The MSNBC mission for the past few weeks has been to tar any opponent to Obama with the fanaticism brush. From Dylan Ratigan's rants that the Tea Parties are "racists and Nazis" to David Schuster saying it was racist of the Republican National Committee to refer to Charlie Rangel as a "Harlem Democrat" and the usual prime time lineup doing their schtick.
For Rachel Maddow, any vague reference to the Bible in public gives her an excuse to invite on her favorite fundamentaliphobia sufferer Frank Schaeffer and rail about apocalyptic racist Christians taking over the Republican Party.
Rachel Maddow made a big deal about the conspiracy-oriented John Birch Society being allowed to participate at CPAC this year. (so did we) But when it comes to Christianity and politics, Rachel is better than any Bircher at weaving deep vast right wing theocratic conspiracies from the most fragile of threads.
SCHAEFFER: Really, what this is just another evidence of the fact that there is a right-wing fringe in this country sometimes tied to militia movements, sometimes tied to the religious right that I write about in my book "Crazy for God," sometimes just loonies who have essentially given up on the United States government.
Yeah, that MUST be the explanation. Why ELSE would someone in Louisiana think an emergency plan is needed?
Paul Cooper did an excellent job of showing how Maddow deliberately slandered Congressman Bart Stupak in particular, and members of Congress who live in a place called "C Street" and who fellowship together in a loose knit group in general.
In the very same show last Thursday night, Maddow found yet another axis of evil in an over-the-top civilian volunteer program by a county sheriff in northern Louisiana– mostly because he calls the program "Operation Exodus." This gave Maddow and Frank Schaeffer an excuse to propose that crazy Christians everywhere are forming survivalist racist militias in the church basement.
But the most likely explanation is that the Sheriff, like countless others across the country, is using auxiliary special deputies, or something like it, as a way to build his political organization. (Click the NewsReal link above if you want to see the interview)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: These folks, these guys are volunteers in something called Project Exodus in Bossier Parish, Louisiana. The sheriff
in Bossier Parish, Sheriff Larry Deen, put out a press release recently announcing the creation of this Operation Exodus group. It's now been reported by "The Shreveport Times" and that local reporting has been picked up nationally by Zach Roth at "Talking Points Memo." The sheriff's department there says that Operation Exodus is designed to build a local paramilitary force to deal with the threat of, you know, threats and stuff.
In the words of "The Shreveport Times," quote, "The Bossier Parish sheriff's office is launching a program called Operation Exodus, a policing plan for an end-of-the-world scenario involving a mostly white group of ex-police volunteers and a .50-caliber machine gun inspired in part from the Book of Exodus in the Bible.
…The way Operation Exodus is going in Bossier Parish is that the sheriff came up with this idea. He put out the press release. And then the sheriff proactively contacted people who lived in Bossier Parish who he wanted to join this little militia.
If this is a "militia," it is certainly a "well-regulated" one….Rachel loves the word militia. In MSNBC-speak, that means racist survivalists who arm THEMSELVES and independently form a paramilitary group.
MADDOW: …And the sheriff chose 200 people, 195 of the 200 are white men.
And your point is? If this was the white supremacist plot you're hinting at, what's with the 5 black guys?
MADDOW: The sheriff is providing these people with shotguns and with batons and with riot shields.
Well, he's not exactly handing them out. He's training them to use them if he ever decides to hand them out…
MADDOW: The sheriff has already started training them as you can see in hand-to-hand combat.
Wow, a self-defense course. Like you can take at any YMCA…?
MADDOW: And then there's the war wagon with the .50-caliber machine gun. Sheriff Deen explains the need for this militia as follows, "As evidenced by recent terror threats, it is apparent homegrown terrorists are in our midst. With the easy accessibility of the Internet, it is quite possible that these local and international terrorists can form a national or multiple location attack on our nation at any given moment."
See the 195 white guys in town who were just given guns by the sheriff? They're supposed to reduce your fear. Same with the .50 caliber thingy on the war wagon thingy. Reducing the fear. "The Shreveport Times" asked Sheriff Larry Deen if beyond just naming his militia after the Book of Exodus, he was also motivated by an expectation of the rapture by the end of days, Sheriff Deen declined to comment on that.
"And no matter whether we are a direct target or not, fear and panic will still permeate our community. Control will have to be regained to ensure the safety of our residents. That's where Operation Exodus comes into play."
The "end of days" so-called quote Rachel throws around was completely in the mind of the reporter, it is NOT a quote from the sheriff. Here is the relevant paragraph from the Shreveport Times:
Deen said in a press release last week that he named the program in part from the Book of Exodus in the Bible. However, on Wednesday, when asked whether he believed in a true "End of Days" scenario, he declined comment.
"I don't think we need that," Deen said. "These are totally different deals: there's Exodus in the Bible, but we're talking about Operation Exodus in Bossier Parish so I wouldn't even want to comment on that."
Wow, there's some stirring religious fervor there!
And Exodus is one book of the Bible away from being as far removed from the "end of days" prophecies in the Book of Revelation as possible. Exodus is also a word with intrinsic meaning, unlike say, Leviticus. It could be evacuation, for instance. In Louisiana? Hmmm.
