Very long, but very good article on the very real dangers of religious extremism in the United States. It may be a little too pessimistic, I don't think we are on the verge of a theocracy but I do think that imposing a theocratic government IS actually the agenda of right-wing extremist, and the Republican Party establishment is courting these wackos in order to advance their own agenda of free market fundamentalism, and that they are playing with fire. I'm hoping their strategy will, of course, backfire. But there can be no doubt that this is the strategy. Note how Republican politicians are not doing anything to create jobs, they are not even trying to advance much of an economic agenda, except their usual "do not tax the rich because they are the job creators" strategy, proven wrong time and again by history. Instead, Republican politicians and their various mouthpieces are calling women sluts, questioning contraception, screaming against abortion, pushing for the disappearance of the separation between church and state, scaring Americans with "the other", whether they are homosexuals who demand to have the same rights as anyone else, or "uppity" black people, or immigrants, or, gasp, sharia law. They are appealing to the dark side of the American psyche: religious bigotry, racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia. The rest of us Americans better keep an eye of these extremists if we want to ensure that America stays a free, democratic and just nation. We have already started slipping away from these principles with the increasing inequality.
Americans seem confident in the mythical notion that the United States is a free nation dedicated to reproducing the principles of equality, justice and democracy. What has been ignored in this delusional view is the growing rise of an expanded national security state since 2001 and an attack on individual rights that suggests that the United States has more in common with authoritarian regimes like China and Iran "than anyone may like to admit." I want to address this seemingly untenable notion that the United States has become a breeding ground for authoritarianism by focusing on four fundamentalisms: market fundamentalism, religious fundamentalism, educational fundamentalism and military fundamentalism. This is far from a exhaustive list, but it does raise serious questions about how the claim to democracy in the United States has been severely damaged, if not made impossible.
The broader contours of the attack on democratic freedoms have become obvious in recent years. While the Bush administration engaged in torture, shamelessly violated civil liberties and put a host of Christian extremists in high-ranking governmental positions, the Obama administration has not only continued many of these policies, but has further institutionalized them. As Glenn Greenwald has reminded us, Obama has continued the Bush-Cheney terrorism and civil liberties policies, further undermining constitutional rights by promoting indefinite detention, weakening the rights of habeas corpus for prisoners in Afghanistan, extending government power through the state secrets privilege, asserting the right to target American citizens for assassination and waging war on whistle blowers. More specifically, there are the ongoing revelations about the Obama administration's decision under the National Defense Authorization Act to allow American citizens to be held indefinitely without charge or trial; the government's increased role in using special operations forces and drones in targeted assassinations; the emergence and use of sophisticated surveillance technologies to spy on protesters; the invocation of the state secrecy practices; the suspension of civil liberties that allow various government agencies to spy on Americans without first obtaining warrants; and the stories about widespread abuse and torture by the US military in Afghanistan, not to mention the popular support for torture among the American public. It gets worse. As the war on terror degenerated in a war on democracy, a host of legal illegalities have been established that put the rule of law if not the very principle of Western jurisprudence into a chokehold. How such assaults on the rule of law, justice and democracy could take place without massive resistance represents one of the most reprehensible moments in American history. Most Americans caught in the grip of simply trying to survive or paralyzed in a relentless culture of fear ignored the assaults on democracy unleashed by a burgeoning national security state. The assaults loom large and are evident in the passage of the Use of Military Force Act, the passage of the Patriot Act, the 2002 Homeland Security Act, the Military Commission Act of 2006 and the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Jim Garrison rightly raises the question about whether these acts inspired by 9/11 and the war on terror are worth sacrificing the Republic. He writes:
The question screaming at us through [these bills] is whether the war on terror is a better model around which to shape our destiny than our constitutional liberties. It compels the question of whether we remain an ongoing experiment in democracy, pioneering new frontiers in the name of liberty and justice for all, or have we become a national security state, having financially corrupted and militarized our democracy to such an extent that we define ourselves, as Sparta did, only through the exigencies of war?
Read the rest here.
I would like to highlight this, from the military fundamentalism section of the article:
Children and schools are not the only victims of a growing militarization of American society. The civil rights of people of color and immigrants, especially Arabs and Muslims, are being violated, often resulting in either imprisonment and deportment or government harassment. Similarly, black and brown youth and adults are being incarcerated at record levels as prison construction outstrips the construction of schools, hospitals, and other life-preserving institutions. As Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri point out in "Multitude," war along with savage market forces have become the organizing principles of society and the foundation for politics and other social relations. The consequences of their power as modes of public pedagogy shaping all aspects of social life is a growing authoritarianism that encourages profit-hungry monopolies; the ideology of faith-based certainty; and the undermining of any vestige of critical education, dissent and dialogue. Abstracted from the ideal of public commitment, the new authoritarianism represents political and economic practices and a form of militarism that loosens any connections among substantive democracy, critical agency and critical education.
He [God] is using me, all the time, everywhere, to stand up for a biblical worldview in everything that I do and everywhere I am. He is training me. (Tom DeLay, R-TX, Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a convicted felon)
Here we are in the year 2010. Despite the results of the recent, U.S., presidential election, a small group of religious extremists have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Don't be fooled by Obama's election. As Jon Stewart put it in the video below, the Democrats had no plan for "decisive action" in 2006, when they won the elections during W's second term. They had and, today in 2010, still have no consistent unifying ideology; a large number of Republicans—e.g., those among "The Religious Right(eous)"—do. Only after the bizarre level of massive incompetence, numerous scandals, the outright lying of the Republican power holders, and the meltdown of the American economy (before which McCain was leading in the polls!) could the loose coalition of Democrats beat the more highly organized, righteous, right wing Republicans.
The Republicans had replaced Bush with a more competent ideologue. (Note: We must admit that it would be hard to find anyone less competent, so this is intended to be damning with faint praise ;-) Though McCain was no fundamentalist fanatic, he knew where his Republican bread was buttered. He knew what he needed to do: He chose a ludicrous and absurdly dangerous running mate who was able to activate the Republican/Religious Right alliance. Palin was so bizarrely incompetent and dangerous that there was some negative fallout. A number of non-religious, right wing Republicans, true political conservatives, abandoned McCain in disgust and horror.
Yet, despite the disastrous results of the prior eight years of Republican leadership, after pandering to the Religious Right by choosing Palin, prior to the economic collapse, McCain was ahead in the polls! And, amazingly, though Obama won a decisive victory, almost half (47%) of all Americans voted for McCain! Given the Religious Right's "lock" on one third of the American electorate, if the Republicans maintain their alliance, they need to attract only 1 in 4 other voters to win a national election.
It took a truly astounding amount of deception, greed, incompetence, and destructive actions on the part of the Republicans to enable the Democrats to get just 3% more than half of the votes. Indeed, even after the debacle of the Bush years, once McCain chose a fundamentalist running mate, he shot ahead in the polls, and very likely would have remained there, if the economy hadn't started to hemorrhage.
The 2010 Scott Brown, Republican victory in Massachusetts — where the candidates were vying for the seat left vacant by Ted Kennedy's death — is a case in point. Brown stood opposed to everything Kennedy had worked for. He was running in one of the most liberal states in the U.S. on a platform that was as conservative as the Bush/Cheney agenda. And he won.
While there may be many reasons for his victory, one stands out. As Nate Silver — the developer of the historically most accurate, predictive, political analysis based on the most up to date polls (www.fivethirtyeight.com) — said, “the energy, focus and enthusiasm of those in the online right has been something to behold, and will be a force to be reckoned with even if their candidate should lose this race.” He called it 3 to 1 Brown before election day. We ain't seen nothin' yet.
So, what follows on this page continues to hold regardless of the welcome outcome of the 2008 election. Despite their massive incompetence and the intentional deregulation of the banking industry that had brought the world to the brink of disaster—while producing seven figure fortunes for those responsible (and to whom they gave massive tax breaks!)—the Republican/Religious Right coalition, overnight, was able to regain its momentum. Prior to the actual economic meltdown, all McCain had to do to leap ahead in the polls was to nominate for vice-president a fundamentalist ninny with a junior-high-school mentality who believes that Jesus will return in her lifetime!
If the Republican/Religious Right coalition could come close to winning a national election in this context—i.e., when they had held power for eight years and had accelerated the development of more than one global crisis, including a worldwide economic meltdown (Remember the political truism: "It's the economy, Stupid!")—consider just how strong their established stranglehold on American politics must be. And they know it.
