imagine it will surprise you that all of the hosts have been active opponents of marriage equality. The goal of this group, as pundit Dana Milbank put it, is to bring about a “government that can restrain and direct the morals of the people”. They argue that the role of government should be to stand against abortion and marriage equality, comparing such a stance to outlawing slavery or enforcing racial equality.

Host James Dobson, the man who wrote the book “Dare to Discipline” encouraging parents to spank their children with “sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry”, has long been a shining beacon of hatred. He not only stands proudly for marriage inequality, he adds that a good marriage is “one where husband and wife are lawfully married, are committed to each other for life, and have a homemaker mother and breadwinner father.” Sustaining marriage inequality is a jihad to Dobson who has said: “There is no issue today that is more significant to our culture than the defense of the family. Not even the war on terror eclipses it.”

Host Gary Bauer is another Hater you will know. Perhaps his name made you conjure up an image of a little man falling off the stage during an exuberant pancake flip, but don’t let the buffoon obscure the zealot. Bauer’s hatred does not stop at the same-sex alter. He is a signer of the “Manhattan Declaration” which calls for civil disobedience of any law Christians feel does not fit with their personal moral code, and a signatory to the modern warmonger creed – “The New American Century Statement of Principles”, which led to the unwarranted invasion of Iraq for fun and profit. 

Host Don Wildmon may not be a familiar name, but you will know his work. He’s from the Jerry Falwell school of  “One of the Telletubbies is gay!” and “They are using Sponge Bob to promote homosexuality!” Since the days of  “I Dream of Jeannie” he has been trying to dictate what you watch on your TV. M*A*S*H*, Dallas, Three’s Company. If Wildmon had his way, such fare would never have made its way to your living room. These days he’s actively campaigning to try to force Disney World to outlaw the LGBT community sponsored “Gay Days” at the Florida theme park.

Hosts Paul and Nancy Pressler’s  claim to fame is that they conscript officers into the army of Haters. Richard Land, the President of the Southern  Baptist Convention’s Commission of Ethics and Religious Liberty said of the couple “I wouldn’t be in the ministry today without Judge and Nancy’s ministry in my life. There are literally thousands of people in this country who are in the ministry today directly because of the ministry of Paul and Nancy Pressler,”

Also invited to attend is Bob Vander Plaats, who led the successful campaign to get rid of three of  the Iowa Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act, which brought marriage equality to that state. Vander Plaats is such a Hater, that when he ran his losing campaign for Iowa Governor, he promised he would order county clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even though it directly thwarted the court’s order.

These principals may have the same principles, but they have a problem. They all back different candidates. The Presslers, good Texans, are Perry backers, while Wildmon likes Gingrich. Vander Plaats is hot for Santorum. Dobson has not publicly endorsed anyone, but in the 2010 Kentucky Senate Race, he withdrew his endorsement of Trey Grayson and switch to Rand Paul, which leaves many to speculate he might be a Ron Paul backer. No one has told Bauer whom he likes yet.

So they are being summoned. The “religious” ones. The ones who couch their bigotry in terms of God and faith. They have gathered with the mission of coalescing their support around one of the Right Wing candidates. Then, when that decision has been made, the group will bring pressure to bear on those not chosen to get out of the race. Sometime this week, we should know who won that battle.

So vigilance! Eyes open. Ear to the ground. Be watchful for dark cars with their darker riders. This is the last chapter. The climax we all knew was coming.  The epic battle of the  Forces of Good versus the Forces of Hate. And we’ve all been drafted to the pitched battle for the fate of mankind – also known as Election 2012

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