Fatuous fringe Congressman carries on curious “freedom fight”
Regular readers will remember our friend Marlin Stutzman, the unremarkable, low information Tea Party hack who is paid by the U.S. taxpayers because he won the last election in the 3rd Congressional District of Indiana. Although there is nothing particularly memorable about his service (to himself and friends), you may recall that his brand of mean-spirited, self-satisfied reactionary politics was so extreme that he was booted from the House Leadership byJohn Boehner (no socialist himself).
Well, Stutzman is in the news again. This time it’s not to make poor children hungrier while stuffing his own and friends’ pockets with more government subsidies. No, this time it’s for “religious freedom.”
Ah, religious freedom! The newest scam of the American right. They cherish religion so much that they have been scurrying about trying to preserve in legislation the right of the truly devout to discriminate against other people they don’t approve of. Isn’t that why all that tea was dumped in Boston Harbor that they celebrate so much? Because after all, nothing says Pious like booting someone from your store because he is gay or banning someone from your lunch counter because he is an “untouchable” or contains a “drop of the blood of Cain” or keeping someone out of your country club because he is an infidel. The holy right-wingers have also been professing their love of God by trying to deny health coverage they believe would allow their employees to do perfectly legal things that the modern Sadducees wished they didn’t. Because what is religion if it can’t be used to regulate someone else’s body, especially a woman’s, right? Then Bishop Leonard P. Blair taught us nothing, if he didn’t teach us that.
But Stutzman has not weighed in on those things. All available vapid arguments had already been urged for those religious freedoms, so there was nothing for Stutzman to add. No, Stutzman’s new fight is for the right to be free from education. This is an important right to those of the particular form of Christian belief that Stutzman subscribes to. For you see science, math, history and literature all tend to contradict the tenets of their faith. So public education is seen as inimical to their right to inflict their ignorance on their children. Not that Indiana has infringed that right. Stutzman was acting not on behalf of a constituent, or even an American citizen. Rather he was asking for asylum for a family that had escaped Germany so that they could prevent their children (as best they could) from learning anything that might make them doubt their old-time religion. Stutzman was not alone in this. He joined 26 other House Republicans in a letter to Eric Holder, requesting asylum for the family, even though the Supreme Court (that den of secular humanism) denied their right to claim asylum for religious persecution.
Although he was merely acting in lockstep with the others, Stuztman’s office gave a particular personal touch to the appeal. According to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette he requesting the Obama Administration to “reject the European belief that children belong to the state ….” It must have been well known in the home school that Stutzman was educated in that “Europeans” (Monacans?, the Swiss?, the Danes?) routinely rip children from their parents to be used in whatever godless socialistic endeavors “Europeans” use them for. This probably was not the best argument (unless it was simply rhetorical), because all wingnuts know that this Administration is dangerously close to being European. (Or anti-colonial as Newt Gingrich once quaintly put it when he was struggling to become the darling of the non-thinking right. But then that seems to be the exact opposite of being European, doesn’t it? No matter. We’re talking about a group not known for critical tinkling.)
What seems to have added positive weight to this political machine rolling with holy inertia was the personal touch. Stutzman announced, to great public interest no doubt, that he and his (female) wife “made the decision to homeschool their sons for a time.” This may have been what turned the tide in favor of the beleaguered family seeking refuge from the dictatorial Teutonic state, because not long after this announcement (or even before, God works in mysterious ways for his faithful), the Justice Department decided to put this case into “deferred action” status, which means there will be no attempt to deport these aliens whose visas have expired. Surely if it’s good enough for Stuzman, it ought to be universally practiced, even if we have to make the opportunity available to aliens who have overstayed their visas. But at least they won’t be burdening our overworked public school systems, so that’s a relief.
Although all the faithful will undoubtedly be grateful to Stutzman for his brave pioneering for religious liberty, I’m still left with two nagging questions. First, why didn’t Stutzman use his own homeschooling as an example of the virtues of religious freedom? Could it have been that since it failed to provide him with the minimal schooling necessary to obtain a degree either Glen Oaks Community College or Tri-State University, where he toiled without success, it wasn’t considered a “successful home schooling” among his party who see the promotion of entrepreneurial accomplishments as the sole criterion for education? The u I’m sure hope for better education for their sons. (If they are under Mr. Stutzman’s tutelage for long, however, I wouldn’t expect to see them in any “learned profession.”) Yet surely Stutzman’s defective education was compensated by his religious instruction, right? Even the poorly educated can benefit from instruction in charity and compassion. But, alas, for Stutzman that education seems to have not taken hold either. For when the National Evangelical Association (the group which lobbies on behalf of the doctrines subscribed to by Stutzman’s professed faith) urged him to refrain from a vote that would drastically cut food stamps to the nation’s hungry, for Jesus’ sake, Stutzman denied his lord and sided with Mammon. I guess part of religious liberty, for the publican, is the freedom to profess one thing and practice another.
But still how can these sacred libertarians be happy with the resolution they sought? Is it not the exact same thing that they rail against when talking of immigrants over our southern border? Isn’t this German family living in the United States illegally? And isn’t the action of the Administration to refrain from deportation the very same illegal tyranny that the right wing railed against when the Justice Department used it to allow children who had grown up in America, had actually done well at a real school and had either given service in the military or done well in secondary education to remain in the only country they knew? Surely it could not be skin color that accounts for the difference. That wouldn’t be Christian, would it? But then again, we are talking about Marlin Stutzman and the “religious” right.