[And, BTW, the fundamentalist supporters who rallied behind McCain after his nomination of Palin were truly nuts. How nuts? Many of them thought they had to remind God to ensure Obama's defeat so that His rep was...! Even more bizarre is that, despite everything, the Republicans might have still won the election if McCain had chosen a more competent fundamentalist to be his running mate, e.g., Huckabee.]
If the video fails to play, left-click here (right-click to download).
So, while they attempted to—and failing by only 3% of the vote, almost did!—create a true miracle, i.e., by winning the 2008 election, the Religious Right is already preparing for the future. Are we?
|"One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts." Bill Moyers: Democracy in the Balance||Magical Thinking:
It's "The American Way"
And this excellent paragraph, from the religious fundamentalism section:
The second fundamentalism is seen in a religious fervor embraced by a Republican Party that not only serves up creationism instead of science, but substitutes unthinking faith for critical reason and intolerance for a concern with and openness toward others. This is a deeply disturbing trend in which the line between the state and religion is being erased as radical Christians and evangelicals embrace and impose a moralism on Americans that is largely bigoted, patriarchal, uncritical and insensitive to real social problems such as poverty, racism, the crisis in health care and the increasing impoverishment of America's children. Instead of addressing these problems, a flock of dangerous and powerful religious fanatics, who have enormous political clout, are waging a campaign to ban same-sex marriages, undermine scientific knowledge, eliminate important research initiatives such as those involving embryonic stem cells, deny the human destruction of the ecological system, overturn Roe v. Wade and ban contraceptives for women. This Taliban-like moralism now boldly translates into everyday cultural practices and political policies as right-wing evangelicals live out their messianic view of the world.
The thing is, you guys are at war. Whoever happens to be the POTUS has no or little consequence on that fact or on the means used to proceed with those wars. Presidents pass, the military stays.
Wars however create the ideal climate for conservatism. Authoritarians thrive, the people are "put to work" and good money is made. Religion provides the perfect glue and the sedative that allows warlords to sell their project to the people.
Depressing but true thoughts, Michel. America is always at war. It has become our modus operandi.
Corporate politics and religious morals go at war hand in hand.
And when you need to enroll people in that project, can you think of anything more convenient than afterlife?
Rick Santorum's place in the election is proof that a large number of 'merican's want a theocracy.
Inside the Christian Right Dominionist Movement That's Undermining Democracy
Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin have all flirted with Christian Right Dominionism, but there's lots of misinformation about just what that means.
Dominionists want to impose a form of Christian nationalism on the United States, a concept that was dismissed as eroding freedom and democracy by the founders of our country. Dominionism has become a major influence on the right-wing populist Tea Parties as Christian Right activists have flooded into the movement at the grassroots.
At the same time, legitimate questions have been raised about whether or not potential Republican presidential nominees Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, or Sarah Palin have moved from a generic form of Christian Right Dominionism toward the more totalitarian form know as Dominion Theology.
Clueless journalists and crafty Christian Right pundits have mocked the idea that Dominionism as a religiously motivated political tendency even exists. Scholars, however, have been writing about Dominionism for over a decade, some using the term directly, and others describing the tendency in other ways. Many articles on Dominionism can be found on Talk to Action, especially by authors Rachel Tabachnick, Bruce Wilson, Frederick Clarkson. Several of the authors who pioneered the discussion of Dominionism have written for the Public Eye Magazine.
Dominionism is a broad political impulse within the Christian Right in the United States. It comes in a variety of forms that author Fred Clarkson and I call soft and hard. Fred and I probably coined the term "Dominionism" back in the 1990s, but in any case we certainly were the primary researchers who organized its use among journalists and scholars.
Clarkson noted three characteristics that bridge both the hard and the soft kind of Dominionism.
At the apex of hard Dominionism is the religious dogma of Dominion Theology, with two major branches: Christian Reconstructionism and Kingdom Now theology. It is the latter's influence on the theopolitical movement called the New Apostolic Reformation that has been linked in published reports to potential Republican presidential nominees Perry, Bachmann or Palin. All three of these right-wing political debutantes have flirted with Christian Right Dominionism, but how far they have danced toward the influence of hard-right Dominion Theology is in dispute. It would be nice if some "mainstream" journalists actually researched the question.
"While differing from Reconstructionism in many ways, Kingdom Now shares the belief that Christians have a mandate to take dominion over every area of life," explains religion scholar Bruce Barron. And it is just this tendency that has spread through evangelical Protestantism, resulting in the emergence of "various brands of `dominionist' thinkers in contemporary American evangelicalism," according to Barron.
