Bobby Jindal’s op ed in today’s New York Times is worth a careful read, if only to appreciate how truly demented it is.
Jindal apparently has decided to position himself as the Christian Right candidate for President, and he’s not above selling out the state of Louisiana to do so. Along with the usual doublespeak that uses “sincerely held religious belief” to mean “ignorant bigotry,” Jindal is actually threatening the business community with dire consequences if they don’t stop “bullying” people with “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
I liked this part:
A pluralistic and diverse society like ours can exist only if we all tolerate people who disagree with us.
Kinda takes your breath away, huh? Jindal continues,
That’s why religious freedom laws matter — and why it is critical for conservatives and business leaders to unite in this debate.
If we, as conservatives, are to succeed in advancing the cause of freedom and free enterprise, the business community must stand shoulder to shoulder with those fighting for religious liberty. The left-wing ideologues who oppose religious freedom are the same ones who seek to tax and regulate businesses out of existence. The same people who think that profit making is vulgar believe that religiosity is folly. The fight against this misguided, government-dictating ideology is one fight, not two. Conservative leaders cannot sit idly by and allow large corporations to rip our coalition in half.
Since I became governor in 2008, Louisiana has become one of the best places to do business in America. I made it a priority to cut taxes, reform our ethics laws, invigorate our schools with bold merit-based changes and parental choice, and completely revamp work-force training to better suit businesses.
Our reforms worked because they were driven by our belief in freedom. We know that a nation in which individuals, and companies, are protected from the onerous impulses of government is one that will thrive and grow.
“From January 2011 through January 2015, Louisiana under Jindal ranked 32nd in job creation with 5.4 percent growth over four years. … This compares with a national average of 8.21 percent.” [source]
That’s the intellectual underpinning of America, and in Louisiana we defend it relentlessly.
Liberals have decided that if they can’t win at the ballot box, they will win in the boardroom. It’s a deliberate strategy. And it’s time for corporate America to make a decision.
Those who believe in freedom must stick together: If it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all. This strategy requires populist social conservatives to ally with the business community on economic matters and corporate titans to side with social conservatives on cultural matters. This is the grand bargain that makes freedom’s defense possible.
Because, you know, those civil liberties-loving liberals just hate liberty, or something. But let’s go back to an earlier part of the op ed, in which Jindal says,
Some corporations have already contacted me and asked me to oppose this law. I am certain that other companies, under pressure from radical liberals, will do the same. They are free to voice their opinions, but they will not deter me.
I’d like to know what sort of leverage “radical liberals” have on corporate America that we could pressure business to do anything business doesn’t want to do? The fact is, business doesn’t give a hoo-haw what “radical liberals” think. Business is just looking out for business. And Jindal is threatening business if it doesn’t stop acting in support of its own interests and does what Governor Jindal says. Because freedom.
Ed Kilgore writes,
So Jindal’s willing to sacrifice some convention business—kinda important to New Orleans, a gay-friendly, tourism-dependent city Bobby’s willing to completely betray—and maybe the kind of corporate “investment” decisions Republican governors normally think of as the sum total of “economic development” on the altar of his commitment to those who would carve out a separate little paradise for themselves where laws contradicting “biblical principles” as understood by cultural conservatives need not be acknowledged. But he’s implicitly going beyond that selfish cost-benefit calculation and threatening job-creators that they’re going to lose the support of The Faithful for their own interests if they consort with secular-socialists on the Christian Right’s agenda.
As in other states with hard-Right governors, Jindal’s tax cutting has put Louisiana in a revenue bind. LSU is drafting an “academic bankruptcy” plan as a result of budget cuts; this news story says “the viability of the entire institution is threatened. … Louisiana’s higher education community is facing an 82 percent funding cut if no extra state money is found.”
John Cole comments,
That would basically be the death of public universities in Louisiana, because no one in their right mind would apply to go and fewer would apply to work there. So in the long run, it may not be just the fact that Louisiana is a haven for bigots driving business out of the state, but the fact that there are no Research 1 institutions working in union with business (see what the morons in the NC legislature are trying to do to university system and the impact it will have on the Research Triangle there), but also because there will be no educated workers in the state to handle the jobs businesses will have. And qualified personnel aren’t going to relocate to some remote bigoted outpost.
So yeah, Jindal. Have at it. Enjoy the complimentary education you’re about to get from the free market, you backwoods hick.
But, y’know, it’ll be worth it to Bobby Jindal as long as Billy Bob Baker can toss customers planning a same-sex wedding out of his bakery. Because nothing says freedom like the privilege to discriminate.
See also Human Rights Campaign Took A Red Pen To Jindal’s Religious Freedom Op-ed.