Friday, November 27, 2020

#2411: Jay Wile

Jay Wile is a young-earth creationist who holds a PhD in nuclear chemistry from the University of Rochester. Though his credentials have nothing to do with evolutionary biology, you may rest assured that he nevertheless uses them for all they’re worth, given the dearth of people with legitimate credentials in any field of science on the creationist clown circuit.

Wile is probably best known as an author of the Exploring Creation with … books published by Apologia Educational Ministries, a series of “science” textbooks aimed at junior high/high school-level home-school and private-school students that promote flood geology and creationism, but he also claims for instance that “environmentalists” are hysterical, lying alarmists because they listen to mainstream science rather than his own, Bible-based attempts to explain away the data (a core strategy is to claim that science, too, must engage in some speculation, and since young-earth creationists also speculate and base things on faith, creationism is genuinely scientific). Wile himself sold the Apologia textbook business in 2006 to homeschoolers affiliated with Focus on the Family, which offers online classes for homeschool students such as “Introductory and Advanced Sciences” and “Bible, Apologetics and Worldview”. The general idea behind the series can be summed up in a quote from Wile’s Exploring Creation with General Science (that one is thoroughly reviewed here): “… the Christian worldview is a perfect fit with science. Science is based on the notion that the world works according to rational laws that do not change. Since Christians believe in a rational Creator whose laws do not change, science and Christianity work very well together.” The observation is of course as relevant to the conclusion as the observation that the words “Christianity” and “science” share a number of letters.

Though Wile has stated that Ken Ham’s Creation Museum contained inaccuracies – apparently he disagreed over whether or not animals died at all before the fall of man – Wile nevertheless found the Creation Museum “to be significantly more scientifically accurate than most museums, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.” (Keep in mind that Wile defines “scientific” as “Biblical”.)

Here is Wile praising the work of Mark Armitage while unwittingly undermining the whole thing. (Here is a discussion of his response to critics.)

Diagnosis: Belligerently nonsensical, of course, but it is instructive to note how Wile is apparently willing to use any strategy accessible to dismiss the data he doesn’t like (particularly by overlooking them) – it really is an instructive case study of confirmation bias in action. Keep in mind, though, that as an author of popular instructional materials for fundamentalist-oriented home schools, Wile is actually strikingly influential.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

#2410: Tim Wildmon

The American Family Association (AFA) is a fundamentalist hate group founded by Donald Wildmon in 1977 with headquarters in Tupelo, Mississippi. Its mission is to make homosexuality illegal, along with abortion, religions other than Christianity, and possibly even women’s voting rights, and it has established itself as a significant religious right hub that wields a scary amount of influence, running some 200 radio stations and Internet TV channels with millions of online supporters. To get an idea of where they stand, just remember that the AFA employs Bryan Fischer

 

Don’s spawn, Tim Wildmon, is currently the group’s president. Prior to inheriting the position, Wildmon jr. ran AFA’s “news” division, OneNewsNow, a green-ink style conspiracy theory and fake news outlet distinguishable from other conspiracy websites mostly by its Taliban-style fundamentalist filter (sample headlines: “Illegal alien children to spread infectious diseases”, “Global warming hoax”, “Homosexual rights trump foreign policy in Obama White House”).

 

Anti-gay efforts

What we reject is the idea that you can take homosexuality, which in the Bible is defined as a sin … it’s unnatural, it’s immoral, it’s unhealthy, and laud it and call it wonderful and say this is the same as heterosexuality. It is not … We know this is a destructive lifestyle and behavior …”

-Tim Wildmon, to Sandy Rios

 

Wildmon has a long record of anti-gay antics and anti-gay propaganda. Not only ishomosexual behavior […] immoral, unhealthy and unnatural,” but there is also an evil, poorly hidden homosexual agenda at play – Wildmon is for instance opposed for instance to high school gay/straight alliances because “[w]e view these clubs as an advancement of the homosexual cause.” When a federal judge struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2010, Wildmon called the ruling “tyrannical, abusive and utterly unconstitutional” (bear in mind that for Wildmon, like other fundie wingnuts, all words with negative connotations just means “I don’t like it” and can be used interchangeably – otherwise it would be impossible to make sense of what they say) and said that it was “extremely problematic that Judge Walker is a practicing homosexual himself … His situation is no different than a judge who owns a porn studio being asked to rule on an anti-pornography statute.”

