Newsweek has it all figured out. The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer has been getting in touch with his inner imp. Zany? Wacky? Outrageous? Nah, it is all a ploy to get ratings and irritate the opponents. According to Newsweek:
You might think that attention in the form of mockery is not what a public-policy organization would want. But when your business is waging a culture war, there is no such thing as bad publicity for ideological or rhetorical extremism. Being criticized by liberals in the media raises the profile of a socially conservative organization, and burnishes its credibility among the base. Just ask Sarah Palin, or her fans. Fischer's critics also benefit from the twofer of his being both entertaining and threatening.
Call it "hatertainment."
But he doesn't really mean it, does he? Here is Newsweek's take on that question.
Getting attention from a perch so far off the mainstream media radar screen requires ingenuity. And Fischer is able to shock even jaded journalists and pundits. But does he really believe his most widely circulated statements? Yes and no. A Dec. 21 blog post earned Jon Stewart's mockery on The Daily Show when Fischer asserted, "President Obama wants to give the entire land mass of the United States of America back to the Indians. He wants Indian tribes to be our new overlords." All Obama had done is express approval for the nonbinding U.N. Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples which contains one passage affirming land rights. Does Fischer honestly believe that Obama is going to turn your home over to a Native American tribe? Not really, but by pretending he does—which he defends as "taking Obama at his word,"—he gets to make a ludicrous claim. "Either Obama meant what he said or he's a bald-faced liar," says Fischer. "I don't think Obama meant what he said."
Clever. Let's try that in reverse.
When Fischer says things, either he means what he says or he's a bald-faced liar. You pick.
Maybe President Obama could be a talk show host on the AFA radio network. According to Fischer, the President has got the formula down.
According to Newsweek and Newsweek's experts, the whole shtick is more business than conviction.
"Like all Christian political groups [AFA] has leaders who are entrepreneurial," says Green. "In the past [Christian conservatives] have sometimes been controversial on purpose, to get attention from the rest of us and to raise money for their organizations. It's not that they are insincere, but there are organizational motives." So if Fischer shocks or horrifies coastal media elites by expressing views that they consider bigoted or simply baffling, he is just doing his job.
So if there are "organizational motives," then saying goofy, offensive stuff you don't really mean is not insincere but just part of the biz. Glad that's all cleared up.
After reading the Newsweek piece, I am not sure which more offensive - what Fischer does with his platform or Newsweek's cynical regard for what they portray as business as usual for Christian ministry.
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About Dr. Warren Throckmorton
Warren Throckmorton, PhD is Associate Professor of Psychology and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy at Grove City College (PA). He co-founded the Golden Rule Pledge which advocates bullying prevention in evangelical churches. His academic articles have been published by journals of the American Psychological Association and he is past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He is the author with fellow Grove City College professor, Michael Coulter, of the book, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President. Over 200 newspapers have published his columns. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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