Hatred and  the Prophet Jeremiah

by Brad Cotton, published Circleville Herald January 19, 2011


“You have heard now how it was said to your ancestors, You shalt not kill, and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you, anyone who is angry with a brother will answer for it before the court. …. And anyone who calls a {brother}” traitor” will answer for it in hell fire.” ( Matthew 5:21-23)


Running against critically wounded Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the November 2010 elections, opponent Jesse Kelly advertised a fundraiser with these precise hateful words: “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”  Representative Patrick Kennedy, who lost uncles  John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy to assassins walked onto the National Mall late summer of 2009 while Tea Partiers were brandishing firearms and shouting down any discussion of health reform with outright fabrications  from Sarah Palin about “death panels”. Patrick had just lost his father Ted Kennedy, a decades long champion for health care reform.  Rep. Kennedy saw  on the mall  10,000 signs “ Bury Obamacare with Kennedy”, placed there by Tea Partiers.

Pastor Mike Huckabee , a recent campaign 2010 speaker at Ohio Christian University, joked at a 2008 event that a “thud” heard backstage was Barack Obama hitting the floor to avoid gunfire. Pastor Ron Parsley exhorted his flock to “Lock and Load!” Palmetto State Armory issued a special  commemorative assault rifle with Republican Representative Joe Wilson’s “You Lie!” words engraved on the stock. Rep. Wilson attempted to shout down President Obama’s discussion of health care reform during a presidential address with his own “You Lie!” incivility. Photos show Rep. Wilson proudly posing with his namesake assault weapon.

Rep. Giffords  office door was smashed after her vote in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). While the Tea Party denies it, African-American Congressmen were spit on, called the “N-word” on the Capitol steps just before the vote on the PPACA. Sarah Palin’s cross hairs drawn on Rep. Giffords district and calls for “Don’t retreat, reload” as well as Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s urging her constituents to be “armed and dangerous” are well-known. Sharron Angle, running against Sen. Harry Reid called for treason by suggesting “second amendment” solutions against health care reform. Glenn Beck filmed a staged poisoning of Nancy Pelosi. A FOX News commentator said of Barack Obama “ The Koran aint thick enough to stop a .308 round.” Rush Limbaugh noted “ I tell people not to kill ALL the liberals.” Police investigators asked Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ father if she had any enemies, “Yeah”, he said “the whole Tea Party.”




What do we believe, us progressive Democrats that incites such fear and violent hatred? We believe that market  ideology, in placing profits before  lives is wrong. It is wrong that 50 million of our neighbors have no health insurance while 45,000 of them die without medical care, while millions more are bankrupted. We cannot support” trickle down” market-as-idol  worship that causes 70% of our national wealth to be held by 2% of our  citizens while this redistribution of money upwards continues and accelerates  . We believe, as did our nation for decades, in a strongly progressive income tax. It is right that those like myself  who have been able to prosper  owe a larger proportion back. ”From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)


Jesus taught the same, turning over the tables of the moneychangers and dove sellers that exploited the poor .  Jesus  quoted Jeremiah 7 during this bit of street theater calling the Temple a “den of bandits”. Jeremiah makes it clear that the Israelites shall be allowed to possess the land if, and only if, they do not exploit the poor and marginalized. It is of exquisite meaning and importance that Jesus quotes this precise chapter of Jeremiah while attacking the money changers and dove sellers. Few U.S. Christians acknowledge the constant theme of social and economic justice throughout the Scriptures. Glenn Beck urges Christians to run away from God’s imperative for justice for all His children. Who are the money changers and dove sellers today? Who is protecting them?  Money and privilege protects itself, always, with murderous language or the Supreme Court “Citizens United “ ruling that allows tidal waves of tainted cash to buy elections.


 Rev. Martin Luther King, the greatest faith leader of recent times, whom we honor this week, was attacked with hate speech and bullets. We must recognize that he was killed in Memphis while supporting a strike by black and white sanitation workers against subsistence wages. We must be about Dr. King’s work today.


Brad Cotton is a member of Faithful Reform in Health Care: a project to help people of faith move beyond cable news interpretation of health care reform to intentional reflection and conversation based on faith-inspired values that give meaning to the lives we share together.