The most militant Dominion Theologists would silence dissenters and execute adulterers, homosexuals and recalcitrant children. No...seriously. OK, they would only be executed for repeated offenses, explain some defenders of Christian Reconstructionism. Even most Christian Right activists view the more militant Dominion Theologists as having really creepy ideas.
Much of the controversy over the issue of Dominionism is caused by writers who use the term carelessly, often conflating the broad term Dominionism with the narrow term Dominion Theology. Some on the Left have implied that every conservative Christian evangelical is part of the Christian Right political movement; and that everyone in the Christian Right is an active Dominionist. This is false. Some critics even state that the Christian Right is neofascist. Few serious scholars of fascism agree with that assessment, although several admit that if triggered by a traumatic societal event, any contemporary right-wing populist movement could descend into neofascism.
Advocates of Dominion Theology go beyond the democracy eroding theocracy of Dominionism into a totalitarian form of religious power called a "theonomy," in which pluralistic democracy and religious tolerance are seen as a problem to be solved by godly men carrying out God's will. Karen Armstrong calls Christian Reconstructionism "totalitarian" because it leaves "no room for any other view or policy, no democratic tolerance for rival parties, no individual freedom." Matthew N. Lyons and I call Christian Reconstructionism a "new form of clerical fascist politics," in our book Right-Wing Populism in America, because we see it echoing the religiously based clerical fascist movements that existed during World War II in countries including Romania and Hungary.
According to Fred Clarkson:
Reconstructionists believe that there are three main areas of governance: family government, church government, and civil government. Under God's covenant, the nuclear family is the basic unit. The husband is the head of the family, and wife and children are "in submission" to him. In turn, the husband "submits" to Jesus and to God's laws as detailed in the Old Testament. The church has its own ecclesiastical structure and governance. Civil government exists to implement God's laws. All three institutions are under Biblical Law, the implementation of which is called "theonomy."
Christian Reconstructionists believe that as more Christians adopt Dominion Theology, they will eventually convert the majority of Americans. Then the country will realize that the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are merely codicils to Old Testament biblical law. Because they believe this is God's will, they scoff at criticism that what they plan is a revolutionary overthrow of the existing system of government. Over the past 20 years the leading proponents of Reconstructionism have included founder Rousas John (R.J.) Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, David Chilton, Gary DeMar, and Andrew Sandlin. Kingdom Now theology emerged from the Latter Rain Pentacostal movement and the concept of Spiritual Warfare against the literal demonic forces of Satan. It has been promoted by founder Earl Paulk as well as C. Peter Wagner, founder of the New Apostolic Reformation movement.
For many, President Obama and the Democratic Party are among these "demonic forces." This has real world consequences.
America is on the verge of a Stupidarcacy, lets see, hate for gays, blacks, hispanics, women, young males and liberals.
There's a new front brewing in the War Against Women™:
With emotions still raw from the fight over President Obama’s contraception mandate, Senate Democrats are beginning a push to renew the Violence Against Women Act, the once broadly bipartisan 1994 legislation that now faces fierce opposition from conservatives.
....“I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who opposed the latest version last month in the Judiciary Committee....Republicans say the measure, under the cloak of battered women, unnecessarily expands immigration avenues by creating new definitions for immigrant victims to claim battery. More important, they say, it fails to put in safeguards to ensure that domestic violence grants are being well spent. It also dilutes the focus on domestic violence by expanding protections to new groups, like same-sex couples, they say.
Is it possible that Democrats filled the reauthorization bill with new measures that Republicans object to? Sure. Is it possible that this is all part of some clever plan to take advantage of the recent contraception fight? Not likely. That fight wasn't deliberate in the first place, and in any case the modifications to VAWA were all done last year since the act was up for reauthorization in 2012.
Democrats may be taking advantage of the moment, but Republicans are making it easy for them. Their public objections are mostly focused on culture war issues (gays! immigrants!), but their base hates the whole idea of VAWA. No compromise is going to be enough to mollify them once the talking heads get hold of this, and that's going to turn the reauthorization fight into yet another anti-feminism battle royal, not a normal legislative give and take. Fasten your seat belts.
*facepalm* The Repugs have gone nuts.