Tom DeLay and Christian Fascism

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Tom DeLay at a news conference on the Terri Schiavo case March 20

Oklahoma Gazette | April 22, 2005
One of the most controversial columns that I have written for Oklahoma Gazette came out three years ago: about using the f-word. It listed the 14 characteristics of fascism and warned that the country was headed in that direction, under the guise of Christian fundamentalism. Letter writers called it, among other things, pathetic and preposterous.

That was before U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay, and his war against the judiciary. The most powerful Republican in the nation, next to President George W. Bush, DeLay doesn't represent the fringe of the party. He is the heart and soul of today's Republican Party. Take a long, hard look at his face, and you will see something as frightening as any terrorist threat: It's the face of Christian fascism.

DeLay believes that the judicial system in the United States is the new enemy of morality. Viewing the idea of separation of powers as quaint no doubt, DeLay says the federal courts have run amok, while Congress complains but does nothing to reassert authority over the courts. His answer to judges who are foolish enough to use reason rather than religious doctrine to decide cases: Impeach them!

Our founding fathers must be turning over in their graves. An independent judiciary is one of the fundamental principles of our democracy, and yet DeLay, trying hard to avert the gaze of the nation from his own misdeeds, suggests that impeachment is the proper punishment for judges who ignore the will of Congress or are found to have followed foreign laws (especially if they are French).

He also thinks Congress should pass bills to eliminate court jurisdiction from some social issues or God's position in public life; alter Senate rules that permit the Democratic minority to filibuster Bush's nominees; and use congressional authority over court budgets when our elected officials, in all their divine wisdom, find that judges have exceeded their authority.

Now that the executive and legislative branches are firmly in Republican hands, there is only one branch of the government left to conquer: those terrorists in the long black robes without the turbans. The ones we were taught as children to respect and call "Your Honor." The ones who weigh evidence, revere the law, and cherish the separation of church and state. Will we all rise as they enter the room, and then ask them to be seated in the defendant's chair as we begin the impeachment proceedings?

This is not a bad dream or a liberal rant; this is happening. And, not to be left behind in the Constitution-shredding business, Oklahoma has weighed in.

Claiming the independence of the judiciary is a misunderstanding, organizers of a conference called "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" claimed an overarching judiciary turned the courts into an oligarchy, according to The Washington Post. They are kings of the land.

If that sounds like the kind of language that could get a judge killed, consider this: At the conference, The Nation reported, Michael Schwartz, chief of staff to Sen. Tom Coburn, went even further and remarked to an attendee, "I'm a radical! I'm a real extremist. I don't want to impeach judges. I want to impale them!"

Among the names given by the Christian right to judges: communists, terrorists and murderers. Echoing a familiar phrase from Ronald Reagan, Alan Keyes said he believes the judiciary is the focus of evil in our society today. The specter of Joseph Stalin was even invoked by Edwin Vieira, a lawyer and author of "How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary": "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him whenever he ran into difficulty: 'No man, no problem.'"

If that sends a chill down your spine, then you still have one. The nation is in peril. The U.S. Constitution is under attack. And the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal was dead right when he said, "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction."

Robin Meyers is senior minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church and a professor of rhetoric at Oklahoma City University.

Oklahoma Gazette

In its inaugural issue of Oct. 15, 1979, Oklahoma Gazette, at that time an upstart, bimonthly publication with a mere 2,000 circulation, featured a page-one story about the Oklahoma City Council’s recent passage of an urban conservation district. Hardly sexy...
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