Friday, November 24, 2006

The Hillbilly "Christianists" Are Coming!

So was it our racial or religious bigotry? I'm referring to the recent election in Tennessee between Harold Ford, Jr. and Bob Corker. An Andrew Sullivan reader writes:
For those who believe Bob Corker won because of racism, rest assured he won on religious fundamentalism. Proof in point: last night in Chattanooga, TN (Bob Corker's hometown) NBC aired "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" instead of the Madonna concert. Our children and grandchildren learn to cut school, be cool, borrow Dad's Ferrari and tell a few harmless lies. But by the Grace of God, our community protects impressionable youth from that sexual and religious deviant Madonna. Our children will know only the true Virgin Madonna not the "Like-A-Virgin" Madonna.
Maybe I have breathed in too much smoke from cross burnings or have been bitten at too many snake handling services, but I hadn't previously considered how the post-election decision of one Tennessee network affiliate to preempt a Madonna concert for such "Christianist" propaganda as Ferris Bueller's Day off would have on the election in Tennessee two weeks earlier. But Sullivan and his correspondent should consider other possibilities -- Maybe potential Ford Supporters were out marrying their cousins on election day, or were too busy tending their stills -- there are a lot of potential reasons.

Sullivan and his correspondent should consider the nature of politics in the Volunteer State. This is the state that sent Howard Baker to the Senate. In the primary this year, the least favorite candidate of social conservatives was Bob Corker. They preferred Ed Bryant, who has now lost two Republican senate primaries in a row in Tennessee. The other big election in Tennessee was for governor. We reelected Phil Bredesen, the son of a Tennessee dirt farmer who became a Pentecostal preacher. No wait, Bredesen is actually a New Jersey born, Harvard educated health care executive who was overwhelmingly reelected this year -- he carried every county.


Anonymous said...

That's a rather typical ploy of hystericalist Andrew Sullivan, i.e., post an e-mail from an anonymous "reader" to convey the message that Sullivan wishes to present. Am I the only one who finds it passing odd that these anonymous e-mails almost never contain misspellings and/or typos?

Chris said...

Yes, you're the only one who finds it odd. Outlook express has had a spellchecker for some time now.

Anonymous said...

In light of the comment from Chris, then one can assume that Andrew Sullivan reader's and e-mailer's are just about the only ones utilizing the spellchecker mechanism.

Anonymous said...

Time was (in my recollection, anyway) when Andrew wouldn't err by calling a network's failure to broadcast his preferred program "banned in Tennessee." He's been worth reading in the past; perhaps he'll veer back into good sense again in the future.

Counterfactual said...

Ok, so why did the Tennesse network choose to not show the concert? Sullivan says it was conservative religious influence. Clark makes fun of this, but does not say what the real reason was, as I would expect him to do if Sullivan is wrong.

I am not a Tennessean, so I have no idea of the real story here (which is why I am asking), but I do know that just making fun of someone does not show they are wrong.

aleks said...

Did Sullivan or his reader say, suggest or imply that the Madonna boycott influenced the election? If not, Clark seems to be telling an awfully silly lie.

darkjethro said...


Uhh, maybe its because 'Ferris Beuler's Day Off' is an order of magnatude better than anything Madonna has ever done. The only thing she's done that comes close is the BMW Films short 'Star' which, no matter how much you fill it with commercials, cannot be reasonably stretched to 2 hours...

Sullivan needs to get a life.

Counterfactual said...

Aleks - No, Sullivan did not say that. He said (or at least the e-mailer did) that Ford lost the election because religious fundamentalism is so strong in Tennessee, and illustrated its strength by its ability to get the broadcast of this concert cancelled.

If religious fundamentalism did have a part to play in this broadcast being canceled, then Sullivan's post was right. I do not know if it did or did not, that is why I asked if it did. But I do notice Clark did not deny it did nor did he give the different real reason it was. So so far his post has done nothing to show Sullivan's post wrong, which has not stopped him or some of the commentaters from criticizing Sullivan for posting it.

Christopher Fotos said...

In Madonna's latest concert run, there's a scene where she's plastered up on a cross in sort of a mock crucifixion.

There's some weird talk out there about how that grossly offends some of the station's audience. If you can imagine that.

aleks said...