 

As you’d expect, Wildmon was none too happy about the DOMA decision in 2013: “this is America shaking its fist at God almighty,” said Wildmon, wondering (rhetorically) if opponents of gay marriage will soon be “hauled off to jail” and warning that persecution” is imminent. Nor was he particularly happy with the 2019 Equality Act, which to Wildmonhas nothing to do with equality, but everything to do with punishing Christians’ religious liberty.”

 

No fan of Hollywood (or entertainment in general), Wildmon has called Hollywood “a 24/7 promotion machine for GLBTQ.” In general, pro-gay groups “basically promote their cause all day, every day in the entertainment industry, in academia, in fashion, in the corporate world and in national politics. And now we can add sports.” The only solution, as Wildmon sees it, is to “get more Christians to wake up and fight back or we will lose our country.”

 

Fortunately, Wildmon has a well-developed gaydar, and claims to be able to easily recognize gay men: “They have these effeminate, a lot of them, actions. They walk like a girl, a lot of them. … [I]t makes you wonder, how did that develop, where does that come from?

 

Persecution and Paranoia

Yes, Wildmon is being persecuted: people disagree with him, they sometimes criticize him when he does something stupid, they have different religious views than he does, and sometimes politicians make decisions he disagrees with – all behaviors and phenomena that constitute abusive tyranny and would be banned if the Constitution, as Wildmon interprets it, were upheld. Not only are they persecuting him, though; Christians in general – and Jesus – are being persecuted everywhere:

 

-       President Obama, for instance, exhibitedan anti-Christian, overt anti-Christian hostility” through actions and words Wildmon disagreed with.

-       Efforts to prevent human-influenced climate change, too, are, according to Wildmon, “anti-Christian” as well as “anti-capitalist, anti-American”.

-       The Human Rights Campaign apparently “declared war on Christians” with an ad campaign calling for tolerance (the campaign is trying “to change the minds of individuals regarding the nature of homosexuality”, which is borderline terrorism.)

-       And then there is Beyoncé, whose very existence seems to be an anti-Christian plot.

 

In general, persecution is bound to happen insofar as secular progressives areprogressing toward anarchy … or communism” and “hate the Judeo-Christian worldview; in essence, they won’t tell you this necessarily, but they hate the god of the Bible ” and seek to rebel against him Him. As Wildmon sees it, “secular progressives are out to find the Christians and purge them from our societyandwill not be satisfied until they close down every Christian church in America and any organization that does not bow their knee to homosexuality.” (Unsurprisingly, Wildmon identifies being Christian not only with being opposed to marriage equality, but with being outspokenly anti-gay.)

 

In particular, of course, the “Gay Gestapo” is “using the law to punitively enforce their political and social agenda,” and is basically implementing a version of the Jim Crow laws and asking Christians to “move to the back of the bus.” The very fact that gay people are allowed to kiss “mouth to mouth” on TV is a clear example of such persecution and a tyrannical attempt to abusively force heterosexuals into the closet. (No, the notion that he, Tim Wildmon, may not be speaking for “straight America” in general doesn’t even cross his mind.

 

Of course, people who disagree with Wildmon are not only anti-Christian, but anti-American. The Supreme Court is one example: “We have anti-American, ACLU-types in four positions on the Supreme Court.” Indeed, these types are all over the judicial system; in 2012 Wildmon predicted that if Obama was given a second term, he would rely on them to make it illegal to criticize homosexuality; “I guarantee you it will,” said Wildmon, whose predictive abilities are significantly worse than chance.

 

Like many wingnuts, Wildmon was convinced that Obama, throughout his presidency, was planning to destroy the economy in order to createsome kind of national emergency or something” that would allow him to take absolute power; Obama wants tosee the economy collapse on purpose.” And as Wildmon sees it, there are so many Christians in the Republican party that they would have impeached even a Republican president who had committed as much “lawlessness and lying” as Obama did. The election of Donald Trump in 2016 provided at least some respite, both from lying and from the persecution of Christians. Indeed, according to Wildmon the US “avoided catastrophe” by electing Trump because Clinton was prepared to use the power of the federal government to “criminalize” Christianity. She would apparently also put conservatives in “reeducation camps. In 2018 Wildmon and David Barton agreed that Trump deserved a grade of “A” for his presidency thus far, and in 2019, Wildmon was appointed to Trump’s Faith Advisory Council.

