Oct 20, 2011

With public influence comes greater responsibility

Okay, so I'm going to start off with a few things we can all agree on:
  • People should know about a topic before they attempt to say anything remotely intelligent on said topic. 
  • People who have an influence on other people should research a topic before they attempt to say anything remotely intelligent on said topic.
  • People who have a wide influence (and know such), who are in the public sphere a lot, who are respected by many have an obligation to research a topic (or at least have assistants do such) before attempting to say anything intelligent on said topic.
  • Basically, people should know what they are talking about before trying to say anything remotely intelligent on a topic, especially if they have an influence on others.
Is there anything terribly controversial about the above words?  If so, contact me and let me know (elnora dot romness at gmail dot com), I would be happy to discuss it.  In fact, feel free to comment on this post and bring up anything you feel I write that may be wrong.  

There is a great deal of ire behind this post, and I will attempt to write it in as constructive a way as possible.  My heart is breaking, and you may see some of this.  But let's get to the matter at hand: Rush Limbaugh pissed me off a few days ago.  I will never respect that man as a reporter, political commentator, or informed citizen ever again.  As a human being worthy of dignity, yes.  As any of the aforementioned things - absolutely not.

Who is Rush Limbaugh?  For those of you who don't know, Limbaugh is a well-known political / world events commentator on major network radio.  He has a show where he interprets daily events in light of his opinion.  Note that his show is opinion based - he is not an objective reporter by any means (and even he would not claim such).  He talks about the day's events in light of his political, religious, and social viewpoints (which, admit it, we all do).  

During the summer of 2006, I was sitting in the living room of my parent's house in California during the summer break between freshman and sophomore years of college.  On the computer, my boyfriend at the time (now husband and papa of my yet unborn child) and I were instant messaging via Google.  I was heartbroken over something in the news and was sharing that with him, and he told me about the Lord's Resistance Army.  Who are they?

The Lord's Resistance Army is a movement in Africa - the Congo, Sudan, and Uganda to be fairly specific - headed by a man named Joseph Kony.  The LRA started in 1987 and has gained momentum ever since.  It is a militant group claiming to be following the will of the Lord in Africa.  Kony is said to be the spokesperson of God and regularly inhabited by the Holy Spirit, at least according to him and his followers.  Kony practices a way of life that includes mysticism and elements of Christianity.

Alright, alright...so what do the LRA and Rush Limbaugh have anything to do in common?  President Obama, that's what.  Recently Obama signed something that authorized the U.S. to mobilize 100 U.S. military trained individuals to "remove from the field" (aka capture and/or kill) the leaders of the LRA.  He says this is in accordance to what he believes is proper action with foreign affairs.  Now, I'm non-violent and rather pacifist.  If someone broke into my house and was stealing my stuff, I'd probably just hand him/her my computer and tell him/her I'm praying for him/her and I hope they find a new way of life.  I do not condone by any measure the use of killing people as a means to end anything.  Let's keep that in mind.

Rush Limbaugh got his knickers in a bunch and on his radio show (click here for a transcript of the broadcast) said that Obama has effectively authorized the mass murder of Christians who are simply practicing their faith and fighting against Muslims in Africa.

Limbaugh was WRONG.

