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May 08 2012

That interview

Reading Greta’s interview with Edwina Rogers

Greta says you’re pro-gay, pro-choice, and pro-separation of church and state, right? ER says yes and I always have been. GC says “Now the Republican party – ” and ER says she has “run across quite a few people who are atheists, agnostics, etc, who are pro-life, and they don’t see that necessarily as a religion, non-religion issue.”

GC: …you’re a Republican, and the Republican party has been very adamantly opposed to all these positions for very many years. So I have to ask you a question that very many people want to know the answer to. If you’re pro-gay, pro-choice, you know, pro-separation of church and state, why are you a Republican? And why have you worked to promote the Republican Party for so many years.

ER: Well, you know I’ve actually worked in the party, and around the party, and I don’t recall seeing a party line position that says that you have to be pro-life. For example, I remember working at the Republican senatorial committee, that would have been in 1994, and I plainly remember seeing data that showed that people who consider themselves Republican consider themselves, were 70% pro-choice. Yeah, so that, can’t be a party position.

Oh, oh, oh – stop right there.

Are you kidding?

The issue isn’t what Republicans at large think, it’s what Republican politicians do and what the party says.

It’s like the Catholic hierarchy on the one hand and Catholics in general on the other. Many many Catholics don’t agree with the hierarchy on many many issues. So the fuck what? That doesn’t make the hierarchy go away, or stop saying things like “condoms don’t work” and “a fertilized egg is a child with a soul.”

The hierarchy is what it is and not something else. The Republican party is what it is and not something else.

It’s true of course that one of two major parties is not going to represent every single thing that all its voters believe. It’s true that most people who vote for one of the two parties are going to disagree with the party’s position on a lot of things. That doesn’t make it reasonable to assume that someone who has worked for a particular party will disagree with many of its conspicuous positions. Rogers is speaking not as a Republican voter but as someone who worked for the Bush administration.

As someone who will now be speaking for a large secularist organization, she ought to be able to see that, and discuss it forthrightly.

22 comments

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  1. 1
    Mriana

    To be honest, I really don’t trust her or think she should have gotten the position. I can’t prove it and I know it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but the dominionists have been wanting to get a plant into atheists groups and organizations. Regardless, I would not put it past them to do so and personally, this interview, as you pointed out, sounds like she is covering/protecting the Republican party and attempting to down grade their War on Women, as well as other issues, and I did listen to the whole interview. I truly do not buy into anything she said.

  2. 2
    jamessweet

    My mind would have been set much more at ease if she had simply said, “Yes, the Republican party is dead wrong on those issues, and I have been working to change that from the inside.” This brazen denial that the GOP is anti-gay and anti-choice is disturbing… she almost sounds like — dare I say it? — a reality-denying Republican spin doctor. Oh wait….

    In addition, while she gave several less-than-satisfying answers to the question of how could you be a Republican given X and Y and Z, she never really answered why she is a Republican, other than some vague mutterings about Reagan and “bootstraps” and “hard work” and such. (Translation: “Fuck the poor”?) In fairness, I doubt she could have given an answer to that question that would be satisfying to an unrepentant liberal such as myself, but she didn’t even really attempt to answer it, and that was disappointing.

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    Well a plant would probably be more in disguise than Rogers is! :- D

    I can easily believe that she’s a fiscal conservative/social liberal who chooses her party on the first value and not the second. That’s very common. Lots of fiscal conservatives really do hate the Perry-Palin wing. But they hold their noses and vote for it anyway.

    But that’s not a reason for us to want one of them to represent secularism – “us” meaning people who aren’t fiscal conservative/social liberal.

  4. 4
    jamessweet

    I can easily believe that she’s a fiscal conservative/social liberal who chooses her party on the first value and not the second. That’s very common. Lots of fiscal conservatives really do hate the Perry-Palin wing. But they hold their noses and vote for it anyway.

