The American Taliban strikes again, not surprisingly in Alabama, where Gov.-elect Robert Bentley (R) told a Martin Luther King Day crowd that they were all his brothers and sisters – if and only if they are Christian and have “been saved.”
Yes, on a day dedicated to teaching justice, equality, togetherness and unity, the future governor of Alabama took it upon himself to say that although he doesn’t see color, he just can’t be friends with someone who’s different than him.
I was elected as a Republican candidate. But once I became governor … I became the governor of all the people. I intend to live up to that. I am color blind,” Bentley said in a short speech given about an hour after he took the oath of office as governor.
Then Bentley, who for years has been a deacon at First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, gave what sounded like an altar call.
“There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit,” Bentley said. ”But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.”
Bentley added, ”Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”
Got that? You can be his brother or sister – you just have to give up something fundamental in your own life, change your religion, and become Christian. It’s the kind of message you’d expect someplace like Afghanistan or Iran – the kind of thing that gets a pass in fundamentalist Muslim countries – but increasingly it’s also what you get right here at home from the Republican Party.
The same people who grumble about the Muslim world and bash their intolerance – the same people who decry their way of life and criticize (often rightly) that part of the world for fostering oppressive societies – are doing the same thing at home. Juxtapose this speech with Barack Obama’s speech last week in Tucson. One was about overcoming differences and working together. It was about working together toward a better tomorrow, bridging differences of all kinds along the way. It was about treating opponents with respect and recognizing that, despite our differences, we all are brothers and sisters.
The other was an overt refutation of that message. Be like me or pack your bags. Alabama: more and more like Iran every day.