CounterFactual - Like DarkJethro, I'd certainly rather watch Ferris Bueller than Madonna. Not broadcasting her show may not be the result of religious fundamentalism, but as you say no alternative theory has been presented.

As for why Harold Ford lost, I don't see why fundamentalism would have been the decisive cause since he ran as a Christian candidate, against gays, etc. Racism certainly looks like a more likely culprit, given the polls' reaction to the Just Not Right commercial with the white chick. Corker also seems to have done a very successful job of convincing Tennessee voters that Ford is a liberal, despite Ford's conservative self-presentation and most or all of his policy positions. There's also the family baggage, and the idea that Ford was a purely political creature with no authenticity.

In any case, Corker used racism to get elected and sold his soul for six years in the Senate. I don't think I'm a fundamentalist but that doesn't seem like a good deal to me.

Daniel Larison said...

To review: Sullivan, believes that fundamentalism dominates the GOP, and uses the reader's comments on the election of Bob Corker, someone so recent in his conversion to a pro-life view that Right to Life refused to endorse him, as proof of fundamentalist control in TN politics. The reader then confirms this "discovery" of his by talking about the replacement of Madonna's concert with Ferris Bueller on local TV.

Clark is absolutely right that Corker was not the favourite of religious conservatives or "Christianists" or "fundamentalists," and that whatever strength religious conservatives have in TN they were not obviously the driving force behind Corker's surprisingly narrow victory. One would have to check exit polling numbers to see what kinds of people voted for the different candidates and then speculate about why before being able to declare with some confidence why Corker won. This is why the reader's non sequitur about Madonna in the context of talking about Bob Corker's victory is every bit as idiotic as Clark made it out to be. Clark was entirely right to ridicule Sullivan's reader and Sullivan himself on this false relation between the "banning" of the concert's broadcast and Corker's victory. The connection doesn't obviously exist except to those who, like Sullivan, automatically associate the election of a moderate Republican Senator with the advance of fundamentalist Christianity, because as all good Sullivanists know Republicans today are now a "religious party."

Separately, Sullivan says at the end of his post, predictably: "Madonna is closer to Jesus' authentic teachings in this respect than many Christianists." Because blasphemy in a good cause (fighting poverty and AIDS) is OK. The parodies almost write themselves.

Counterfactual said...

Daniel - Imagine this example. A Republican candidate with a military background is defeated in San Fransisco. He blames part of his loss on S.F.'s anti-military bias. Liberals deny S.F. has any such bias. Two weeks after the election a network shows a major movie which is generally considered to have a somewhat pro-military message. While pretty much every other station in the country carries it without problem, the local S.F. station "bans" it and replaces it with something else. Wouldn't this be a bit of evidence the candidate was right?

I don't claim it is conclusive evidence, or that the candidate may have lost anyway on completely other grounds. I simply think it is reasonable to point to this as evidence of possible anti-military bias. And I certainly would at least ask the station why they did that before criticizing others for using it as evidence.

To repeat, I don't live in Tennessee and I am completely open to the idea that Corker won because he is a smashing person who will make a great Senator and the voters are insightful enough to see this. It is just that a charge has been made that Tennessee is sufficiently on the religiously conservative side that you can't even get a concert shown almost everywhere else in the country shown there. If this is true, it does help one understand the political/religious culture of the area, right?

What I want to know is whether Sullivan's one specific factual charge here about the concert was/is true. I am not so foolish to believe that if it was, then everything else he believes must also be true, or not to realize it may be only a small point with much counter-evidence. However, I am also not so foolish as to not notice that despite all the ridicule, so far no one has been able to refute the one specific piece of evidence he pointed to.

Daniel Larison said...

What continues to puzzle me about this entire question is why replacing Madonna's concert with something else constitutes proof of the strong power of religious fundamentalism in the first place. From what I understand of the blasphemous nature of the performance, most Christians would find parts of the concert (Madonna on the cross) as deeply offensive as many found her Like A Prayer video. It is the shocking and impious use of the Cross that I think would put off a great many people who are not strongly conservative Christians. To have pulled the Madonna broadcast isn't proof of galivanting fundamentalism; it is proof of some modicum of respect for Christian viewers and some sense of good taste on the part of the local TV affiliate. This is proof, if anything, that a lot of Christians live in TN, which we already knew. It is not proof about the nature of that Christianity, which has to be a strident fundamentalism that fits Sullivan's definition of fundamentalism for the Sullivanists' claims in this case to hold up.

