There is something to learn from the movements of the Right – the anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, anti-LGBT, etc. movements. The people heading these movements are masters of messaging. They are able to distill their message, craft brilliant sound bytes and play them repeatedly until they are ingrained in people’s minds. The other side of these debates, for the most part, has not been able to produce the same kind of messaging. Somehow, it is harder to explain comprehensive immigration reform in three to five words. However, in trying to maintain integrity and take holistic approaches to different issues, those speaking out against the Right are losing these debates. We need to learn how to speak in sound bytes at times and explain the larger vision at other times.
After these masterminds have crafted their messages, they have managed gotten their message into the pews of many Christian churches. They have managed to convince churchgoers that you can’t be a Christian and be pro-choice, pro-LGBT rights, pro-immigrant, etc. In some cases, there is not even any logic – or they really have to stretch to find logic – to make this connection. Nevertheless, they do and people believe them. One can even hear irregular churchgoers stating, “The Bible denounces homosexuality and therefore it is wrong.” They may not be able to tell you where it says that in the Bible, but they believe it is there. And now, even if a preacher tries to focus on other issues such as global warming or war, the emotive response pales in comparison to that of the anti-abortion or anti-LGBT response. We need to learn how to glean that emotive response from the pews.
Finally, they use Dr. Seuss to back them up. Every time I see “A person’s a person, no matter how small” on a bumper sticker, I question whether Dr.Seuss, a progressive thinker, would have liked to see his work used to support such a cause. In fact, Dr.Suess’ widow, Audrey Giesel is said to be against the anti-abortion movement using this message as well. Dr. Seuss’ books contain other messages that other movements could capatalize on. The Butter Battle Book pronounces the destruction of the nuclear arms race. The Sneetches is a call to end racism and discrimination. Yertle the Turtle is about the danger of the quest for power. The list goes on. We need to get the true messages of folks like Dr. Seuss out there and not let the Right co-opt and twist these messages.
So, there is something to learn from the Right. While they may not always maintain integrity when getting out their message, they are successful in disseminating their message to every level of society. One can even hear these messages on playgrounds when one third grader tells another to “learn to speak English” or to “stop being so gay.” Wouldn’t it be grand to hear a third grader spout the message of the other side of these debates so easily? All we need are the messages.
* Everyone looking for some interesting online reading should check out http://www.religiondispatches.org. A. Because it is a great online magazine with fantastic articles and B. Because I blog for them twice a week!