BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
If I were a woman in Oklahoma, I would be mad as hell. If I were a history teacher, or even a citizen in Texas, I would be almost that mad. There seems to be so many in our region, somehow manipulated into leadership positions, who seem to have aspirations of creating a Taliban-like government in our country.
A majority in the Oklahoma Legislature, with GOP leadership and wimpy Democrats, seem to desire Taliban-like control over the women of the state. So far no burqas, but the women of Oklahoma should be on the alert. That would interfere with their legitimate individual freedoms, but that does not seem to be a deterrent to the religious right in the Capitol chambers. Also, watch out for new requirements that women desiring abortions be paraded through the city streets, wearing a big letter M [for murderess], on the way to the clinic. Doctors may be required to wear the letter as well.
These bills just keep coming through the Legislature, regardless of how outrageous they may become or the unnecessary litigation expenses incurred. Gov. Brad Henry, to his credit, just keeps on using the veto pen. They keep over-riding that, and new laws keep giving Oklahoma the image of being in the backwaters intellectually and culturally. Then the courts keep killing the legislation as unconstitutionally violating the rights of women. This circular motion has its own political purpose, of course.
The reactionary legislators and wimpy Democrats have made their record for re-election with their religious Taliban-like supporters and donors, and everybody on the winning side is happy. But the tarnished image of Oklahoma gets worse and worse, and those demagogues could not care less.
The idea of all this, of course, is to make the legal process of obtaining an abortion as difficult and embarrassing as possible. They would like the experience to be such as to embarrass the most brazen and give even the most tough-minded woman a guilt trip for the rest of their lives. All this is in spite of her personal situation or her legal rights of freedom.
To these people the decisions of the courts mean little. Those are secondary. These demagogues have routes to the “ultimate truth” that others of us apparently lack. While most of us do not find the Bible speaking of any such procedure, they are quite sure that it is prohibited by God’s law. Of course, they like to substitute emotional and criminal terminology not there.
This same constituency also disagrees with the court interpretations limiting compulsory government-sponsored prayers in schools. And they disagree with the First Amendment prohibitions of government sponsored and endorsed religions. But they are fierce defenders of their own interpretation of the Second Amendment, which speaks of the rights of state militias to keep and bear arms.
As we know, the Taliban fiercely believes that their Koran teaches one religion and one government conducted under the authorities in that religion. And let us not forget that their religion demands the subjugation of women to the level of chattel. Would our local folk admit to similar aspirations? Do they seek to interpret our Bible after the fashion of their own models?
We should hasten to add that the Christianity which some practice and seek to demand of others through secular law is not the kind of Christianity that many of us believe to be a true and correct interpretation of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Their Taliban-like initiatives will not pass the primary test of “the Spirit,” as biblically demanded. That which is done oppressively in a mean-spirited, demagogic fashion for political purposes simply will not pass.
We should remind ourselves of our own national and western history of acts of violence committed in the name of religion. However well intentioned, murder and torture committed during the Spanish Inquisition was never right. Burning of the English Bible translator and scholar as a heretic in Britain was wrong. Violence against the Anabaptists in Germany was misguided and wrong.
And the violence against women superstitiously accused of witchcraft by professing Christians in early America was terribly wrong.
Let us hope that America does not relapse into such backward, irrational, and cruel modes of thinking and conduct ever again. Let us hope also that Oklahoma might add to its reputation as a prominent center for medical and scientific research, rather than enhance its image for backwater politics of ignorance.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer