[CONTENT WARNING: homophobia, transphobia, gender essentialism, excessive and probably unnecessary profanity.]
I was reading an excellent post by Amanda Marcotte about the panty-sniffing authoritarian assholes that comprise the Forced Birth Brigades when I noticed a link to another piece at Raw Story. It read:
Anti-LGBT activist slams church over ‘effeminate’ Jesus:
‘He smelled bad… He was a man’s man’
Maybe it’s just my sense of humor, but I never fail to get a snicker out of the pathetically infantile views of sexuality and gender expressed by “anti-LGBT activists.” Especially the d00ds: these are plainly some of the most insecure men on the planet, anxious and obsessed with a toxic model of cartoonish hyper-masculinity (and, not coincidentally, with an equally toxic construct of femininity). It does not matter from which particular Abrahamic sect such noxious views emanate—and there is always a religious source—because they are all so boringly similar. Thus it has become my custom to emit a derisive snort in the general direction of such clickbait and move on.
But in this case, the prospect of a rant about Stinky Jeezus proved far too enticing. I clicked the link. And lo, it came to pass that I was not disappointed.
An anti-Muslim retired lieutenant general who now serves as the Family Research Council (FRC) executive vice president recently said he was upset that Jesus had been “feminized” because the Son of God was a “man’s man” who “smelled bad” and had “big, bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms.”
In a video clip posted by Right Wing Watch on Monday, Jerry Boykin tells a group at William Jessup University that Jesus would have been a lot different than most people imagined because he did manual labor as a carpenter.
“Do you think he looked like the effeminate picture that we always see of him?” Boykin asked. “He didn’t look like that. He had big ole calluses over his hands, right? I imagine he probably lost a nail or two, he probably hit it with a hammer or something.”
“You think his biceps weren’t big bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms, thin waist, strong shoulders from lifting?” he continued. “He smelled bad! Why? Because he sweated, he worked. You think I’m sacrilegious because I said Jesus smelled bad? No, he was a man! He was a man’s man.”
Boykin lamented that “we feminize him in the church.”
“He was a tough guy, and that’s the Jesus I want to be like,” he insisted. “But we feminize Jesus in the church and men can’t identify with him anymore, not the kind of men I want to hang out with. They can’t identify with this effeminate Jesus that we’ve tried to portray.”
Here’s the video:
I’m familiar with FRC, the conservative Christian lobbying organization classified as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and led by infamous bigot Tony Perkins. These merry assholes rail against gay rights, including marriage equality and LGBT adoption, and oppose any expansion of civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. FRC is vehemently anti-abortion, anti-birth control and proudly endorses the teaching of the spectacular font of misery and abject failure that is abstinence-only education, “intelligent design,” and prayer in public schools. In other words, these people are total fucking doucheweasels.
Boykin’s name sounded familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite place it so I looked him up. His impressive military career spanned 36 years, including 13 years in Delta Force. It almost didn’t happen: a Fort Bragg psychologist almost ended his career, wanting to exclude him from the Delta Force because he was “too religious.” But he finally got in anyway.
Boykin was awarded many military honors, including two Purple Hearts. He took part in some high-profile missions, including the 1992 hunt for drug lord Pablo Escobar. The Pentagon suspected Boykin intended to overstep his authority, break the law and have his team assassinate Escobar in Colombia, and it appears that’s exactly what he did. In 1993, he advised Attorney General Janet Reno regarding the stand-off at Waco, TX between the Feds and the Branch Davidians, and, well, let’s just say that didn’t work out very well. Boykin has been connected to secret Israeli counterinsurgency activities in Iraq, allegedly including assassination squads. In 2003, Seymour Hersh documented in the New Yorker that Boykin was a key planner behind Donald Rumsfeld’s approach to fighting the War on Terror. Heckuvajob there.
Still, none of that really rang any bells. Then I came across an item that jogged my memory: Lt. General Boykin saying stupid shit. In a recorded speech to a religious group in 2003, Boykin said that Islamic extremists hate the United States “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christians…and the enemy is a guy named Satan.” (Wait, I thought the Satan worshippers hated us for our Freedom™, not for our Jewy-Jeezusness. ?) The next day the Los Angeles Times ran some more Boykin quotes, including a doozy about hunting down Osman Atto in Mogadishu: “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” (Translation: “I am insecure about the size of my penis. Also, my dad can beat up your dad.”) Worst of all, Boykin has questioned the eligibility of Muslims for protection under the Constitution—despite the fact that thousands of Muslims presently serve honorably in the military and have done so since the American Revolution.
When Boykin started mouthing off about his big
penis god and the small penises evils of Muslims, people went apeshit, and rightfully so. Arab and Muslim organizations in the U.S. called for his resignation, as did many mainstream publications like Newsweek. Congresscritters from both parties denounced the remarks, and urged Rumsfeld to censure and reassign him. Even President Bush distanced himself, saying Boykin didn’t “reflect my point of view or the point of view of this administration.”
