by Andrew Walden
In a shocking Civil Beat report, Neil Abercrombie denounces his opponents as Nazis and enemies of civil rights. He points to ousted Broken Trust Trustee Dickie Wong as an example of “people coming together.”
Godwin’s Law applies: "As a discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 100%. Once such a comparison is made, the discussion is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically ‘lost’ whatever debate was in progress.”
According to Godwin, Neil Abercrombie, with the polls slipping, has now flipped out and “lost” the debate.
His performance begs two questions:
Does Abercrombie maintain an “enemies list”?
Does Hawaii want to spend the next four years governed by someone who sees Nazis under his bed?
Most Hawaii Democrat media outlets are careful to avoid quoting Abercrombie too extensively. But Civil Beat October 15 (LINK) apparently didn’t get the memo.
Abercrombie’s display (indented text below) deserves point by point dissection (not indented) and this writer is always happy to assist.
Civil Beat’s Chad Blair writes:
Worried about what they called "disturbing trends" regarding the mixing of religion and politics this election season, leaders of Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) invited former Congressman Neil Abercrombie to share his manao.
FACE embodies “the mixing of religion and politics.” They are so self-righteous that they cannot see their own hypocrisy.
What they heard for the better part of an extraordinary hour Friday was the Democratic candidate for governor extolling the virtues of a spiritual life, embracing the religious tolerance of the islands and decrying those who would call his own faith into question to influence the outcome of the election.
And the funny part is that Civil Beat doesn’t understand that Abercrombie’s media acolytes are not supposed to quote him verbatim or relay information such as:
Abercrombie said he's the victim of an anonymous e-mail campaign that he compared to Nazi propaganda.
A “Nazi” is anybody who is winning an argument with a liberal. Abercrombie thus tacitly admits he is losing. “Reductio ad Hitlerum” is the sign of an infantile mind.
He said religious objections to his candidacy are primarily rooted in a disagreement over civil unions, where some religious opponents are confusing the role of religion in setting government policy and the role of the Constitution, which Abercrombie believes must be paramount.
In other words, Abercrombie says gay marriage is a civil rights issue, therefore it is. Disagree? You are “confused” and you have failed to recognize that Abercrombie’s twisted interpretation of the Constitution is “paramount.”
And he warned that the idea that a candidate has to meet a religious test to be fit for office is a change that "is not Hawaii."
Abercrombie is imposing his own test here: If you do not adhere to Abercrombie’s religion, you are “not Hawaii”.
Abercrombie described his own spiritual life to the group of about 20 gathered in a conference room at the Harris United Methodist Church in downtown Honolulu. He said he starts every day with readings of meditations from spiritual leaders, including the Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton, the Dalai Lama, Native Americans and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran theologian who was martyred for his work in the resistance movement against the Nazis.
Great. More Nazi stuff. And of course, like any pseudo-intellectual blowhard, he starts dropping names. Ever notice how they all drop the same names? Here’s a great assignment for any intrepid reporter covering the gubernatorial campaign. Every day, ask Abercrombie which “meditation” he read that morning. Get another reporter to ask the same question later in the day. He will go nuts trying to keep up with the lies.
In the past few days, some of the readings have pointed to the importance of being alone — that is, for self-reflection — but also of belonging to a community.
Maybe that is why he disappeared from the campaign trail after the Primary. Is Abercrombie being controlled by “voices”?
"I don't think anybody should be left alone — that's not pono," said Abercrombie. "But I take a little exception that some people need to be pushed out of the margins when Jesus Christ spent all his time with people like that, because he was involved with the wrong people and crucified for it, and apparently didn't apologize for it. Pontius Pilate could find no fault with him. 'You don't like him because you disapprove of the people he is with, the associations he has.'"
Now this is coming from a guy who just “pushed some people out of the margins” by calling them Nazis. This inability to reflect upon his own position shows a level of sociopathy and narcissism mind-blowing even by the standards of American politics.
Abercrombie continued, building to a point: "You can not turn people away, and as governor you can't turn people away, or not approve of relations, or attitudes that you pick, or approve of religion or lack of it, and therefore I am going to deny you what the Constitution says," he said.