    But that’s not a reason for us to want one of them to represent secularism – “us” meaning people who aren’t fiscal conservative/social liberal.

    That’s sort of what I was thinking before this interview… As you say, there are legitimate fiscal conservatives/social progressives out there (my anecdotal experience has been that virtually every single one that I know personally wound up disavowing the GOP sometime in the past decade or so, FWIW). The idea that she’s one of those folks still didn’t make me feel great, since I feel that properly-applied skepticism pokes holes in many of the tenets of fiscal conservatism… but there are great allies of the secularism movement who fit in that category, e.g. Michael Shermer is pretty conservative fiscally.

    But this interview is a big problem. She didn’t say, “I disagree with the Republican mainstream on social issues, but agree with them on fiscal issues” (which would have been troubling, but not necessarily a deal-breaker). Instead, she flat-out denied reality. She stated several falsehoods, but carefully couched them as “I’m not aware of data,” “I’m not aware of policy statements,” etc., so she has plausible deniability to weasel out of it later.

    I was also not encouraged by the nod to pro-life atheists. Yes, they exist. Fuck them. Seriously, fucking fuck them. They are a fringe that does not represent the secular mainstream, and their position is vile and ignorant. I am not worried about alienating those assholes; I am rather more worried about not alienating them. Please, let’s alienate pro-life secularists. I don’t want them on our team, and it’s disturbing that Rogers does seem to want them.

  5. 5
    skepticlawyer

    I consider myself a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, but then, it’s easy to be that and a British Conservative. I could not in good conscience support the GOP, as it is now, were I in the US. This is partly because the GOP appears to have been taken over by misogynistic, homophobic nutters (while Brotain’s Conservatives have managed to boot most of theirs), but also because the GOP is no longer fiscally conservative. One assumes this woman was paying attention when Bush junior tried to set a decent number of new spending records…

    In the US now, I’d be voting for Gary Johnson. It would not be possible for me to vote Republican. I hope other libertarian-leaning voters do likewise; the GOP’s social conservatives need a sound electoral thrashing… (now sounding very Tory, British version) … it may teach them their place in the scheme of things.

  6. 6
    Jeff Sherry

    At 2:30 est, Ms. Rogers will be part of Reddit’s AMA for questions and answers.

    Hard to believe that a political activist is unaware of her party’s platforms, history and present acivities at the fed. and state level. Someone this unaware will be a lobbyist?

  7. 7
    skepticlawyer

    Apologies for typos, I am using an iPhone, and I’m not very good at it.

  8. 8
    Neil Rickert

    In a way, that explains a lot.

    She seems to see the Republican party as a social club, rather than as a group dedicated to destroying the kind of life she wants.

    Maybe many other people see it the same way, which would explain why the Republicans manage to get as many votes as they do.

  9. 9
    Reginald Selkirk

    ER: Well, you know I’ve actually worked in the party, and around the party, and I don’t recall seeing a party line position that says that you have to be pro-life.

    Republican Party of Iowa platform

    We believe that the basis of our laws and our founding documents are rooted in Judeo-Christian values. We believe every human being should have the inalienable right to life regardless of age or degree of dependency including human beings from conception.

    It is true that this is not applied litmus-test fashion to every single member, but it is an official GOP of Iowa position.

  10. 10
    Reginald Selkirk

    Republican Party of Virginia platform 2008

    We believe that life and Constitutional rights begin at conception and continue until natural death.
    We believe that the Congress should pass legislation which declares that life begins at conception.
    We will advocate for a constructive national dialogue on the
    importance of protecting human life from conception until natural death.
    It is important to have references to God in the Pledge of
    Allegiance. As it states in the Declaration of Independence, “we are
    endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit
    of happiness” which makes clear that certain rights can’t be taken away
    by government.

