June 21, 2022 Wayne Northey

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

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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:

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

Columnist

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.”

One must ever cry out in response to the tragedy of White Christian Nationalism: Lord, have mercy! Amen.

excerpts:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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