 

A nice illustration of how Wildmon’s mind works: In the course of a few minutes he and fellow AFA representatives went from decrying the “thought police” for criticizing gospel singer Kim Burrell when she gave a sermon in which she railed against the “perverted homosexual spirit”, claiming that they treated her (criticism = persecution, remember) like “an illegitimate human being” who should not be allowed to appear in the public square – to promptly attacking organizers of a Christian conference for allowing LGBT-friendly country star Carrie Underwood to perform, which they decried because “Carrie Underwood is openly embracing of homosexual marriage and the homosexual lifestyle,” saying that Underwood had no business performing at this Christian conference “because she’s completely wrong on this LGBT issue.”

 

War on Christmas

The AFA is heavily engaged in the ferocious war on Christmas that is going on entirely in their own paranoid minds. According to Wildmon, the non-existent “war” is just a precursor to the (equally imaginary) persecution of Christians.

 

Boycotts

Under Wildmon’s leadership, the AFA has spearheaded a number of boycotts of companies that don’t unconditionally support their agenda, in particular companies that treat gay people with respect. The group has targeted, among others:

 

-       Home Depot

-       McDonald’s

-       Hallmark Cards (for selling same-sex wedding cards)

-       J.C. Penney (for featuring Ellen DeGeneres in commercials)

-       Campbell’s Soup

-       Walt Disney Co., which sinfully extended benefits to employees’ same-sex partners (Wildmon seems to have been content with expressing disappointment and gnashing of teeth when Exxon did the same. At present, there is even a risk that kids might see homosexual couples at Disneyworld, to Wildmon’s shock and horror.

 

Wildmon and other religions

The AFA was a major proponent of the conspiracy theory that Obama was secretly a Muslim; Wildmon’s official position was, at least for a while, thatI have no idea if he is or not. I just know that many of his statements and actions have been extremely positive and sympathetic toward Islam.” But it was entirely plausible, according to Wildmon, that Obama was a Muslim, because he “grew up in it over there in Indonesia or somewhere” (he didn’t really, but never mind).

 

Part of the problem with Islam, according to Wildmon, is its inherent commitment to violence. Noting that several verses in the Quran command Muslims to kill non-Muslims, Wildmon used it as a contrast to Christianity: “There’s nothing like that in the Bible, that tells the Christian to go out and decapitate the infidel,” said Wildmon, who has apparently never read the Bible. Moreover, because all terrorists are Muslim (it’s only terrorism if it’s Islamic), he finds himself “skeptical” of all Muslims. He has also of course declared that secular humanism, which he identifies with progressive politics (“politically, it’s called progressivism”), is satanic, and when a Hindu chaplain offered an invocation before California State Senate, Wildmon was rather nonplussed, because one thing is what you do in private, but “when it comes to our civil government … it’s always been the recognition of the God of the Bible. Every religion is not equal. That’s my belief. That’s logic.” No, Tim, that’s not logic. That you think it is, is telling, however.

 

Miscellaneous

Not happy with measures taken to limit the spread of Covid-19, Wildmon and the AFA warned state and federal governments to “not let the coronavirus turn America into China,” claiming that restrictions on public gatherings “trample religious liberty underfoot.”

 

There is a good Tim Wildmon resource here.

 

Tim’s son Walker Wildmon seems to be following in his father’s footsteps; one to watch, in other words.

 

Diagnosis: One of the very leaders of the religious right, Tim Wildmon is a hateful, bigoted and – yes – evil conspiracy theorist and religious fundamentalist. And by criticizing him for that, you are persecuting him, whereas bans on others from behaving in ways that don’t please him is protecting his religious freedom. Dangerous.

Monday, November 23, 2020

#2409: Jeffrey Wick

Jeffrey Wick is the author of the book Public Education: The Final Solution in the Conquest of America’s Ideals, published by WinePressBooks, a vanity press. In the book, Wick claims that public schools are involved in a wicked plot to indoctrinate our children into socialism and suppress America’s Christian heritage. The plot is all anchored in Plato’s Republic, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the 1960s counterculture are of course largely responsible as well, despite the somewhat unclear connections between hippies and Plato’s strikingly un-hippielike Republic. The “liberal media” is of course in on the whole thing, and yes: it’s a deranged conspiracy theory, not a discussion of ideals or the contents of public school curricula. The book was heavily promoted by the religious fundamentalist hate group the American FamilyAssociation.

