Wingnut wailings are usually rather predictable, and managing to carve out a certain personal voice in the gibberish requires something special. Sandy Rios is one such – there is little original about her talking points and PRATTs, but she has a way of formulating herself that still gives her the powers, occasionally, to amaze – and that is not a compliment. Rios is probably most famous as a Fox News Channel contributor and radio host, but she is also the president of Culture Campaign and previous president of Concerned Women for America, as well as chairman of the North Korean Freedom Coalition. She is also associated with the American Family Association, and the proud recipient of the 2005 Henry Hyde Leadership Award, a Pro-Life Action League’s “Protector Award”, Eagle Forum’s Excellence Award, and Family PAC’s 1999 “Conservative of the Year,” which would not look particularly good on the CV of anyone concerned about reason, sanity or civilization.
Rios's Personal Stamp on Anti-Equality
Rios’s ability to put a personal stamp on things can – anticlimactically enough – be illustrated by her predictable positions on gay rights. Where the usual suspect points out how gay rights mean the End of AmericaTM or how it legitimizes demon possession, Rios – who seem not to be particularly well informed about what marriage equality amounts to – put it eloquently and in her own recognizable style when she said that gay marriage brings about the “rape of our children’s innocence.”
Well, not only their innocence – you see, gay men are “child predators by nature”, and the Penn State abuse scandal was part of the “whole fabric” of gay rights, though how it fits the agenda was left unexplained. In fact, grades are dropping in public schools because of their LGBT-inclusive education, which is just like teaching kids how to use crack, and which leads to “witchcraft” and gay molestation (and don’t get her started on common core: Rios fears that children “won’t survive” common core and that Christians will have to build a “parallel society”, which those who share the religious views of Rios, in many cases, already have). Gay people are also trapped in “a powerful web of deceit,” which is why they e.g. push the “complete fraud” that is the Matthew Shepard murder. Together with pastor Erwin Lutzer Rios linked homosexuality to pedophilia, crime, and Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro (gay people love each other the way Castro loved the women he kept imprisoned, according to Rios). Which is probably not correct. Nor will LGBT rights, contrary to Rios’s assertions, transform America into Soviet Russia – she did not elaborate on the mechanisms in that case either, but the idea is presumably that gay rights lead to “fascism” and “lack of freedom” and because defenders of gay rights are the enemies in a “war between those who love this country” and “those who want to destroy it.”
Close enough, I suppose. After all, in the minds of people like Rios, everything they don’t fancy are really, and despite superficial disagreements, united against them and their fellow true believers, and the goal of that conspiracy is to destroy America. Evidence? Well, the fact that Obama (an “enemy of the faith”) suggested equality for non-Christians during his inauguration was abundant proof for Rios. How shocking! As Rios points out: “Now he’s putting, when he lists all these denominations and atheists and Buddhists and Muslims, it’s like we’re all equal, of equal proportion, and we are not.” What more proof of a conspiracy could anyone possibly ask for. How dares he! Obama is, by the same token, overlooking the fact that Islam is, according to Rios, not covered by the First Amendment because it’s not just a religion, it’s a political ideology that seeks to control everything. Totally unlike her own brand of Christianity™.
Rios on Obama
And evidently Obama got where he is by dishonest means. Yes, Rios is a birther; indeed, just to make sure, she claimed that even if he was born in Hawaii, he wouldn’t be a “real American,” since Hawaiians aren’t. Admittedly, she won’t “affirm” that Obama is a Muslim – only that his priorities (“two weapons”) are “Islam first and homosexuality probably second.” No, she doesn’t see a tension between those priorities: Christianity™ is anti-gay; radical Islam, on the other hand, is all about gay liberation and queer theory. But there is also something darker going on; Rios has noticed that “there’s a black cloud over our national capital” that is bringing down America; and there is a “spiritual” element to the political battle: “I do think what we’re facing here is otherworldly, there is a supernatural power to this president that I can’t – that I think most of us have picked up, those of us who believe in God and believe that there are other forces at work here, but we don’t know what God’s mind is on this.” I don’t think she means that she thinks that Obama's “otherworldly”, “supernatural power” suggests that he may be Santa Claus.
And have you not noticed that Obama is “not offended when Americans are killed”? Apparently “he doesn’t have the same sense of protection and anger over it.” He won in 2012 because he “harnessed people’s capacity for envy, hate and greed”, features that characterize the left. Proof? Well, one example of the left’s lack of decency is their tendency to set crucial legislative votes around the Christmas season in order to distract conservative activists who are too busy celebrating the holiday to wage political battle. Of course, no rightwinger would ever politicize Christmas!
(For the record: Rios has claimed that the Left’s “war on Christmas” is exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany, though she didn’t provide any examples for comparison; nor did she provide any for her claim that Obama is “just like” Hitler and Mao.)
