Sarah Palin and the Witch Hunter

A few days ago, I reviewed the connection between Sarah Palin and Pastor Thomas Muthee, who made a name for himself by running a “witch” out of a Kenyan town.

Now it is clear that, when Palin praised Muthee in June, 2008, she already knew that Muthee took seriously the alleged evils of “witchcraft.” As an Associated Press story points out (and see also the related video linked by the same Rocky Mountain News page) in May, 2005, Muthee prayed over Palin, asking God to grant her political success and to protect her from “every form of witchcraft.”

Aside from indicating the sorts of people Palin thanks for her political success, the story has at least two other interesting angles.

First, notice how some right wingers are invoking cultural relativism to defend Palin. For example, “Mike846” writes in the comments beneath the story as presented by the Rocky: “You can bet if a witch doctor in Africa had blessed Obama in some tribal ceremony during his visit there, it would have been hailed as a display of his ‘tolerance and understanding’ of cultural differences in the world.” So, by comparison, apparently we’re supposed to think well of a man who drove a woman for her home because of her alleged witchcraft, because of the man’s quaint “cultural differences.” Wow.

Second, Palin’s ties to religious crazies may neutralize McCain’s attack on Jeremiah Wright. I had assumed that McCain, or his supporters, would start running Wright-Obama ads right before the election. I figured this would have been an effective strategy. But now that doesn’t seem like such an effective line of attack.

I keep changing my mind about who’s more likely to win the election. I’m not voting for either, and the prospect of either man winning frightens me. However, it seems increasingly likely to me that, as I’ve argued, Palin will scare away the freedom-minded independents and secular Republicans McCain needs to win the Interior West.