July 9, 2014

Congressional Candidate Jody Hice's 18th Century Ideas

News Feature

Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones

Jody Hice is a political cleric. He is running to replace the 10th District’s soon-to-be-former political cleric, Congressman Paul Broun of Athens. If you'd like to know what Hice believes, he wrote a book in 2012 called It’s Now or Never: A Call to Reclaim America. It's crazy. I read it, so you don’t have to.

It takes Hice a mere four pages to equate his political vision with that of Hamas. He’s trying to do the opposite, of course—Hice is predictably anti-Muslim—but he chooses this quote from Hamas founder Mahmoud al-Zahar to introduce the book’s central thesis: “The West brought all this freedom to its people, but it is that freedom that has brought about the death of morality in the West.”

Hice begins the next paragraph trying to defend American liberties against the infidel with a halfhearted, Bush-ite “They hate us for our freedoms” routine. But by about halfway through the paragraph, Hice finds himself agreeing with al-Zahar: “Few people could blame [al-Zahar] for his abhorrence of the U.S. for our immorality.” How’s that for a campaign slogan? And by the end of the paragraph, Hice is pretty much in agreement: “‘Freedom’ within any context other than a Judeo-Christian one only leads to corruption... ’Freedom’ without boundaries is not freedom; it breeds degradation.” Replace “Judeo-Christian” with “Muslim” and Hice sounds almost indistinguishable from al-Zahar.

Reproductive Wrongs

So how do we begin instituting Hice’s Christian Sharia? What are the freedoms destroying our freedom? First off are the reproductive rights of women. Hice quotes President Ronald Reagan (but not before ol’ al-Zahar), warning that “we cannot survive as a free nation” if abortion remains legal. Hice has done his research, and he offers all manner of handy comparisons to abortion data. If you’ve ever needed to compare it to the Holocaust, gauge it against Iraq War casualties or weigh it against fatal car accidents, this chapter is for you. Impress and entertain at your next party with Hice’s fun factoids.

Hice’s ambition is tactical, and he devotes most of the chapter to Planned Parenthood and its demise. Planned Parenthood, according to Hice, is a mechanism designed to “eliminate the black race” and a willing accomplice in rape and sex trafficking. “Planned Parenthood should not only be defunded,” writes Hice, “but a thorough criminal investigation should be implemented,” and the alleged rape-conspirators, sex traffickers and eugenicists “should encounter the full wrath of the law!”

Gay Wrongs

But as LGBT rights have largely superseded abortion as the cause célèbre of social conservatism, so Hice devotes the next two chapters to the national existential threat posed by LGBT Americans. “The battle over marriage will determine the future survival of America,” Hice warns. Presaging the battle over Arizona’s SB 1062, a bill that would have permitted Christian proprietors to deny service to gay customers, Hice highlights examples of businesses punished for discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Forcing a Christian businessperson to serve a gay customer, writes Hice, is tantamount to “forcing an African American to participate in a KKK meeting.” Is it?

Hice has me hooked in the first of his anti-gay chapters. I’m recently divorced, and I’d like to have something else to blame besides my personal failings. Gay marriage is the culprit! But I keep waiting for an explanation as to exactly how gay marriage will destroy heterosexual marriage and thus, as Hice contends, America itself. He saves his elegant reasoning for the last page: “Some ask the question, ‘How does same-sex ‘marriage’ threaten your marriage?’ The answer is similar to asking, 'How does a trashy neighborhood affect you?'” Yes, he just compared gay Americans to trash. That really happened.

Homosexuality is the only national ill given two chapters in the book. That’s because Hice needs a whole other chapter to decry the “‘hate crime’ hype.” A dozen pages about how anti-LGBT hate crimes aren’t a real thing.

Satan, Of Course

Chapter Five appears to be about Satanists taking over. I’m not quite sure; I got scared and quit reading it. Hice begins with an account of a “Satanist” at a Washington high school complaining about Christians praying at school and how “with seemingly mindless compliance, [school administrators] allowed the Satanist to carry more weight and influence” than the Christians. It’s a school run by Satanists, clearly. Hice offers a dire and delusional warning to his persecuted fellow believers: “Very few realize how close Christians are from being considered criminals, worthy of severe punishment.”

