"I am very honored," Tweeted Joe on November 20, "that Colin Hanna of [Let Freedom Ring] has invited me to Washington DC as one of the 3 finalists of the Weyrich Award."
Getting an award from a group steeped in anti-gay bigotry, birtherism, nativism, tea-bag yahoo-ism, and pro-Iraq war sympathies would normally be bad enough. But topping it off is the fact that the awards dinner is named after dead conservanut Paul Weyrich, founder of such influential rightist ogs as the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation.
Weyrich, often touted as one of the founders of Reagan-era conservatism, was also a die-hard gay hater, a Christian religious nut opposed to the separation of church and state, and in at least one specifically egregious incident, the spouter of anti-Semitic filth.
"Our God could not bear to see mankind suffering," wrote Weyrich in a 2001 essay, "even if it was from the consequences of his own actions, so He sent his only Son to become man so that man could become like God. To accomplish that, Christ was crucified by the Jews who had wanted a temporal ruler to rescue them from the oppressive Roman authorities. Instead God sent them a spiritual leader to rescue them from their sins and despite the fact that Jesus Christ the Son of God, performed incredible miracles, even raised people from the dead, He was not what the Jews had expected, so they considered Him a threat. Thus He was put to death." [Italics added.]
Abraham Foxman, the ADL's National Director, denounced Weyrich's statement as "appalling, historically false and deeply offensive." Indeed, last time I checked my Bible, it was the Romans who crucified Jesus. The refrain of "the Jews killed Christ" is one that's been repeated over and over since the man from Galilee was executed a few decades into the beginning of the first millennium AD. Often it has been used as an excuse for discrimination and pogroms against the Jewish people.
Granted, Weyrich is an icon of the far right, and continues to be revered as an ideological stalwart. Jewish conservative David Horowitz came to Weyrich's defense at the time, calling Weyrich's statement a "slip of the tongue," while acknowledging that, "The phrase `the Jews killed Christ' is still used as a sinister code."
Of course, Arpaio, being the egomaniac that he is, would probably accept a trophy from Beezlebub himself it were offered. Plus, with the Weyrich awards to take place at the Four Seasons Hotel in D.C., he's at least guaranteed a good meal. (Even if, as TommyC points out, he only ends as a runner-up.)
Stephen is a staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.