June 21, 2022 Wayne Northey

Reflections On: Opinion Doug Mastriano’s unhinged ‘Nazi’ claim signals deeper danger ahead

There is profoundly disturbing lineup of information below.

Listen to this article

Image without a captionBy , Columnist
June 2, 2022

image above: thedispatch.com

WN: The U.S. has become increasingly unhinged–thanks in significant part to White Christian Nationalism. I have a close Canadian relative who tragically is in lockstep with such. His favourite website is Gab, about which you can read below. So distressing! He’s so far down the Rabid Hole, I can only pray that some day, as title of my post four years ago indicates, he can . . .

The adjacent book, Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States, is a good place to gain an understanding of this menacing phenomenon. Of it, we read:

Donald Trump never changes his playbook. He behaves like a mob boss, and these messages are fashioned in that style. Giving an order without giving the order. No fingerprints attached.–former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

Why do so many conservative Christians continue to support Donald Trump despite his many overt moral failings? Why do many Americans advocate so vehemently for xenophobic policies, such as a border wall with Mexico? Why do many Americans seem so unwilling to acknowledge the injustices that ethnic and racial minorities experience in the United States? Why do a sizeable proportion of Americans continue to oppose women’s equality in the workplace and in the home?

To answer these questions, Taking America Back for God points to the phenomenon of “Christian nationalism,” the belief that the United States is-and should be-a Christian nation. Christian ideals and symbols have long played an important role in American public life, but Christian nationalism is about far more than whether the phrase “under God” belongs in the pledge of allegiance. At its heart, Christian nationalism demands that we must preserve a particular kind of social order, an order in which everyone–Christians and non-Christians, native-born and immigrants, whites and minorities, men and women recognizes their “proper” place in society. The first comprehensive empirical analysis of Christian nationalism in the United States, Taking America Back for God, illustrates the influence of Christian nationalism on today’s most contentious social and political issues.

Please also see: What Is Christian Nationalism?, by PAUL D. MILLER | FEBRUARY 3, 2021. We read in it:

Can Christians be politically engaged without being Christian nationalists?

Yes. American Christians in the past were exemplary in helping establish the American experiment, and many American Christians worked to end slavery and segregation and other evils. They did so because they believed Christianity required them to work for justice. But they worked to advance Christian principles, not Christian power or Christian culture, which is the key distinction between normal Christian political engagement and Christian nationalism. Normal Christian political engagement is humble, loving, and sacrificial; it rejects the idea that Christians are entitled to primacy of place in the public square or that Christians have a presumptive right to continue their historical predominance in American culture. Today, Christians should seek to love their neighbors by pursuing justice in the public square, including by working against abortion, promoting religious liberty, fostering racial justice, protecting the rule of law, and honoring constitutional processes. That agenda is different from promoting Christian culture, Western heritage, or Anglo-Protestant values.

Please see as well my post:

I cite in it:

But the messages shared by their users skew heavily pro-gun, anti-vaccine, anti-Biden, pro-Trump, and frequently laden with rhetoric that connects adherence to Christianity with American identity. There is a sense among many users that the fall of the country or Western civilization is imminent, and extremist views are not uncommon: In 2018 the attacker who killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue posted antisemitic and anti-refugee messages on Gab shortly before the mass shooting. (Gab reportedly later deleted the account and cooperated with investigators.)

David Golumbia, an English professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism, said the creation of alternative digital platforms is a long tradition in right-wing circles, religious or otherwise.

“People who promote alternatives to Twitter say that ‘We’re above politics, we just care about free speech,’” Golumbia told Religion News Service. “And when people point out that they are being used to organize political violence…The people who create it say, ‘Oh, this is unintended and unfortunate, and there’s just nothing we can do about it.’

“But from where I sit, this is the main use case for these tools…They’re just beacons to (extremists).”

To his point, the number of registered users on Gab reportedly more than doubled to 3.4 million in the weeks after the Jan. 6 mob attack at the U.S. Capitol.

It has attracted some popular evangelical leaders.  One example:  Christian author Eric Metaxas has more than 27-thousand follows on Gab.  (He has more than 127-thousand on Twitter.)

While decrying the violence of the insurrection, Torba welcomed Gab’s swelling virtual ranks in the weeks after the attack with a message steeped in faith.

“America is a Christian nation,” he wrote on February 1. “The foundation of Western Civilization itself is built on Christianity and more specifically: on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.” Shortly, he said, he intended to shift all of his personal expenditures to support organizations and businesses he deemed Christian.