The conspiracy, a “235-year [the book was published a few years ago] plan to hijack American democracy” that “if left to continue will result in God’s judgment on our nation”, is in particular exemplified by the fact that many public schools these days are sponsoring various community-oriented programs, such as programs to feed hungry children, dinner services (not just to low-income students) and health and wellness programs or family life materials. There are dots to connect here.

 

Now, wingnut conspiracy theories published by vanity presses and promoted by the American Family Association are a dime a dozen. What sets this one apart is that Wick himself is (or was) the principal of Bowling Green Elementary School in Bowling Green, Virginia. 

 

Diagnosis: Idiot.

Friday, November 20, 2020

#2408: Yolanda Whyte

Anti-fluoridation conspiracies are relatively widespread – which is sort of entirely as expected when it comes to safe and effective health measures – and contrarian dingbats have managed to block several cities from fluoridating water by sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt about measures that are otherwise demonstrably safe.

 Yolanda M. Whyte is one of the central characters in the anti-fluoridation movement, and she travels around speaking at community meetings and testifying at legislative hearings. Whyte is also trained as an M.D., so her claims carry a sheen of authority, despite the fact that her claims about fluoridation to a large extent cover the ground from false to deceptive, such as claims, based on misreading questionable and irrelevant studies, that exposure to fluoride lowers kids’ IQ. Several of her claims are discussed here. It should come as little surprise that Whyte tends to employ varieties of the toxins gambit and appeals to chemophobia. On her website, for instance, she offers to help you “reducing your toxin burden, strengthening your immunity and understanding the process.” Apparently chemicals are everywhere!

 

She is also a signatory to an anti-GMO open letter to food producers authored by Zen Honeycutt.

 

Diagnosis: Not the most paranoid and incoherent of the anti-fluoride crowd, to be sure, but Whyte is nevertheless a denialist who is not afraid to rely on pseudoscience if it suits her purposes. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

#2407: David Whitney

A full-fledged, self-declared wingnut theocrat, David Whitney is the Pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church of Pasadena, Maryland. He is also affiliated with Michael Peroutka's Institute on the Constitution (yes, they had to put “Constitution” in the name –  otherwise, you’d never guess that this was the document they were trying to interpret; there are some good articles on the group here), where he serves as Senior Instructor, Liberty Forum editor and radio show host. He is also chaplain of the Maryland chapter of the neo-confederate League of the South and Chairman of the Maryland State Delegation to the Southern National Congress. In 2014 both he and Peroutka ran for spots on a county commission and on the party committees of both Democrats and Republicans, respectively, in Anne Arundel County. Peroutka won his spot, because Anne Arundel Republicans are overwhelmingly hateful, stupid and insane; Whitney also seems to have tried to use his attempt to return the Democrats to its Civil War positions. There is an interesting backstory to that attempt, by the way.

Whitney’s sermons are generally filled with ideas that have been tactfully described as “theocratic and revolutionary.” After addressing a Tea Party rally on July 4, 2010, he declared for instance that we have “the God-given right to secede.” In a sermon in 2013 Whitney declared: “When you talk to people about God’s Law being restored in America, they say, ‘Awww, you’re some ayatollah. Awww, you want a theocracy’,” he complained, explaining that, “well yes, I want obedience to God’s Law because that is where liberty comes from. Liberty comes from God’s Law. Tyranny comes when God’s law is rejected by a society as it has been rejected in our day. Indeed, any law made that contradicts God’s Law, what is it? It’s not law at all. You could call it unlaw or you could call it, as our founders did, pretended law. But it is not law if it violates God’s Law.” Fortunately for him, he wasn’t asked to explain what he meant by “liberty” and “tyranny” (Remember also that Whitney also teaches people about what is ostensibly the Constitution). In particular, theocracy means, for Whitney, not only that government positions should be reserved for Christians (i.e. those who agree with him), but that we should “restrict citizenship” to Christians who, whether serving as jurors, government officials or “in the Militia”, operate according to “God’s Law.” The militia reference is worth highlighting: Whitney believes that the Bible supports no restrictions on the Second Amendment (“never should we disarm the citizens in this land who must protect themselves daily against the murderous products of our state-run school systems”), and has claimed that there is not only a Constitutional mandate for state militias but that opponents of militias are the enemies of God (his attempts to justify the claim by Bible verses are remarkably feeble, even for someone of Whitney’s caliber). 

