Speaking as a Jewish southern-born-and-bred white male, I sincerely believe that there is a concentrated and cynical “War on Christianity” in America. I’m going to offer a non-Christian and I hope objective observation on just how I think this war is being fought and by whom. Now I’m not saying my observation will be liked or agreeable, but I offer it because I feel some of my Christian-Republican friends have been so used, abused, and abjectly manipulated by the very people with which they have aligned, that they are approaching the Patty Hearst level of the “Stockholm Syndrome “malady.
I don’t take the subject of religious persecution lightly either, because my father actually escaped Poland during Hitler’s attempt to exterminate Jews. So, I get religious persecution, and the fear of it. But I also understand some of the tactics used in order to divert attention from it.
The GOP Business-conservative (Establishment) politicians and their provocateurs in the media have successfully pointed the finger of blame at the wrong people for the American “War on Christianity” for decades through clever phraseology and simple, relentless, and uniform repetition. Like recent wars, this war is playing out almost hourly and most heavily on a.m. radio, and cable media outlets. But the severity and pent up frustration within the Republican Party is being highlighted in the current primary that pits the establishment, supply-side (read corporate welfare) and militaristic (neo-cons) members in the GOP vs. the more religious-oriented factions in the GOP (often inaccurately labeled “evangelicals”) and Libertarians.
The Establishment Republicans, however, normally get what they want in the way of bribes from big pharma, big oil, big defense contractors, etc., while promising the religious right that they really do intend to address their concerns and the social issues that they expect to get from the arrangement…soon. The Establishment has also promised the less military hawkish, more deficit-reduction-oriented, small government Libertarians that are aligned with Republicans, that their issues will be addressed too…also, soon. The Establishment just has to get some things out of the way first and then they’ll get right on their concerns…honest…just trust them; the check’s in the mail, so to speak.But it’s just lip service.
Now, for the sake of simplicity, I will call the combined religious and Libertarians (the so-called “outsiders”) in the Republicans under the also inaccurate, but media-labeled “tea party”. But there you have it….the oddest politically ideological-woven quilt since Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”. My take is that this marriage is much like the also struggling “Southern Strategy” forged by the Nixon campaign in the ‘70s that melded a voting bloc of Southern whites, devout Christians and hard-working, but easily manipulated poor whites.
The Establishment vs Tea Party Republican alliance is also butting heads, but it’s now in front of a politics-weary country that has been forced to take sides in “birtherism”, racism, and a whole bunch of other “isms” until everyone is just fed up and angry with the whole lot. Ripe, low-hanging fruit for manipulation.
And it’s a large part of why Donald Trump is plowing through the pre-primary period with high polling. He’s detailing no plans for anything except an economic plan that will benefit his millionaire and billionaire buddies but add trillions more to the deficit. In the meantime, he’s simply berating anyone who challenges anything he says, which is mostly just juvenile name-calling and crude insults. He’s adept at staying within the 140-word limit on Twitter or bumper stickers, appealing to the pent up anger of the tea party primary voters and is particularly hard on “establishment” candidates…all the while, Ted Cruz is gathering endorsements, building campaign infrastructures, and campaigning with A-list crazies tea party favorites like Michele Bachmann or Herman Caine.
And as I have said many times, the establishment conservatives have owned this Republican quilt for decades due to one basic American voter truism:
A simple answer that is clear and precise, even if it is complete bullshit, will always have more power in a large swath of the country than a complex answer that is true.
And one very simple refrain can sum up the evil genius of wordsmithing Frank Luntz’s establishment strategy with his masterful wordsmithy execution in a very Marvel Comic’s Hulk-like grunt…“Liberals Bad”.
And I would have no problem with that meme if another simple truism would dictate American policy. If TRYING to be fair to middle-class and poor Americans (whether they recognize it as such or not) means being liberal, then yes, they’re guilty. If taxing the 1% on the same level on ALL income, including passive income (investments…currently capped at 15%), as the middle-class and lower-income is taxed on productive income (wages and self-employment income…currently capped at 28%) then yes, they’re guilty. If spending as much on people subsidies is as important as corporate subsidies then yes, they’re guilty. If recognizing that the Retirement part of Social Security is solvent and that Medicare could be too if Medicare, (the single largest payer of prescriptions in the world) was able to negotiate drug prices the same way WalMart and CVS can which would radically reduce the cost of Medicare, then yes, they’re guilty.
And according to the latest Pew Poll , there are almost as many Democrats who are Judeo-Christians as there are Republicans (last polling was through 2011) 52% to 48%. But the plain truth is that, other than lobbyists and billionaires, everyone else has been screwed by the Republican establishment. They’ve just blamed all the problems that they continue to create on Democrats. Do Democrats bear responsibility for play an equal part of deficit growth as Republicans? Probably. Does that make them evil devil-worshipers trying to steal middle-class money? Of course not.
