Beneath Contempt

There are certain times when it is incumbent upon polite citizens to shed their habit of equanimity, to stop conceding the benefit of the doubt, and to throw off the sometimes confining garments of decorum. This is one such time.

According to the Washington Post,  former President James Earl Carter attended the funeral of Mattie J.T. Stepanek. Stepanek, who recently succumbed to muscular dystrophy, won acclaim for writing best—selling books of inspirational poetry, such as Loving Through Heartsongs and Hope Through Heartsongs. Along the way, Mattie's story was picked up by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, and the former President. Mattie and Carter struck up a friendship through visits, discussions, and letters. Both had published books of their poems. Carter's friendship and attention to this courageous boy is perhaps unsurprising for a man who had dedicated much time and energy to teaching Sunday school and hammering nails for Habitat for Humanity since leaving the Presidency.

Unfortunately —— and not for the first time —— Carter's altruistic actions find themselves completely disconnected from his bilious words. Even in the midst of eulogizing his friend at Mattie's funeral, Carter failed again to overcome his bitter hatred toward President George W. Bush, and his own apparent self—loathing for his miserable, failed Presidency. At the boy's funeral, Carter said that Mattie was a student of world affairs (perhaps lectured by Carter on the humane society built by Fidel Castro and the statesmanship of Yasser Arafat). Carter said Mattie was concerned the prospect of war a couple of years ago. Carter revealed that Mattie wrote a letter to him saying 'I feel like President Bush made a decision long ago about the war. Imagine if he had spent as much time and energy planning peace.' Carter went on to claim that Mattie wanted the former President to join him in discussing world peace with Osama bin Laden at some point in the future.

It is time to speak the truth about Jimmy Carter. It is of no consequence if Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday school, religion courses at Emory, and fashions thousands of God's Eyes from yarn, glue, and Popsicle sticks at vacation Bible schools from now until the end of time. It is of no consequence if, in the course of his lifetime, he helps build enough houses to shelter an entire state.

Jimmy Carter is un—Christian. To be so consumed with hatred, jealousy, and rage at the prospect of the leader of a rival political party making headway in a part of the world where his own policies and tactics failed is unworthy of the teachings of Jesus. That he would use the occasion of a 12—year old boy's funeral to criticize a sitting President is a sign that Carter understands little of the Christian ethic.

President Bush may well indeed be a sworn enemy of Carter's. Given Carter's public statements and speeches (which helped earned him his coveted but tainted Nobel Peace Prize), it is easy to come to that conclusion. Yet Jesus taught his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love thy neighbors as much as we love ourselves. It is doubtful that Jimmy Carter loves anyone as much as he loves Jimmy Carter, but that is beside the point. Carter was not practicing what he preaches, as was never more evident than at the funeral of Mattie Stepanek.

Carter is a graduate of the Naval Academy and won electoral office, so he is no doubt possessed of some intelligence and creativity. What a wonderful opportunity he had to expound on his friendship with this remarkable little boy, to enlighten the gathered mourners with a charming anecdote, or a poignant story about their special relationship. Instead, Carter once again cast aside the tradition of former Presidents refraining from criticizing successors — a tradition that he destroyed — to remind his audience that he, Jimmy Carter, with the help of a little boy, was the man to talk bin Laden out of his jihad against the infidels, and imply that President Bush is a madman who had been planning war since January 20, 2001. This is sick. A boy was lying in his coffin having, in his short life, inspired many with his courage, the strength of his character, and his written words. Carter found this moment a perfect time to again assail the President of the United States.

Since he left the White House, Carter has banked on self—promotion and a free pass from the media to create the image of a worldly doer of good, a wise man of letters, a calm mediator and shadow Secretary of State, a promoter of peace around the world, and a man of deep religious conviction. Behind this carefully—constructed shield, Carter has lashed out savagely at those who have bettered him in the eyes of history and bettered him in the practice of Christian values. Carter has benefited from the politeness of a public that does not wish to heap the fury of deserved criticism and scrutiny for his sorry Presidency upon such a seemingly altruistic man.

No more. It is time to tell the truth and it is time to take the gloves off. Carter is a political ghoul who used the funeral of a fallen child to spread his rhetoric of hate.