 

Whitney is, of course, also aggressively opposed to gay rights and marriage equality, because he is, in his own words, “God’s Holy institution of marriage by testifying before the State Legislature.” (He is not happy about surveys showing that almost half of evangelicals support marriage equality, which he refers to as “sodomite unmarriage”). Transgender rights are even worse, of course; in 2016 Whitney said that “new neckwear is being prepared for Obama in light of his administration’s actions” on transgender rights, citing Matthew 18. Meanwhile, he has also tried to justify the murder of abortion providers, declaring in a 2013 sermon that “… we need to understand that there is such a thing as Biblically justifiable homicide.”

 

Whitney was, in general, no fan of Obama, saying that “those who know God’s Word, know that Satan is a destroyer. He never creates anything, he only destroys that which God creates. So it is clear that Obama is of his father, his father the Devil.” Nor of Democrats in general, who “hate God (even though he ran as one in 2014); indeed, Democrats are “so devoted to this Satanic vision they intend to force every nation in the world to comply with it through the means of bribery of those other governments with U.S. Foreign aid and Foreign policy to promote sodomy.” He is, however, a staunch supporter of Trump, for marvelously deranged reasons.

 

When a racist University of Maryland student committed a racist murder in 2017, Whitney blamed it on the fact that the university were teaching of evolution. Whitney, who has no idea what the theory of evolution actually is, claims that “evolution is essentially racist.” Given that Whitney is a prominent member of the League of the South and a defender of white supremacism, we hesitate to infer anything about whether he accepts the theory based on that assessment or not. Then again, they did get Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis to headline an event for the Institute on the Constitution in 2014.

 

After the assassination of five police officers in Dallas in 2016, Whitney claimed that the sniper attack was likely a government-orchestrated false flag operation, one that the government orchestrated in order to “establish the New World Order, another name for the kingdom of Satan. Or, if it wasn’t a false flag, it was the result of teaching evolution in schools.

 

As for school shootings, Whitney predictably blames “Engel v. Vitale in 1962 that prohibited public prayer to the One True God in government run schools” (it didn’t) and that schools don’t prominently display the Ten Commandments – if students reflected on the fact that the Ten Commandments prohibited murder, Whitney thinks, then the issue would have been resolved right away. Now, those Commandments also prohibit lying, but Whitney has apparently never reflected on that part. As for the 2017 Las Vegas shootings, Whitney blamed Antifa: “Antifa hates Christians, Antifa wants to kill Christians” because “their souls were dead, they were moral nihilist, they were and are human monsters” who “now says they are prepared to begin killing people in mass in a race war” (the idea of citing sources is a liberal conspiracy). He also blamed Antifa for Charlottesville. And the same year (2017) he blamed Ariana Grande for the terrorist attack on her concert because Grande “is promoting every form of immorality and indeed she is promoting satanism by her music and by her lyrics and by her gyrations.” The terrorist attack was, in other words, justified and Godly – as were the 2017 California wildfires that killed dozens.

 

It is worth emphasizing that Whitney and his groups are not as far out on the fringes of the religious right as you would have hoped. Not only was Peroutka elected to office; Liberty Counsel has also promoted them, and in 2012 the Carroll County Board of Commissioners in Maryland decided to encourage, and in some cases require, employees to attend a seminar on the Christian foundations of the state’s constitution arranged by Whitney and the Institute on the Constitution: Commissioner Richard Rothschild, who has himself obviously bought into David Barton-style America as a Christian nation pseudohistory, said that it makes sense to require public officials to attend “a course which factually explains the role God plays in our constitution.”

