How to Make Sarah Palin Look Rational: Christine O’Donnell’s Special Brand of Stupid*

Wow, the Tea Partiers just make it so damned easy to ridicule them. Just when you thought nobody could make Sarah Palin look informed by comparison, along comes Christine O’Donnell, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in Delaware, she of the “masturbation is a sin” school of evangelical Christian silliness. O’Donnell is such an extreme religious whack-a-doodle that she actually thinks it is always wrong to lie, including LYING TO HITLER ABOUT HAVING JEWS IN YOUR HOUSE during World War Two. That’s right, O’Donnell would apparently think the folks who hid Anne Frank and her family were being “deceptive” and “disrespectful” to the Nazis by not being honest.

But just to make sure everyone knows that she isn’t really on Hitler’s side in the scenario, she offers her spin as to how she could get out of the dilemma (cuz, ya know, it’s a dilemma: lie to a mass murderer and his henchmen or tell the truth and get people killed, hmmm…what do I do?): namely, she would rely on God…because, in that situation, GOD would naturally come to her aid, and show her “the way” out of the jam.

OK, Christine, so let me get this straight: God would intervene to protect YOU from having to tell a lie. But apparently, God wouldn’t and didn’t intervene to actually STOP Hitler in the first place?!? So your precious integrity means more to God than the lives of millions of people? This is the bottom line: those who believe they have angels on their shoulders and that God is their co-pilot and all this other crap are seriously giving any potential deity a bad name. Because if God really operates the way Christine O’Donnell suggests, then God is a real asshole. Period.

* After initially titling this entry with the word “crazy” instead of “stupid,” several folks brought to my attention a very reasonable criticism that the wording, and certain other references in the original text were ableist with regard to mentally disabled folks. I think they were right. I have thus changed the title and removed the offending text. I appreciate the input.


24 Responses to “How to Make Sarah Palin Look Rational: Christine O’Donnell’s Special Brand of Stupid*”

  1. To be totally fair: I think that she meant, and if not then non-crazy people would mean, that the spirit of God would animate them in that difficult moment and give them guidance. It’s still problematic, given that then one has to ask why he didn’t give Hitler guidance or the Pope guidance or Jews guidance, but it’s as crazy. My problem with it is that it’s too simple. Yes, sometimes we get moral clarity, a shining Eureka! moment, and in the stress of a situation we make a brilliant decision. But there are plenty of other times where that Eureka moment doesn’t come and we have to make split-second decisions between two deeply unpalatable alternatives, or even worse, when we make decisions quickly for all the WRONG reasons: Fear, prejudice, hate, laziness, arrogance, ego.

    Christians blame that on not being in tune enough with God, or the Devil, but it’s a copout. There are predictable reasons why we do one or the other, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we abstract God and the Devil out of the question for a second and say, “What in me makes me make these good choices? What about the bad ones?” Like House pointed out: Having faith in a higher power doesn’t mean you don’t look both ways before you cross the road.

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    Erik Anderson Reply:

    Actually, if you ask me the Pope was guided by God during that time. He issued a de facto excommunication for anyone who identified as a Nazi in the 1930s and then ran an underground operation that smuggles thousands of Jews out of German-occupied Europe. He even hid several Jews at his personal family villa for the duration of the war.
    As to the broader point, Divine intervention is a difficult thing to pin down because none of us has the entire universe in his head the way God does, so to us it often looks as though He’s missing when He’s been there the whole time. Try as hard as you might, you will never get a toddler to understand why his parents need to hold him down while the doctor gives him a shot in the arm, and they often have feelings of betrayal, but that would never stop us from doing it or at least allowing the doctor to do it. We have wisdom that the child does not just as God has wisdom that we cannot comprehend.

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    Frederic Christie Reply:

    Except that the child knows that the parent exists (“knows” knows, not faith knows, by verification by the senses and direct, incontrovertible evidence) and has developed a bond of trust and implicit care based on concrete and direct actions. God is an absent parent who at best sends checks every now and again. God should be treated as a deadbeat Dad would be if that’s the logic: With suspicion.

    Allowing direct harm and pain to come to others is monstrous if you have the power to stop it. God is a monster unless we assume finite power.

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    30s Professional Reply:

    Frederic, lol@ God just sending checks!! He does do that sometimes šŸ™‚ But that is definitely not all He does. People who worship and pray can be in His presence anytime, ask questions, and ask for help or guidance with anything at any time. I’ve seen some pretty dramatic and tangible answers; and felt God’s “presence.” So often that it’s just like you said with a child “knowing” a parent exists, via incontrovertible evidence. This only happens when one decides to humble themselves before God, seek knowledge, and seek to know and submit to God. That relationship happens to anyone who does that- I’ve never seen any exception unless that person is one who rejects love and compassion. That person cannot know God.