Matthew May is a freelance writer in Detroit

There are certain times when it is incumbent upon polite citizens to shed their habit of equanimity, to stop conceding the benefit of the doubt, and to throw off the sometimes confining garments of decorum. This is one such time.

According to the Washington Post,  former President James Earl Carter attended the funeral of Mattie J.T. Stepanek. Stepanek, who recently succumbed to muscular dystrophy, won acclaim for writing best—selling books of inspirational poetry, such as Loving Through Heartsongs and Hope Through Heartsongs. Along the way, Mattie's story was picked up by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, and the former President. Mattie and Carter struck up a friendship through visits, discussions, and letters. Both had published books of their poems. Carter's friendship and attention to this courageous boy is perhaps unsurprising for a man who had dedicated much time and energy to teaching Sunday school and hammering nails for Habitat for Humanity since leaving the Presidency.

Unfortunately —— and not for the first time —— Carter's altruistic actions find themselves completely disconnected from his bilious words. Even in the midst of eulogizing his friend at Mattie's funeral, Carter failed again to overcome his bitter hatred toward President George W. Bush, and his own apparent self—loathing for his miserable, failed Presidency. At the boy's funeral, Carter said that Mattie was a student of world affairs (perhaps lectured by Carter on the humane society built by Fidel Castro and the statesmanship of Yasser Arafat). Carter said Mattie was concerned the prospect of war a couple of years ago. Carter revealed that Mattie wrote a letter to him saying 'I feel like President Bush made a decision long ago about the war. Imagine if he had spent as much time and energy planning peace.' Carter went on to claim that Mattie wanted the former President to join him in discussing world peace with Osama bin Laden at some point in the future.

It is time to speak the truth about Jimmy Carter. It is of no consequence if Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday school, religion courses at Emory, and fashions thousands of God's Eyes from yarn, glue, and Popsicle sticks at vacation Bible schools from now until the end of time. It is of no consequence if, in the course of his lifetime, he helps build enough houses to shelter an entire state.

Jimmy Carter is un—Christian. To be so consumed with hatred, jealousy, and rage at the prospect of the leader of a rival political party making headway in a part of the world where his own policies and tactics failed is unworthy of the teachings of Jesus. That he would use the occasion of a 12—year old boy's funeral to criticize a sitting President is a sign that Carter understands little of the Christian ethic.

President Bush may well indeed be a sworn enemy of Carter's. Given Carter's public statements and speeches (which helped earned him his coveted but tainted Nobel Peace Prize), it is easy to come to that conclusion. Yet Jesus taught his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love thy neighbors as much as we love ourselves. It is doubtful that Jimmy Carter loves anyone as much as he loves Jimmy Carter, but that is beside the point. Carter was not practicing what he preaches, as was never more evident than at the funeral of Mattie Stepanek.

Carter is a graduate of the Naval Academy and won electoral office, so he is no doubt possessed of some intelligence and creativity. What a wonderful opportunity he had to expound on his friendship with this remarkable little boy, to enlighten the gathered mourners with a charming anecdote, or a poignant story about their special relationship. Instead, Carter once again cast aside the tradition of former Presidents refraining from criticizing successors — a tradition that he destroyed — to remind his audience that he, Jimmy Carter, with the help of a little boy, was the man to talk bin Laden out of his jihad against the infidels, and imply that President Bush is a madman who had been planning war since January 20, 2001. This is sick. A boy was lying in his coffin having, in his short life, inspired many with his courage, the strength of his character, and his written words. Carter found this moment a perfect time to again assail the President of the United States.

Since he left the White House, Carter has banked on self—promotion and a free pass from the media to create the image of a worldly doer of good, a wise man of letters, a calm mediator and shadow Secretary of State, a promoter of peace around the world, and a man of deep religious conviction. Behind this carefully—constructed shield, Carter has lashed out savagely at those who have bettered him in the eyes of history and bettered him in the practice of Christian values. Carter has benefited from the politeness of a public that does not wish to heap the fury of deserved criticism and scrutiny for his sorry Presidency upon such a seemingly altruistic man.

No more. It is time to tell the truth and it is time to take the gloves off. Carter is a political ghoul who used the funeral of a fallen child to spread his rhetoric of hate.

Matthew May is a freelance writer in Detroit