WITH JORDANNA THIGPEN
Photo by Jack
By Jordanna Thigpen
March 31, 2006
The recent condemnation of Battle Cry portends a new era of intolerance
for our country. Unfortunately, our progressive ideology of acceptance
and understanding has become just as intolerant as the anti-choice,
anti-gay philosophy of Battle Cry.
is a Christian youth group. Jerry Falwell is listed on the site
as a "partner." Who can forget Jerry's "description"
of his first time, battle-tested in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell
(1988) 485 U.S. 46?
Battle Cry's members claim that it is apolitical. On the surface
it appears to be bucolic, if cultish, just a bunch of kids celebrating
God and talkin' 'bout their generation, trying to help save the
world through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, they are
evangelical Christians, and most are right-wing; they don't believe
in marriage equality (it's sinfully, decidedly undelicious) or
reproductive freedom (embryos are alive, and not with the sound
of music). As a female with breeding capability and family members
who still don't have the civil rights of heteros, I have to say
the evangelical Christian message is distasteful to say the least.
When members condemn LGBTQ individuals and families, they are
no longer apolitical.
The power and financial resources of evangelical Christians has
been steadily increasing in America for the last twenty years,
and shows no signs of abating. Why have they been so successful?
In part, because of groups like Battle Cry. The evangelical Christian
movement - and by extension what has become their lapdog, the
Republican Party - has been enormously successful at recruiting,
cultivating and training young talent. Battle Cry's website even
features podcasts to "spread its urgent message."
Adolf Hitler's Boy's Storm Troop was founded in 1922, based on
Hitler's expansion of a youth labor group. Youth groups were a
particularly effective part of Hitler's consolidation of power.
There were pre-teen and teen groups, and divisions for boys and
girls. By 1939, 90% of the youth in Germany were members of Hitler-Jugend.
The youth groups focused on military training for males and docility
training (i.e., preparation for marriage) for females.
Today, Battle Cry has adopted the same red and black colors which
the Nazi Party used. On visiting San Francisco, Battle Cry's members
were labeled fascists. (This isn't quite accurate. Fascists wanted
to consolidate power in the State; the evangelical Christian/neo-conservative
ideology wants to consolidate power in the hands of a few corporations
and keep the State poor.) There's more than a few comparisons
to be made between this fresh-faced, allegedly innocent
group of America's normalest, and that group, which hindsight
has shrouded in a deep black cloak of mass unconsciousness and
evil. Remember - Hitler-Jugend was once just kids trying to improve
themselves and society. They too were indoctrinated in and disseminated
a particular message, and only, unconsciously, for the impure
purposes of consolidating power for their leader.
Is Battle Cry as the next Hitler-Jugend? That is the logical
extension of the Supervisors' resolution.
But we absolutely cannot be in the business of silencing Battle
Cry. As Americans, we have a special duty to accept all forms
of speech. Indeed, it is our fundamental right and freedom, the
very First Amendment. Since Bush II has come to power,
we have become increasingly censored. With media consolidation,
our democracy slides slowly into the sands of time. Corporate
sponsors control our access to certain news. War on Terror
is a long, expensive epic that is dangerously becoming permanent
background noise, with different versions dubbed for different
countries. Essentially, as Americans, our right to freedom of
speech is disappearing.
Do we, as San Franciscans, want to live in history as the carnies
who set up the slippery yellow slope at the county fair? Burn
your gunny-sacks now so you do not have to take a ride.
No one knows if Battle Cry is the next Hitler-Jugend. Hopefully
we can come up with a strong and effective message and a plan
to help America's working families succeed in the next twenty
years, to prevent further ascendance of neo-cons. Even better,
perhaps we can show youth that our powerful secular message of
peace, tolerance, and truth enhances the human condition more
than the alleged "word of God," cultural warfare, and
When a government speaks out to condemn the message of a particular
group, it is sending a message of hate and hypocrisy to its citizens,
and to the rest of the world. The unbearable irony of the resolution
was that it lauded our city as "progressive and tolerant."
Silencing voices is, of course, neither of these things.
District 6 resident Jordanna Thigpen is an attorney, small
business owner and a Commissioner with the City's Small Business
Commission. You can usually find her at work and she doesn't get
to Ocean Beach often enough. Email Jordanna at firstname.lastname@example.org.