Most Bizarre Pagan Smear of the Election Season?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 7, 2008 — 5 Comments

Now that the election season is (mostly) over, The Spokesman Review highlights a truly bizarre political press release from the Washington state gubernatorial battle. It seems state GOP chairman Luke Esser, trying to help candidate Dino Rossi, attacked a lawsuit against the conservative Building Industry Association of Washington that he felt was politically motivated. Here is where things get weird.

“Esser blasted a lawsuit against the conservative Building Industry Association of Washington, calling it an 11th-hour “legal circus” aimed at tainting Rossi and one of his biggest supporters. Singled out for special attention was attorney Knoll Lowney, who’s heading up the lawsuit. In trying to paint Lowney as a left-wing legal gadfly, Esser noted that Lowney’s sister-in-law is “a self-described ‘stealth millionaire’ and ‘pagan’ who dressed herself and her children up as sea turtles during the WTO riots.” But wait, there was more. Esser, citing a 2001 newspaper story, also noted that Lowney’s brother and sister-in-law ‘used to participate in small Wiccan rites venerating the four elements fire, earth, air and, of course, water.’”

So Esser attacks the character of the brother and sister-in-law (who used to participate in “Wican rites”) of the lawyer who filed a lawsuit against one of Dino Rossi’s top financial backers? That has to be one of the most bizarre political retaliations I’ve ever seen. I’d call it religious bigotry, but it’s so absurd as to enter the realms of satire. Plus, Rossi lost his challenge to Democratic incumbent Gov. Christine Gregoire, so we can safely laugh at this pathetic attempt to stir up conservative (and, I assume, Christian) outrage (the columnist also points out that few people in Washington, particularly Olympia, are going to bat an eye at Wiccans).

While this attack was ultimately toothless and sad, it does point to a growing willingness by certain conservative politicians to see an opponent’s adherence (or a family member’s adherence) to a minority religion as something to exploit. If Sarah Palin truly is the future of the Republican party, could we see the tactics and mindset of “spiritual warriors” injected increasingly into mainstream conservative politics? If so, it could poison the party to non-Christian conservatives for a generation, and help isolate “God’s Own Party” in an increasingly multi-religious world.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • datamuse

    Not only is it bizarre, but no one noticed it (at least, not west of the Cascades–an important distinction in these parts). I live in Seattle and this is the first I’ve heard of it. (Though I’ll grant you that I stopped listening to the news almost entirely in the last two weeks before the election because I couldn’t take it anymore.)

  • Jaspenelle

    Love the sarcastic flare the reporter seemed to have in that article (I live in Spokane, conservative yes, but not insane (the Spokesman even did a nice unbias article on my husband and my handfasting.)Seriously though, the constant pandering of the Republicans to the religious right turns my stomach. And people wonder why I can’t support them even though I might agree with their fiscal policies (though those have changed dramatically over the years too.) I am so glad Dino and his cronies lost.

  • Anonymous

    I am not a fan of religious bigotry, in any form. I don’t engage in it and I don’t support it.When Palin, or any elected official, uses their position of power in elected office to hurt Pagans, force them to give up thier religion, or discriminate against them based on thier religion – we need to speak out and do so forcefuly.However – to raise fear and suspicion about a person because of thier religion, and not because they have used thier political office to take any of those harmful actions, is wrong. Then we are the religious bigots. While this attack was ultimately toothless and sad, it does point to a growing willingness by certain liberal Pagans to see an opponent’s adherence (or a family member’s adherence) to a religion as something to exploit.I’m not saying that the blog post does any of this. I am saying that we all need to be very careful that we are not doing the exact same thing that we fear could happen to us from others. Cara

  • Jason Pitzl-Waters

    Cara,”I am saying that we all need to be very careful that we are not doing the exact same thing…”It is indeed something I am mindful of. What was particularly abhorrent (and strange) in this instance was that that private citizens, completely uninvolved in this race, were dragged into a political back-and-forth. I don’t think a candidate’s private beliefs are necessarily “fair game” (or, in fact, anything they do in the privacy of their home), but I do think what they (and their co-religionists) do as a result of those beliefs is a valid topic of discussion. Especially if they are going to be granted a large amount of influence over my life. It is, as always, a delicate balance between the public’s right to know about the philosophical underpinnings of their leaders, and the inherent right to religious freedom and privacy.

  • Anonymous

    Kudos to Wild Hunt, a grrrreat Indigenist blog!I was saying to my readers that I hope this kind of thing happens more often. Why? Well, it’s like in the movies…where the person in charge is actually misplaced and they freak out on someone thus proving themselves unfit to hold their positions. I figure it like this, the more anti-Indigenist (pagan) these folks become, the more they’ll seem like Westboro Baptist church…this will have the effect of making regular people say to themselves “I don’t want to be that”I say let ‘em get as crazy as they want to be, it’ll just show everyone where the nutjobs are in government.