Some of you might think it’s funny. Some of you will pump your fist in the air in agreement when you see it. Some of you might honk your horn in support if you pull up behind a vehicle with the bumper sticker on it.
Good God, people! In this campaign year when nothing seems too low, when there seems to be no limits on appealing to the worst of our narrowest natures, governor candidate Eric Greitens seems to have bored deeper into the darkness of politics based on hate and fear.
Make a ten dollar donation to his campaign and he’ll give you an “Isis Hunting Permit” to stick on your bumper. “No Bragging Limit. No Tagging Limit,” it says.
It’s not an original idea. Unfortunately, other candidates in other states have decided to go swimming in these sludge-filled waters, too, with variations on this theme.
Political columnist Dave Helling with The Kansas City Star quotes a Greitens campaign news release claiming, “Liberals will go crazy when they see these, but remember, this isn’t an official government issued hunting tag.”
That statement strikes this longtime observer of Missouri politics who has seen a lot of tasteless campaign statements as irresponsible. Some would find it outrageous. And a campaign statement that suggests this is just a bit of innocent fund-raising fun might not even rank high enough to be termed contemptible—especially not in a time when we see too many headlines about senseless shootings.
Yes, ISIS is a bunch of bad people. It’s hard to think of any group right now that deserves to reap the whirlwind. But—
Given the current appeals throughout our political system that certain segments of the population should be stererotyped and scorned, this unfunny solicitation of ten-dollar bills can be dangerous, especially as a follow-up to a television commercial suggesting the answer to dissatisfaction with the political status quo comes symbolically from the barrel of a gun.
Is the Missouri voting public so far away from intelligent consideration of the issues that determine the quality of our lives that it can be motivated to vote for someone who thinks targeting ISIS—and in the minds of some, those whose faith might be blindly considered somehow related to it—is the most serious issue the next governor will have to deal with?
Are we so lost, so sick, that this kind of thing seems to be just an amusing way to get some attention and some ten-dollar bills?
Let us use the freedom of religion that seems to be such an important element of the campaigns of Greitens and his competitors to pray that we are not.