    In my view, letting bad things happen does not make one a monster. Parents let kids fall and hurt themselves in the course of play, make huge mistakes later, even get pregnant as a teen or become drug addicts. Sure, you could lock your kids in their rooms and FORCE them to stay “safe” but really you have to let them live their lives, even if the choices they make break your heart. You offer help if they want out, and that is what God does with us, in my experience. I don’t see God as an absent parent, but us as runaway children. As a society, for the most part, we’ve rejected God; decided we want other gods (like money and self), and to do what we want to do. We have “left” God’s house, rejected his commands and therefore most of his care and protection. I’m hoping for our sakes, that many of us decide to come back…..

    Frederic Christie Reply:

    30s Professional: No, I agree, I was just responding to that particular point on God šŸ™‚ . When we abandon the idea that we should have our own opinions about the world, we abandon the idea that it is our job to drive justice. God helps those who helps themselves, in essence. (In the interest of full disclosure: Though Buddhist, I believe in a non-interventionist spirit of the universe God).

    The problem, though, is that feeling that God struck you, no matter how profound, is NOT proof. I’ve seen God, and for me that was sufficient proof, but I am perfectly willing to admit that my senses could be misled. I can’t pretend that anyone else should accept my belief based on the evidence I can provide. So our sensation that God touches or responds, however compelling to us personally, is from a logical perspective not compelling to anyone else.

    Parents do those things because their power is finite. They can’t arrange things so that it is impossible for children to suffer, so they will take the best of unpalatable choices by allowing children to suffer temporarily to give them instincts to protect them in the long term. But God has no such limits. If one believes in an omnipotent God that allowed us to suffer, to be CAPABLE of suffering, one believes in a monster.

    Further, good parents don’t shoot their children. But horrible things happen to humans that aren’t done by humans: Earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. God allowing that to happen, if he could intervene against it, is again evil.

    If we believe in a God whose power is immense but finite, or a God that believes that people can grow, or a non-interventionist God…

  2. As Christopher Hitchens might say, this could be proof that the interpretation of God through the lens of western religious philosophy is our image of a really nasty jerk. Oh, wait, that would mean we created the idea of God in our image and not the other way around. Uh oh…

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  3. Obviously the not lying to Nazis thing is way over the top, but I don’t know why you needed to take a shot on her views of personal sexual morality. So what if she believes masturbation is a sin? I didn’t see where she plans to introduce a bill making it illegal to masturbate, and I sure as hell don’t care what she does or doesn’t do in her private life.

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    Frederic Christie Reply:

    I think that was just designed to give readers a clue as to where she was coming from before dropping the real bomb.

    Of course, if a public figure says that masturbation is a sin, I have to wonder: “Why are you even mentioning this?!” If it’s coming up AT ALL, my haunches are already raised.

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    mal Reply:

    You never know…they want to outlaw homosexuality why not masturbation?

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  4. Wow, this blog is drenched in ableism. Cool off the broad generalizations of people with mental illnesses. They don’t deserve to be lumped together with the people you attack.

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    Tim Reply:

    Hmm, well I can see your point, although I wasn’t generalizing about people with mental illness. I was referring to a “special brand of crazy,” in fact, which to me seems to suggest this is not regular mental illness at all. Indeed, that phrase suggests something other than actual mental illness. Elsewhere I mentioned lunatic rantings, but I’m not sure how that qualifies as a dis to the mentally ill. I don’t call people with mental illness (actual mental illness) lunatics. But since some do, I guess it’s fair to point out the problem with using that terminology, so I’ll make sure not to do that in the future.

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    Aahn Reply:

    Well, I’m sure you know that both “crazy” and “lunatic” have been historically used as slurs against people with mental illnesses/cognitive differences. Anyway, I’m glad you won’t be using such language again.

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  5. HA-FREAKIN-LARIOUS!!!

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  6. Yep, this sounds just like my crazy “Christian” family who live down south. They can explain away any of their insanity by saying that God will intervene. Why should taxpayers pay for health care? People should just have faith and God will make everything a-ok. Blech!!

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  7. As an African American woman, I very much respect you and completely agree with your talks on racism and on American society. In fact, I admire what you do in speaking out on subjects other Whites refuse to acknowledge, and hopefully I will get to see you speak at Tufts later this month. However I have to reply to this post, because it involves more than Tea Party insanity and Christine O’Donnell (ugh).

    Although I agree that Ms. O’Donnell has some crazy things to say, please know that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Although as a person in the science field, I cringe to hear her say things like how we have “cloned” mice with fully functioning human brains and are cross-breading humans with animals (another day! lol), some of her statements about faith are characteristic of Christians and should not be so easily dismissed as crazy. Please be careful about making that generalization, because that is hurtful to me personally and many others. Many in the Black community especially are deeply rooted in faith, and believe strongly in the power of prayer.

