A Ship of Fools: Capt. Jindal and the S.S. LFF
By Jason Berry aka TheAmericanZombie.com
On June 11, 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama’s Foster Auditorium to block two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from entering the building and symbolically racially integrating the public university. Later in his life, Wallace offered a mea culpa, showing deep regret for his actions and even going so far as to ask forgiveness from the country’s African-American populace. Alas, it was too late to change his place in history as anything other than the most historically racist governor in America.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal would cringe at the above paragraph considering his distaste for the labeling of “hyphenated Americans”, but he would do well to consider Wallace’s faux pas some fifty years after the first American civil rights movement.
Jindal may have just solidified himself as Wallace 2.0 in the civil rights battle of our age: equality for the LGBT community. Fifty years from now, probably five years from now, you can bet Bobby will find himself on the wrong side of history. By subverting democracy and defying the legislature’s rejection of House Bill 707 , issuing his own executive order, he has not only positioned himself as the lighting rod for the zeitgeist of “religious freedom” laws across the country, he may have also secured his historical legacy as the face of bigotry against the LGBT community.
Unfortunately for the state of Louisiana, our name will be carved into that historic gravestone of bigotry along with him, just like Alabama was with Wallace’s folly.
Let’s be clear: with this executive order, Jindal is simply grandstanding for his own political ambitions. He knows he has very little chance of winning the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, but with this stunt he is attempting to break out of the pack by offering himself up as the current election cycle’s official evangelical panderer. While his ruse won’t be enough to garner the RNC nomination, it could certainly make him an attractive running mate; more than likely, it will result in marginalizing him even further in a ridiculously crowded field. For all his self-righteous posturing, he is headed towards the oceanic depths of political obscurity once he finds himself rejected in the RNC primary
The problem for Louisianans is that Jindal’s hubris has driven him so far, this executive order antic has now thrown his anchor chain around our collective necks. He is potentially sacrificing the financial well-being of our entire state to chase his own political ambitions.
One could write volumes on the damage he’s done to Louisiana in his two-term gubernatorial reign. He’s exercised Randian ideology to a point that would make Ayn herself blush. He’s gutted the state’s public health care system, signed a bill that blocks lawsuits for environmental damages against the oil and gas industry, and most recently, jeopardized the future of Louisiana’s public universities, even driving some to the point of possible bankruptcy. Clearly a healthy, educated, environmentally-safe state doesn’t grok with Jindal’s attempts to prove himself as the far right’s most fervent ideologue of Rand’s legacy. But it’s not cut-throat capitalism that he’s using now to chase his national political aspirations - it’s the opiate of the masses: religion.
Had he simply exited stage right after his eight-year Grand Guignol performance, the state could have licked its wounds and moved on. As fate would have it, ambition, perhaps delusion (we’ll probably never know), appears to have gotten the best of him. Now, his grand finale is to drive a symbolic stake into the heart of the “liberal gay agenda” (and the state’s economy as well) with this executive order - an attempt to cast himself as Van Helsing to save Amurica’s superstitious “majority minority”, evangelicals, from…nothing.
This exercise in futility does, however, reveal Bobby’s unwavering allegiance to the state of Louisiana’s most powerful faith-based lobbying group, The Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) and it’s kingpin, Rev. Gene Mills. This anti-LGBT, anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-humanist, climate-denying, evolution-denying, ignorance-promoting entity - the LFF - curiously operates two organizations that skirt the boundaries of the law. On one hand, Mills’ LFF is a non-profit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) as an “educational charity”, and on the other, he’s created a 501(c)(4) entity, Louisiana Family Forum Action, which lobbies and endorses political candidates.
Through this shell game - non-profit director / political lobbyist / self-appointed moral authority, the Reverend Gene Mills has become a king maker and breaker in the Louisiana political landscape. He even puts out a “Legislative Scorecard” where he grades state legislators on their support of the LFF “moral” agenda. Democrats are consistently at the bottom of his list, with New Orleanians holding three of his bottom four slots. Senator Karen Carter Peterson, who has vocally opposed LFF’s barrage of attempts to infiltrate state law with religious bias over the years, is rated the most hostile to the LFF’s self-described “family-friendly” agenda.
The LFF is an extremely powerful lobbying force in Louisiana, some say second only to the oil and gas lobby. Their tactics are to rule by fear, by threat, by demonization…by any means necessary. You know…WhatJesusWouldNeverDo.
When United States Senator David Vitter was exposed for soliciting prostitutes in 2007, Mills and the LFF publically jumped to his defense, exclaiming that Vitter had repented for his sins and should be forgiven. Perhaps coincidentally, shortly after Mills’ public absolution of Vitter’s transgressions, the Senator attempted to earmark $100,000 in federal funds to the LFF. The payoff was called out by public watchdogs and ultimately rescinded by Vitter, but the episode made clear who pulls the strings in Louisiana’s political power games.
If Vitter is elected Governor, I’m sure we can expect the flotsam and jetsam of public cash for political favors to flow freely between the LFF and his Admiralty. Mills will ensure his Holy Trinity of Jesus, Money, and Politics controls Louisiana for decades to come.Last June, I started an online petition to recall Governor Jindal and/or demand his resignation through MoveOn.org. While mostly a symbolic gesture (Louisiana recall petitions require handwritten signatures) the petition has garnered about 10,000 signatures from around the state upon publishing this article and was recently noted in a WWL-TV report about Jindal’s executive order. I encourage you to please take the time to sign the petition and encourage others to do the same through social media. While it is a symbolic effort, much like Jindal’s executive order itself, it will help send a clear message to the Governor and more importantly the rest of the country that his own political machinations do not speak for the people of Louisiana. Let it also send a message to the Louisiana Family Forum that we will not allow their puppet politicians to subvert democracy.