 

Diagnosis: Hateful conspiracy theorist and remorseless theocrat who explicitly wants a Taliban-style government based on the Bible – and Whitney does seem to focus mostly on the violent parts.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

#2406: John H. Whitmore

Cedarville University is a fundie Bible school in Ohio where confused students can learn (and should not question) that women are subordinate to men, gays are evil, and the Bible is ultimately the only guide to government, law and science. Its staff include people like John H. Whitmore, Professor of Geology, a staunch young-earth creationist who is also affiliated with Creation Ministries International (CMI) and particularly known for pushing Flood geology and Flooddidit arguments. Cedarville’s geology program “holds to a literal six-day account of Genesis.” Students at the institution are not supposed to question the premise, but rather learn how to try to fit carefully cherry-picked pieces of evidence to the hypothesis and ignore the rest (they emphasize that they do also teach “evolutionary perspectives”, but not as a legitimate option for students to adopt and sufficiently distorted and selective to prevent it from becoming a live option). Cedarville University is apparently an official partner with Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum.

Though he might possibly have a legitimate degree, Whitmore’s publications seem to be focused on outlets like the Journal of Creation, and he is not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination. He is nevertheless a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s silly petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, and also on the CMI list of scientists alive today who accept the biblical account of creation, which further illustrates how intellectually bankrupt that Discovery Institute effort actually is. Whitmore, of course, have no legitimate background in biology: Even his M.S. in biology is from the Institute for Creation Research. His Master of Science in Geology, for that matter, is from the Institute of Creation Research, too.

 

He does fancy himself a real scientist, however, and has even attempted to defend the claim that “creationists are real scientists” in print, and in order to “completely demolish” the charge that they aren’t, he points out “that the brilliant inventor of the MRI scanner, Dr. Raymond Damadian, is a creationist,” which is a remarkably feeble appeal to irrelevance, even for a deluded creationist like Whitmore. He is, however, and like most creationists and fundies, not adverse to using lies, rank dishonesty and deception to try to make it look as if his views could be seen as scientifically legitimate. 

 

Whitmore has published several papers in Answers in Genesis’s house journal Answers.

 

Diagnosis: Taliban-style fundie and liar for Jesus, Whitmore might actually believe that his creationist nonsense counts as science. It is instructive to note that, even though he genuinely believes his nonsense, he simply cannot refrain from engaging in deception to defend it.

Friday, November 13, 2020

#2405: Laurence White

Laurence White is the pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston, affiliated with the Texas Restoration Project, and the type of lunatic who claims that the Holocaust was caused by separation of church and state and that “God will destroy and God should destroy America” if it doesn’t end abortion. America, says White (to audiences that generally go livid if anyone dares question American exceptionalism), has gone down the drains, and gay marriage, for instance, shows that Americans are “willing to tolerate the vilest perversion as an ‘alternative, acceptable lifestyle’ while pestilence stalks the land; in public schools that have become facilitators for fornication and procurers for the abortionist knife.” Indeed, legal abortion is, according to White, the “final, deadly malignant festering core of everything” that is wrong with America.

But then, White is a master of ridiculous hyperbole. In 2014, when the city government subpoenaed documents (since withdrawn), including sermons, from a few local pastors, White saw Satan at work: By issuing the subpoenas, Satan had finally “tipped his hand”: “The Adversary, in his arrogance and his pride, has become so bold that he’s tipped his hand,” said White. You see, nothing is a political debate to White (he stated so explicitly in this case); everything is rather a battle between “godless humanism” (i.e. Satan) and true Christians, and if you disagree with him on political issues, the only available explanation is that Satan is controlling you. The subpoenas, in any case, showed, once and for all, that the “godless humanism of the religion that has come to predominate throughout our culture” believes itself to be so powerful that it can now openly seek to destroy Christianity: “This is about the integrity of our faith as Christians.”

 

As White sees it, America is moving in the direction of Nazi Germany – not because of any rise in fascism, use of propaganda and alternative facts, loss of trust in institutions, or wild-running conspiracy theories, but because pastors do not vocally denounce abortion rights, marriage equality … and evolution, which White said is “not science but religion” (White, of course, has a mind that has gone to rot on the latter, and if all you have is a hammer and so on). White also said that questions posed to politicians about whether they believe in evolution come straight from Satan: “They’re trying to make conservative, Bible-believing candidates look foolish because the Devil is the Father of Lies and he’s good at it.” Pastors, according to White, must “lead our people to be able to discern what is actually going on in this country, that collision of two religions: one pagan, one Christian. And until they recognize that, they’re not going to understand the nature of the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged.” Or, put more succinctly: “Everyone who disagrees with me about politics or science, or anything is an agent of Satan out to destroy Christianity, and must be met with spiritual warfare.”

