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Reviewing God’s Warriors pt. 3

John on August 24, 2007 at 2:24 am

Well, I watched all of pt. 3 on God’s Christian warriors. Here are my impressions.

Amanpour seemed desperate to whip up something frightening. Unfortunately for her, she has enough integrity as a journalist to let her subjects speak for themselves. As a result, very few of her interviewees come off as foaming at the mouth hysterics or theocracy desiring nuts.

Both Falwell and Hagee — neither one of which I feel particularly compelled to defend — came off as likeable grandfathers with an intense commitment to specific political issues (abortion and Israel’s existence). Frankly, nothing they did or said suggested any desire to resort to violence or overthrow the US government. They are working within the system, bringing the voices of people who agree with their viewpoints to policy makers. That they sometimes win is not a sign of theocracy but of a properly functioning democracy.

Amanpour’s focus on Justices Roberts and Alito was the most transparently partisan part of the show (though not the silliest). She couldn’t claim that Roberts or Alito didn’t qualify for their places on the court. She couldn’t claim that they got there solely because of conservative Christians. So what’s left to claim? Only that Christians had an influence. Shock! Horror! Uh, again, isn’t this how democracy is supposed to work? What is the solution? Should Christians just not vote? Should they be put on a barge somewhere? Voting just doesn’t seem that sinister to me. Sorry, Christiane.

The penultimate segment of the show was devoted to a family that is homeschooling its five children. This was a real “Gorillas in the Mist” moment as wealthy, liberal globetrotter Amanpour entered suburbia like some kind of leftist supernanny. No mention of the fact that home schooled kids have an excellent academic track record, frequently better than public schools. I thought immediately of my friends in Va who homeschool there five kids. Their eldest is a spelling bee champion. To Amanpour, it’s just weird and somehow vaguely threatening, though she never explains why.

The final segment was about a group called Battle Cry which put on an event for teens in San Francisco. Amanpour is clearly hoping to get the big show stopper out of this one. But she makes the mistake of spending time on the event’s protesters who are a collection of freaks right out of central casting. At one point a drag queen in pancake makeup looks into the camera and says “this city is about joy, not hate.” Then we immediately cut back to protesters screaming about fascism and offering vague conspiratorial theories about the dawn of theocracy. Yes, joy is in the air.

Just as Amanpour’s use of weird camera angles and scare music seems to be floundering, she creates the moment she has been looking for. Beneath the stadium her camera crew sees a teen girl singing a hymn as she walks down the hall. Amanpour describes the girl as “being in a trance.” My impression was that she simply looked happy. They stick a camera in the girl’s face and she bursts into tears over her confidence that “what’s in my heart” is real, no matter “what questions you ask.” Frankly, I’d like to see the unedited tapes on this one. My impression was that this girl knew Amanpour and her camera crew were eager to put her on TV as a symbol of something they find scary and disgraceful. She was merely holding her ground the best she could, offering her heart despite being treated like a sideshow freak for singing a song.

The desperate overreaching in this show was almost laughable at times. I mean that sincerely not as a put down.  Amanpour has set out to make you afraid of God’s Christian Warriors and most of them just aren’t that scary. Nevertheless, she repeats her “God’s Warriors” mantra over and over, as if trying to convince you by sheer repetition. Homeschoolers: God’s warriors. Teens who reject promiscuity and drugs: God’s warriors. Pastors who speak out on social issues: God’s warriors. And on and on.

Someone could turn this into a comedy bit:

  • If you believe Israel is not a rogue state and Iran is…you might be one of God’s Warriors.
  • If you vote to the right of the ACLU…you might be one of God’s Warriors.

Amanpour’s strained and tendentious effort at secularist fear mongering and moral equivalence is finally brought down under the weight of its own desperation. Though she tries repeatedly to put frightening words in other’s mouths, in the end there’s just no there there, or not much anyway. To her credit, at least some of the time you get the feeling she knows it. But after 8 months spent on this turkey, too many checks have been cashed to back away from a bad idea.

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