This is a look ahead, toward some difficult times.
On Tuesday, Mike Huckabee made it official. The former Republican Arkansas governor and Fox News host launched his second bid for the White House in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, vowing to stop the “slaughter” of abortion and calling for the protection of the “laws of nature” from the “the false God of judicial supremacy.”
Tim Murphy reports, for Mother Jones, the “Mike Huckabee you may not remember”, and it’s just as foul a history as you might imagine.
Huckabee, then a Baptist pastor who operated a small television station out of his Arkadelphia church, made sex and morality the centerpieces of his ’92 campaign—and he preached as fiery a message from the stump as he did from the pulpit. The novice politician let loose with eyebrow-raising tirades that occasionally put him to the right of the most fire-breathing conservatives. He endorsed quarantining AIDS patients, condemned efforts to shield homosexuals from discrimination, and called for the death penalty to be imposed on big-time drug dealers. He attacked Bumpers repeatedly as a libertine who supposedly supported giving condoms to 12-year-olds, sanctioned gay throuples, and voted to use taxpayer funds on “pornographic” art.
Huckabee’s 1992 platform was an artifact of the Moral Majority’s high-water mark. In interviews and on the stump he explained that the nation had strayed toward “selfishness and sensuality” and had been “savaged by radical groups bent on a moral and social agenda” at odds with Judeo-Christian values. “When I was in school, they passed out Gideon Bibles—today, they pass out condoms,” he said at stop after stop on the trail. In the new liberal order, Huckabee warned his hometown paper, the Hope Star, a family would consist of “three homosexual men living together.”
The gay agenda, he believed, was influencing and restricting the nation’s response to the AIDS crisis. He endorsed quarantining AIDS patients from the rest of society—a radical view even among conservatives at the time—while arguing that the severity of the epidemic had been exaggerated because gay people wielded so much political clout. The federal government should spend less money on AIDS, he insisted, and more on diseases that the afflicted had not brought on themselves, such as cancer.
“I realize a lot of people have received AIDS through blood transfusions, but AIDS is basically a lifestyle disease, and when the lifestyle is changed, the disease risk goes significantly down,” Huckabee said in one interview. AIDS advocates themselves, not taxpayers, should pony up: “Elizabeth Taylor went before Congress and made a big pitch that we needed more federal funding for AIDS. If Elizabeth Taylor would take one of the rings off her finger and sell it, she could get more money for AIDS research than the average Arkansan will make in two years of hard work. If she’s really serious about it, she’s got assets that she could dispose of. Why should she make me take money from my children’s future, and take it right off my table when she needs to cough up some of her own coin for that.”
It is worth noting that in this time when American Christians lament that they are, in various ways, under some sort of siege―from gays, women, television, even basic reality―it probably won’t help anyone to have so many Republican candidates rushing to proclaim hatred in Jesus’ name.
Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is something of a standard-bearer for hatemongers looking to hide behind Jesus. Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times told Mother Jones that Huckabee has “a penchant for sort of cheap-shot quips”. He went on to explain of the Christian preacher, “The main thing I still marvel at is how many people think he’s a nice guy, because he’s got a real mean streak.”
And as Murphy notes:
In just the last six months, he’s urged states to ignore a possible Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and attacked Jay-Z for “arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife [Beyonce] as a sex object.” Researchers won’t have to scour church basements for dusty VHS cassettes containing his stem-winding sermons. They can just turn on the television.
This is what will stand out: Watch how many Christians line up behind Huckabee’s judgmental cruelty, anyway.
The only rule is that you do not get to pretend surprise.
No, really. When it comes to supremacism and cruelty, judging the sick, hating women, and even bullying children into the grave, American Christians have a friend in Mike Huckabee. The fact that Mr. Huckabee can even be considered a “credible, second-tier contender” is itself a testament to American faith, conservatism, and so-called “family values”.
Image note: Top―Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), speaking at the Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, NH, 18 April 2015. Detail of photo by Jim Cole/AP. Left―Detail of photograph Piss Christ by Andres Serrano.
Murphy, Tim. “Death for Drug Dealers and Quarantines for AIDS Victims: The Mike Huckabee You May Not Remember”. Mother Jones. 6 May 2015.