Without mentioning his name Friday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow argued that, in a way, the recently-deceased Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church have served as an “American inspiration.”
“The Westboro cult, despite itself, has been an inspiration to Americans all over the country wherever they’ve shown up,” she said. “It’s weird to say, but they have indirectly caused a lot of good works out of our own human revulsion at their cruelty.”
Maddow recounted the human wall formed by University of Missouri students last month when the church attempted to demonstrate against him, tracing the phenomenon of non-violent resistance to Westboro’s actions to the “Angels Block” group, which blocked Westboro’s efforts by standing in front of them wearing giant angel wings.
Over the years, she recounted, anti-Westboro protests verged from citing Biblical scripture — part of the Gospel of Mark “really is anti-fig,” Maddow confirmed — to outright mockery of the church’s hateful message.
“This is not an obituary for the head of the Westboro Baptist Church,” Maddow explained. “He is gone now, dead at the age of 84 — incidentally, there’s not gonna be a funeral for him. But let him be remembered as someone who, despite himself, actually did bring out the best in people, who provided a singular, caucophonous vision of cruelty that ended up being a very, very clarifying thing for all of us.”
Watch Maddow’s commentary, as aired on Friday, below.