The widespread pushback to websites like his after Jan. 6 — which he claimed included Gab’s rejection by banks and other companies — was evidence that Christians could no longer operate freely in American society. They needed to build their own economy, entertainment industry, and internet.

[Andrew Torba, founder of the social media platform Gab], who has invoked a personal policy of “not communicating with non-Christian and/or communist journos,” declined an interview request from Religion News Service in a one-word email: “No.”

The spiritual bluster may belie a practical subtext: A parallel Christian nationalist digital world may be a necessity for sites like Gab to survive at all as Big Tech moves to restrict or ban their content.

Please view too:

Opinion A question for those who say more faith will prevent gun violence: How?

June 28, 2022. I introduce it thus:

There is great irony in the final line of the article highlighted below:

If Republicans keep insisting guns aren’t the problem, they’ll be absolutely right about one thing: America will need more religion — to console more grieving families.

In a somewhat dated study (July 23, 2018), Gun Control in the Crosshairs: Christian Nationalism and Opposition to Stricter Gun Laws, by Andrew L. Whitehead, Landon Schnabel, and Samuel L. Perry, the Abstract reads:

Abstract

Despite increasingly frequent mass shootings and a growing dissatisfaction with current gun laws, American opposition to federal gun legislation remains strong. The authors show that opposition to stricter gun control is closely linked to Christian nationalism, a religious cultural framework that mandates a symbiotic relationship between Christianity and civil society. Using data from a national population-based survey, the authors show that Christian nationalism is an exceptionally strong predictor of opposition to the federal government’s enacting stricter gun laws. Of all the variables considered, only general political orientation has more predictive power than Christian nationalism. The authors propose that the gun control debate is complicated by deeply held moral and religious schemas that discussions focused solely on rational public safety calculations do not sufficiently address. For the substantial proportion of American society who are Christian nationalists, gun rights are God-given and sacred. Consequently, attempts to reform existing gun laws must attend to the deeper cultural and religious identities that undergird Americans’ beliefs about gun control.

In America, one reads in the above article:

Calls for stronger gun control have met strong reactions from gun rights advocates, often framed in terms of Americans’ constitutional, and perhaps even God-given, right to bear arms. Following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, claimed that the right to bear arms was bestowed upon Americans by God:

The genius of those documents, the brilliance of America, of our country itself, is that all of our freedoms in this country are for every single citizen. And there is no greater personal, individual freedom than the right to keep and bear arms, the right to protect yourself, and the right to survive. It is not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright [emphasis added]. (C-SPAN 2018)

LaPierre’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference is only the most recent invocation of a longstanding belief that the right to bear arms is God-given, guaranteed by the divinely inspired founding documents of  this country (Barton, David. 2000. The Second Amendment: Preserving the Inalienable Right of Individual Self-protection. Aledo, TX: WallBuilders.).1 Claiming that the U.S.  Constitution was inspired by God serves to elevate the gun, and the right to own it, to a sacred status bestowed by a Christian God.

More conservative religion in the United States amongst “Christian” Nationalists is not the answer according to the above: it is the overwhelming problem!

Please note finally, June 20, 2022, Opinion: Texas Republicans want to secede? Good riddance.

One reads:

A Donald Trump cutout stands at Patriot Mobile display at the Republican Party of Texas convention at George R. Brown Convention Center on Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Houston. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

The Lone Star State does not have the best track record as a sovereign power. The Republic of Texas survived only 10 years from independence to annexation by the United States in 1845. Texas seceded during the Civil War — and, with the rest of the Confederacy, was crushed.

But, as the saying goes: If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. The Texas GOP now wants the state to vote on declaring independence.

And the United States should let Texas go! Better yet, let’s offer Texas a severance package that includes Oklahoma to sweeten secession — the Sooner the better.

Over the weekend, while many Americans were celebrating the 167th anniversary of Juneteenth (when Union Gen. Gordon Granger, in Galveston, Tex., delivered the order abolishing slavery) the Texas Republican Party voted on a platform declaring that federal laws it dislikes “should be ignored, opposed, refused, and nullified.”

The proposed platform (it’s expected to be approved when votes are tallied) adds: “Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto.” It wants the secession referendum “in the 2023 general election for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.”

This article is also powerful and extremely informative, Rob Boston: White Christian Nationalists: Who Are They? What Do They Want? Why Should You Care? In it:

The treasonous mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 included a large cohort that hoisted Confederate battle flags and Trump banners. But mixed among those standards were other signs, ones bearing crosses and references to Christ. It’s clear that for some of the insurrectionists, the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election was a holy crusade.

