Smiling Faces Of Freaky American Nationalism
Although the terms fascism and neofascism are highly charged, it is instructive to consider the possibility that neofascist beliefs have insinuated themselves via the religious right into mainstream American society, culture, and law. The below clip is from a speech that Rick Warren gave to a crowd of several thousand and the clip following Warren’s speech is from the film, Cabaret. They are both short and it is edifying to watch them both before continuing to read. A special thanks to Mike Tidmus and Dan Savage for inspiration.
Christian Reconstructionism and Neofascism’s Emergence
The Warren clip well characterizes the ideology of Christian Reconstructionism. Michael York’s statement to the bisexual Baron at the end of the second clip is something like “Do you still think you can contain them?” and seems pertinent to the insinuation of anti-Constitutional conservatives in positions of influence. In Germany at this time, the prevailing social ideology – religion – was national socialism, and the fascist leaders knew they could whip up fervent support if they exploited the massive economic failures of German society to their own ends: does this look familiar? The USA has been in a similar situation since Reaganoids seized power and the Democrats, moderates, liberals, and lefties have been running around in circles, as extremist elements have infiltrated every level of government, the judiciary, and society. Meanwhile, the rule of law is diminished at every turn, as the religious beliefs have been applied by every stealth politician elected to office through the use of massive networks of Christian churches and organizations. In this way, the recent granting of asylum status to a German family who fled to the US because of their fervent belief in homeschooling, is ironic.
Along with one of his primary sources and inspirations, RJ Rushdoony, Warren believes that the USA is a nation founded on Christian ideology and that the rule of Constitutional law should be replaced with Mosaic law. Warren is savvy enough to realized he cannot outright declare such positions, however. The Reconstructionist Christianity movement is candidly authoritarian in its worldview: they know what’s better for us than we do for ourselves is a good description. I suggest people read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (or rent the movie), if they want to see how anyone deemed “less-than” is dealt with in a theocracy: uppity women and gay folks are branded as gender-traitor deviants and are mutilated, raped, and hanged, similar to the brutal crucifixion of Matthew Shepard. Not only could such a totalitarian government emerge in the USA, but it has taken root over the past 40 years, accelerating with the ascension of the right. In this way, the Reconstructionist, fundamentalist, and evangelical Christians such as Warren mirror extremist Muslim sects and schools that share a dominator vision that aggressively represses free thought and is blatantly intolerant of a pluralist democracy. The problem with fundamentalist Christianity and Christian Reconstructionism is that they refuse to permit other beliefs and practices to exist in their weltanschauung. Pluralism, by definition, would permit dissent and even encourage it.
Defending Democracy Requires Vigilance
American nationalist ideology, coupled with Christian Reconstructionism, is a new form of neofascist nationalism with an American pedigree. In this regard, the challenge facing Americans is that we simply do not believe such a movement could seize power in the USA. Such extremism would carry a unique American branding and fundamentalist Christianity, in its Rushdoony-inspired vision, is both homegrown and dominator-authoritarian in ideology and practice. Both the Nazis and the Christian Reconstructionists use the subtle and powerful metaphors of motherhood, family, and children to rally the masses to their cause, with the unmistakable implication that anyone who opposes them must be anti-motherhood, anti-family, and anti-children, as dissent has no place in their ideology. Lesbians, gays, trans, and bi folks are yet again demonized, villified, criminalized, diseased, and outlawed.
Clearly, no one needs a new smiling face of domination, no matter how it is spun: not Warren’s, not Palin’s, not Beck’s, not anybody’s. It does appear that Warren and similar types are showing that they have learned to soft-peddle their exclusionary beliefs, especially since the children and grandchildren of religious conservatives appear to be evading the polarizing political activism foisted on them by zealot parents and preachers. The problem that remains is what will happen with the brainwashed kids from Jesus Camp: how will they cope in a progressively more secular and post-religious USA while clinging to such anti-democratic beliefs?
Much like the hetero-niceness of too many families, bring a queer into the picture and – voila! – nastiness often emerges from conservative religious types, nearly always directed toward the one who is held as different. Freedom-loving people must be vigilant in every generation to guard the foundations of liberty and democracy, else we will lose our freedoms and the American Constitution will be tossed aside by the misguided passions of a population led by freaky smiling faces.