Reflections on the week it was – intimidation and bigotry abound

Looking back at a few occurrences over the course of the week, I observed Vladimir Putin is quite good at influencing outcomes and bad behaviors. Even ministers are not immune from his lessons of bigotry. This is a key reason he is unlike other Soviet leaders (word intentionally used) as he is a very skilled, scary and corrupt politician.

Crimea election shows 96% plus favor joining Russia

History has shown when you intimidate voters, the election results will favor your cause. A few weeks before, North Korea voted to continue with Kim Jong Un with 100% of the vote. Something about killing your own Uncle for not bowing low enough or clapping hard enough has a tendency to sway voters. Saddam Hussein used to win elections with 98% of the votes as well. Hussein was not too tolerant of dissent, but was smart enough to allow 2% vote against him to show the world he is fair. I would not want to be in the 2% in Iraq back then or 4% in Crimea this week, as you might not be around much longer..

In Crimea, the native Tartars and pro-Ukrainian voters decided to stay home, since there was evidence of dissenters disappearing and having big “X’s” marked on your door can make you feel unwelcome. Yet, I found an interesting statistic. One district had 124% turnout. That is a turnout any Tammany Hall politician would love. It appears, if you had a Russian passport, you could vote. So, people who are not even citizens of Crimea voted to join Russia. You could have sensed something was amiss when reporters were having their cameras thrown to the ground and independent election officials were not allowed in to verify results.

Two final comments. First, if Crimeans want to join Russia, I understand that, but at least have a fair, democratic, and constitutionally (Ukraine’s not Russia’s) supported vote and not one that looks and smells like it was rigged as this one was. Second, as I said in an earlier post, I would not put it past Putin to send in his own thugs to stir up trouble in a community and then send in troops to provide security. This is an old school strong-arm tactic and I believe it was used in Crimea and is being used in other parts of Ukraine. PBS Newshour corroborated this with their belief last night when they spoke of a seemingly orchestrated set of eleven demonstrations in an Eastern Ukrainian city at the same time. It is too much a part of Putin’s nature to believe he did not puppeteer this outcome in the manner I described.

Franklin Graham applauds Putin for denigrating the LGBT community 

Reverend Graham published an article that said he admired Putin’s stripping away the rights of the LGBT community in Russia. He did not support other things Putin has done, but he took a shot at our President and Attorney General for supporting non-discrimination of gays and lesbians and heralded Putin for discrimination. From the bible I was taught, Jesus was inclusive. In fact we used to sing a bible song, “Red and yellow, black and white, Jesus thinks we are out of sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” I have searched my memory banks, but cannot recall an exception on whether they were gays or lesbians in the song or in Jesus’ Golden Rule.

I have a very low tolerance for bigotry from the pulpit and have written several posts about my distaste for when ministers misuse the faith the congregation has placed upon them. Per the song from the movie “South Pacific,” you have to very carefully taught to be a bigot. My mantra has been when religion is inclusive it is at its best and when it is exclusive it is at its worst. Let me go one step further. When religion is bigoted, it is wielded as a weapon to divide. I have known many ministers in my day and they are by and large the most wonderful people and give much of themselves. But, just because someone is a minister does not mean they are immune to biases and mistakes. They are imperfect just like everyone else.

What disappoints me about the younger Graham is his father was so admirable in cutting a path of inclusion for all. Using an old phrase, he was a “Big Tent” preacher who wanted everyone to come and hear the word of God. That is the way it should be. Franklin would ask you to complete a survey and if you checked the wrong boxes, you would not  be allowed to enter the tent. He needs to spend some more time with his father and ask for guidance on how to be inclusive.

I will reiterate what I said before. Vladimir Putin is a thug, but a skilled one who uses people’s biases to divide and achieve his purpose. Franklin Graham took the bait and tried to appeal to a base of bigotry that is being cultivated in our country. I am hopeful many will see Putin’s true colors through this process and will not tolerate bigotry from anyone, but especially a religious leader.

7 thoughts on “Reflections on the week it was – intimidation and bigotry abound

  1. Tough week. I weary of dangerous people putting our world in danger, because they can. Lose lose situation all the way around. And Franklin Graham…I know it was said before Abraham Lincoln, but I like him, so he gets the nod: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool thank to speak out and remove all doubt”.

    • Agreed on the quote, which I love and is very applicable to Franklin. had a good quote from his Dad back in the early 1980s about being wary of joining up with the GOP. Dad said they will only use the Christian movement for their own cause. My belief is most Christians do not believe in the fervor in which the younger Graham is speaking and it is a dramatized extreme view of evangelicals who need to ask themselves WWJD more. My guess is Billy would not have been too happy with his Fox News and GOP only birthday celebration last year. I admire Billy Graham for what he did. Franklin needs some coaching still. Thanks for your comments. BTG

    • Agreed. Remember the line from “The American President” when Michael Douglas’ character says his opponent cares only about two things – telling you what to be afraid of and telling you who is to blame for it. That is how you get elected he says. Whether it is extreme Islamist groups or the Westboro reverend (small r used with purpose) Phelps who took his hate filled rhetoric to the grave yesterday, “bludgeoning” people with the hate spiel and pointing to America, a President that does not look like you do, or whatever is convenient, shows you don’t really have a good argument. My friend Barney has a post on using the “Hitler” label toward the same purpose. Thanks for stopping by. You are always welcome. BTG

  2. Bigotry in any form is used as a club to batter the minorities. Whether it wears a white hood, a military uniform or the trappings of a religious leader it is the same despicable weapon. Only by being inclusive of everyone can our world survive. ~ Dennis

    • Great point. It bothers me most when I see it from “so called-leaders” who use their power to divide. They influence others with their vitriol and need to be called on the carpet more than they are. Thanks for your thoughts. BTG

  3. Note to Readers: Franklin Graham defended his comments yesterday, saying his father was also outspoken and supported Martin Luther King. I find it ironic that he would equate his remarks to disenfranchise LGBT citizens with Billy Graham’s remarks to support the disenfranchised African Americans whose struggles for equality were led by MLK. For all the good Franklin has done, his continued condemnation of the LGBT citizens of this and other countries does a disservice to many, including himself.

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