These people soon attracted the attention of political commentators. In the wake of the failed coup, a spate of columns appeared in The New York TimesRolling StoneThe Washington Post and other media outlets focusing on the role Christian nationalists played in the riot. A column in The Times by Thomas B. Edsell carried the blunt headline: “The Capitol Insurrection Was As Christian Nationalist As It Gets.

Increasingly, members of the media, academics, Americans United and others are using the term “Christian nationalism” and often “white Christian nationalism” to describe a political movement that seeks to topple church-state separation and declare America a “Christian nation” – with “Christian” in this case being far to the right and supremely fundamentalist.

While they’re sometimes openly aligned with racist movements, their ultimate goal is seen as a branch of white supremacy because it would result in a society governed by conservative white Christian men who would make decisions for everyone else.

Are Christian nationalists and the Religious Right just two different terms to describe the same movement? Some researchers say yes, while others feel there are important differences.

“Christian nationalism does indeed promote highly­ racialized narratives about American ‘heritage’ and ‘culture.’ It has also thoroughly identified itself with a political party that has adopted race-based gerrymandering and voter suppression as a strategic imperative.Katherine Stewart

Sarah Posner, a freelance reporter who has tracked white Christian nationalists for decades, finds them to be one and the same; while Katherine Stewart, a researcher whose most recent book is The Power Worshippers: Inside the Rise of Religious Nationalism, said she uses the terms “Religious Right” and “Christian nationalists” but gravitates toward the latter as more descriptive.

“Although I make use of both terms depending on context, I often think Christian nationalism is a more accurate term,” Stewart said in an interview with Church & State. “The term ‘Religious Right’ suggests to me a social movement arising from the ground up, motivated by a narrow set of cultural and symbolic concerns, and operating within the norms and traditions of pluralistic, democratic politics in America. ‘Chris­tian nationalism’ makes clear that the thing that matters here is really a political movement, and that its politics are profoundly hostile to pluralism and democracy. . . Christian nationalism is a radical movement, and as the Trump era made blindingly clear, it sometimes supports policies and practices that have little to do with traditional conservatism.”

Christian nationalism as “an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture.” . . . Christian nationalism “includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism. It is as ethnic and political as it is religious.”Whitehead and Perry

Added [Andrew L. Whitehead, who, along with Samuel L. Perry wrote: Taking Back America for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States], “I see the Reli­gious Right as more of a social movement made up of networks of religious leaders, politicians, congre­gations and organizations. Christian nationalism is the political theology that this social movement largely embraces in order to baptize their political ends with the support of the transcendent.”

The researchers all agree that there is an important racial element to Chris­tian nationalism.

Posner, whose most recent book is Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump, says it is appropriate to include “white” before “Christian nationalism” even though, obviously, most white Americans don’t support the movement or the groups that back it.

“Just as many Muslim leaders have felt the need to denounce distorted, violent versions of their faith, we feel the urgent need to denounce this violent mutation of our faith . . .”Christians for Social Action

“The American version of Christian nationalism grew out of a backlash to changes that took place over the course of the second half of the 20th century – school desegregation and civil rights, increasing secularization and the Supreme Court’s bolstering of church-state separation and the rise of feminism and LGBTQ rights,” Posner told Church & State. “All of these factors played a role, but it’s crucial to recognize how griev­ances driving the backlash were deeply rooted in the white supremacy many evangelicals and fundamentalists were taught to find in their Bibles. That in turn shaped their conception of America as a Christian nation – that is, a white Christian nation.”

Added Posner, “Of course, over time the Religious Right sought to temper its reputation with efforts to engage in ‘racial reconciliation’ and bring more minority worshippers into their churches and minority activists into their political organizations. But the movement’s decision to tether itself to Trump – all the while still claiming it had many Black and Latino believers in its ranks – laid bare the superficiality of those claims.”

Early in 2018, Trump famously called Haiti, El Salvador and several African nations “sh*thole countries” [Trump decries immigrants from ‘shithole countries’ coming to US] and said he would like to see more immigration from Norway, a country that is 93 percent white. The remark led CNN anchor Don Lemon to begin his broadcast reporting this shameful presidential declaration with the words, “This is CNN Tonight, I’m Don Lemon. The president of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that.”

Anderson Cooper, also a CNN anchor, followed up by saying, “Not racial. Not racially charged. Racist. Let’s not kid ourselves or dance around it. The sentiment the president expressed today is a racist sentiment.”

