Not Just Big Bird: 6 Examples of the Right's War on Beloved Children's Characters
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Mitt Romney's comments, during Wednesday night's debate, about cutting funding for PBS despite his “love” for Big Bird, immediately got a response from the Internet: FiredBigBird popped up on Twitter shortly after the comments and was quickly joined by Sesame Street colleagues FireMeElmo and FiredOscar, as well as BigBirdRomney.
PBS has long been a conservative target, despite the minuscule amount of savings that cutting it would actually produce. As Laura Clawson noted at Daily Kos, “Romney's setting up the need for $9.6 trillion in non-defense cuts. His answer? Fire Big Bird to save $445 million.” Big Bird and his cohort are just collateral damage in the Right's war on anything public; Romney can sadly shake his head and say that even though he loves Big Bird, the big yellow guy just has to go because of the deficits!
Whether Romney gets to fire Big Bird or not may be up to the voters this fall, but it's certainly not the first time right-wingers have painted a target on a fictional character. From children's books and movies to TV, conservatives—especially the religious right kind—have declared war on many a beloved character. Here's a rundown of the top 6 attacks on fictional favorites.
1. Harry Potter worships Satan!
Google “Harry Potter Witchcraft” and you'll find a plethora of Web sites from various ministries claiming that the multi-million-selling children's series is teaching children how to worship the devil and leading them away from Christianity.
Linda Harvey of Mission America claimed that Harry Potter was turning children to an especially dark source: therapy. No, really. “[T]he therapy that they need is to find special powers within themselves to battle the demons, real or imagined, out there, so they never look to Jesus Christ.”
Not to be outdone, televangelist John Hagee ranted:
“Think about that, we’re in a moral free fall where your children can be taught witchcraft by Harry Potter; that Heather has two mommies; you can substitute Christmas for a midwinter holiday, call it anything you want to but don’t call it Christmas, kick God out of the Christmas event; you can let your daughter go to school and she can get an abortion without your permission or without your knowledge but she cannot get an aspirin without your knowledge.”
Hagee, you'll remember, is the pastor whose endorsement got John McCain into hot water because when he's not slamming Harry Potter, he's insulting the Catholic Church. At least Potter's in good company.
2. Elmo will lead to gay male prom queens!
Yes, that's right. According to author Ben Shapiro (who wants to take Big Bird and Elmo “out back” and “cap 'em”), former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and of course, Sean Hannity, watching "Sesame Street" will lead to families embracing gender-neutral parenting, little boys playing with dolls, and yes, Blackwell claims, schools allowing gay boys to be prom queen.
Of course, it's Fox News, so none of them bother to explain what's wrong with any of that, but in their minds, it's terrifying.
3. Muppets hate capitalism!
In the most recent Muppets movie, the villain was an oilman named Tex Richman (subtle, that) who wanted to get rid of the Muppets theater to drill for the oil underneath. This, according to the Fox Business Network, means that the Muppets are wily socialists “using class warfare” and “trying to brainwash your kids against capitalism.” Obviously! Because oil is totally great, you need it to power cars and ambulances and stuff.
Tom Chivers at the UK Telegraph joked, “One only needs to look at A Muppet Christmas Carol to realise that the whole furry lot of them are anti-business, anti-the hard-working capitalist trying to make an honest living: demanding crippling impositions on small firms, like a day off for workers at Christmas.”