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Saturday, June 18, 2011

WBC and KKK




http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/05/30/arlington.cemetery.protesters/index.html?hpt=T2

I know most people are tired of all the stories about Westboro Baptist Church and their hostility towards anything that doesn’t fit their conveniently expanding yet also shrinking bubble of what is approved by God. By conveniently expanding, I mean God lets them make song parodies for the purpose of insults towards every possible group you could imagine, showing that their God seems to hate more and more things the more they add to their repertoire. But it’s not like they have much else to be concerned with, since they can pass off their activities as tax exempt; being a so called “church” they are considered a non-profit organization. According to Nathan Phelps, a former member of the church, they’re called to give a third of their income to God by Fred Phelps’ interpretations of the bible. But when you think about it, they practically get a third of their income returned through tax breaks and such, so they actually don’t live nearly as economically impoverished a life as you might think.

It doesn’t mean they don’t isolate their family from the world by expressing so much hostility and aversion to everything they come across, so intellectually they’re still quite lacking. They use the Internet and such, clearly, since they are well known for one of many sites such as http://godhatesfags.com as well as http://godhatessweden.com among other affiliated pages, all of which are probably still down after the attack on their servers by hacktivists, many claiming it was Anonymous, though it denies these claims, saying it was a rogue group. Whoever shut down their website thought it might affect them, but this is a group that’s been popularized through the media so much that they could drop their servers and internet messages at any time and focus on the protests they started over ten years ago at Michael Shepherd’s funeral in 1998.

Onto the story of ironic importance, then. The WBC had members protesting at Arlington National Cemetery at the Memorial Day services to remember fallen soldiers. But this time there was a counter group alleging that they were members of the Knights of the Southern Cross, a branch of the Ku Klux Klan based in Virginia. Of course, this is like picking the lesser of two evils, though for many people, the KKK would appear to at least have respect for fallen soldiers and mourning of the dead, regardless of disagreements on racial and religious issues that the KKK is almost as notorious for as WBC for their big issues with gays and enablers like myself. The Klan has existed in the U.S. much longer than Westboro Baptist Church, probably with roots that go back further than Fred Phelps’ lifetime. Of course, no one should think I’m saying that the KKK is more justified in their overall beliefs than Westboro Baptist Church. Both of them speak hatred out of fear or misguided ideas about the people they speak against in one way or another. The Knights of the Southern Cross were, at this protest, merely handing out small American flags to other patriots and passerby, otherwise not getting much attention or promoting their beliefs as Klan members. I’m reminded of a group called the Patriot Guard Riders who follow WBC around as counter protestors. If anything, there might be common ground between the Riders and the Knights in the context of respecting people at a funeral for people that, many point out, fight for the church’s basic freedom to peacefully assemble and protest.

Of course, members like Abigail Phelps, one of pastor Fred Phelps’ daughters, brush these counter protests aside, saying they “have no moral authority on anything,” They also claimed people at the memorial were “idolizing” the dead and said they died for an “unrighteous cause”. First off, remembering people after they died is hardly ancestor worship, so that part’s just provocatively idiotic. And I’m not one to be pro-war, but I’m not an absolute pacifist or non-resistant type. The use of excessive military force is a problem I have with war in general, but I don’t know what Westboro thinks the unrighteous cause is with the war in, say, Iraq or the Middle East in general. From what little I (or anyone) can understand of their theology, it isn’t any particular thing the wars are fought for, but just that they are fighting for the cause of the United States of America, which, according to members, such as de-facto head Shirley Phelps-Roper, is being punished by God for accepting homosexuality. I have to wonder what they would have the U.S. do to homosexuals if they were in charge? Stone them to death like the Bible “commands” in Leviticus 20:13? Or do other terrible things which I could only speculate on a fraction of?

I don’t think I can ramble on as long as I usually do on this topic, so onto general closing remarks. It doesn’t hurt us to see common ground between positions that we equally disagree with, but we can’t forget that there are commonly shared beliefs that are divisive with both the KKK and Westboro. Their main disagreements are support for the troops and racism justified by the Bible or otherwise, so there’s a much wide range of things people could find to disagree about besides these. Fred Phelps is known for being a lawyer supporting civil rights in the 60s, so his church could easily claim the KKK is wrong in being racist. But the contention from the other side is that WBC is not being respectful of people’s privacy in the context of mourning loved ones. Either way, there’s an obvious impasse that police were right in the middle of the whole time. At least both sides continue to be relatively peaceful in this day and age, though Westboro seems to be keen on provoking violence to justify lawsuits, which they’re so good at being lawyers for the most part. So, until next time, Namaste and aloha.

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