In a column published by Religion News Service on Jan. 7, 2022, [Robert P. Jones] observed, “This seditious mob was motivated not just by loyalty to Trump, but by an unholy amalgamation of white supremacy and Christianity that has plagued our nation since its inception and is still with us today. As I show in my book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, there remains a disturbingly strong link between holding racist attitudes and identifying as a white Christian.” (For instance, MSNBC commentator Law­rence O’Donnell, in his news hour entitled “The Last Word,” once displayed a photo of an all-white Southern lynch mob and commented that every man in that mob would undoubtedly have called himself a “Christian.”)

The word “Christian” has also proved to be a flashpoint. Some on the far right, such as William Donohue of the Catholic League, have penned columns implying that groups like Americans United and others are smearing all Christians by using terms like “white Christian nationalism.” In fact, it should be pretty clear that just as not all white people embrace white Christian nationalism, nor do most Christians.

Remarked [Amanda Tyler, executive director of the BJC], “We believe that it is our responsibility as Christians to raise awareness of Christian nationalism, to understand how it operates in our communities and to work to root it out. From a theological perspective, Christian nationalism is idolatrous because it conflates God and country and leads to the suppression of theological convictions that conflict with political power.”

More recently, a separate group [Christians for Social Action] of evangelicals issued an open letter condemning the role of Christian nationalism in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which they labeled a “violent, racist, anti-American insurrection.”

“Just as many Muslim leaders have felt the need to denounce distorted, violent versions of their faith, we feel the urgent need to denounce this violent mutation of our faith,” the statement, which was released in late February, reads. “What we saw manifest itself in the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, is a threat to our democracy, but it is also a threat to orthodox Christian faith. The word ‘Christian’ means ‘Christ-like.’ As leaders in the Church, we do not agree on everything, but we can agree on this – Christians should live in a way that honors Jesus, and reminds the world of Him.”

“Christian nationalism is not a religion, it is a political ideology,” [Katherine Stewart] said. “There are two ways to make this point clear: One is to assert that the object of our concern is with the political agendas of Christian nationalism – above all, its assault on pluralistic democracy – and not with the religious ideas that it invokes to justify its positions. The other is to draw attention to the fact that many, if not most, American Christians take a very different view of both their religion and its alleged political imperatives. At least half of American Cath­olics, a fifth or so of white evan­gelicals, and the vast majority of black evangelicals were opposed to the movement’s favored political candidate in this last national election cycle.”

Added Whitehead, “I sincerely hope that we are at a moment where people of faith, especially white Chris­tians, begin to wrestle with Christian nationalism and the way it perverts democracy, as well as the global Christian faith. But this is an uphill battle because Christian nationalism is so widely embraced by religious Americans.

There is a more general article about White Nationalism: Jamie Raskin Brings Expertise on Right-Wing Extremism to Jan. 6 Inquiry. We read:

There are few members of Congress better equipped to lead such a hearing than Mr. Raskin, a third-term congressman and Harvard-educated former constitutional law professor who has spent many nights immersed in the cultural and ideological underpinnings of the extremist groups. He has tracked their interest in racist and antisemitic writings, in works such as the novel “The Turner Diaries.” He has studied the creation of the Ku Klux Klan, the growth of right-wing militias in the 1990s and the ways various people working to build democratic institutions — from the leaders of ancient Greece to Alexander Hamilton — have warned of the threat of mob violence.

For Mr. Raskin, who is Jewish, the drive to better understand the rising threat of white nationalist extremism in the United States is personal.

Mr. Raskin began a series of hearings, and soon found that under the Trump administration, law enforcement was hardly paying attention to the problem of violent white supremacist movements, vastly undercounting hate crimes in the United States even as the problem worsened.

It was only after Mr. Trump left office that things changed; the Biden administration finally presented a strategy to combat white nationalism last fall.

Mr. Raskin’s work on the issue reflects the values of his family, said Laurence H. Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor who once taught him and has stayed in touch with his former student.

His father, Marcus Raskin, was a co-founder of the liberal think tank the Institute for Policy Studies, and worked with Daniel Ellsberg to ensure that The New York Times published the documents that would become known as the Pentagon Papers. His mother, Barbara Raskin, was a journalist and novelist. Mr. Raskin’s son Tommy, who died by suicide just days before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, had shared their “remarkable political values” and interned at the institute founded by his grandfather, Mr. Raskin said.

“His parents were very active in the protection of beleaguered minorities and subjugated people,” Mr. Tribe said of Mr. Raskin. “I think Tommy played a considerable role in his work. He was an incredibly inspiring kid, and his commitment to humanitarian causes meant a lot to Jamie.”

