George misses Jerry

This is distasteful.

Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Jerry Falwell, a man who cherished faith, family, and freedom…Jerry lived a life of faith and called upon men and women of all backgrounds to believe in God…

Well, that’s one (major) reason atheists of the assertive type (for want of a better term) (even Anthony Gottlieb calls us ‘militant’ atheists, which I think is both pejorative and inaccurate, and unbecoming to a philosopher) get exasperated with theists of the assertive type. We don’t think grown-up people ought to ‘call upon’ people to believe in God, because there is no good reason to think ‘God’ exists, so calling upon us to believe in God amounts to calling upon us to abandon rational thought, and we don’t think that is a good or justified call.

Then there’s the alliterative faith, family, and freedom triplet; Bush’s idea of virtue. He said something similar at Miami Dade College a couple of weeks ago; similar but with an important difference:

At Miami Dade, you know firsthand the contributions that immigrants make to our country. You see every day the values of hard work, and family, and faith that immigrants bring.

Freedom swapped for hard work. Well duh – that’s what immigrants are for: to work hard at crap jobs for crap pay with crap benefits and crap protections; naturally Bush talks up hard work when talking to an audience of immigrants, despite not being famous for working hard himself. Hard work, family, and faith: the ideal package for a docile labour pool. And the core duo, faith and family, are the basic reactionary program: one the enemy of free independent critical thought, the other a code for hostility to freedom, independence and autonomy for women. No doubt it never crossed Bush’s mind that there is a tension between the valorization of ‘faith’ and freedom; that faith in some ways limits and interferes with freedom; and especially that some people who ‘live lives of faith’ and ‘call upon people to believe in God’ decidedly use ‘faith’ as a weapon to smash any freedoms they don’t like. But it should have. It’s ludicrous to say Jerry Falwell cherished freedom.

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way – all of them who have tried to secularize America – I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this [9/11] happen.’

AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals.

I listen to feminists and all these radical gals. … These women just need a man in the house. That’s all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home.

Timothy Noah issued a slightly less emollient press release.

God, they say, is love, but the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who died May 15, hit the jackpot trafficking in small-minded condemnation…On news of Falwell’s death, McCain said in a statement, “Dr. Falwell was a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country.” Nonsense. He was a bigot, a reactionary, a liar, and a fool.

And public officials should not be pretending otherwise. Fred Phelps is not a peppery but essentially decent guy; Pat Robertson is not a lamp unto our feet; and Jerry Falwell was not a man of distinguished accomplishment. Tell the truth, you schmucks.

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