Monday, April 18, 2005

 

Rev. Parsley lies about FDR

We haven't yet read any transcripts from Rev. Rod Parsley's Saturday rally and festival that is apparently aimed at letting him annoint himself as THE leader of the theocracy's "moral reformation movement" (look out, James Dobson). The closest we've come is the hackery of Mark Niquette.

In the meantime, we decided to check out Parsley's latest "Breakthrough" broadcast from April 17 which promised to tell us how he intends to lead America in "Reversing the Curse of Poverty." Come on, how fascinating could that be?

Actually, waiting for his solution was actually an effort in futility because, unless there was a big video editing error, he never got around to it. We mean, after 30 agonizing minutes - interupted twice by ads calling on his followers to send petitions to fight the awful monsters in black robes that dominate the courts, and plugs for his bible college, no big time solution was unveiled. A helluva way to lead the reformation, rev.

But he did manage to create an enormous lie about FDR in a manner that is worth looking out since I expect him to resort to using it again.

The incident in question comes at about 12 minutes into the broadcast. To set this up, we have to described that he initially seemed in his sermon to be going down a "fuck the poor" path:
Proverbs 14:23 says that, “In all work there is profit.” And in the New Testament, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 it says, “For this we commanded you, that if any would not work, he should not eat.” Oh, I am going to mess you up. (He repeats this quote.)
Seemingly to emphasize this point, immediately following this Parsley dredges up old FDR to make his point:
It was Franklin Roosevelt who said the federal government must and shall quit this business of relief. "To dole out relief is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

Now I know it hard to equate what happened with the welfare system as a result of FDR’s policies to that statement nonetheless. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said the government must quit this process of relief. Because, to dole out relief and not expect people to work for it, is to give them a narcotic. Not that was many decades ago. And I am going to prove to you this morning that that is exactly what has happened to the United States of America.
Since Parsley seemed to be trying to set up the point that aid to the poor is bad, it's convenient to make FDR look like the two are on the same side. But Roosevelt didn't say that. Parsley edited the real Roosevelt quote to make it fit his purposes.

The bogus reference is to FDR's 1934 State of the Union speech. He had taken office one year before, and this was his first chance to reflect on his administrations initial efforts to deal with the human side of the Depression. As we recall it (and we are no great historians), FDR tried to immediately mitigate the worst effects of the Depression such as serious starvation and homelessness. In exchange for some "make work" - which apparently was a job in name only - everyone was guarantee some "relief" - some subsistence income to tide them over.
By 1934, however, FDR was in a position of wanting to move government programs beyond what were little less than phony "make work" efforts and convert them into real jobs programs that would 1) benefit society, 2) treat the unemployed with dignity, and 3) prepare them for eventual employment in the private sector.

So, in the State of the Union speech, FDR says:
To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of human spirit. [emphasis added]
Parsley conveniently leaves out the "in this way" part. But that is the key point that FDR was trying to make in his statement. FDR was trying to build support for moving from government providng "relief" to government providing real jobs, i.e., the Work Projects Administration. Our sources indicate thate the WPA was:
was designed to increase the purchasing power of persons on relief by employing them on useful projects. WPA's building program included the construction of 116,000 buildings, 78,000 bridges, and 651,000 mi (1,047,000 km) of road and the improvement of 800 airports. Also a part of WPA's diversified activities were the Federal Art Project, the Federal Writers' Project, and the Federal Theatre Project. Close to 10,000 drawings, paintings, and sculptured works were produced through WPA, and many public buildings (especially post offices) were decorated with murals. The experiments in theatrical productions were highly praised and introduced many fresh ideas. Musical performances under the project averaged 4,000 a month. The most notable product of writers in WPA was a valuable series of state and regional guidebooks. WPA also conducted an education program and supervised the activities of the National Youth Administration. At its peak WPA had about 3.5 million persons on its payrolls. Altogether WPA employed a total of 8.5 million persons, and total federal appropriations for the program amounted to almost $11 billion.
In other words, Roosevelt understood there was a synergistic benefit from unleashing the talent and abilities of the unemployed workforce to improve society, modernize its infrastructure and have the partcipants know that they were contributing something meaningful instead of propping up a broom.

As we noted earlier, Parsley's sermon never delivered any payoff, so we aren't sure exactly where he was going, but we are pretty damn confident he wasn't going to advocate a new WPA.

FDR has a powerful legacy among those aged 65+, and too a large extent their children. All modern populists, even theocrats like Parsley, ultimately have to try to wear the Roosevelt mantle. But like those that wanted to twist FDR's words on Social Security, their lies only reveal the shallowness and desparation of their own beliefs.

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