Things were apparently much better under Bush. Rios has in fact asserted that, contrary to Obama, Bush gave us peace in the Middle East “for ten years”. Clearly Rios sees positive sides of Bush that the rest of us, for obvious reasons, don’t.
The Source of the Downfall of America
But the rot leading to the End of America has been there for a while. According to Rios pornography “sickness” was the “reason why Bill Clinton was elected for a second time”, apparently since pornography causes brain changes in young people, making them robots who just mindlessly vote for Clinton (also here). That is probably why there are now “tons of people in government” who are communists (yes, once again Rios doesn’t have the faintest clue what communism is, apart from the conviction that it belongs in her slightly nebulous “not” group). And Hilary Clinton is a liar – Rios has dismissed her health problems as “an Alinskyite feminist lie” (it is interesting how Rios is able to say so much about herself in just three words).
Rios has also toyed with anti-semitism. When Brigitte Gabriel, who sees Islamic indoctrination everywhere, was a guest on her show Rios was quick to warn about “Jewish leftists” who are “eager to embrace Islam.” It is almost as if she doesn’t care that her points make absolutely no sense. Nor can much by way of coherence be discerned in her argument that evolution (she is of course a creationist) is a “powerful Jewish forces” and that the ACLU will destroy America, though it is allegedly because the ACLU is somehow trying to “eliminate God and attack the family” in order to “make the United States a socialist country” that ultimately “takes away our freedoms.”
Rios on Abuse Victims and Minorities
Of course, as any true wingnut, Rios is not only opposed to gay marriage. She is equally outraged about birth control and counseling services to victims of abuse. When the Obama administration deciced to require health insurers to cover birth control, she was predictably outraged, pertinently asking: “Are we going to do pedicures and manicures as well?” since pedicures and manicures and counseling to abuse victims are exactly the same.
How Rios’s worldview is informed by her galloping persecution complex is probably nowhere better expressed than her claim that the “real victims” of the Trayvon Martin case were white people – white people are now the targets of racism from black people, in particular Obama (indeed, black people are the only racists, according to Rios, and in that respect they are exactly like feminists!) – and she bemoaned that Martin’s death “is threatening I think the very fiber of this truce that blacks and whites have come to over the last fifty years” (notice the interesting use of the word “truce” in that passage – clearly Rios has a, shall we say, old-fashioned view of the relationship between groups).
She has recently suggested that opponents of the ban on gays in the boyscouts (such as “Mitt Romney”!) should be forced to pay for all the child abuse cases that Rios claims will be a consequence of having openly gay Boy Scouts (“there is a huge amount of sexual abuse in the male gay community,” also, Obama hates whites). One wonders whether she thinks that would mean paying for their pedicures and manicures as well.
More of the Same
As should be obvious, self-awareness is not one of Rios’s strongest traits. As many American Family Association members she was outraged that some organizations suggested boycotting Chick-fil-A over their discrimination of gay people – she agreed with her guest James Simpson saying that “[t]he left is almost universally unscrupulous, they are amoral, that’s part of their philosophy, so they feel free to attack anybody and anything that they don’t like” – despite the fact that the AFA were themselves engaged in multiple boycotts of companies that support LGBT rights at the same time.
Here is one of her reaction to the DOMA decision. Here is another, in which she and Fred Jackson declare that marriage is now dead in the US and that God will have his vengeance (you can probably imagine how she reacted to Michael Sam), and here is her argument for restoring the ban on gays in the military because gay people are “disordered” and won’t be able to “provide strong defense for our nation.” Indeed, Rios complained in 2013 that if the US attacks Syria over the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, American military efforts may fail as a result of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the opening of additional positions to female service members – as opposed to what happened in Iraq, one surmises? (In fairness, Rios has suggested, as reported above, that the Iraq war never happened.)
Here she voices her fear that food stamps will aid Islamists and Palestinian refugees that Obama hasn’t already resettled in the US (she got that one from a totally trustworthy chain email, the same source as she had for her claim that Obamacare has a specific exemption for Muslim-Americans, a claim that doesn’t even begin to make sense). And with regard to a service held at the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing she complained that they didn’t thank God enough for protecting us from the bombing being worse, so now God may just let something much worse happen to teach them a lesson.
Still, if you want the essence of Rios, I think her defense of Austin Ruse, who that liberal professors should be “taken out and shot.” Rios defended the comment by pointing out that Ruse’s were really just “words of life”. Yup. What a gloriously daft description, whatever it means. At least they were “words of life” because they warn people like liberal professors that they will be condemned by God and sent to Hell. How you get from what Ruse said and intended to convey to such a warning is beyond reason - independently of the fact that the warning itself is what it is.
Diagnosis: And so it goes. Rios distinguishes herself from other paranoid wingnuts primarily by being even more crazy and oblivious – which is no mean feat. One wonders whether her influence is beyond the negligible among anyone who is not already utterly lost to reason.