You can turn “Nazis” away.
"This is an entitlement, that's what the Constitution says and it makes clear under the First Amendment. To invoke religion from a governmental position is to utilize your religion in such away as to deny people."
If you make ANY rules, you’re a Nazi. Where is Abercrombie on polygamy? Isn’t outlawing polygamy “not approving of relations”? Should Nancie be worried?
Abercrombie is marginalizing and denying many people—including those in his own Democratic Party--such as Rep Cindy Evans (D-Kohala) who said after the HB444 debate: "I was kind of hoping for a much higher discussion about our laws around marriage that were written and developed a long time ago. If marriage is changing, we need to have that discussion. I worry about the family unit. ... Marriage is a social custom we've had for an awful long time. If we're going to change this custom, I would rather not have it be done under the guise of civil rights."
Is Rep Cindy Evans a “Nazi”, Neil? Should she be barred from serving in the Legislature because she “mixes politics and religion”? Will Abercrombie stand in the doorway, just as George Wallace once did?
How will the people of Hawaii be able to know where Neil’s list of “Nazis” ends and the human race begins? Does the list shift from day to day depending on Abercrombie’s mood? Does Abercrombie have an “enemies list” as President Nixon once did?
Abercrombie paused to look deeply at the clergy caucus he was speaking to before proceeding.
"You need to know what I think," he said. "This is serious business. Someone is going to be elected governor in two weeks. You need to know, and if we are in a stage in a democracy where people are going to start using criteria whether someone else is worthy based on spiritual life, I have no problem telling you what mine is all about. I am certainly not going to be lectured to on the Bible or Buddhist teachings or anyone else. I've had my own journey."
Notice Abercrombie does not say it is wrong to use such criteria. He instead arrogantly asserts that he is “certainly not going to be lectured.” So much for listening, eh politician? Does Abercrombie expect to become the one who is “going to start using criteria whether someone else is worthy based on spiritual life.” Is that within a Governor’s authority under the State Constitution?
Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) is a faith-based grassroots group founded locally in 1996 that primarily focuses on issues of social justice. Its website says the group has "a membership base of 27 institutions on Oahu, 24 on Maui, and one statewide: 38 churches, a Buddhist temple, 2 Jewish congregations, 10 community groups and non-profit organizations, and one labor union."
Abercrombie was invited to address the group as FACE and The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii (TIAH), a progressive faith-based group, prepares to release a statement this weekend regarding the role of religion in elections.
Many members of the Interfaith Alliance Hawaii played a key role in promoting and defending Hawaii Islam Day on September 24, 2009 which coincided with nothing on the Islamic Calendar, but is September 11, 2009 on the Julian Calendar. Apparently Islam is worthy of governmental recognition, but anyone Abercrombie deems to be “Nazi” is not entitled to voice his or her opinion on political issues. Islam Day proponent Hakim Ouansafi is a $3,000 donor to Abercrombie’s campaign. Another $1000 comes from Ouansafi’s wife, Michele Ouansafi.
(Abercrombie's opponent, James "Duke" Aiona, a Catholic who makes a point of speaking publicly about his faith, has been invited to address FACE next week.)
And with Abercrombie slumping in the polls, these progressives are wishing that Aiona was as stupid as Mufi Hannemann. But he isn’t. Aiona will probably talk to FACE about drug courts, homelessness, affordable housing, and education reform. This will be a great disappointment to the increasingly desperate leftists.
An early draft of the statement read, "Because faith and religious values are so important in these elections, we, the undersigned faith leaders, who believe in the absolute privacy of the voting booth, feel it is important for you to know that, even though we may tell you who we believe are the candidates to vote for, you have every right to ignore our advice just as you are free to ignore the advice of all others and all groups. In the end, the choice you make in the voting booth is entirely yours."
FACE could easily have plagiarized that statement from the Hawaii Family Forum or the Hawaii Christian Coalition.
The retired Rev. John Heidel, president of TIAH, told Civil Beat that he and other religious leaders are worried about what they see as an alarming trend of other leaders politicking from the pulpit.
