It’s been fascinating watching the American Family Association work hard to suddenly distance themselves from the most vocal bigot on their payroll, Bryan Fischer (below). Even though they stripped him of his direct connections to the group the other night, he continues to host his show Focal Point under AFA’s umbrella.
This week, the AFA asked the Southern Poverty Law Center to stop attributing Fischer’s hateful comments to them, to which SPLC President Richard Cohen responded with a more tactfully-worded version of you’ve got to be shitting me.
The fact that the AFA is continuing to allow Mr. Fischer to host a daily radio show and blog on its website also makes us question the AFA’s sincerity. Sponsoring Mr. Fischer’s racism, anti-Semitism, and hatred of the Muslim and the LGBT communities in the name of “diversity” says as much about the AFA as it does about Mr. Fischer.
Is there nothing beyond the pale in the AFA’s view? Does the AFA believe that statements such as these have a place on its airwaves? Is this what the AFA considers “diversity”?
Without ending Mr. Fischer’s talk show, without apologizing for the bigoted statements that he, Mr. Wildmon, and others associated with the AFA have made, and without making it crystal clear that the AFA will not tolerate any such statements in the future, the AFA’s 11th-hour disavowal of Mr. Fischer appears to serve only one purpose: to give the AFA a degree of plausible deniability while it continues to spew hateful rhetoric. It’s a shell game and a transparent one at that.
Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch adds:
… the AFA has literally accomplished nothing with this stunt [firing Fischer] and has completely failed to distance itself from Fischer’s utterly despicable views. The primary venues though which Fischer has managed to spread his bigotry for the last six years have always been owned, operated, and funded by the American Family Association and that relationship appears to remain intact.
Stripping Fischer of his title as AFA spokesman in no way alleviates the AFA of its responsibility for Fischer’s toxic views given that the only reason Fischer even has a platform from which to spread those views is because AFA is providing it to him and paying him to spread them!
From the very start of Fischer’s time at AFA, the organization has pathetically attempted to have it both ways: providing the very microphone from which Fischer speaks while simultaneously claiming that it bears no responsibility for the message that he sends.
The AFA’s latest effort to rid itself of Fischer’s rancid reputation is little more than a rhetorical accounting trick aimed at creating the false impression that the organization has wiped Fischer’s bigotry off of its books.
This is the problem with conservative Christian groups. They’ve spewed so much hate over the years, yet believe that a leadership change (or a firing) will wipe the slate clean for them. It doesn’t work like that. AFA leaders still believe horrible things about LGBT people and want to create policy that would discriminate against them. They have immense political power and they’ll continue to make life harder for those who are oppressed by their beliefs, with or without Fischer spewing his rhetoric.
But make no mistake: AFA officials haven’t completely distanced themselves from Fischer or his views. They continue to pay for and staff and distribute his radio show. Until they sever all connections with him and take back every anti-gay thing they’ve ever said — which they won’t and probably never will — there’s no reason to stop calling them a hate group or believe they’ve turned over a new leaf.