Did Christian conservatives, including those who would likely have been offended by Madonna's concert, contribute to Corker's victory? Probably, in the sense that they would have tended to vote for him more often than for Ford (though Corker's margins among such Christians were probably slimmer than usual because of Ford's strong appeal to his own religious faith), but not nearly as much as Sullivan or his reader would have us believe. Is Corker the least compelling example of a candidate of religious fundamentalism you have ever seen? Absolutely.

That was part of Clark's point, I believe: Sullivan and his followers are so obsessed with "fundamentalists" that they see them behind everything and in everything. It couldn't possibly be that people they would regard as reasonable, middle-of-the-road Christians would find Madonna's concert to be trash (which I imagine it is). The point, I think, is that Sullivan's mania about Christianists is so powerful that he and his followers will find proof of nefarious Christianist influence wherever they can, and their examples will usually involve Christians who object to things that he, authority on what is authentic Christianity, happens to like.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it up to Sullivan to prove that the program change was due to pressure from Christianists? He's making the claim.

The onus is on the person making the claim; not those refuting it.

As a non-Christian, I find Madonna's mocking of Christian symbols offensive.

A non-Christian Christianist am I? All sorts of odd things in the world according to Sullivan. Any resemblance to the real world is purely accidental.

Anonymous said...

While there were many factors at play in the election, undoubtedly the major reason in Corker's victory was the very lengthy and well known history of sleazy and unethical behavior on the part of several members of Ford's family.

Anonymous said...

Here's a guess: the station in TN that runs NBC programming figured that their audience wasn't configured with enough women and gays in order to get enough viewers to watch a Madonna concert. I mean, let's be honest, you have to be a woman or gay to watch Madonna.

For those keeping score, the answer is "Yes, when you portray Madonna Ciccone as illustrative of Christian teachings, you've officially become unreadable". My lord, Andi. Do you realize how embarrassing you now are?

glenn said...

As a Tennessee voter who doesn't really use a spell checker, I'd like to comment.

Had I based my decision solely on the basis of campaign material and speeches, debates, etc., I might have voted for Ford. I was present (in fact, backstage) for the last "debate". I think Mr. Ford is a dynamic speaker and if he can manage to wangle his way into national office I expect him to stay forever, if indeed he IS the fruit that fell far from the tree and can stay out of jail.

And there lies some of the rub. I did not support Corker during the primaries, but when it came to the final vote on Tuesday, there were two things in my mind - Nancy Pelosi and Mr. Ford's relatives. Tip may have been dead right at the time, but there wasn't a war on when he said it. Sometimes politics does become national.

My vote had very little, if anything, to do with Corker's stances on the issues. It had everything to do with support for the war against Islam and getting rid of corruption in Washington. Don't think I'm naive on that point; I don't trust Corker much, either. It was a choice between a crook and a hereditary crook.

aleks said...

Did you really just say your vote "had everything to do with support for the war against Islam"? Are you by any chance Glenn Beck?

Anonymous said...

So what if, for a change, their viewers got of their duffs, called in and raised cain about something that offended their Christian religion? Yeah, we called and asked them not to show it and they didn't. I didn't hear any of you lib bloghards criticize islam for their orchestrated violent reactions to the danish cartoons or to them killing a nun in reaction to the Pope's very mild words. We Christians are tired of being being the only religion that can be slandered or libeled by all of you idiots and we aren't embarrassed to call you out! And don't give me that old, tired censorship garbage. The slut who has the bad taste to take the name of the holy Mother of Jesus as her stage name and produce such garbage still has the right to produce what she wishes - unlike in islamic theocracies where she would be walking head-bowed several paces behind what ever man was in charge of her, wearing a burka of course. Or perhaps she'd like to try going to Medina or Mecca and even attempt to walk down the street in one of her stage costumes, or looking a man in the eye, let alone putting a program on their tv dissing their prophet???? Oh, and by the way, it ain't a matter of separation of church and state either - it was the public that acheived that little broadcasting victory, not some govt. agency. And while we're at it, the constitution guarantees US freedom OF religion.

aleks said...

