Politics: May 2008 Archives

John McCain has ditched the support of John Hagee. Hagee has some pretty wacky views. I'll be the first to say that. They don't compare in offensiveness with those of Jeremiah Wright, but they are weird. The fact that Hagee supported him also doesn't compare with Obama's 20-year commitment (with lots of money given), since McCain didn't invite anything from Hagee, never mind attend his church or announce him as his spiritual adviser (before pretending the media had invented that term when it came back to haunt him).

But one complaint did seem to get a foothold. Hagee has a reputation for being anti-Semitic, and McCain finally gave in when a particular statement (from about a decade ago) surfaced. This statement, which can be found here, basically amounts to saying that God had a purpose for allowing the Holocaust, and that purpose was to bring his people Israel back to the Holy Land. This statement was labeled anti-Semitic, and because of it McCain ended up withdrawing his acceptance of Hagee's support of it.

This completely baffles me. Hagee's statement is unfounded biblically. It's a stupid inference to draw given that we're not in a position to know much about what purposes God might have had for allowing Hitler to do what he did. Nevertheless, it's neither innovative nor anti-Jewish to think God had purposes for Jews through what happened in the Holocaust. It's parallel to many things said throughout the Hebrew Bible, including the way the Bible speaks of Jacob's ordeals with Laban, Joseph's trials with his brothers and in Egypt, all Israel's captivity in Egypt, and their much later captivity in Babylon.

Certainly anyone who accepts Christian teaching will find it hard to deny that the Holocaust is part of all things, since it did happen, and Christian teaching includes Paul's statements about all things working together for good. But you don't need the New Testament to see that the basic thesis that the Holocaust must have served some ultimate purpose in God's plans is perfectly representative of the theology of the Hebrew Bible, i.e. what contemporary Jews recognize as the Bible. There's plenty of criticism of Jews among their own prophets, though it's not criticism of Jews as Jews but of particular Jews or the majority of particular generations of Jews at a time. Hagee would surely agree with all that as part of the Christian Bible. But the main claim here is simply that it's anti-Semitic to think that God had a purpose for the Holocaust. That's completely and totally crazy.

Senator McCain should not have given in on this for the reason he seems to have given in on it. Hagee has weird views, and proposing the particular purpose he did goes way beyond anything a Christian should conclude from the theology the biblical authors assume. But the element that's being called anti-Semitic simply is not. The idea that a basic premise of Hebrew theology is anti-Semitic would be funny if large numbers of people didn't somehow get themselves to believe it and to smear public figures for believing it (or accepting support from those who believe it). McCain's description of this as deeply offensive should be seriously alienating to any Jews or Christians who hold to the traditional theology of both religions. This probably won't backfire for him politically, because most voters are as ignorant of the Bible as McCain apparently is, but evangelicals don't need another excuse to feel alienated by McCain.

We got this message on our voicemail from a number that was listed as RESTRICTED. It was an automated message that must have started before it began recording.

We just need to know what email address we can reach you at. The email address we have for you stopped working. So we wanted to ask you to take a quick second to update your address. You can do it over the phone right now. All you have to do is press 1 and fill out your email address. Just press 1. It just takes a second. That way we'll be able to keep you up to date on the great work that MoveOn's 3.2 million members are doing every day to win back the country from radical Republicans. So please just press 1, and thank you for your time and your continued support of MoveOn. And of course this message was paid for by MoveOn.org's political action and was not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Then the voice changes, and there's a phone number for how to reach them (I assume for when the recording is left on an answering machine or voicemail, and you can't press 1 to get anywhere).

So is this a new tactic or something? Our phone number is associated with only two adults, both members of the Republican Party. No one else has been at this number since 1999. I don't think MoveOn.org even existed back then. (Update: I guess it has.) I'm pretty confident they would count us as radical Republicans. So is there something we actually did that they incompetently assumed would make us prime candidates for giving money to them? Or are they just trying to annoy conservatives by sending them spam phone calls?

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