Big Guns, Too

And now that he has his readers scared and angry, Hice starts talking guns. And not just pistols and hunting rifles—Hice seems ready to legalize .50 cals and streetsweepers. It’s not about hunting for Hice; it’s about revolt against a tyrannical government. But while Hice makes some astute observations about the militarization of police and recent government transgressions against Fourth Amendment protections, his click-clack alarmism sounds worryingly related to his feelings of religious persecution and familiar “I want my country back” notions.

Oh, hey, did you hear about the Muslim Brotherhood’s plan to take over America? This is a real thing, according to Hice. Peep the news in Egypt: They can’t even take over their own country! But according to Hice, there was a “five-phase plan” to “take over America” which was thankfully stopped by authorities because “the plot had already completed three steps, and its instigators were beginning Phase Four.” They almost got to the next-to-the-last phase, y’all! We dodged a major bullet there.

Democrat Muslims

I learned a ton about Islam from Hice. For instance, did you know that “when taken in its entirety, Islam is not a religion”? That’s why it “does not deserve First Amendment protection.” You see, freedom of religion only applies to religions. And there’s only one true religion. No God but God. Take your Sharia somewhere else, you guys.

After all the hyperventilating about Muslim takeovers, Hice devotes the following chapter to another religious threat, the “Christian left," or “pseudo-Christians.” The chapter is nearly half again as long as the Muslim one. That’s because Christians who vote Democrat are “fundamentally changing America.”

Prepare to tremble at the threat of the new Christians. Hice chillingly describes a Christian festival which featured “various genres of music, yoga, liberal speakers and an open attempt to embrace gays and lesbians...” He warns of seminaries “that take as their starting point Nietzsche’s 19th Century rallying cry: ‘God is dead!’” Nihilist homosexual yogis playing various genres of music? And I thought the Phase-Four Muslim takeover was scary.

What Is To Be Done?

Now that he has diagnosed our national problems, Hice devotes the rest of the book to prescriptive measures. He starts with some boilerplate Tea Party stuff on the immutability of the Constitution (amended 27 times so far). Hice has a real beef with the 14th Amendment, the Amendment demonized by each conservative generation since its adoption in 1868. The Amendment granted citizenship to slaves, formed the basis of Brown v Board, formed the basis of Roe v Wade and forms the basis of marriage equality court decisions. Every conservative generation largely accepts the previous egalitarian advances derived from the 14th Amendment, only to decry the one happening at the present moment. So it is with Hice.

Are you reminiscent about the days when capitalism still existed? My grievous tears of loss nearly shorted out my Kindle as I read Chapter 11, in which Hice laments the bygone days when you could buy things, work for wages, employ people and accumulate unbelievable wealth. Hice’s ideal is all the way back in the nation’s earliest years, when “there were virtually no regulations or income taxes.” Hice offers a prescriptive package near the furthest right end of the Tea Party spectrum: the Fair Tax (a national sales tax), abolition of the IRS, severe cuts in spending, an end to “environmental despotism” and a return to the gold standard. And, of course, the “welfare state” should essentially be eliminated. How, then, do we solve the problem of hunger and want without social programs? It’s easy: “The real answer is for more millionaires to be made through free enterprise.”

Hice concludes with three chapters imploring the rise of political clerics. Do you like the idea of a clerical regime but hate the idea of going to church on Friday? Cancel that ticket to Iran, then, and consider Christian nationalism right here at home. Hice spends a lot of ink talking about how good it was during the 1740s, when puritanical American colonists got even way more Christian-y. A vote for Hice is apparently a vote for a government ruling according to the principles of mid-18th Century theology.

I’m still riveted after more than 225 pages of this page-turner, and Chapter 15, “The Key to Reclaiming America,” promises to tie everything together. But it’s just a Bible verse! Just a short verse (2 Chronicles 7:14, to be exact) followed by “AMERICA, IT’S NOW OR NEVER!” To quote Morrissey, how soon is now? The book was written almost three years ago. Now is starting to feel a whole lot like never.