I was walking to lunch today in downtown DC over to the California Tortilla near Chinatown (I had a coupon...mmm...). Anyway, as I'm walking, I pass a building which, for whatever reason, caught my eye. I look at the door frame, and inscribed in stone I can make out these words:
"Faith, Family, Freedom."
With a chill, I realized I was standing in front of the office of my absolute least favorite group in American politics: The Family Research Council.
Tried to convince friends that the FRC was, to quote "Office Space", emblematic of "all that is soulless and wrong." I don't think I succeeded.
But seriously, I honestly believe that the FRC does a stunning job of embodying all of the worst aspects of American political life.
Start with the Orwellian motto: "Faith, family and freedom." Who are they kidding? They defend one faith (Christianity) while displaying no sensitivity (and barely playing lip service to respect) for anybody else's. What of my faith? It has no place in the supremacist worldview of the FRC. Family? The only time I've seen the FRC get involved with family is when they try and break them up. The FRC is fans of certain families to be sure--middle class heterosexual conservative Christian ones. But the vast majority of the FRC's agenda is spent trying to wreak as much havoc upon homosexual families as they possibly can. Worse, once the issue gets beyond heterosexual hegemony, the FRC barely even pretends to support "the family." They've supported economic policies blatantly slanted toward the richest Americans--neglecting the families most in need of aid. They urge that congress weaken Social Security--a safety net for millions of vulnerable retirees. Basically, they are hacks for the right wing of the Republican party--regardless of whether they're "helping families" or delivering massive amounts of largesse to the corporate trough. And freedom is the most ludicrous claim of all. The FRC is a posterchild for government intervention in every facet of American life. From censoring television and radio, to making the most intimate of family decisions subject to state stamps of approval, to the interjection of divisive messages of sectarianism in our public affairs, the FRC has consistently come down against liberty and in favor of a heavily ideological and activist state. Aside from their wildly overblown claims about lost religious liberty (liberty appears to be defined as "the liberty of state officials to indoctrinate captive audiences on religious concerns," since there has yet to be a single case where citizens could not continue to believe and practice as they wish in the private sphere), I have yet to see the FRC ever assert an interest in leaving a matter free from government meddling. So to start, they're misrepresentative.
Second, they are masters of the politics of the soundbite. The FRC appears to find rational argumentation to be a quaint relic of bygone eras. Instead, they appeal to fears and prejudices, throwing ad hominems and non sequitors together with reckless abandon. To cite just one example, they love to say "like counterfeit money, counterfeit marriage will reduce the value of the real thing." Presumably, they are oblivious to the blindingly obvious fact that whereas money gets its value from scarcity, marriage gets its value from being a shared and communal experience by which two persons bound together in the eyes of each other and the surrounding society. But perhaps, I'm wrong, and the FRC's ideal marital model is one where marriage is a commodity viciously competed over, with some people "getting it" and others not, and the ultimate objective, of course, is to accumulate as much as possible ("hey buddy! Got only one marriage? Well I'm pulling in six!").
Third, the FRC seems to be philosophically opposed to consensus. They go out of their way to pick fights with Democrats and categorically reject overtures from liberals to work toward common goals. The FRC was completely dismissive of Hillary Clinton's plea for pro-life and pro-choice activists to work together to reduce abortions, despite this being an issue that everyone appears to agree on. Instead, the FRC seems enamored with the constant attack politics currently in the vogue with congressional leaders--which may explain why they are proud defenders of that most Christian of Congressmen: Tom DeLay.
Fourth and finally (I could go on, but y'all deserve a break), they are partisan hacks, pure and simple. This isn't just a case of me and them disagreeing on particular policy positions--though I do, as it so happens, find their desire to (among other things) marginalize my religion and subjugate homosexuals to be repugnant. No, what bothers me is that they seem completely unconcerned with maintaining the principles they claim to uphold. They have become a wholly owned subsidiary of the farthest right reaches of the GOP--DeLay says jump, they say how high. Occasionally they will critique Republicans from the right, but they will never, ever say "okay, this time you went too far." Even if the issue has absolutely nothing to do with "faith, family or freedom," they'll still reflexively back whatever the GOP talking point is. Misleading intelligence about Iraq? Liberals want to coddle terrorists. Tom DeLay is the most corrupt politician since S&L? Liberal smear campaign. And when it is the issue they care about, consistency is the first casualty of their flippant and faux-principled statements. Massachusetts Supreme Court refuses to defer to democratic branches and allows citizens the right to make private sexual decisions? Let the legislature decide! Legislature decides to extend equal benefits to gay and straight unions? Let the people decide! The people of San Francisco (via a mayor who had overwhelming popular support on the issue) decide to allow gay marriages? To the Courts, quick!
To state what should be obvious by this point--I detest this group and everything they "stand" for.