Susie Hudson is still going to Israel on a trip paid for by the American Family Association, the far-right Christianist organization. She sees nothing wrong here.
Predictable, but disappointing.
Hudson, a resident of Montpelier and newly-elected secretary of the Republican National Committee, is one of many RNC members going on a nine-day trip to Israel paid for by the AFA and guided by AFA leaders. The trip made news when the Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported the many bigoted comments by longtime AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer. In response, AFA fired Fischer as its spokesman — but retained him as a talk-radio host.
Yep, they’re still paying the guy for equating Islam with Ebola, asserting that the First Amendment only applies to Christianity, and that gay Nazis were responsible for the Holocaust because homosexuals are inherently savage.
He may not be their spokesman, but as a talk radio host, he remains their public face. And they’re happy to pay him for that. Plus, his comments were barely outside the usual poisonous stream of AFA demagoguery.
After I revealed Hudson’s travel plans in this space, Seven Days‘ Paul Heintz reached Hudson, and she gave him a heapin’ helpin’ of weaksauce.
“I mean, I know there’s been some stuff that’s been out in the press yesterday, but it’s my understanding that there was an individual who made some inappropriate comments, and I certainly don’t agree with them, and it’s my understanding they are no longer with the organization.”
Okay, stop right there. Fischer is still with the organization, still holds a prominent position. His public statements have arisen from his radio show, not from his duties as AFA spokesman. If they wanted to punish him, they’d take away his media platform.
… Asked whether she was familiar with AFA’s beliefs, Hudson said, “I mean, obviously I’m somewhat familiar with them, yes.”
But, she said, “I did not know that whatever group you said has called them a hate group.”
Wow. Just wow. That’s an almost Palinesque cavalcade of ignorance. Now, I’m sure Ms. Hudson is just acting stupid to avoid taking a stand on the AFA, but I’d expect someone in her position to do a better job than that.
“Somewhat familiar” with the American Family Association, a leading power-broker on the Christian Right? “Whatever group you said”? Yeah, just the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of America’s leading crusaders against hate groups for more than 40 years. “Stuff that’s been out in the press”? In the words of Katie Couric, what newspapers do you read?
To top it all off, “Hudson… repeatedly declined to say what she understood AFA’s beliefs to be.”
Come on. That’s not credible at all. The Republican Party’s top officials have to know the lay of their land. That includes groups like the American Family Association, who have a lot of influence in Republican politics.
There, of course, is the rub. Hudson can’t afford to publicly distance herself from the AFA because it is so influential. And because AFA members and sympathizers form a substantial part of the Republican base, even in liberal old Vermont. She’d rather come across as an uninformed dunderhead than utter a word against the AFA and the extremism it stands for.
Which brings us to the Vermont Republican Party itself. VTGOP leaders like to downplay social issues, but they don’t want to actively contradict the views of the Christian Right. No matter how extreme, hateful, and downright unAmerican those views might be.