 

White is apparently a fan of the historical revisionism of David Barton, and the two have collaborated on numerous occasions.

 

Bear in mind, though, that White is not a nobody on the religious right scene. He has worked closely with politicans and political candidates, and they seem to lend him their ear, at least on occasion.

 

Diagnosis: Steaming, screeching ball of raging fundamentalism, hate and paranoia. But yes, White is a not entirely insignificant force in the religious right circus, and his political influence might be non-negligible.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

#2404: Hilary White & Gerard Nadal

Hilary White and Gerard Nadal are fiercely fundamentalist, anti-choice and anti-gay Catholics writing for LifeSiteNews, a fiercely fundamentalist, anti-choice and anti-gay Catholic website that we have already had the opportunity to describe

White is perhaps particularly notable for her opposition to feminism, seeing feminism both as an expression and a cause of “our poisoned and dying western culture”. And there is no end to the ills for which feminism is to be blamed. For instance, when Francesco Schettino, the notorious captain of the Costa Concordia, was arrested in Italy for “manslaughter, failure to offer assistance and abandonment of the ship” after the Costa Concordia accident in 2015, White argued that the people really to blame for Schettino’s actions were feminist women, since feminist women have corrupted men and “killed the cultural priority of men protecting and being responsible for women” (like men protect and are responsible for other pieces of property they own). “By telling women they don’t need men, by demonizing the value of masculinity, feminism has at the same time told men that they never need to grow up,” wrote White, taking it to be evidence for the imminent, feminism-caused end of Western civilization. Other articles by White include “Divorce: the proto-sin to launch a Sexual Revolution” and “ ‘Gay marriage’ a Marxist utopian dream divorced from reality: Vatican newspaper” (framed as a neutral report on what some other, Italian newspaper was claiming, but come on). 

 

Nadal, meanwhile, is a biologist and president and CEO of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, which falsely claims that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer. Nadal might however be most famous for his unhinged anti-gay screeds, in which he uses whatever he can to paint homosexuality as a character flaw and homosexual people as morally corrupt. In 2011, Nadal also called for Catholic Democratic Politicians to be excommunicated en masse for their support for marriage equality.

 

Diagnosis: Yes, yet another two examples of fundie-based hatred and evil. Relatively obscure, perhaps, but worth mentioning all the same.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

#2403: Lynn Westmoreland

Leon Acton “Lynn” Westmoreland was the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 3rd congressional district from 2007 to 2017 and the 8th district from 2005 to 2007. As congressman, Westmoreland may be best remembered for cosponsoring a bill to place the Ten Commandments in the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as a bill asserting that the Ten Commandments could be displayed in courthouses “in a historical setting”. On a request to actually name the Commandments, Westmoreland was able to name three.

 A firm global warming denialist – like so many in Congress – Westmoreland was also a signatory to a 2010 pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any global warming legislation that would raise taxes, and critized the Obama administration’s labeling climate change a national security threat. In 2019 he was named chairman of an advisory board for Conservatives for Clean Energy Georgia, an organization that seems hell-bent on not mentioning “climate change”. “I still believe just like I did – that the climate has been changing ever since Noah’s ark,” said Westmoreland. As Westmoreland sees it, his organization’s goal is to “try to put some common sense into clean energy”, stress being on “common”, not “sense”. He is also (probably) a young-earth creationist.

 

At least his view on how you confirm your hypotheses with evidence is illuminating (he also seems to accuse the facts about the 2012 Benghazi attack of being in some sort of conspiracy to help Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign).

 

Diagnosis: Crazy conspiracy theorist and staunch science denialist, precisely the kind of gohmert that some Southern mouthbreathers like to elect to Congress.

