On Thursday, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton appeared on CNN with the indefatigable Wolf Blitzer, who asked Cotton about the stalled “religious freedom” legislation pending in his home state of Arkansas. His response has liberals up in arms, but their hearing on this has proven selective. While the narrative in the progressive media is that Cotton was minimizing the discrimination gays face in the U.S., the senator’s full reply shows how obsessed he is with Iran — to the point of seeming to imply that the “religious freedom” laws his own party endorses are actually a waste of time:
“The [federal] Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed by former Arkansas governor Bill Clinton in his first year in office. These laws are modeled on that, and a lot of the concerns about discrimination haven’t been born to bear over the last 20 years.
“But I also think it’s important that we have a sense of perspective about our priorities. In Iran, they hang you for the crime of being gay. They’re currently imprisoning an American preacher for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Iran. We should focus on the most important priorities that our country faces right now. And I would say that a nuclear-armed Iran — given the threat that it poses to the region, and to our interests in the region, and American citizens — is the most important thing that we’d be focusing on right now.”
Going by the reaction of the liberal blogosphere, you’d think Cotton — the author of that infamous open letter to Iran’s leaders — stopped talking after saying “for the crime of being gay,” But he didn’t. He kept going and flipped the script by alluding to Saeed Abedini — the Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran for proselytizing. In doing so, Cotton seemed to downplay the idea espoused my many American Christians that they’re the ones being persecuted and that they need to be protected from being compelled to do business with gay people. Thus, Cotton is noting that Christians also could be worse off if they lived in Iran.
To omit the latter portion of Cotton’s remarks is to strip them of their context, which shows that above all, Cotton can pivot any topic to Iran, for which he has uncanny tunnel vision. Furthermore, it’s downright bizarre for him to answer a question about state legislation by replying that “we” need to be more focused on Iran, even though states have no role in the conduct of foreign policy. Whatever you think of “religious freedom” bills being mulled across the country, at least that’s an issue fall within the states’ jurisdiction, unlike the diplomacy and (apparently) war that Tom Cotton can’t stop obsessing over.