Two Syrian Familes Won the Lottery Today

Mike Pence, the knuckle-dragging GOP governor of the saddest state north of the Mason-Dixon line, today once again vaunted himself into the foreground of Republican bigotry. He did so by “refusing” to allow two families of Syrian refugees from moving into “his” state of Indiana. We have grown accustomed to Republican bigotry. That seems to be the one common ingredient to the party that really has no clue about how to govern. They are currently, however, taking a break from their go-to anti-black and anti-hispanic bigotry to throw hysterical fits about refugees fleeing the carnage in Syria. The ostensible reason is that these refugees might do to “us” what “they” did to Paris last Friday night. Of course, the difference between a cultural capital of the world, one which has been in the vanguard in the struggle for human dignity and liberty for 250 years, and the state of Indiana could not be more stark. But apparently in Pence’s minuscule mind the analogy has something to do with Christianity.Or maybe he sees some similarity between the Louvre and Highland Park, Kokomo, which boasts both the the world’s largest preserved steer and the world’s largest sycamore stump.

The families in question have been waiting since 2012 to emigrate. So if they were Islamic State terrorists in waiting, they have had an attention span and patience much longer than the Republic party. But no matter. Pence, who mistakenly thought that anti-gay bigotry was his ticket to Republican stardom, now is going to ride the newly fashioned GOP anti-Syrian family gravy train to Hoosier reactionary glory. So, as a result, Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc. and Catholic Charities Indianapolis, evidently jihadist sleeper cells who were sponsoring the families, have decided to route them to Connecticut instead.

I wonder how long it will be before these families thank their lucky stars that they ended up in a state that is not filled with the kind of mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging troglodytes who elect an ambitious bigot like Pence? In the bargain these families won’t have to learn about the sad history of Indiana and realize the unbroken string of events which explains how it ended up as it is. Although by accident of geography it was part of the Union effort during the civil war, it was nonetheless home of the most famous confederate sympathizer in the north, Lambdin P. Milligan. Never quite comfortable with the outcome of that conflict, in 1923 Indiana held the largest rally of KKK member and sympathizers (over 200,000) in history. The state’s Republican governor, Edward L. Jackson, was a proud Klan member who did its bidding in office. He was particularly interested in eliminating Roman Catholic influence in the state. Evidently Catholics were not then considered “Christian” enough. May they still aren’t and that’s why Catholic Charities Indianapolis could not be trusted with two families of potential … something or other. Whatever the reason, here’s a hint: Chaldean Catholics, look elsewhere.

In 1969 Klan members were discovered with 314 pounds of dynamite and a “bushel” of caps. (See NYT, Aug. 22, 1969, p. 17, online here  (sub. required)) .This of course led to state police patrols of black neighborhoods with predictable violence. (See NYT, June 28, 1969, p. 14, online here (sub. required)). Even in those days Republican grasp on governing principles was hazy at best.

In the 1980s Indiana pioneered a new form of bigotry: anti-HIV victims. When teenager Ryan White, a hemophiliac became infected by transfusion of contaminated blood, he was expelled from his public middle school, even though doctors explained he posed no risk. In the grip of modern know-nothing Republicanism Indiana saw a problem (HIV) and chose to attack the victim rather than the cause (blood supply safety). It has become a party of who can’t think clearly, so filled as their heads are with prejudice.

Mike Pence, our current hero, surely vying for a place in the Indiana Bigotry Hall of Shame, early in his career in 2006 strode into the well of Congress to defend both God’s will and American civilization from the grave threat of giving civil rights to gay couples. Homophobia was then his bigotry of choice. He felt his aversions to gays so deeply that he advocated changing that document which American wingnuts revere more than holy writ itself, the U.S. Constitution:

“Marriage matters, Mr. Speaker. It was ordained by God, instituted in the law. It is the glue of the American family and the safest harbor to raise children. Let us put in that most sacred of documents an affirmation of that institution upon which our society demands.”(Cong. Record—House, Vol. 152, Pt. II, p. 14796; online here.)

His efforts against The Gay did not end with his failure to correct the glaring omission of the founding fathers. As governor, he supported the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, designed to allow Hoosiers the right to discriminate against gays in provision of goods and services. Unfortunately, this plan came a cropper in the most humiliating way for Governor Pence, when it was slapped down by the one power that Republicans venerate more than God and cater to more than the health of American society—Big business . Though the law passed and Pence claimed it did nothing to permit discrimination, under pressure from business which threatened to withhold their custom from Indiana, Pence drafted a law that expressly prevented discrimination. One step forward and two backwards for bigotry. It was looking bad for Pence’s election to the Hall of Shame.

Having been burned on that issue, Pence has evidently decided that women and children fleeing a brutal civil war are not as likely as gay wedding planners to bring him to grief. And so onward Christian soldiers! He just can’t help himself. The current GOP is built on bigotry and Pence is GOP to his very core. Deep down he thinks he can become President of the United States. And why not? Didn’t the first GOP President say “you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time”? Surely he did. And that is the only thing modern Republicans know of him or his philosophy.

Well, who knows. Maybe this ended up a win-win. After all, Hoosiers are not going to rise up against him in defense of helpless non-Christian immigrants. There’s no statue of liberty in that state. They were more likely, given their history, to pick up blazing fagots and pitchforks to harass the families. And maybe in this one case providence was looking out for the very families in question for their own long-term well-being and for protection from the likes of Pence.

After all, Judeo-Christian history/myth gives countless examples of how the godless have been used to achieve providential fortune for the friendless. Nebuchadnezzar, for example, was supposedly god’s tool for dealing with the Israelites before he used the Persians to deal with the Babylonians. If there is a god, and he is not loathe to use Nebuchadnezzar, then I suppose it certainly would be quite conceivable that he would use a person as petty and insignificant as the preeninng buffoon Pence to render a service to these oppressed families. And this time they won’t have to sing An wasserflüsse Wabash to commemorate their lonely exile in a godforsaken land.


  1. Superb, poignant editorial.

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