Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Arizona politician mistakes YMCA campers for migrant children

From azcentral courtesy of Eschaton:

He had tweeted from the scene, "Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law." He included a photo of the back of a yellow school bus.

Kwasman later told me he saw the migrant children. "I was actually able to see some of the children in the buses. The fear on their faces.... This is not compassion," he said.

But there was a problem with Kwasman's story: There was no fear on their faces. Those weren't the migrant children in the school bus. Those were children from the Marana school district. They were heading to the YMCA's Triangle Y Camp, not far from the Rite of Passage shelter for the migrants, at the base of Mt. Lemmon.

More here, with video.

Back in the summer of '85 I attended a Southern Baptist youth camp in Glorieta, New Mexico. It was the first time I ever encountered an undeniably deluded nut-job right-winger. Or maybe he wasn't so crazy. Maybe he was just extraordinarily stupid. To this day, I'm still not sure.

The camp had divided us all into groups with ten or so total strangers. Each "tribe" was led by a volunteer adult, usually some kind of youth minister from another church. Our leader was a really nice guy, funny, and kind of intense. But you know, we were all there for some religious experiences, so intensity was definitely a plus. I had no idea what a whack job this guy was until we were a few days into our week long stay there.

At the time, the all-star charity-for-Africa song "We Are the World" was continuing its multi-month domination of the charts. I was never a big fan of the record, but, you know, it was okay, and for a good cause, so whatever. Our group leader, on the other hand, totally HATED it, he told us, when it came up in casual conversation one day. And he hated it for religious reasons: the Bible tells us that we are NOT the world, that the world is evil, and this song is doing Satan's work. Apparently, he was riffing on a specific Bible verse, John 15:19, one I'd read already at some point, but would never in my wildest dreams think in any way to connect it with Harry Belafonte's extraordinarily successful hunger project.

I mean, how could "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you," ever, ever, ever have anything to do with "We Are the World"?

I asked our leader, "You don't think it's just a song trying to feed starving people?"

"No!" he told me, "We are NOT the world! We are Christians! And we already have organizations in place to feed the hungry. This song is coming from Satan." And he really meant it. Actually, a lot of people around and about the summer camp were talking this way. It was like the big meme among fundamentalists that summer. "We Are the World" is of the Devil because we are NOT the world.

Anyway, the whole thing was just amazingly stupid. Stupid or crazy, still not sure. To imagine that the tune's writers were referring to that verse in John is beyond a stretch. It's downright weird, and all these people believed it. Indeed, I was a bit disturbed by how the idea was being pushed, and at that point I was a conservative Southern Baptist, too. I mean, it was just so obvious that they were focusing on some similar wording and seeing evil because they expected to see it, sinful rock stars and all that jazz, and not because there was anything there to actually see.

This is almost exactly the same dynamic with this weirdo politician in Arizona who thought American kids going to a summer camp were actually the horrid immigrant children from Central America. He clearly lives in the right-wing echo chamber 24/7, totally convinced that the liberals are trying to destroy everything, that forces of darkness are all around him, whether it's Satan, or socialists, or Mexicans trying to take back their land, whatever. He sees things in the shadows and they're real to him, so he runs his stupid mouth about it just like that youth minister railing away on "We Are the World" nearly thirty years ago.

Amazingly stupid? Deeply crazed and disturbed? Both? We may never know, but I do wonder how many people like this are running around the country these days.