Tonight (July 20) Rep. Todd Akin (R-2nd), along with fellow travelers Ollie North, Tony Perkins, the hysterically funny Senator James Inhofe, and a few others, will participate in a Webcast to demagogue against the Defense Authorization Act, specifically efforts to lay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) to rest. The Webcast is sponsored by an organization which shares its name with a turgid thriller by Ollie North, Mission Compromised, and proclaims that its goal is to insure that we not “use the military to advance a political agenda” – which some might view as a novel sentiment coming from the patriotism and warmongers on the right.
What specific political agenda are they worried about? According to the overheated rhetoric on the Mission Compromised Website, we must “protect our military,” vulnerable and fragile institution that it is, from efforts to repeal DADT, a misguided exercise in “social engineering” that is being used to advance the homosexual “agenda” and secure “special protection for homosexuals.” You name a right-wing, anti-gay buzz word, and you’ll find it on the Website, I guarantee.
Interestingly enough, Igor Volsky over at the Wonk Room suggests that there is another agenda in play here – that of the religious right which seeks to “manufacture fear to make money and hold on to what’s left of their constituency.” Volsky quotes “former AFA insider,” Joe Murray:
The battle for marriage, the fight against Heather and her two mommies, and the fictional “homosexual agenda” were created for one reason – it produced a cash cow. […] Need to see how the cow works? Look no further than the American Family Association (AFA).
In its battle to keep patriots from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces for no other reason than their sexual orientation, the AFA is preparing to educate supporters about the importance of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT)….When the reader opens the AFA email, he cannot help but see a picture of what appears to be a U.S. soldier sitting alone on a Middle Eastern street. The solider looks exhausted, isolated, and desperate. His picture is centered and on his right (viewer’s left), are the words “DON’T ASK” and on his left (viewer’s right) are the words “DON’T TELL.”
The insinuation is clear – thanks to the power of the “homosexual” lobby and a complacent administration, U.S. soldiers are left stranded on the battlefield as a new batch of recruits are soon to be inducted into the military under the rainbow flag. In other words, the image is an unfortunate manipulation of U.S. troops to further a profitable political message.
I am not suggesting that Akin is anything but sincere in his homophobia. Not to put too fine a point on it, he doesn’t seem clever enough by half to game the believers like, for instance, one suspects Roy Blunt does with regularity.
Sincere or not, though, I also fervently believe that he is quite aware that ginned up fear of “the homosexual agenda” is a profitable and useful political tool. And it is exactly this awkward combination of stupidity and
cupidity mendacity that makes me despair when I drive around my conservative neighborhood and see all the Vote for Akin signs – how, in a just world, could such crude manipulators ever prevail?