Sometimes watching American politics from an outsider’s point of view is like watching a tightly choreographed dance of insanity, inanity, destruction and ossifying shock at the backwards belief systems that drive so much of what is holding our country back. It’s not the fault of conservatism as a thought structure. Ever since this country was formed there has been a healthy debate between the liberal and conservative sides of the existential coin and while it’s gotten ugly in the past without a doubt, there was a key difference between politics pre-Reagan and politics post-Reagan — the rise of right-wing fundamentalism.
The Religious Right. The Christian Coalition. Jesus Loving Elephants. Whatever you want to call them, the Ralph Reeds and Pat Robertsons of the world hijacked the conservative think structure in the 1980s and they have slowly squeezed the intellectual acumen and ideological empathy out of the once proud Party of Lincoln. It was the GOP that was registering black voters in the fifties and sixties and now they are the party that wants us to pretend that racism is over in America, and that slavery was really not a big deal because half of the states weren’t slave states and anyway no black person born today is a slave. They live in a realm outside of reality because reality challenges and debunks all of their dogma.
They’ve convinced a large swath of Republicans that the morally right, Christian thing to do is to call poor working class people “takers” if they ask for help. They’ve convinced the same group of voters that Jesus would be okay with forcing rape victims to have their rapists’ babies. They’ve convinced them that things the real Jesus probably would have been all for — universal health care, programs to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless — are evil socialist tools meant to addict the lower class people to government spending. They’ve used their “spirituality” as a cudgel with which to bash the people on their ideological left that much more closely resemble their messiah.
I’m not here to indict the entirety of Christendom. I was once a devout member of their flock, so I know that within every congregation is the same assortment of great people, okay people, terrible people and downright worthless sacks of human DNA that exist outside the confines of a house of worship. I know this because I’m an adult, experienced in the world both in and out of organized religion and I can affirm now that you find people who suck all over the place. No, this is not about Christianity put on trial. This is about a perversion of a theology and philosophy that has turned a full third at least of our country into torch-carrying, anti-poor, anti-gay, anti-women fundamentalist jihadists who would rather an abortion clinic be bombed than a woman get an abortion if she’s sure now is not the right time to be a mother.
They’ve been called “The American Taliban” by Aaron Sorkin on “The Newsroom,” and in my estimation there is no better or more apt comparison than of that to the religious fundamentalists in Afghanistan, or religious fundamentalists of any stripe. They twist the notion of God, a holy and divine creator of all things, into a sort of deity meets nuclear weapon. They invoke God’s wrath when we extend societal equality and acceptance to homosexuals. They tell us God is angry for all the lack of worshiping him in our schools so that’s why little Timmy went off his fucking Ritalin and shot up a bowling alley.
The rhetoric of the Taliban, the rhetoric of The 700 Club, and the rhetoric of indeed any group of religious zealots isn’t any different from one another. The substance is always a variation on the theme that “God hates everyone who is unlike us and does things we don’t approve of and therefore when we do bad things to you it’s not our faults. We’re just implements of God’s will.” Whether it’s by abiding by Sharia law and stoning a woman for any “offense” they can make up, or it’s by supporting legislation that would condemn women to getting back alley abortions or having to travel out of state to get reproductive health services, religious fundamentalism always results in the subjugation of the lesser classes, and a primary target is women.
It doesn’t stop with women though. Fundamentalists in this country are now against immigration reform. Are you fucking kidding me? Being anti-immigration is about nothing but straight-up xenophobia and good ol’ fashioned American racism. It’s fear of the outsiders. Fear of the variants. You don’t want any more brown people coming in and taking your precious white jobs. I know that we tip-toe around it and when the talking heads discuss this issue they talk about how Republicans in the South have constituents who aren’t Hispanic so there’s no motivation for them to move on this issue, but it’s time to say something about that canard…
It’s true; Republicans in Congress do represent some very white-washed districts (thanks to their work in the gerrymandering arts). It’s also true that because of that fact these Republicans don’t get a lot of Hispanic votes. But the underlying fact is that those constituents, who would vote against them for being pro-immigrant, are racists. We are a nation of immigrants. This is something that at one point both sides agreed on. This is also happens to be an issue where are literally waiting for enough stubborn racists to either bow to public pressure or die off so that we can get some kind of real work done.
This has always been our plight in this country. Those of us who are educated, intelligent and informed are able to peer through the mists of our social mores and identify the outright cockamamie bullshit that needs to just stop. Then we work our asses off for the next thirty or forty years repeatedly going toe to toe with recalcitrant, scared, ignorant ignoramuses. Sure, this doesn’t sound very accepting and open-minded at the moment, but I think I’m just tired of watching the whole pathetic charade play out and it’s starting to wear on my ability to good naturedly debate with an opposition that is growing more and more allergic to reality.