Shortly after Tommy Raskin’s death, Speaker Nancy Pelosi approached Mr. Raskin and asked him to take the lead role in the second impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, pulling him out of what he called “impenetrable darkness,” and providing him with a sense of purpose as he grieved.

As he has studied the rise of right-wing extremism, Mr. Raskin has noticed a pattern in the countries that are able to stamp out creeping authoritarianism: Liberals must unite with the center-right.

Please see the recent: MSNBC: RACHEL MADDOW, Christian nationalism’s racist past precludes revival except among GOP’s Trumpiest, July 25, 2022. Of it we read:

Rachel Maddow looks at the racist, antisemitic roots of “Christian nationalism” as advocated by American politician Gerald L.K. Smith in the 1950s, and the renewed embrace of the tenets of that disgraced movement by supporters of Donald Trump like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor Doug Mastriano.

One of the most respected Christian ethicists writing today is David Gushee. He has just sent this out, August 1, 2022: When Christianity Becomes Toxic ‘Christianism’. He writes:

Many people appear baffled about the hard-right turn in U.S. conservative religion.

Even the Roman Catholic (and generally democratic) Center party gave Hitler the dictatorial powers he asked for in the Reichstag on March 23, 1933. This was the only case of a modern totalitarian regime that was set up by a majority of the electorate and approved by the parliamentary body of the nation.

It’s not just a turn to politics, or to hard-right politics, that is problematic. It is the apparent amorality, the cruelty, bigotry and snarling spirit that is so impossible to reconcile with the Spirit of Christ.

It’s the nasty cast of characters who are most associated with “Christians” in politics today, including (just for a start, the list is endless) the rogue’s gallery of Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Colorado Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate and election-denier Doug Mastriano, the supposedly newly converted Trump dirty trickster/pardoned criminal Roger Stone, and of course Donald J. Trump his very own self.

It’s the way the crowds at the rallies of these people eat up the toxic red meat these figures throw to them. Christians used to be the victims in the Roman Colosseum. These “Christians” are more like the Roman leaders and their debased crowds, baying for blood.

The debasement of U.S. right-wing Christianity is only baffling to those who have been exposed to a different understanding of what being a Christian is supposed to be about. You know, old-timers like me, who walked uninvited into a Southern Baptist church building in 1978 looking for something I did not know how to name, but whose name turned out to be Jesus Christ.

Over a four-day conversion experience, I learned enough from and through devout Christian people to be led into an encounter with Jesus himself. I was exposed to people whose demeanor was gentle, whose speech was clean and kind, whose integrity turned out to be rock solid, whose moral plumbline was the instruction offered in the New Testament, whose life purpose was to follow Jesus, and whose mission was to share the gospel with others. These were the people who led me to faith in Christ and who discipled me at the early stages of my walk with Jesus. They were not perfect. But they were recognizably and seriously Christian.

These “Christians” are more like the Roman leaders and their debased crowds, baying for blood.

There were other versions of old-time, pre-Trump Christianity that I might not have liked as much but that were still very different from the cancerous thing that is spreading among white conservative Christians in America today. I was exposed to these other varieties as well. There was the smart, humane, post-Vatican II Catholicism in which I was raised, the charismatic Anglicanism of a girl I dated, the earnest social-service mainline Methodism of some friends of my parents, the doctrinaire Lutheranism of a few folks I knew, the passionate Black church faith of some of my friends from school.

Thus well over half the German electorate voted for an antidemocratic, totalitarian, imperialistic program. After the elections, only the Social Democrats attempted to resist Nazism in the Reichstag (the Communists had not been allowed to take their seats in the Reichstag).

Even the handful of proto-Christian Right types I met at my own church still were playing by the same faith rules as everyone else there. I remember when a woman from church asked me to be a bit actor in a film called “Can Soviet Imperialism Be Stopped?” (Will someone please find this film, in which young David Gushee, dressed as a Soviet soldier, menacingly pours red paint over a globe? Thank you.) This woman was a serious Cold War Republican who worked hard to get Ronald Reagan elected. But she — and her organization — bore no resemblance to the debased freak show we are now seeing wrapped in the banner of Jesus.

Here is what I have learned: There is no single version of Christianity or any religion. A religious tradition is like any other living thing — it is organic, dynamic and changeable. It can grow healthier or sicker. It can become more like, or less like, or completely unlike, its founder, spirit and original vision.

