My Huffington Post Open Letter to the Republican Traitors (From a Former Republican) (March 8/09) got Rush Limbaugh's attention. Here is part of the transcript of the Rush Limbaugh Show (March 11/09) wherein Limbaugh goes after me. (MSNBC had just interviewed me -- March 10/09 -- about my Huffington Post piece.)
Here is the clip:
RUSH: "Here is author Frank Schaeffer on MSNBC Live yesterday afternoon."
SCHAEFFER: "Republicans have become -- to our war against economic collapse -- what Jane Fonda was when she was in Vietnam rooting for the other side. We're in another war now. This is an economic war, and everybody who loves this country has to stand together and back our president."
RUSH: "Jeez! ...now we're Jane Fonda, and whatever the president wants to do -- he's a king! Whatever he wants to do, we have to back him. No, we don't! We have the Constitution. We have separation of powers, and we do not have a king, Mr. Schaeffer... (laughs) Remember yesterday when I proclaimed, 'Look, if Obama is the general in this war, 'This war is lost.'"
Since writing my post about why I quit the Republican Party and since denouncing it for being obstructionist, I've gotten some "interesting" emails from various Republicans -- mostly Limbaugh's followers -- especially after I was on D.L. Hughley Breaks the News.
Here is an email to me from a Republican that is similar to many more. (Typos in the original)
Mr Schaeffer, I doubt seriously whether you will have to courage to respond to my email but I will point out a few things and then wait for a few days. Chances are just like most of the socialist, racist cowards that voted Obama into office you will hide... At least Rush, Sean and others are in the open with their opinions and positions.
My flags are flying upside down and will continue to be flown this way until this President is out of office ...
I want this man to fail because of his desire to turn our country into a communist nation. I am already tired of this man that is posing as a American but wants the wealthy to give up their money to the poor (more non workers than poor)...
This man is not is my President!! I am an American that served my country and will defend my rights no matter what. Even if the what means a revolution or civil war against those in power.
And here is another:
Congratulations. This crazy new way of yours will enable you many more years of financial gain from a new kind of 'believer' during the really tough days ahead. May the Lord have Mercy upon you!
The "answer" from the Republicans -- from GOP leader Limbaugh, to his mere minions -- who I've called to account for obstructing the President, is that, A) Our "war" to fix the economy is "lost" and the President should fail; B) When Republicans lose an election it's time to desecrate the American flag, fly it upside down, because Obama is not "my" president. C) Threaten violence "civil war." D) Assume that anyone -- such as me, a former life-long Republican -- who changes his mind and calls out the Republican Party for being obstructionist must be doing it for the money and is in trouble with God too who, it turns out is also a Republican!
(The most money I ever made in my life was as a leader in big time evangelical American cult as I describe in my book Crazy For God. When I left that world -- in the mid 1980s -- my income was cut by two thirds and never came back. As for selling books: the big bucks are in the Jesus business. Just ask Rick Warren.)
The discouraging thing about the Republican reaction to being asked to support our country and president is how they have nothing at all to say by way of offering an real alternative to President Obama's programs, other than more of the same "all war good -- all banking regulation bad" ideology that destroyed our economy (and got lots of Americans killed) to begin with.
All the Republicans have is threats, the word "no!" and personal attacks, or the "answer" that (as one man wrote to me) "You never were real Republican or a Christian."
Make no mistake. The man (I quoted above) who is ready to resort to civil war is not alone. Nor did he come out of nowhere. Members of the Religious Right and the secular right too, view the government as the enemy. I should know, my father wrote the book on this subject! It sold over one million copies. Dad called for the overthrow of the US government, because it allowed legal abortion.
When Senator Obama's preacher thundered about racism and injustice during the election Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father -- Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer -- denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government over the abortion issue, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush Sr.
Consider a few passages from my father's immensely influential book A Christian Manifesto. (1981) Here's Dad writing in his chapter on civil disobedience:
If there is a legitimate reason for the use of force [against the US government]... then at a certain point force is justifiable.
There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate... A true Christian in Hitler's Germany and in the occupied countries should have defied the false and counterfeit state. This brings us to a current issue that is crucial for the future of the church in the United States, the issue of abortion... It is time we consciously realize that when any office commands what is contrary to God's law it abrogates it's authority. And our loyalty to the God who gave this law then requires that we make the appropriate response in that situation...
Every Sunday thousands of far right white preachers rail against America's "sins" from tens of thousands of pulpits. They tell us that America is complicit in the "murder of the unborn," has become "Sodom" by "coddling gays," is now -- under Obama -- about to become communist, and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children. They preach hate against Muslims and laud the Apocalypse and root for Armageddon.
In the 1970s and 1980s, while Dad and I crisscrossed America denouncing our nation's sins, instead of getting in trouble we became darlings of the Republican Party, just as Limbaugh is the darling now. The top Republican leadership still depends on preachers and agitators to energize their rank and file. And this rank and file are Limbaugh's willing dupes and today's Republican "base."
But before you dismiss the ranting of Limbaugh, Coulter et al remember this: people like me built an army of angry religious nuts that are still out there following today's hot right wing leaders. The right wing celebrities change, but not the message of hate.
And that hatred is for America now, because America elected a man the right hates. So America must fail!
Don't fear Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity et al; fear the army of people represented by the deranged emails above, people ready to denounce our country as evil, President Obama as a wicked man, and who are also scarily sincere when they talk about civil war. Remember the pictures of the gun nuts stocking up on assault rifles and ammunition as soon as Obama won, against that day when, they claimed, he was going to take away their guns.
When Limbaugh calls for our president to fail, when his followers write to me that they are desecrating the flag as a prelude to -- if need be civil war -- this is not a game. This is an angry and dangerous political cult in action.
My dad's books denouncing America and comparing the USA to Hitler are still best sellers in the "respectable" evangelical community and he's still hailed as a prophet by many Republican leaders. During the last election when Mike Huckabee was asked by Katie Couric to name one book he'd take with him to a desert island, besides the Bible, he named my dad's book.
Limbaugh didn't come from nowhere. People such as the late Jerry Falwell and my late father laid the groundwork for a view of America that says that unless you do everything our way; "He's not my president" and its time for "civil war."
The Republican congressional leaders can pretend that they are reasonable and patriotic Americans. Their dirty secret is that they know that their base is an unhinged, ignorant and dangerous lower class white insurgency. Who do you think Sara Palin was nominated to appease? McCain may play games and say he wants the President to succeed, but he knows full well who his party must cater to -- today's scorched earth know-nothing white mini Limbaughs.
The next step after calling for the President -- and thus America -- to fail is to work actively for that failure. The Republican leaders are doing their best in Congress to undermine our president and their followers are too. But some elements of their base may just take things a step further.
There is a violent threat just under the surface of Limbaugh's posturing. As the man quoted above emailed me, he is even willing to work for "a revolution or civil war against those in power." Those "in power" are the democratically elected representatives of the American people!
Limbaugh, Fox News, Alan Keyes and the rest are moral cowards. They are sending signals to their legion of less than balanced followers who may well do terrible things that their media (and political) gurus themselves would never dare do. Limbaugh et al play the nasty game of egging on the crazies. The right wing leaders are like bloodthirsty cowards in a crowd watching a man standing on a ledge and shouting "jump!"
Limbaugh is protecting his $400 million contract, jet and dissolute way of life. (Of course he is against fairer taxes!) And he knows that for him what is a money game -- in the name of the god of American greed -- is a deadly serious religion for some people: the sort of people flying American flags upside down, hording guns and ready to use them.
Frank Schaeffer is the author of CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back. Now in paperback.