Monday, November 2, 2020

#2402: Diana West

Diana West is a wingnut columnist, commentator, author and conspiracy theorist. She is most famous for her book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, which basically argues that Joseph McCarthy and the most wild-eyed red scare conspiracy theories of the 50s and 60s, such as those promoted by the John Birch society, were entirely correct: communist spies and puppets were everywhere, at every crucial level of government and culture (a “deep occupation” in which communists actually controlled the White House and American foreign policy). And you know what? It didn’t really end with the end of the Cold War but “lives today in our embrace of the Communists’ false historical narrative” and its deep impact on how we view the world, especially contemporary liberals’ embrace of anything communist. There is a takedown of some of West’s points here, with a follow-up here (yes, those links take you to FrontPage Magazine). According to West’s conspiracy theory, the aftermath of WWII, including Soviet control of Eastern Europe, was the result not of realpolitik but of a conspiracy by Soviet agents in Western governments; indeed, it was only because Washington was “Communist-occupied” that the US aligned itself with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany in the first place. Meanwhile, communists in the US government working for the Soviets ensured that America provoked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor they .“subverted relations between the US and Japan by inserting ‘ultimatum’ language into the cable flow that actually spurred the Japanese attack.”

West’s theses are supported by all the wild speculation and sloppiness of research you’d expect; nevertheless, her thesis “that American foreign policy under presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower was secretly controlled by the Soviet Union” has, unsurprisingly, found supporters at the Heritage Foundation and the American Spectator.

 

Currently, the role of the Soviets have largely been taken over by radical Islamists, forming a Marxist-Muslim conspiracy. For instance, in a 2013 column for the WND,  “Huma Abedin: Muslim Brotherhood Princess”, West doesn’t only endorse but assume that unfounded, idiotic and racist conspiracy theory (in fact, West was one of the main promoters of the theory): the “cover-up” of Huma Abedin’s status as “a veritable Muslim Brotherhood princess” is, according to West, part of a plan to shield Americans from the “Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the federal policy-making chain”: “[Michele] Bachmann [who also endorsed the conspiracy theory] was crucified, by Democrats and Republicans alike for asking urgently important questions about national security.” West then goes on to claim that Obamacare means that the Communists were the real winners of the Cold War as the “totalitarian” law creates a “super-state”, which will destroy the Republic, as well as to claim that, with our guards down to the Marxist-Muslim axis, Americans will become complacent to the Islamic infiltration of government and the threat that Obamacare poses: “At this rate, we’ll declare ‘victory’ in the so-called war on terror and, before you know it, become a leading outpost of the caliphate,” says West. Yes, the thesis is that “Marxist” Obamacare will lead to a Muslim takeover. West has also warned us that President Obama was fostering “totalitarianism and turning America into a North Korean-style dictatorship with “one-party rule”.

 

West disapproved of the Obama administration’s 2014 decision to send U.S. troops to West Africa to help fight the Ebola epidemic at its source by building treatment centers and training medical personnel. She claimed that the mission also showed that the president did not have “an American agenda” and was instead embracing “a totalitarian government structure.” (How? Well, you shall look in wain for anything resembling a reasonable train of thoughts here. After all, having West’s criteria for what counts as evidence for a totalitarian agenda makes it quite a bit easier to find such evidence.) 

 

Indeed, American foreign policy is suffused with Islamism and communism; for instance, the entire philosophy behind the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan was based on covert Islamism – West even claimed that general Petreaus’ extramarital affair was “apiece” with the whole philosophy: “I’m not surprised to see the men who prosecuted this doctrine, Gen. Petraeus, Gen. Allen, and who else, we don’t even know how many others, showing such immoral leadership and such corruption of their own personal lives,” said West. Grover Norquist, too, is allied with those who hope “to destroy the United States and transform what is left into an Islamic-ruled land”, and he represents “the successful civilization jihad of the Muslim Brotherhood,” something that shows that the United States and the conservative movement are being “subverted from within.”

 

West is also a birther, arguing for instance that the ostensible “news blackout on an extraordinary chain of recent events that took place in and around a Georgia courtroom and pertained to challenges to President Obama’s eligibility to be a presidential candidate in Georgia in 2012” were due to a liberal-Marxist-Muslim conspiracy to hide the facts. Frank Gaffney praised West’s “research” on the issue. More recently, she has been a major pusher of Seth Rich conspiracy theories.

 

As for the culture wars, West has said that feminism helps lead to sexual violence because it means that women are no longer “prized and defended.” Feminism also leads to the end of civilization.

 

There is a decent Diana West resource here.

 

Diagnosis: Possibly the main contemporary proponent of the ideas and conspiracy theories of the John Birch Society, West should be easily recognizable as a deranged joke. There are enough paranoid conspiracy theorists out there to give her a significant audience, however.