Of course nothing ever came of any of it. Boykin retired in 2007 and went on to say even more stupid shit, if you can believe it. For example, he co-wrote a hilariously paranoid book for a neocon think [sic] tank, entitled Shariah: The threat to America (pdf). Its central argument is that “most mosques in the United States already have been radicalized, that most Muslim social organizations are fronts for violent jihadists and that Muslims who practice sharia law seek to impose it in this country.” Um, no. As an acclaimed article in the Washington Post understated it: “Government terrorism experts call the views expressed in the center’s book inaccurate and counterproductive.” Boykin also claims the Holy Spirit speaks to him personally and tells him what to say to the Lord’s men: “put your armor on and get into battle.” For Jeezus. Yikes.
And now we have this Stinky Jeezus rant. Christ. Where to begin.
First, the projection. Religious people apparently cannot grok that to everyone else, their gods are obviously projections of themselves. Thus it is yawningly predictable when an anti-gay war-lover like Boykin pompously proclaims with certainty that Jeezus is not only super butch, he gives Boykin personal messages to tell other men to be super butch, too. Yet strangely enough, we have Anglican priest Father Rod Bower also claiming to know the mind of the Christian god—who loves gays:
AND HE TURNED
SOME PPL ARE GAY
GET OVER IT.
For the religious, the only issue here is which version of god is the correct one. If you are a homophobic authoritarian asshat, you will “know” that Boykin is right about super butch Stinky Jeezus. Not only that, but you will probably think this image distributed at the 2000 Republican national convention is seriously awesome, if not incontrovertible proof that Stinky Jeezus himself wants George W. Bush to be the 43rd president.
‘Twas ever thus. The history of this nation is scarred with epic battles where we somehow find Jeezus on both sides of slavery, the Civil War, women’s emancipation, the civil rights movement, abortion, contraception, gun rights, “free market” capitalism, welfare, the Vietnam War, public education, stem cell research, everything. The obvious problem is that there is no way of determining any such thing. In some cases scripture might appear to “help,” for example by providing a religious justification for the vilification of gays and the commodification of women. But in many cases scripture itself is so internally contradictory that one cannot possibly justify any particular argument for what this god character wants, at least not honestly and coherently. And so we are right back to the same problem of projection: sects and individuals choosing whatever idea of god suits them personally. Never mind that the most likely explanation by far for this conundrum is that there is no Jeezus and religious people are naively unreflective at best, and willfully ignorant narcissists at worst.
Boykin says he wants to see only butch Jeezus images in churches, and only hang out with d00ds who are sweaty, smelly and have “big bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms, thin waist, strong shoulders from lifting.” NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I’m not being flippant here, I mean it: whoever Boykin finds appealing company is entirely his prerogative and the Palace supports him 100% in this, no matter how superficial it reveals him to be. But his low regard for men who are not super butch like him and Stinky Jeezus—in particular his use of “effeminate” as an insult, as something defiling Christian churches—is toxic patriarchal bullshit of the first order. Using “effeminate” to label men he does not wish to look at or hang out with is not only dismissive of men who do not meet his aberrational standards for masculinity, it is equally contemptuous of women and all things feminine. Boykin devalues the worth and humanity of countless soldiers who have served the U.S. military bravely and honorably in critical roles that do not, in fact, require bulging biceps any more than they require Christianity. He demeans and erases these soldiers, just as he erases the Muslim soldiers killed and maimed in his stupid fucking war. If you were an effeminate man, slight of build, androgynous, or hell, anything other than a super butch smelly d00d, what would it be like to serve under a patriarchal shitweasel like Lt. General Boykin?
Because here’s the truth: Jerry Boykin doesn’t get to define masculinity. Neither he nor the FRC is the arbiter of who is or is not a man. I am reminded of something bell hooks said recently in this amazing discussion with Melissa Harris Perry [h/t Jadehawk]:
When we talk about hyper-masculinity, if what we mean is patriarchy, that’s what we need to say. Because we have to have a space to love, to revere, and to honor that which is masculine but is not patriarchal. And if we are constantly equating the two, then we are part of the assault on masculinity.
Now don’t get me wrong: I am grateful that we have delusional right-wing assholes like Boykin in the military. If it should it ever prove necessary for the United States to resort to violence in self-defense (hahaha), their cavernous empathy deficit coupled with enthusiasm for physical aggression would seem to render such personalities remarkably well-suited to killing other humans, and presumably more psychologically resilient in the aftermath than a decent human being would be. But while there may be a practical need for delusional right-wing assholes in the military, we obviously cannot have delusional right-wing assholes in charge of the military. That goes for everyone from the so-called Commander-in-Chief, the Pentagon leadership, CIA Director, and especially for the unelected, unaccountable permanent power factions they so ably serve: the Military Industrial Complex, Big Banks, Dirty Energy and the shifting coalitions of other nefarious shitheads such as the health insurance industry and Big Agriculture.
Unfortunately, all indicators point to a mass of delusional right-wing assholes running the shit show.