Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Elizabeth May's choice of words

I wasn't terribly troubled to read quotes from federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May's recent sermon/speech given in a London, Ontario church over the weekend.

We know that May has been more religious than not. Her past comments regarding abortion, for example, reflect my own feelings on the issue. I am not a particularly religious person as I don't closely identify with any one particular church or religious institution. But I have nothing but respect for people of moderate faith like May.

Like many other Canadian environmentalists, May has been trying to speak the language of adversaries, hoping to bring them over to the environmental cause. May clearly sees this issue as more than political; like Al Gore, she sees action on the environmental file as a "moral" issue. Thus her comment, "Through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can meet this moral obligation," is wholly appropriate.

However, May's comments comparing Stephen Harper's response today to climate change to Neville Chamberlain's response to the growing Nazi threat of the 1930s were a little too heavy-handed and I'm glad that Liberal leader Stephane Dion has distanced himself from them.

Said Dion today after Question Period: "We should not use it — for the very reason that in the spectrum of power, the Nazi regime is beyond any comparison," he said. Dion said that while climate change poses a global threat on the same scale as terrorism and nuclear proliferation, and is indeed worrying, "you don't need to go over the top."

Predictably, the National Post jumped all over May in their editorial today.

The Post also focussed in on May's comments regarding the position of many extremist Christians with regard to the so-called End of Days.

"In referring to Evangelical Christians, Ms. May stated that some "are waiting for the end [of ] time in glee and they unfortunately include President [George W.] Bush." Ms. May also described Stephen Harper's plan to deal with global warming as "worse than Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of the Nazis."

That's quite impressive: In one speech, Ms. May not only managed to insult Canada's Christians, but also the President of the United States and the memory of those who died at the hands of the Nazis.

Notice how the Post assumes if you insult the intelligence of extremist Christians who are praying to be among the "saved" when the Rapture finally strikes in 2012 (like Stockwell Day surely prays), you somehow are insulting all Christians?

Even gay Tory environment minister John Baird made this assumption today in the House of Commons: "It is inexplicable how they could not stand up against people who bash Christians..."

My message to Baird: As you are a gay man, I wouldn't be defending Evangelical Christians as a general rule.

Extremist nutbars are not mainstream Christians and when we insult them, we are not insulting all Christians.

Undoubtedly, there are hundreds of thousands of such extremist Christians (mostly in the U.S.) who continue to buy into the Republican and very non-Christian line that there is no problem continuing to spew as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as possible. These are the same nutbars who, when real environmental catastrophes begin to impact on us like increasingly violent hurricanes, will assume that these disasters are indeed the will of their God wrecking revenge on mankind for its supposed sins.

I'm glad that Elizabeth May thinks poorly of these folks. Perhaps May is too honest and straightforward for her own good.

We all have our angry moments when emotion overtakes us and makes us say some pretty inflammatory things. But most of us are not national party leaders. Elizabeth May is a smart lady with a great track record and tonnes of street cred. She runs the risk of seriously damaging that credibility if she continues to use such inflammatory rhetoric. I hope in the future she tones it down just a bit.

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