Quick Notes: Bumper Sticker Problems, Haiti, and Australian Haters

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 18, 2010 — 22 Comments

A few quick notes for you on this Wednesday.

Bumper Sticker Politics: If I was pressed to name the most innocuous bumper decoration ever, the “Coexist” sticker would be right up there with the “My Kid is On the Honor Roll at…” (which has been endlessly parodied) tags, or maybe the Christian fish and its endless permutations. But it seems I’m wrong, and the sticker is in fact a sign of everything that is going wrong in America according to Republican Allen West a candidate for the House in Florida’s 22nd district.

“[A]s I was driving up here today, I saw that bumper sticker that absolutely incenses me. It’s not the Obama bumper sticker. But it’s the bumper sticker that says, ‘Co-exist.’ And it has all the little religious symbols on it. And the reason why I get upset, and every time I see one of those bumper stickers, I look at the person inside that is driving. Because that person represents something that would give away our country. Would give away who we are, our rights and freedoms and liberties because they are afraid to stand up and confront that which is the antithesis, anathema of who we are. The liberties that we want to enjoy.”

Now West, a local Tea Party favorite, seems to be focused mostly on the Muslim “C” in “coexist” when pondering his revulsion of the sticker, but I can’t imagine why a sentiment of peaceful coexistence among all the world’s religions has become the focus for his “Islam is the 5th column” tirade. It’s troubling enough when moderate and mystical elements within Islam are ignored by politicians, but these remarks make one wonder if there are any other faiths coexisting that he has a problem with. I mean, has he had any chats with Pagan tea partiers? Maybe palled around with Dan Halloran? Are there any other letters in “coexist” that have him seeing red?

Who Will Run? Tensions are already mounting in Haiti’s upcoming presidential race. Over 30 potential candidates, including musician Wyclef Jean, are vying to be the nation’s top executive; and Haiti’s electoral commission is supposed to issue a ruling Friday as to who will be allowed to run. Jean, who’s been getting death threats after announcing his intentions, is battling challenges to his eligibility, and it may come down to testimony from a Vodou priest.

“Two people contested Jean’s candidacy on the grounds that he does not meet the residency requirement. A justice of the peace, the records mention, went to the suburban neighborhood of Lassarre — where Jean stays when he visits Haiti — to interview a Vodou priest in an effort to establish Jean’s residency requirement.”

Meanwhile, Jean’s friend and former Fugees bandmate Pras, who’s backing one of Jean’s potential opponents, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly (also a musician), claims his man has the backing of the “Vodou guys” in Haiti.

“He’s a transformative figure. Michel is one of the only guys that can unite not only the whole country — the elite, the masses, the youth, the Christians, the voodoo guys — but also the diaspora, the Haitians out here in America, Africa. He’s the ambassador for environmental protection, for disaster relief, and he has a foundation that’s been helping out the community for seventeen years. Michel served in the army. He’s not doing it for photo ops … People have this affinity for him that is natural. When you have that as a leader, it goes farther than someone coming in who’s popular.”

Once we have an official slate of candidates, and know who the front-runners are, we will be able to better gauge which candidates will be the best for Haiti’s future in terms of religious freedom and coexistence with that country’s “voodoo guys”. It will be interesting to see who various notable figures in Haitian Vodou, like Max Beauvoir, will back.

The “Dark Wave” of Australian Paganism: Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt takes aim at Australian Pagans by holding up some local Pagan-oriented magazines, and recent cop-dragging news-getter Eilish De Avalon, as symbols of a “dark wave” of declining reason.

“Oh, you’re right, it’s just a few women flirting with their irrational and harmlessly naughty side. But noticed how many of them there suddenly are? Sen-Constable Andrew Logan has. In February he pulled over a woman driving through Geelong while talking on her mobile, and asked her why she didn’t have a licence, either. “Your laws and penalties don’t apply to me,” replied Eilish De Avalon, a 40-year-old witch. “I’m a being from another world and don’t require one.” And off she drove, with Logan’s arm unluckily wedged in her window. Penalty last week: two months’ jail. If Logan was surprised to find a witch even in no-mucking-around Geelong, he hasn’t paid attention. In the 1996 Census, just 1849 Australians claimed to be followers of Wicca or witchcraft. A decade later, there were 8214 of them, with another 15,516 Pagans. Most were women, of course, and a Monash University study says a high proportion are bisexual. But what else do you expect, with reason in decline and Greens on the rise?”

Just more pile-on for the Pagans in Australia, who have been dealing with waves of bad press lately due to figures like Eilish De Avalon, and Lizzy Rose making the headlines (and snarky blog posts).  As Australian Pagan Gavin Andrew said recently at my blog, “at two strokes the gains that the Australian pagan community made in terms of local interfaith dialogue and public acceptance last year at the Parliament of the World’s Religions (with the help of so many of the U.S. delegates) have now well and truly been undone.” It will no doubt take years of work to put these events behind them, while dealing with people like Bolt, who seem to have nothing better to do than wring his hands over Pagan magazine articles.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters