Crazies At The Western Conservative Summit–Finally Some Coverage

We talked several weeks ago about the controversial–or so we expected–list of speakers at this year’s Western Conservative Summit, held this past weekend in downtown Denver. Most interesting to us was a Dutch politician named Geert Wilders, who has gained international notoriety by calling for a ban on mosque construction and immigration from Muslim countries to the Netherlands. We were disappointed to see that, although the Summit itself received some light coverage, very little about Mr. Wilders ever made it beyond the pages of this blog.

So we’re both happy and a bit frustrated to see this belated report from the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning today:

Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders brought his crusade against the Islamic religion to Denver last weekend, warning an audience at the Western Conservative Summit that Europe and the United States are vulnerable to an insidious takeover by what he termed a “dangerous, totalitarian ideology” masquerading as a religion…

CCU president and former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong launched the summit on Friday by proclaiming it open to members of all faiths.

“Of course, those of us at CCU are followers of Jesus, but in the room tonight are men and women of not only the New Testament but the Old Testament, and of other religious and philosophical traditions as well. You’re all welcome, we’re delighted you’re here,” Armstrong said.

But by the time Wilders commanded the same stage the next afternoon, the welcome mat might have been less firmly in place for at least one religion…

In order to keep the United States from succumbing, Wilders said, politicians have to ignore what he promised would be derision from the liberal media and other quarters and firmly deliver strong medicine. First, he said, Americans have to stop putting up with “multiculturalism,” even as free-speech proponents cry foul. In addition, he said American courtrooms must bar Sharia law and “stop the immigration from Islamic countries.” [Pols emphasis]

Most critically, he said, “We should forbid the construction of new mosques. There is enough Islam in the West already.”

State Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, said it’s worth paying attention to Wilders and the alarms he was raising. [Pols emphasis]

To be fair, reaction in the crowd was somewhat mixed according to Luning–though many joined in standing ovations for Wilders, some did not. Sen. Kevin Lundberg, the famously hard-right GOP candidate for Congress in CD-2, couldn’t quite bring himself to endorse Wilders’ call for a halt to mosque construction, or to “stop putting up with multiculturalism”–something about the First Amendment. Speaking of which, Wilders included a few lines about how individual Muslims aren’t the problem, just their “dangerous, totalitarian ideology.” This gave Sen. Kevin Grantham something to to respond to those pesky “religious freedom” questions with. Heck, we’d bet Sen. Grantham even has himself some Muslim friends!

Like we said, we’re pleased to see some local coverage of this event that occurred right here in Denver with hundreds of local GOP politicians and activists in attendance. We’re frustrated to see this coverage only in the Colorado Statesman, which has a dishearteningly small readership–and mostly political insiders whom nothing seems to faze anymore.

People should know this is going on here, with some of our own elected officials cheering it on.

Shouldn’t they?

38 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    Louisiana Republican didn’t know “religious” isn’t a synonym for “Christian.”

    I have religious, conservative friends who are very good and decent people and who do their very best to live up to the tenets of their respective faiths.

    But Republican fascists of the Christian Dominionist breed are unamerican scum better suited to the Ayatollah’s Iran than to the world’s longest-running democracy, the United States of America. These jackasses would probably have voted against ratification of the Bill of Rights, if they’d had the opportunity, because it fails to establish a state religion and in fact prohibits the establishment of same.

    • parsingreality says:

      You are 100% right.

      Just thought I’d show that our disagreements are nothing personal.

      I really DO value your contributions here.  

    • DaftPunk says:

      The legislature intended the bill to allow public funding of madrassas.  

      • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

        Kind of like “Allah” is just Arabic for “the same God that Jews and Christians believe in, yes, the exact same one, that one.”

        Madrasah Diniyya is “religious school,” but still doesn’t necessarily imply Islamic school, since Coptic Christians are Arabic-speaking and send their kids to school, too. And would also be the Arabic for a Western religious school of any religion.