The key phrase is “other leaders.” Apparently it is OK if FACE, TIAH, or the Muslim Association of Hawaii do “politicking from the pulpit”.
"That is a direct violation of the separation of religion and government, and they are doing this because they want this as a test case," said Heidel, who has been active in Hawaii's religious communities since 1962.
So “other leaders” exercising their free speech on various political issues and electoral campaigns are “violating the separation of religion and government.” And this comes from a guy who says, “we may tell you who we believe are the candidates to vote for.” This is amazing arrogance on display, and they are so blinded by their self-righteousness they cannot see it.
Asked to identify the churches, Heidel could not name one. (Oops!) He cited statements made by GOP Chairman Jonah Kaauwai during the primary about voting for the most "righteous" candidate. A letter from Kaauwai was widely circulated and was posted on the website of the Hawaii Christian Coalition.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Kaauwai’s letter, his expression is absolutely protected under the First Amendment. On September 8 Volcanic Ash Columnist David Shapiro criticized Hannemann‘s campaign tactics as “anything but (godly)”. Does Heidel believe such expressions should be outlawed as “direct violation of the separation of religion and government?” That would be censorship.
"As we get closer to the general election, there will be a lot of pressure on voters to vote in a particular way," warned Heidel. Referring to Kaauwai and others, "They feel so strongly and they want to get the word out."
The reason "they" — meaning, broadly, religious conservatives in Hawaii — feel so strongly is because of the fight over civil unions, says Abercrombie.
And that also is the reason Abercrombie and his comrades feel so strongly about their religious views.
"There are other issues as well," he said, "but there is a serious issue here as to whether moving from considering democracy as a small 'D' basis for political action to a religious requirement that has to be met and decided by one group for everyone else.
And Abercrombie’s religion or spirituality dictates that gay marriage be allowed because it is an absolute moral imperative—a civil rights issue. So rather than accepting Duke Aiona’s “small d-democratic” proposal for a public vote for or against establishing marriage in the Hawaii State Constitution as being between one man and one woman, Abercrombie’s “group” will decide “for everybody else” according to its “religious requirement.”
That is a serious issue, a constitutional issue, of civic equilibrium, and I take issue with it. The idea that someone has to meet a religious standard or a check-off has to be made whether you meet somebody's required religious leanings by their definition — that is a change. That certainly is not Hawaii."
Unless you are being required to meet Abercrombie’s “religious standard or check off.”
Abercrombie used the well-known example of the late Gov. John Burns, a devout Roman Catholic who went to Mass as often as he could, allowing an abortion bill to become law in the 1970s. The bill was guided through the Legislature, said Abercrombie, by two Catholic lawmakers.
"The bill was passed on the basis of a commitment to civil rights, and at the time it never occurred to me they were Catholics," he said. "They didn't hold that up and put that in my face. I assumed their motivation was the idea of compassion."
Burns elevated Abercrombie’s religion over the Catholic religion. Abortion is “civil rights” and “compassion” in Abercrombie’s religion. Those who oppose abortion have no compassion and are against civil rights. That’s the “religious standard or check off” which Abercrombie is upholding. He can uphold his, but you cannot uphold yours.
Abercrombie — as is his wont — continued: "We have this tradition of accepting one's faith with respect."
And, without skipping a beat, he immediately proceeds to disrespect the faith of others.
Abercrombie said there were anonymous "screeds" being circulated around Hawaii that aim to "demonize" him and his record. He referred to the campaign as a "21st-century version of what Goebbels did," referring to the Reich minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany.
And what is this Goebbels-like screed? Drum roll please….
Drew Astolfi, FACE's executive director, cited an example that he and other members said they had seen: a recent e-mail that said a Gov. Abercrombie would not allow Hawaii's New Hope churches to hold services in public schools, as they do now.
This is what Abercrombie compares to Goebbels???
Abercrombie indicated that he thought it was absurd to think that he would deny churches the right to use schools for Sunday worship.
That sure was easy to clarify. Abercrombie believes “Nazis” are allowed in schools. Great.
Abercrombie produced two talisman that he says he carries with him always.
