The Passion of the Right

In the year that was, the evangelical right miscast morality as fact. Factor in fear and 2004 shaped up to be the highest rated reality TV show that never made it to TV, but whose name could've bee

In the year that was, the evangelical right miscast morality as fact.

Factor in fear and 2004 shaped up to be the highest rated reality TV show that never made it to TV, but whose name could've been Fear Factor nonetheless, considering how conservatives recruited blindfolded Americans to eat homosexuals and equal rights and to not question the strange bloodlessness of a bloody war.

They did it (and will continue to for the next four years) with God as their co-producer and Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove as executive executors. Together they've recast Wag the Dog, Hollywood's version of real-life political spin control, as Wag the God.

But not as hilariously.

A former hack actor was president the last time America was so obviously and painfully splintered. But at least with Ronald Reagan we got comic relief because, hey, he could've been "acting" like he didn't care about adrift lower classes, shabby health care for the elderly, equality for gays, exorbitant military spending and tax breaks for the insanely wealthy.

Last year will go down as the most disingenuously God-filled-but-godless, godawful year in contemporary American history.

I am confident God never intended Himself as a political shuttlecock to be bandied about in a right-and-righter game of infringing on the personal rights of who's left, as an empirical steamroller for oil and world domination and as an ever-widening Constitutional loophole.

If God is the right's shuttlecock, then President Bush is its demigod.

Here's a man who miraculously cured himself of alcohol and cocaine abuse and who never actively served his country.

He's a former college cheerleader and fraternity party boy who casually invokes the name "God" as though doing so is enough. Under his watch church and state are the postmodern Reese's Cup but the two great tastes don't taste great together.

But in them the evangelical right has found a resting place, a manger in which to manage its stronghold on its red stateliness and a dark cavernous Honeycomb Hideout where they can further strangle out all the queers threatening right-thinking self-righteousness.

It's easy to number and break down last year's memorable moments: Janet Jackson's breast-baring debacle and Justin Timberlake's disappearance until it blew over, Iraq, Dan Rather's smear story on Bush that strengthened Bush sympathizers, the evangelical right's anti-Semitic escapism into The Passion of the Christ, the Monopoly money fakeness of gay marriage, John Kerry's cardboard campaigning, the Russian schoolhouse massacre, the devastation of a multi-country tsunami, the unauthorized appearance of Mike Allen's penis and the slow goodbye of Charlie Luken's dicklessness.

Sunday morning pundits surely will extrapolate the meaning of catch phrases like "coalition of the willing," "ghost detainee," "flip-flopper" and "two Americas" that weren't part of our national lexicon until last year, the year we began figuring and ignoring just how frightened of one another we are.

However, the palpable disdain between us — between your America and mine, theirs and ours, red and blue and gay and straight — cannot be quantified. There's no putting a finger on how different from one another we feel and how fearful we are of those differences.

In 2004 fear emerged as America's original and only equal opportunity employer, taking all comers regardless of race, gender, age, disability, class or sexual orientation.

And we, regardless of what America we love, defend or reside in, have the evangelical right to thank for our fear and all its factors. Under and because of them we've been had, herded into our lowly corners to eyeball one another warily, to fight against rather than for one another's equal — not special — rights.

If we had one trifling fear or anxiety, the right smelled it, played off it and inflated it. They lathered us into a frothing state wherein we assumed that every non-flag waving, Support-Our-Troops-yellow-ribbon-bumper-stickerless, non-voting and possibly gay or lesbian, non-Christian, brown, black or poor person wanted most of what we had and that they were coming to our America to claim it.

If 2004 taught us anything, it's that apathy is deadly, one party's morality is another's defeat and fact is in the eye of the beholder.

And God doesn't live in a red or blue state.

Unless, of course, you're a hardcore Republican Christian. Then you believe God lives only where you live.

And you'd be right.

Hear Kathy's commentaries on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

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