        So yes, if you’re an Arabic speaker, the bill is indeed intended to allow public funding of madrasah diniyya.

        Granted, the typical English usage does refer specifically to the type of religious school intended to produce imams, which still probably would not be funded under this bill because it’s more a school of theology than a religious school — but I haven’t read the bill text or applications for funding, so I’ll stop there.

        • DaftPunk says:

          You can’t tell the intent of a poorly informed action from its inevitable result.  

          • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

            That you, as a doctor, can lightheartedly compare the elimination of an entire group to which his child belongs to a piece of award-winning legislative foolishness about funding religious schools.

            Seriously, nobody sets out one morning going “HA HA HA, I am going to participate in eugenics today because of my SEETHING HATRED for people with disabilities!” I’m sure every doctor who sterilized a developmentally disabled or mentally ill woman without her knowledge in the early 20th century genuinely believed he was doing her a favor by relieving her of the burden of potentially bearing a child when she already had so much to deal with. Still eugenics.

            Incidentally, if you actually read my first post, I specifically said that many health care professionals look forward to a world without Down Syndrome. I think that’s provable by the fact that that’s exactly the language used to announce a new prenatal blood test for Down Syndrome this year.

            • DaftPunk says:

              Analogy completely eludes you.

              • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

                Also frequently used by Republicans.

                Would you care to explain, using logic rather than snark and ad hominem, why you feel this is analogous to acting to directly influence a patient to selectively abort?

                • DaftPunk says:

                  DaftPunk @ Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 15:11:27 PM MDT

                • DaftPunk says:

                  the elimination of an entire group to which his child belongs

                  implies rounding up his kid and others like her (him?) for the gas chamber when it means preventing others like them from being born.  Unnecessarily inflammatory.

                  Furthermore you’ve provided zero support for your contention that anyone caring for patients advocates for withholding medical care from the disabled so they can die quicker, let alone “many.”

                  • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

                    I cited a source above showing that at least some medical professionals do look forward to the elimination of Down Syndrome as a positive event, something which would indeed eliminate from the human race an entire group, to which Jon Caldara’s son belongs. If that sounds gross, that’s because it is gross to attempt to eliminate a group of people based on a chromosomal abnormality that causes them to differ visibly from neurotypical humans.

                    For reference, here’s what I did assert, and stand behind:

                    There are absolutely many people in the health care system who disagree and would prefer to prioritize neurotypical people’s care. In face, many in the health care establishment would like to see Down Syndrome eliminated through selective abortion and minimal life-prolonging care for those already living in order to reduce the likelihood they will themselves reproduce.

                    I admit that my evidence for “minimizing life-prolonging care” presented until this post is anecdotal, but it does come both from patients and professionals (nurses, in the latter case, not doctors — actually, the only doctor in my family is in the business of prolonging the lives of people with severe conditions affecting the brain) and is directly parallel to your anecdotal claim that all medical professionals have nothing but the noblest intentions ever, and if a patient says otherwise, they’re lying.

                    I presented non-anecdotal evidence for the former part of my claim, regarding l0%+ of doctors actively urging abortion in the case of a prenatal DS diagnosis.

                    You have yet to prevent any citation besides personal experience, anecdotes, and false analogy. I do have a reading recommendation for you:

                    Gerry, Martin H. (1985) The Civil Rights of Handicapped Infants: An Oklahoma ‘Experiment’. Issues in Law & Medicine, 1: 15 66. Discusses the ethical and moral issues of withholding treatment from severely disabled infants, the Oklahoma experimental program which led to the death of 24 infants with spina bifida, and the applicability (in this type of case) of Section 504, of federal civil rights laws such as 18 USC 241 42, and of recent federal legislation.