You're right about everything except that people did raise hell over the riots, murders and embassy attacks that Muslim extremists committed with the excuse of the Danish cartoon and the Pope's statements, which were nasty but no excuse for violence.

Nashville Blues Again said...

What's worse - assuming voters are swayed by fundamentalism in Tennessee or thinking a Tennessean can't manage a well written, correctly spelled, typo-free comment?

(Or C: Making up a word like "hystericalist ". You're making this tough, Anonymous One.)

Nashville Blues Again said...

didn't hear any of you lib bloghards criticize islam for their orchestrated violent reactions to the danish cartoons or to them killing a nun in reaction to the Pope's very mild words.

Do people have any idea how silly they sound when they say such things?

Just asking.

Of course, that was criticized by liberals and liberal bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Mr Sullivans emailer would have a stronger point if in fact religious fundamentalist were able to get Madonna Banned at TV stations broadcasting to more than 10% of the states Population. Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville all showed it, and each of those cities are significantly larger than Chattanooga. The first two by close to an order of magnatude. Chattanooga only recently got more population than would fit in the University of Tennessee Football Stadium. Harold Ford lost because of his last name and who he shares it with.

aleks said...

"emphis, Nashville, and Knoxville all showed it, and each of those cities are significantly larger than Chattanooga. The first two by close to an order of magnatude. Chattanooga only recently got more population than would fit in the University of Tennessee Football Stadium."

If that's true, Sullivan went off half-cocked again. After reading his blog for years, I find that pretty easy to believe. But Clark still needs to retract his claim that Sullivan blamed the election's result on something that occured after.

njoriole said...

Regarding Madonna:
I can tell you from here, decidedly un-"Christianist" New Jersey, when my wife and I stumbled upon the Madonna thing on tv the other night, we couldn't grab the remote fast enough to switch it to something (anything) else. That's not because we're offended religiously (or any way, for that matter), or that we wooried about the effects on our kids; it's simply the fact that Madonna is an unsufferable bore, and excruciating to watch. Why should not wanting to be subjected to crap make a person suspected of being a bigot?

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Clark. Insta-stooge linked to you.

darkjethro said...

' it's simply the fact that Madonna is an unsufferable bore, and excruciating to watch.'

Can I get an AMEN?

'Why should not wanting to be subjected to crap make a person suspected of being a bigot?'

Would not the broadcasting of a program against the wishes of the target market be offensive and bigoted?

Commercial TV exists to make money by showing programming people want to watch.

Modonna has admitted that her antics are provocative. Its all schtick to her, its highly offensive to some, and its boring to me.

Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm not from Tennessee, so I didn't see the whole race) but I thought Corker and Ford both ran as christians.

Oh, I see, only the intolerant ones voted for Corker.

If I was from Tennessee those would be fightin' words...

Sullivan, get stuffed.

Jason said...

"Sullivanist" - a new term is born! "Sullivanist hystericalism" rolls right off the tongue as well. Sort of like Islamist fascism.

aleks said...

Or "Compassionate Conservatism" or "Stay the Course".

Andr? Kenji said...

Harold Ford lost because he exagerated his religious tone in a state that voted - twice- for Bill Clinton.

Knemon said...

"Yes, you're the only one who finds it odd."

No, me too.

aleks said...

Andr? Kenji makes a good point against Sullivan's quoted reader. It seems like Ford ran as the explicitly Christian candidate. Corker ran as the white candidate.

Sean Scallon said...

Quick! Someone find an exit poll from the election to show that Madonna's concert pulled enough voters to Corker form him to beat Ford.

Sheesh! I think we are in the silly season when it comes to election spin.

aleks said...

No one suggested that Madonna had anything to do with the election, that's just something that Clarkstooksbury seems to be claiming despite falsity. What really happened is that Karl Rove got Britney spears to announce her divorce on election day to suppress the youth vote.

Christopher Taylor said...

Hm amazing to me that the only reasons anyone can imagine Harold Ford jr losing is either bigotry or whackadoo Christians. Maybe the voters just didn't care for him in the Senate? Maybe they just liked the other guy better?

Why does it have to be racism that Ford lost, isn't it a kind of racism that always looks at someone's appearance and ethnic background for an excuse?

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