There are many names for what has become of this era’s right-wing white American Christianity. The most commonly used is (white) Christian nationalism. Some are going with Christian right-wing populism. Some are calling it imposter Christianity. Others call it Christofascism. I have been tempted to call it “Christianism,” like the way the term “Islamism” was used to separate radicalized terrorist movements from mainstream Islam.

In the manuscript for a book I will be calling Defending Democracy from Its Christian Enemies, I settle on “authoritarian reactionary Christianity” as my main label, although this book and label focus mainly on the anti-democratic dimension of this movement.

There is no single version of Christianity or any religion.

His warning is dire.

This is what happened in Hitler’s Germany, as described in National Socialism, Encyclopedia.com:

National Socialism started as a political movement in Germany in 1919. Its official name was the “Nazionalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei” (National Socialist German Workers’ Party); it soon became popularly known as the Nazi party, and its followers were called Nazis.

When Adolf Hitler joined the party, Nazism consisted of a little group of unimportant malcontents in Munich. Yet within fourteen years it became the greatest mass movement in German history, including in its ranks members of all groups of German society, from unemployed workers of the Lumpenproletariat to members of the imperial family of the Hohenzollerns and of several of the royal houses of the German states.

By 1932 the Nazi vote had mounted to fourteen million; in the March 1933 election, the last in which opposing parties participated, seventeen million Germans (or 44 per cent of the electorate) freely voted for the Nazi party, not to speak of several more millions who voted for nationalist and militarist policies that were barely distinguishable from Nazi objectives. Thus well over half the German electorate voted for an antidemocratic, totalitarian, imperialistic program. After the elections, only the Social Democrats attempted to resist Nazism in the Reichstag (the Communists had not been allowed to take their seats in the Reichstag).

Even the Roman Catholic (and generally democratic) Center party gave Hitler the dictatorial powers he asked for in the Reichstag on March 23, 1933. This was the only case of a modern totalitarian regime that was set up by a majority of the electorate and approved by the parliamentary body of the nation.

One may draw whatever conclusions, of course, but mine are obvious by its inclusion in this post . . .

Then see this book review of: The Hangman and His Wife: The Life and Death of Reinhard Heydrich, under the title: The Enduring Appeal of Moral Monsters, b. We read:

In a foreword to the book, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt essentially throws up his hands before the mystery of Heydrich’s evolution from a musically gifted, intelligent and lonely little boy into a monstrous, hyper-rational technocrat with a photographic memory and unmatched organizational abilities: “One searches in vain for a rational explanation of Heydrich’s descent into evil,” he writes. “No single biographical fragment satisfies.”

Then again, I would suggest that even the most psychologically astute biography is not equipped to explain the guiltless machinations of ruthless despots: It can never catch the elusive, complex matrix of character and circumstance that creates a Heydrich (or a Putin, for that matter).

Such creatures seem to exist in a space apart, infused by a cruelty that is inconvertible and feeds on itself without being entirely traceable to early experiences, painful or humiliating though they may be. In the end, the reader is left gazing at something that is ultimately inscrutable.

Such creatures seem to exist in a space apart. . .,” or . . . in every administration upholding American Empire (and every imperial order preceding of which there are legion during centuries of Western colonial domination, for instance)–which is every American administration, in the military, in law enforcement, millennia ago, in short . . . in every human heart!

The great Hebrew prophet Jeremiah uttered his jeremiads1 of no less irrefutable truth today, one of which was:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

The “horrorary” list of American mass slaughter imagined and executed could of course continue indefinitely, but I shall choose a few willy-nilly:

    • the genocide against American Indians;
    • the cultural genocide against Blacks from before America was founded to this day;
    • Curtis LeMay, the most decorated American serviceman at the time he received those honours, responsible for mass slaughter of the Japanese, including ruthless carpet bombing all over Japan, culminating in two atomic bombs developed and dropped not once but on two separate cities, fully aware that mass civilian casualties would be/were the outcome;
    • the massive nuclear arms held by the U.S., capable of destroying all life on the planet (currently undergoing upgrade into the trillions of dollars);
    • the massive arms sales designed to enable slaughter worldwide;
    • John W. Dower in The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, wrote of General (George) Lee Butler, a “nuclear warrior” in the Cold War years, who eventually in an overt mea culpa became a passionate proponent for outright nuclear abolition, thus:
    • In retrospect, he decried the “wantonness,” “savagery,” “reckless proliferation,” “treacherous axioms,” and voracious “appetite” of deterrence — for which he himself had helped create many systems and technologies, including “war plans with over 12,000 targets.”… Elegant theories of deterrence,” he exclaimed in one speech, “wilt in the crucible of impending nuclear war.” In later recollection of the folly of deterrence, Butler pointed out that at its peak the United States “had 36,000 weapons in our active inventory,” including nuclear landmines and sea mines and “warheads on artillery shells that could be launched from jeeps.” He concluded that mankind escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of diplomatic skill, blind luck and divine intervention, probably the latter in greatest proportion. (pp. 36 and 37).

