Friday, December 16, 2005


Distractions are all around us. Much of my work is done at home, where distractions abound. It’s easy to find things that need doing (dustbunnies under the chair, dishes in the sink) when I should be making phone calls or writing work plans. We are constantly bombarded with advertising and faux news. We receive constant updates on celebrity gossip – I don’t know about the rest of you folks out there – but how can I be expected to go on when Nick and Jessica have split up? Sorting through all of the information is a chore, so much so that many seem to have given up. We’re not upset that we receive less coverage of world politics in our newspapers – after all – Brad and Angelina are going to adopt a baby – TOGETHER. That’s the kind of stuff that really matters.

During this holiday season, the Falwellian Christians are engaging in some loud public distraction. Jerry Falwell is encouraging his flock to boycott businesses that greet customers with “happy holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas.” He is collecting money for a legal defense fund, the better to sue anyone who “tries to inhibit the liberties of our children and our families from worshipping and honoring the Lord, as we in America are constitutionally allowed to do.” Jerry, with the help of Fox News phonus bolonus Bill O’Reilly are trying to whip the faithful into a righteous frenzy of persecuted Christianhood, over the “liberal plot” to destroy Christmas.

In my traveling around the state, I haven’t noticed any lack of Christmas going on. I hear plenty of Christmas carols on the radio, folks are shopping, folks are sending Christmas cards, and folks are even saying Merry Christmas to one another. Falwell and O’Reilly’s phony distraction crusade would be hilarious, if it weren’t so dangerous. The religious right has been trying to convince us of their persecution for years now. Whenever they are reminded that they share this country with people of other religions, they start sniveling about what victims they are. No one is persecuting them for practicing their religion. I haven’t seen or read about Christian churches being forcibly closed down by “libruls” or government agents. It’s smoke and mirrors, designed to keep the faithful busy, while Falwell, and the high mucky-mucks are busy building empires, raking in cash, and acquiring power.

If Falwell and his ilk were at all what they claim to be, they’d be busily joining forces with Jim Wallis, and other religious leaders who, in this holiday season, are busy fighting the real war – the war on the American poor and middle class. This week, over 100 prayer vigils were held across the country, calling on Congress to soften their hearts, and not pass a budget that cuts programs like school lunch programs, food stamps, foster care, and low interest student loans. The Council of Churches is mobilizing clergy around the country to call attention to the fact that a budget is a moral document. No one will die if a store clerk says “happy holidays.” Children may very well die, without foster care funding, and without school lunches. The “war on Christmas” is a farce. The war being waged on the poor in this country is painfully real.

NH is not immune from distraction. The NH commission to study same sex marriage has proven to be another farce. It’s quite clear that the commission went forward with their findings fully in place before a single word of testimony was ever heard. Senator Jack Barnes called for amending the NH constitution, before the commission took even a minute to review their findings. He’s written to every town in the state, urging the selectmen to put two non-binding warrants on the ballot in March. One asking if voters favor same sex marriage (like Massachusetts) and another asking if they approve of civil unions (like Vermont.) He hasn’t yet heard from any towns, which seems to suggest that most towns have plenty of real business to deal with at town meeting, and no time or patience for the war on homosexuals.

This is a nasty bit of politicking. What Barnes and his ilk hope to accomplish is whipping the GOP faithful into an anti-gay political frenzy during the 2006 elections, as a form of distraction. There are a lot of issues that should be discussed during the state elections, and certainly it’s in the best interest of the ruling party to keep them as quiet as possible. Political ethics, property tax, education, housing, development, and health care are important issues in our state – and an honest discussion about them won’t be flattering to the majority party.

NH voters are suspicious of constitutional amendments, as Jack Barnes may discover. Coos County Democrat reporter Edith Tucker summed up the feelings of many in the north country on “NH Outlook” when she said that folks in the north were more interested in whether people are good neighbors or not, and didn’t care much about sexual orientation. It is sorry, indeed, that the right is using this as an attempt to pit neighbor against neighbor, and keep the focus off legislative ethics or our unjust system of taxation.

The sky hasn’t fallen, since Vermont and Massachusetts changed their laws. Lightening bolts didn’t strike when they chose to grant civil rights to our gay brothers and sisters. NH would be no different – but it would mean one fewer wedge issue for sleazy politicians to use.

America is addicted to wars of distraction.” Barbara Ehrenriech


WJCowie said...

So this is where you have been hiding you Scottish minx.

Anonymous said...

Great Article!!

susanb said...

That's Ms. Minx to you, wjcowie.

Thank you, anonymous.

Jon Easton said...

Someone posted part of your article on the NH Marriage [same sex marriage] yahoo group. I sent them the link to this blog.