                    Furthermore, you might be interested to know that, in eleven cases in which life-prolonging care was withheld from a patient in the state of Montana, between 2006 and 2009…

                    In just one of the eleven cases,

                    the patient was in a terminal condition

                    when the withdrawal of treatment was

                    considered. In the first case, life

                    sustaining treatment was withdrawn in

                    compliance with state law. In the second

                    case, the patient died in spite of

                    continued life support. In all of the

                    remaining nine cases, the patients who

                    had been facing withdrawal of treatment

                    were not in a terminal condition and are

                    still alive.

                    The women and men described in this

                    summary have one thing in common:

                    they are, or were, developmentally

                    disabled and cognitively challenged
                    . In

                    the majority of these cases, “quality of

                    life” as assessed by health care providers

                    was a significant factor in the initial

                    decisions to let these men and women


                    (Emphases mine.)


                    You might also be interested in a 1999 analysis, which found:

                    The reorganization of health care financing and health care delivery today has  jeopardized the quality of subspecialty surgical care for the medically needy, especially for the neurologically impaired

                    child. Managed care has evolved into a two-tier system, which has barred chronically disabled children from accessing mainstream medical care. The concerns of these medically disenfranchised consumers can be integrated into the health care system however, partly by offering financial incentives to mainstream providers to care for these patients, especially since money is an

                    effective stimulant for the competitive provision of health care. 182 Ignoring the health care needs of poor, neurologically impaired, disabled children leaves them in an appalling predicament. This situation will lead to disastrous consequences for the child’s health status and for the managed care system as a whole. There will be

                    increased demands on the health care system to provide more medical services as medical technology advances, patient survival

                    and longevity increases, and more serious medical problems arise. If something is not done, insurance plans will continue to limit the medical coverage they will provide for disabled children by imposing restrictions that they determine are appropriate despite physician recommendations to the contrary. Without competent, accessible health care for poor, neurologically impaired children, this population will be forced to suffer not only because of their disabilities, but also because of insufficient government funding

                    and society’s apathy toward their problems.

                    This study specifically referenced the practice of “managed care.” I personally do not believe the ACA increases the role of managed care in the health care system, and my own reading of the bill supports the thesis that it reduces, rather than increasing, the influence of “managed care,” but conservative analysts have disagreed. Accusing Caldara of callously scoring political points using his child’s illnesses ignores legitimate fears like this one. I may disagree with his thesis and conclusion, but I can’t say that they’re not worth at least debating, given that nonpartisan analysts have indeed found that the impact of managed care on the disabled juvenile population would be devastating.

                    I’m still waiting for you to cite any sources besides your own experience.

                    • DaftPunk says:

                      When you lie about what I argue?

                      all medical professionals have nothing but the noblest intentions ever, and if a patient says otherwise, they’re lying.

                    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

                      In addition to red herring, false analogy, and ad hominem… How’s your bingo card looking?

                    • DaftPunk says:

                      eliminate a group of people based on a chromosomal abnormality that causes them to differ visibly from neurotypical humans.

                      It’s all about the looks.

                      We can have an honest debate or not.

                    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

                      We can have an honest debate or not.

                      I started, your move. I’ve now cited three reliable sources for each half of the contention you dispute.

                      I’ll rephrase the above if it makes you feel better: “Based on a chromosomal abnormality that is, unlike some chromosomal abnormalities, easily detected both in the fetus and the living person.”

                      I don’t want to say a “disabling chromosomal abnormality” or anything like that, because it’s fairly clear in practice that some people with DS are not disabled by their condition and if anything makes them less able, it’s only the tendency of other humans to take advantage of and harm them because they tend to be very trusting. Other DS patients are severely limited compared to the neurotypical person, but that certainly isn’t universal — there are even some DS patients with a “normal” IQ.

                    • DaftPunk says:

                      You’ve done a great job of defending your case.  Your passion for the rights of the disabled is obvious and impressive.  I don’t doubt (and never did) that many in medicine have dismissive and prejudiced attitudes about the abilities and struggles that people with disabilities face.  It’s the obvious anti-physician bias that colours your prose that is so off-putting.  You could have made all the same points without the biased language and false attribution thereby avoiding inciting such a visceral negative reaction.