    • In Alfred W. McCoy‘s The Pentagon’s New Wonder Weapons for World Dominion, September 10, 2017, we read:

      And what is all this technology being prepared for? In study after study, the intelligence community, the Pentagon, and related think tanks have been unanimous in identifying the main threat to future U.S. global hegemony as a rival power with an expanding economy, a strengthening military, and global ambitions: China, the home of those denizens of the Gobi Desert who would, in that old Buck Rogers fable, destroy Washington four centuries from now. Given that America’s economic preeminence is fading fast, breakthroughs in “information warfare” might indeed prove Washington’s best bet for extending its global hegemony further into this century — but don’t count on it, given the history of techno-weaponry in past wars.

      Washington’s dogged reliance on and faith in military technology to maintain its hegemony will certainly guarantee endless combat operations with uncertain outcomes in the forever war against terrorists along the ragged edge of Asia and Africa and incessant future low-level aggression in space and cyberspace. Someday, it may even lead to armed conflict with rivals China and Russia.

      Whether the Pentagon’s robotic weapon systems will offer the U.S. an extended lease on global hegemony or prove a fantasy plucked from the frames of a Buck Rogers comic book, only the future can tell. Whether, in that moment to come, America will play the role of the indomitable Buck Rogers or the Martians he eventually defeated is another question worth asking.  One thing is likely, however: that future is coming far more quickly and possibly far more painfully than any of us might imagine.

      And I’ve only scratched the surface! This website has liberally sprinkled throughout Western horror stories . . .

      In The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War, author David Livingstone Smith

      . . . takes the reader on a journey through evolution, history, anthropology, and psychology, showing how and why the human mind has a dual nature: on the one hand, we are ferocious, dangerous animals who regularly commit terrible atrocities against our own kind, on the other, we have a deep aversion to killing, a horror of taking human life.

      For writers such as the author, one must say: Et tu, Ms. Merkin. . .

      Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote in No Future Without Forgiveness:

      The former apartheid cabinet member Leon Wessels was closer to the mark when he said that they had not wanted to know, for there were those who tried to alert them (p. 269).

      Et tu, Ms. Merkin. . . Et tu, Americans in general . . . Et tu, potentially all humanity
      . . .

      Please see this commentary by Bryan Hyde, SEPTEMBER 27, 2013, in The Line Between Good and Evil.

      ***

      Strangely, in our day, there is a growing tendency to pretend that good and evil are simply outdated superstitions of a primitive past.

      How strange that so many great minds over thousands of years would have been afflicted with the same delusion.

      The truth is that good and evil still are relevant topics in our day.

      What seems to be missing in our time is the comprehension that not only do good and evil exist, but that each of us has a personal stake in the battle. This doesn’t mean that we all don priestly garb and go forth smiting evil, but it does recognize that we each play a role in how evil comes into the world.

      Alexander Solzhenitsyn explained this beautifully in The Gulag Archipelago when he wrote:

      “Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an unuprooted small corner of evil.

      “Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.”

      The idea that each of us has the ability to prevent evil from entering the world through us personally means that we each possess a degree of influence. This means that through our decisions – big and small – we determine whether good or evil is allowed to flourish.

      ***

      We must ever cry out in response to the tragedy of White Christian Nationalism–an Ultimate Oxymoron!: Lord, have mercy! Amen.

      excerpts:

      In fact, it should be pretty clear that just as not all white people embrace white Christian nationalism, nor do most Christians. . . In fact, many Christian clergy and laypeople have assailed Christian nationalism as a corruption of their faith; and in light of recent events, their voices are getting louder. The Christian-based counteroffensive against white Christian nationalism got started in earnest in 2019 when the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) launched Christians Against Christian Nationalism. . . “We reject this damaging political ideology and invite our Christian brothers and sisters to join us in opposing this threat to our faith and to our nation.” (BJC)

      It isn’t just that Mastriano has openly advertised his zeal to subvert future elections. It’s also that he’s revealed this democracy-hating ethos to be underpinned by a profoundly messianic Christian nationalist streak. Will establishment Republicans rally behind such a toxic blend of extremist tendencies?

      The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Mastriano approvingly shared on Twitter this week a video of himself making a striking claim about guns and Adolf Hitler.