MADDOW: Operation Exodus draws its name from the Book of Exodus in the Bible. The sheriff explains that in his press release. What do you make of linking an effort like this to the Old Testament?
SCHAEFFER: Well, it's kind of symbolic because the Story of Exodus is the Jews, the people of God fleeing an unjust ruler. So obviously, it's a backhanded comment about the United States government, Barack Obama, what have you. And in my mind it links up with the sheriffs, who at the CPAC meeting a couple weeks ago, took an oath to break the law and not follow orders if they don't like what they're being told.
Really, what this is just another evidence of the fact that there is a right-wing fringe in this country sometimes tied to militia movements, sometimes tied to the religious right that I write about in my book "Crazy for God," sometimes just loonies who have essentially given up on the United States government…
Obviously? Because it's named Exodus? Seriously? How did you leave out Black Helicopters, Frank? Maybe they are going to migrate to Area 51…
SCHAEFFER: In terms of the biblical tie-in, it's very obvious. We have an unjust ruler in Washington. We don't believe in the system anymore and we're being called to another place. I don't know where this is, maybe Florida or somewhere. But these guys certainly aren't going to make anybody any safer. They're just, you know, going to be in a big gun club and doing their thing with some biblical expectation that they're somehow serving God by doing this or fighting I don't know what. It isn't terrorism they're fighting. They're just putting together a little militia group here to flee the rulers they don't agree with, I guess, in kind of the Dick Cheney America. You know, we've given up on our government protecting us. We say the president is not doing his job so we give the .50 cal machine gun to some old white guy on a pickup truck and some shotguns to good old boys and guess they'll take care of it.
Frank's getting the hang of MSNBC appearances. Just trot out Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney? The guy who spent most of his life in Washington? A militia-minded anarchist? Really?
MADDOW: Well, you know, the name of this group, the sheriff explaining he named it Exodus because of the Book of Exodus. It's one of the things that most caught my attention about this and made me most want to talk to you about it. [DF—because you're the only religious guy I know—or the only one crazy and obsessed enough to buy this conspiracy theory]
But it's not just the name of this militia group. When you get into the details of it, it turns out that the sheriff is also planning to use church facilities in the event of the kind of emergency that he imagines that he'd have to call out this group. Do you think there is a broader effort to try to bring churches and the militia movement together? And have you ever seen that before?
Or, maybe it's the fact that 90% of the auditoriums and large basements with common rooms in the county are churches…. So, in the 60s, when every church basement had a fallout shelter sign, was that the beginning of the civil/church/militia movement?
SCHAEFFER: Well, absolutely. Look, as you know, because you've read my book, "Crazy for God," which is this story about how I came out of the religious right and changed my mind and why I did that. You know, ever since the 1970s, the link between the far right, the religious right, the loony right and churches involved in everything from the antiabortion movement to the secessionist movement to the you know, it all ties in.
Now, it's not some big, nefarious plot. It's just a bunch of very like-minded people, usually ignorant people, semi-educated rubes a lot of the time who, you know, think somehow that if you load your basement full of ammunition and guns and read the Bible dawn to dusk and home school your kids and talk in big terms about, you know, Barack Obama having failed us or not making America safe, that somehow, this is patriotism.
…But calling it Exodus is just simply another way of linking it to this Bible-based, re-constructionist, crazy movement in our country that essentially has ceded from the union within our own nation as I talk about in my book. [DF—hey, Frank, could you plug your book a little more?] We have a bunch of people who don't believe in America anymore. And the odd thing is they wrap themselves in the flag and call themselves patriots.
And you know, this is just crazy and of course it fits in with this larger trend that you see, for instance, with the Blackwater people, who – private army, run by a re-constructionist fanatic Christian guy who have gone all over the world working with the CIA but not under the control of a real government.
Wow, you got a lot out of the guy calling it "Operation Exodus!" I'm relieved you don't see a "big conspiracy" here…
By the way, Frank and Rachel, people who believe in The Rapture, don't prepare for the aftermath of The Rapture. THEY DON'T THINK THEY WILL BE HERE.
Of course, the Sheriff could use to go back to Sunday School, too. He told the newspaper that the name was significant because the Israelites had to fend for themselves, that they were "on their own."
Ummmm…. Manna from heaven anyone? Water from a rock? Parting the Red Sea? Ring ANY bells?
Sorry to mess up a good conspiracy rant, but here are a few inconvenient truths.
1. County sheriffs commonly use some kind of special deputy program to build their political organization.
2. Homeland Security funds are being misdirected to backwater locales like Bossier Parish instead of actual terrorist targets like New York City, Norfolk, San Diego or other ports, important transportation hubs or vital infrastructure, and are instead just another earmark for the member of Congress to brag about bringing home the bacon. Local law enforcement are either getting those funds, or finding their own way to fund such programs to keep up with the Sheriff Jonses.
3. The Bossier Parish Sheriff's Department has doubled its budget in the last decade, from about $15 million to over $30 million, despite an only 5,000 increase in population in a rural county of only about 100,000 people.
This is not a nation-wide movement to bring churches into the Militia (even one this well-regulated). This is a county sheriff doing some political empire building.
And, it provided Rachel Maddow with her latest excuse to Christian-bash; and Frank Schaeffer to plug his magnum opus, which has been mostly ignored and refuted outside the HuffPo and MSNBC.