                      And that’s all I have to say about that.

                    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

                      I admit I’m very picky about doctors, myself, but the ones I have chosen for my own care, through a good bit of trial and error and willingness to walk out if anyone makes me uncomfortable, are amazing people. I have an awesome neurosurgeon uncle, and two of my best friends are in medical school. It’s just that I get frustrated with how some liberals, health care providers, or liberal health care providers just don’t assign any validity whatsoever to anyone’s wariness of the “system” as a whole.

                      Everyone remembers their worst experience, no matter how many other experiences they’ve had that are great, and it’s really, really scary to be the person who has to hand your severely impaired child over to a surgeon and hope you get them back alive, and hope they can understand that you put them under the knife to help them, not to torture them. Maybe you can’t even communicate with your kid enough to try to tell them that.

                      I’m not anti-physician, but I’m very pro-person, and as someone who has a family full of brilliant scientists (in addition to the neurosurgeon, there’s an embryonic marine zoologist with nobel-quality work, twins who are in epidemiology and geology respectively, a scientist who the Coast Guard sent to Antarctica to conduct research, a veterinarian running a HSUS wildlife facility, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg — I’m by far the least scientific one in the family) I know how easy it is for scientific-minded people who are overall good and decent human beings to focus on a condition, or the “Greater Good,” rather than an individual. It’s not that I think physicians are evil. It’s how easy it is for good people to do bad things for perfectly logical reasons that scares me on behalf of a community that, as you graciously noted, I care very much about.

                      Many people I love would be on my list of possible eugenics supporters. I don’t love them any less for it, but I don’t want them in charge of any pregnant woman’s care.

                      In any case, I do deeply respect the work you do. The importance of a good ob-gyn has been illustrated to me this year, through both of my sisters’ pregnancies — one delivered already, one is in her third trimester. I apologize if I came across as vilifying all physicians.  

                    • dwyer says:

                      There was a famous awful case back in the 80s.  A Downs Syndrome infant was born with a birth defect that is relatively common to DS kids.  The esophagus

                      was not attached to the stomach and so the infant could not be nourished until he had a simple operation.

                      The parents elected not to allow the operation and the infant ultimately died of thirst after about eight days.

                      The parents withheld IV hydration.  A right to life group

                      sued in court on behalf of the infant and lost.  They were vilified as attempting to “impose” their religious beliefs on others.  

                      The whole episode was grueling.  

            • Gray in Mountains says:

              about those eugenic programs, largely in the south. But, rather than analogy can we posit a couple of questions.

              1) at what level of developental disability or mental illness does it become immpossible for a female to consent to sex knowing that pregnancy is a likely outcome?

              2) if said female really, really wants a cute baby should a medical professional try to persuade against it?

              I have had extremely developmentally disabled relatives. Neither had children, one wanted, I’m really glad that neither successfully procreated

              • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

                1) at what level of developental disability or mental illness does it become immpossible for a female to consent to sex knowing that pregnancy is a likely outcome?

                My personal judgment would be that a woman who is not capable of communicating a “yes” or “no” to birth control cannot consent to sex knowing that pregnancy is a likely outcome. However, in my experience, many people with disabilities are not even educated about birth control, because it is assumed that they will not ever be having sex. I do not think that any pregnant woman should be forced to abort if she is able to express (even non-verbally) that she does not want the procedure, nor do I think that any woman should be given birth control against her will. If a woman who is legally considered incompetent to make her own medical decisions is raped, her legal guardian should decide whether or not to give Plan B.

                2) if said female really, really wants a cute baby should a medical professional try to persuade against it?