The LRA is about as Christian as Hitler.  Sure, they are called the "Lord's" Resistance Army and their mission statement is something along the lines of removing dictatorship and oppressive powers from their lands.  Whatever. Kony claims to be inhabited with the Holy Spirit and leads his Army to conduct its action in the name of God.  What God?  He claims the God of the Bible.  Oh really?  Let's examine this:
  • The original founder of the movement from which the LRA sprang distanced herself from the current movement after Kony took over, saying the brutality displayed by his army is inhuman.
  • The UN has documented massacres conducted by the LRA in the name of their cause (on average, they massacre several hundred people per month).
  • When the LRA sweeps over a village in one of the aforementioned countries, a few things happen:
    • Children are kidnapped and forced into being child soldiers.  They are brainwashed to practically worship Kony, and are told he can appear and disappear at will.
    • If the children rebel against the LRA soldiers who have captured them, they are physically mutilated, tortured, and/or killed.  Oh, and the parents of these children are often killed.  (For a photo of a young man, abducted by the LRA as a child, who rebelled and suffered consequences, click here.)
    • Women and young girls are kept for LRA soldiers as concubines and sex slaves.
    • Anyone who refuses to join their movement is physically mutilated, tortured, raped, and/or killed.  Here's an example of one of their massacres: Makombo massacre
    • For a great summary of the LRA, click here.
Back to Limbaugh: let's put some of his claims (in red) against facts (in blue).  
  • The LRA is a Christian organization being persecuted by the US for being Christian.
    • While I'm sure religious conspiracy theorists would love to believe this is true, the truth of the matter is that the US is stepping in an attempt to stop a group that has visited murder, rape, child molestation, physical mutilation, displacement, property damage, and other heinous acts upon fellow humans who disagree with them.  If the LRA is a Christian organization, I'm an uncle (I'm a woman, by the way).  
  • Obama is persecuting Christians for practicing their faith and fighting against Muslims.
    • Joseph Kony is leading a group, several thousand bodies strong, interested in intimidation and the gathering of personal power.  They are not practicing Christian faith.  1) God says to worship no one but him.  The children are taught to worship Kony as God on Earth.  2) God is a God of love.  Nothing resembling love of any sort is coming out of the "fruit" of that Army.  3) When his disciple cut the ear off a person who was bringing Jesus out of the garden, Jesus healed the soldier.  4) Nowhere in the Bible is rape condoned.  Nowhere.  Not for any purpose.  5) The Bible tells Christians to avoid mysticism (in fact, Samuel gets rather cranky at Saul for contacting him after Samuel had already died).  Kony and the rest of the LRA conduct practices deeply steeped in mystical elements based on early African religions.
  • There are only 500 soldiers in the LRA, so they are not a huge threat.
    • Couple things wrong with this one - one person harboring malevolence towards a group of people is a huge threat to that group.  The LRA is a huge threat to those in the Sudan, Congo, and Uganda who do not agree with LRA ideology (oh, by the way - they massacre Christians during services in church too.)
    • The UN reports the LRA may be several thousand strong.  Of course the Ugandan government is estimating low on how many people are a part of this - the LRA is a political embarrassment. Limbaugh, is several thousand a bigger threat than 500, or should we just dismiss that "low" number too?  After all, it took less than 100 people to hijack plans and smack them into buildings all over our country. 
Let's get a couple of things straight: I avoid politics like the plague.  If you want to talk to me about the latest bill being run through Congress, or what the Right and Left are fighting about now, you are talking to the absolute wrong person - I don't care.  Those conversations will be countered with me asking what you plan on doing to feed starving kids in Haiti.  Be prepared.

What this post is getting at is the point that Rush Limbaugh, a man who has immense influence amongst many conservatives in the United States (and abroad) made a sweeping generalization about what President Obama is doing.  This sweeping generalization was obviously made with NO research done on the "Christian group" President Obama is supposedly directly attacking.  

Limbaugh apparently later realized his mistake, as he said a little while later in the transcript that apparently the LRA is being accused with heinous crimes and he'd have to do his research.  


My prayer is that people will actually do their own research on the LRA before agreeing with Limbaugh's blatantly false, uninformed statements.  The LRA needs to be stopped, and it needed to be stopped twenty years ago when the massacres and mutilations began.  No child should live in fear of having his/her nose cut off if he/she does not worship some man.  In my opinion, Joseph Kony and the commanders of his army need to be gathered up and tried for crimes against humanity.  I fully support President Obama's desire to end this awful movement, whether or not I support the means he has chosen to do so.

Mr. Limbaugh - do your research before you say something blatantly wrong about a topic.  You just made yourself look like a fool.

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