  11. 11
    Reginald Selkirk

    Republican Party of California platform

    The California Republican Party is the party that protects innocent life because we believe life begins at conception and ends at natural death.
    We support laws that protect unborn children from partial birth, sex selection, and tax-payer funded abortions, and abortions performed as a form of birth control or on minor girls without their parent’s notification and consent.
    We believe that the question of abortion is a matter that should be left to the people through their elected representatives, not usurped by the United States Supreme Court, and believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be reversed…

  12. 12
    jamessweet

    I consider myself a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, but then, it’s easy to be that and a British Conservative.

    Heh, yeah, I think in this discussion it’s implied that we mean conservative by American standards, not by international standards. By international standards, I’m pretty centrist, probably a little to the left (especially on social issues), but nothing too radical. Which makes me a hardcore communist revolutionary by ‘Merican standards :)

  13. 13
    Reginald Selkirk

    Final 2010 State Republican Party platform – Texas

    We believe in: … The sanctity of human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death…

    I think my point is made, so I’ll stop now.

  14. 14
    skepticlawyer

    Very true, James. In America, David Cameron would be a socially liberal ‘blue dog’ Democrat. Seriously.

  15. 15
    godlesspanther

    I agree with Ophelia — Rogers in not a plant. A plant would have to be much more subtle. An infiltrator does not announce themselves as an infiltrator — at least not if they have any hopes of being successful.

    I see Edwina Rogers being the head of the SCA as more of a blatant shameless spit in our faces.

    This is a deliberate and overt action to drive a wedge into the atheist movement. They have co-opted the lobbying wing of the movement.

    This is a sell-out and it has been a tactic done to disempower social-political movements since — before anyone’s great-great-great was born.

    As pi8ssed off as I am — we can look at this as a form of flattery. Why would they do this? Because we have been successful over the last ten years.

    So — what now? We have to be stronger, louder, faster, and more effective than ever before.

    SIC ‘EM!!!!!!!

  16. 16
    Dennis

    This is a very curious turn. As suspicious as I might be I say give her a chance. Maybe she is a plant, or maybe she has had enough of right wing crazy. Regardless she won’t change us, and she can’t be a religious righty and take this job, so we will change her. Her actions will tell us the truth.

  17. 17
    Francis Boyle

    Can we stop using the euphemism ‘fiscal conservative’. “Fuck the poor” (thanks James) is not (just) a fiscal position.

  18. 18
    Snoof

    Well a plant would probably be more in disguise than Rogers is!

    Unless it’s some kind of tricky double-bluff. It’s a disguise too ludicrous to be a disguise!

  19. 19
    Chris Lawson

    I used to describe myself as a social liberal/fiscal conservative until I realised that the “fiscal conservative” label had been co-opted by anti-tax, anti-government extremists who wanted to balance the budget (no matter what), cut taxes (but only to the rich), cut services (but only to the disadvantaged), and eschew any sort of fiscal economic stimulus (except for warfare, which was good to use as an economic boost via government spending while building public schools or hospitals was bad). And anyone who thinks Reagan was a fiscal conservative who helped the US economy is a goddamn idiot.

  20. 20
    Deen

    Of course, it’s quite possible that she’s entirely honest when she says that the party leadership she worked with doesn’t believe in the anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-secularist agenda. Unfortunately, in public, they pretend they do believe.

    Which doesn’t make things much better.

  21. 21
    Deen

    I realised that the “fiscal conservative” label had been co-opted by anti-tax, anti-government extremists who wanted to balance the budget (no matter what)

    Balance the budget? When was the last time anyone describing themselves as a fiscal conservative balanced the budget? All they do is use “balance the budget” as a cudgel to beat up the programs they’ve always been against – while at the same time blowing up the budget on military expenses and tax cuts for the rich.

  22. 22
    Stan Brooks

    @#20 Chris Lawson:

    Thank you for stating so clearly what I wanted to say, but couldn’t quite get into words. Bravo!!

  1. 23
    More on that interview | Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] Greta pushes her. “Why should people in the atheist movement support a leader for the SCA who’s frankly, [...]

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