                I think the medical professional should do exactly as he or she would do for a neurotypical woman who for one reason or another faces serious health risks if she becomes pregnant and/or is unlikely to be permitted to raise her child herself if she gives birth: Sit down with her, look her in the eye (unless she is Autistic and prefers you don’t do that), and tell her factually what she can expect, physically, mentally, and legally, if she becomes pregnant. After that, the doctor should butt out of her decision as to whether to have unprotected sex or not.

                This gets a little morally ambiguous when you have a situation where a baby is born that will likely be immediately taken from the mother on the basis of inability to provide care, but I think the greater risk is that people able to parent will be prohibited from parenting (as happened in those earlier eugenics programs) than that a few babies will be born and placed with loving, adoptive families (as infants usually quickly are).  

              • dwyer says:

                The real danger with DD young women is that they can be sexually exploited because they only have limited ability to give consent and are often “preyed” upon by others because they respond to attention.  Sometimes, the man impregnating the young woman is also DD and does not comprehend the consequences of his actions.

                It is truly sad, but the issue is protecting vulnerable people not necessarily eugenics.

                • Gray in Mountains says:

                  and ANY effort to deal substantially with these issues will be attacked. It takes many years of making these kinds of efforts to really achieve methods and outcomes that will be largely supported. Right now a physician who placed a developmentaly disabled female on contraception is very likely to be attacked by the right. And, the parents may really, really want a grandchild in their loving evangelical home

  2. BlueCat says:

    by asking all the pols who atttended whether they support his views.  They can get specific.  It’s really easy to find far more outrageous stuff out of this guy’s mouth than what’s mentioned here. Do they agree that good old American pluralism (E pluribus unum and all that) is a bad thing and, if so, which particular religion, culture and ancestry should be selected as the true and approved American one? Dutch maybe?  Remember New Amsterdam. How nice that would be for Gov. Hick.

    How about African Americans?  Where do they fit in?  Pretty sure this guy isn’t too crazy about any non-Christians, including Jews, or Hispanics. Look it up, reporters, and ask if applauding Rs would like to rethink their enthusiasm.

    Also there’s the old repug favorite sport.  Remember when they were constantly demanding that Dems reject and denounce anything any nut or group they decided was lefty and therefore Dem approved said? Dems should dig up this guys most virulent hate speech (like I said…easy) and then ask all the Rs to reject, denounce, etc and apologize for having him as a speaker at their event. Why should Rs have all the fun?

  3. Half Glass Full says:

    … you see uplifting stories about Muslim boy scouts:…  

  4. Middle of the Road says:

    After reading the entire article, I’m sort of speechless. The level of prejudice, bias, bigotry, ignorance towards the Islamic religion is staggering.

    Couple of choice quotes that make your stomach turn–first one from the special guest from Holland:

    “My view, in a nutshell, is that Islam, rather than a religion, is predominantly a totalitarian ideology striving for world dominance,” he said. “I believe that Islam and freedom are incompatible.”

    And my other favorite from our very own former Senate President John Andrews:

    Saturday afternoon’s topic, Andrews said, would be “the existential threat to the United States of America posed by Islam.”

    Pausing for a moment to let his words sink in, he continued. “I didn’t say ‘radical Islam,’ I didn’t say ‘extremism.’ After you hear from Frank Gaffney and our friend from across the Atlantic, Geert Wilders, you’ll know why I just say ‘the threat of Islam.'”

    And why isn’t this covered in the mainstream press? Truthfully? Because nobody cares about whether or not this country continues to openly display prejudice against Muslims. No one has cared since 9/11 and other than illegal immigrants, they make a really easy, really nice target to blame all of our woes on.

    No one fucking cares. How utterly depressing a realization that is.  

    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

      And there are at least a few in Congress who care.

      That may not be much, but if each and every one of us who cares refuses to silently hear this bigotry expressed, it can make a real, measurable difference. The bigots who know me in real life may not have changed their views, but they know not to express them around me, and that’s a step. That was the first step in reducing antisemitic sentiment, too. If you can’t change their minds, at least make it too personally costly for them to admit their repugnant views.

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