    I’m not only a woman and a minority in America, but I come from a background of poverty coupled with abuse, and have fallen victim to many of the very prejudices, marginalization, and systemic oppression you speak about regularly. I have to say right now that probably the only reason I’m alive and well today is God. I developed faith in God as a child / teen and cried out to him to help when no one else could or chose to. Ever since then my prayers have been answered regularly, dramatically, and faithfully. You may not believe in the same things, but it gets hurtful to mock that faith. I have seen God bring me through and out of horrific things to be the place I am now, and I am not a statistic because of that. I now have a good job and career, husband, friends and community. Most importantly, peace.

    In my view, God may not always rescue people from any and all suffering, but he does DELIVER people who cry out to Him. Deliverance in my opinion, is more important than rescue. My own suffering is why I know Him today, and why I appreciate and love life so much. I know what it means to not have peace, safety or freedom. I don’t imagine what it’s like, I know from experience. The hurt done to me by people was evil without a doubt, but God turned it around for good.

    Sorry for the long and heavy comment, but I just wanted to encourage you to not go overboard in your zeal. I admire that passion for justice, but it can cut the wrong things at times!

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    Frederic Christie Reply:

    30s Professional: I think that your brand of faith is transparently not what Tim’s talking about. There’s an arrogance of “God is my copilot” that accrues specifically to white evangelicals. You know that oppression exists but believe God helps those in need. That’s very different. Your God is not Christine’s God, I think, and I think she does Him false witness.

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    30s Professional Reply:

    Good point, but it’s kind of a scary thought. Many of the “Christians” walking around here today are using the same Bible and singing the same songs, but are really worshiping a different god altogether. BTW, oppression is one of only two sins that I know of that God brings judgment on entire nations for. In the Bible Egypt, Sodom and Gomorrah, and several other societies were leveled because of their oppression, usually oppression of the poor. I believe even the US was judged severely because of slavery. Oppression is hands down one of the worst sins in a biblical world view (the other is idolatry). So why do you see Christians being okay with it? What “god” are they serving?

    (btw, God is nobodies copilot! I don’t know who is saying that, but they need some humility. God is a commanding officer, not somebody’s assistant)

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    Frederic Christie Reply:

    Yeah, it’s that sort of arrogance I’m talking about. This idea that God is specifically interested in what we do, responds directly to every little request, gives us guidance on trivial issues, etc. Let’s face it, God really doesn’t need to be the copilot of a white middle class Lexington, Kentucky Wal-Mart manager. That person may have problems indeed, say a drinking issue, but a lot of the issues people ask God for help with are self-aggrandizement (“Please let us beat the opposing team”) or in the long run pretty trivial.

  8. By the way, I agree, she is crazy. LOL Her idea that you can’t hide people who are in danger of being murdered because it’s “deceptive” is totally unbiblical anyway, per the book of Exodus:

    “The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.

    Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

    So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.” – Exodus 1:15-20

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  9. I totally agree that she is in fact stupid, but I do not think that she is so for saying that Christians should tell the truth no matter what. It’s also not true that Christians should tell the truth out of “respect” for another person but because the God of Christianity is the God of the truth and reality and I can’t call myself a Christian without an unrelenting commitment to the truth.

    However, I disagree with her that “God will always provide a way out”. Sometimes God doesn’t and sometimes people die. However, Christians, are hopefully the kind of people that have learned how to live with life out of their control and know that the story they are a part of was changed in 33 A.D. with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Because of this, we’d rather remain faithful to God and the truth and die than practice deceit.

    I really enjoy your writing, Tim, but I do think this is a misunderstanding of Christian practice and belief.

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    Frederic Christie Reply:

    But your God is also the God of love and compassion, and telling the truth knowing that it will lead to death to preserve your own soul would be the height of selfishness.

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    John Reply:

    Who said that I get off free by telling the truth about who I’m hiding? I would assume (although I don’t know much about the Nazi secret police) that I would still be in trouble just by virtue of hiding people in the first place.

    It’s interesting that you assume that the default most compassionate thing you could do for the people you are hiding in this situation is lie for them. What if you lie, and afterward the nazis discover you have been lying and instead of shipping you all off to jail (where there is at least the chance of survival) shoot every one in the head?

    Christian’s practice of telling the truth in all circumstances is a matter of trust that the world and the people in it are not determined to only one specific outcome but are capable of change.

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  10. I don’t know what to make of any of these tea party candidates anymore. It’s just strange that they keep getting taken seriously. Maybe it’s a conspiracy or set up – because surely the voters can not all be this stupid……

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    Frederic Christie Reply:

    They can be, if stupidity is specifically inculcated and the media judiciously do their role of distracting, misleading and lying to the supposedly stupid masses. As Chomsky has pointed out: If you look at the Tea Party appeal, it’s not logical or rational, but if you accept certain highly suspect assumptions, then they’re offering what looks like a pretty consistent internal world and an explanation for things.

    That having been said, yes, the media will ALWAYS try to tell us that we are losing, that we are marginalized and most of the rest of our country are crazy or already on board with the corporate agenda. Problem is, neither’s true. Remember: Americans are overwhelmingly liberal-left, it’s just that people with those opinions tend not to vote…

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