The first is a quote from Mohandas Gandhi: "Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man you have seen, and ask yourself if this step you contemplate is going to be any use to him."
Have you ever met an pseudo-intellectual blowhard who DOESN’T tie himself to Gandhi?
"Think about this if you are a government official," said Abercrombie. "Then you will find your doubt in self melting away. You are not the important one anymore. Your job is not about you. It is your capacity to act on behalf of others."
The second talisman is from Sister Maureen Keleher, who ran St. Francis Hospital in Hawaii. Abercrombie did not read the second talisman, the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi ("Lord, make me an instrument of your peace ...").
Here’s another fun assignment for intrepid reporters. Every time you see Abercrombie, ask to see the “talismans”. He says he carries them “always.” This will drive him nuts.
Abercrombie spoke of other important readings to him in terms of government and faith, such as from the German-American theologian Paul Tillich, the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger and the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.
Fascinating. Martin Heidegger was a card-carrying member of the Nazi Party until it was dissolved out from under him in 1945 when the victorious Allies liberated Germany. Heidegger was then banned from teaching for six years because he had been a leading Nazi “theoretician.” An example from 1929 of Heidegger’s “important readings” is titled “The Jewish contamination of German spiritual life.”
He choked up when recalling his friendship with the Rev. Mitsuo Aoki, the University of Hawaii religion professor who died just last month.
"My spiritual journey has led me to be very, very wary of making judgments of other people's faith, and to be very leery of expressing self-righteousness over another's humanity," he said. "And above all, as a public official to make sure I did not use that authority in any way different than what Gandhi was talking about."
And then Abercrombie immediately proceeds to “make judgments of other people's faith” AND “express self-righteousness over another's humanity.”
As he did in several recent debates with his opponent, Abercrombie denounced anyone who would deny someone their civil rights on the basis of religion.
"That is not what a governor does," he said.
But religion does have a critical role in American civic life, said Abercrombie, pointing to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s that prominently featured religious leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr.
He also credited island religious organizations with helping address issues like drug addiction and prisoner rehabilitation, saying he would want to work with these groups as governor.
"You will know them by the virtue of their deeds," he said, paraphrasing Matthew 7:16.
It is OK when Abercrombie does it. He is enlightened, conscious, and progressive. He is smarter than you are. He reads Heidegger—every morning. Abercrombie is entitled to “mix religion and politics.” You are not. Any questions?
Asked by the Rev. Bob Nakata, a former legislator and now pastor of the Kahaluu United Methodist Church, whether Abercrombie would be "foolish enough" to try and bring the issues discussed at the FACE forum to light, perhaps with the help of the media and universities, Abercrombie said, "Sure. I am happy to do that."
Are “media and universities” partisan bodies assisting Abercrombie in his campaign? Contrary to Nakata’s request, they are mostly helping Abercrombie by refusing to write about Abercrombie’s meltdown.
Abercrombie relayed the governing style of former state Sen. President Dickie Wong, who had two rules: nobody leaves when decisions are being made, and nobody punches anybody."
Dickie Wong was one of the Broken Trust trustees. Is this a shortened version of the Ten Commandments? Is Dickie Wong Moses in Abercrombie’s religion?
This is what happens when you come together and discard rules like “Thou Shalt not Steal”.
Wong's point, said Abercrombie, is that people have to come together to resolve problems regardless of how much they disagree with each other. He added that he has recently been in "conversations" with some who oppose him through the Hawaii Pastors Roundtable, and cited those meetings as something good that may have come out of the strife over civil unions.
Dickie Wong’s “people have to come together” is the counterpoint to “anyone who would deny someone their civil rights on the basis of religion”. Dickie Wong convinced “people to come together” to allegedly loot Kamehameha Schools. Read Broken Trust.
Pastor Sam Domingo of Harris United Methodist Church closed the talk by thanking Abercrombie for his "sermon."
And Kelly Hu says, “Listening to Neil speak is like going to church."
Replied Abercrombie, "Don't forget, I was an Episcopalian — somewhat fallen astray, apparently. But once an Episcopalian, always an Episcopalian."
This is the first time in decades Abercrombie has made such a claim. Is it supposed to be the punch line?