      “Anytime there’s a shooting, the left will jump on that as a way to advance an agenda to remove our right to bear arms. … We saw Hitler do the same thing in Germany in the ’30s.” Mastriano said in the 2018 video. “Where do the tyrants stop infringing on our rights?”

      Which provides an occasion to highlight the through line linking all these ideological toxicities. Once you free yourself to claim regulating guns amid extraordinary day-to-day carnage is tantamount to Nazism, it’s a small leap to stealing elections.

      ‘Chris­tian nationalism’ makes clear that the thing that matters here is really a political movement, and that its politics are profoundly hostile to pluralism and democracy. . . Christian nationalism is a radical movement, and as the Trump era made blindingly clear, it sometimes supports policies and practices that have little to do with traditional conservatism.

      In this move, the workings of democracy are themselves deemed illegitimate — even in the form of sensible gun laws — justifying pretty much anything in response. This becomes even more justified if you believe your gubernatorial campaign was anointed by God to “change history,” as Mastriano puts it.

      In this week’s tweets, Mastriano said that, “historically, this is accurate,” although as a history argument, it’s tendentious and absurd. What’s more, as the Inquirer reports, Mastriano retweeted a gun-rights group’s application of the claim to the current push for gun laws.

      But this is an uphill battle because Christian nationalism is so widely embraced by religious Americans.Andrew L. Whitehead

      So what is the “agenda” that “the left” is pushing in response to the massacre of 19 children and two teachers in Texas, the gunning down of 10 people at a supermarket in Upstate New York, the relentless drumbeat of mass shootings, and the tens of thousands killed annually by guns across the country?

      Well, reforms being considered include banning licensed sales to people younger than 21 of semiautomatic rifles — like those wielded by 18-year-olds in the New York and Texas mass shootings. They include banning high-capacity magazines that exacerbate such mass shootings, stiffening penalties on “straw purchases” and restricting “ghost gun” sales.

      Other ideas include incentivizing state red-flag laws. That could be paired with measures on school safety and mental health, a compromise that might get bipartisan support.

      Someone who is blithely willing to unshackle themselves from reality this way — to cast the workings of democracy behind modest gun regulations as goose-stepping fascist tyranny — is unlikely to see the popular vote as binding on any such future certifications.

      All this is hardly the stuff of jackboots and swastikas. If it is, then some members of Mastriano’s own party are flirting with Nazism as well: Senate Republicans are considering the red-flag compromise, and some Republican mayors are calling for a suite of similar proposals, including ones that would plug holes in the federal background check system.

      At least half of American Cath­olics, a fifth or so of white evan­gelicals, and the vast majority of black evangelicals were opposed to the movement’s favored political candidate in this last national election cycle.Katherine Stewart

      But Mastriano’s willingness to go here itself signals a deeper threat. Mastriano, who played a central role in Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 loss, endorsed the validity of certifying presidential electors in defiance of a state’s popular vote based on vote-fraud fictions. As governor, he’d have extensive control over future certifications.

      Someone who is blithely willing to unshackle themselves from reality this way — to cast the workings of democracy behind modest gun regulations as goose-stepping fascist tyranny — is unlikely to see the popular vote as binding on any such future certifications.

      It’s also that he’s revealed this democracy-hating ethos to be underpinned by a profoundly messianic Christian nationalist streak.

      There’s also a nexus here with Christian nationalism. Sarah Posner, a scholar of the religious right, has pointed out that this ideological and spiritual vision — which sees the nation as unmoored from its supposed White, Christian heritage and God-given mission — has become entangled with extreme manifestations of pro-gun sentiment.

      From a theological perspective, Christian nationalism is idolatrous because it conflates God and country and leads to the suppression of theological convictions that conflict with political power.Amanda Tyler

      In that vision, Posner argues, regulation of guns is not just a violation of freedom. It’s also an infringement on the Christian patriot’s duty to protect family and country, for which guns are divinely sanctioned instruments.

      Given that Mastriano’s effort to overturn democracy for Trump was infused with Christian nationalist fervor — and that Mastriano plainly believes himself an instrument of God’s will — he likely believes that tyrannical gun regulations intrude on that spiritual duty and the role of guns in executing it.

      Please click on: Doug Mastriano’s Unhinged ‘Nazi’ Claim

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Footnotes
  1. Jeremiah inspired the French noun jérémiade, and subsequently the English jeremiad, meaning “a lamentation; mournful complaint,”[55] or further, “a cautionary or angry harangue.”[56][]

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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