And one would think that when a madman shot up a church full of black Christians, WHO WERE AT PRAYER SERVICE, or shot up an elementary school full of innocent children, Christian Republicans would have said “ENOUGH!” and called for comprehensive background checks for all gun purchases. But from what I could tell, not a one was forthcoming out of fear of NRA retaliation, so it just didn’t happen…again. Corporate gun manufacturers and their lobbyist group–the NRA–won out…again; by diverting the focus elsewhere.
It’s no wonder that people are confused, mad, conflicted, and flipping out with a mass shooting happening daily, and more often than not, by white males. And each new mass shooting is a windfall for the NRA and weapons manufacturers, retail and gun show dealers…and once again, we come full circle back to profits, political bribes, and fear-mongering and fingers pointed at those dastardly liberals rather than the true culprits; establishment Republicans who don’t want to lose the South by simply demanding comprehensive background checks for gun purchases.
But when push comes to shove, it’s always the supply-side economics (read: total hogwash), corporate establishment Republicans who make promises to address the social issues important to the religious right and left…and give them just enough lip service to convince them not to peel off into a third party.
So to say that the ideological quilt has been a tenuous relationship among Republicans is a gargantuan understatement. But the all-business faction and the related any-war-is-a-profitable-war faction neo-cons, who make up the Establishment in the GOP, have exploited the devout religious faction and the Libertarians of the GOP for so long and broken so many promises to them that even they (and their supporters) are becoming radicalized and very angry. And anger tamped down long enough explodes like I.E.D.s, which indiscriminately takes down anyone near them in gruesome random ways. It belays objectivity and promulgates divisiveness. So the establishment has always needed someone to blame for the country’s ills and they have expertly played the political game of wordsmanship, and since they need the Christian vote, they blame liberals with anti-Christian accusations instead of what they are….different interpretations of what constitutes being good Christians.
- That’s the GOP establishment convincing the rest of the GOP that they are being persecuted, robbed, and abused when what “liberals, bad” simply want is to help other Americans who are less fortunate, or even who have made mistakes, or have a different opinion, a common religious tenet.
- That’s the GOP establishment convincing the tea party faction that AMERICAN sick, homeless, or maimed veterans, are moochers off of the system rather than heroes who VOLUNTEERED to fight the neo-cons’ made up wars.
- That’s the GOP establishment convincing the tea party they too believe that brutalized women are bad, or asked for it, even though the traditional Judeo-Christian Savior and/or God teaches that those are the very people they should be helping to see the peaceful, spiritual, righteous ways of God.
- That’s the GOP establishment making sure that the American taxpayer subsidizes oil companies for rent they pay to oil rig companies (avg. $4 billion/yr) comes first, then Libertarians’deficit issues will be addressed.
- That’s the GOP establishment promising the tea party that first we must guarantee corn producers that a specific amount of money will be provided to them even if it means increasing the percentage of our fuel that is made with ethanol that rots our engines, lowers fuel efficiency, and results in higher costs to Americans for fuel plus quicker wear and tear on their vehicles, then they’ll get to their issues.
- That’s the formidable union of the GOP establishment and defense contractors forming a military-industrial complex (that one of America’s greatest 5-Star Generals and Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned America about just days before leaving office) while promising the Libertarians that it will get to their deficit-reduction and less war-obsessed issues just as soon as they get funding for thousands of tanks that the military says they don’t want or need, just as soon as enough Americans are afraid of other countries that we can butt in and keep a supply of never-ending volunteer warriors’ boots in 90% of the countries on the planet at enormous expense, then pumping up their followers to the point they spit on the homeless, crippled veteran for needing medical help that he/she cannot pay for themselves.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that if one looks long enough, one can find a passage(s) to support conflicting viewpoints in both the old and new testaments. But the overriding tenets of most religions with which I’m familiar just do not conform to raw, unregulated, secular, supply-side economics that the big-business Republicans have promoted, even though it has failed in every state that tried it…just take a look at the havoc wreaked on Kansas and Louisiana. Neither does being embedded in a war-for-profit Republican Party.
And statistics show that, especially in the South, there are more white people on SNAP (food stamps) than any other race; but they just cannot bring themselves to actually see that they are only hurting themselves when they back the national establishment Republicans. And the strategy that the establishment Republicans use…tell someone anything enough times and they’ll eventually begin to believe it, usually works. It’s called “retail politics” for a reason, and it’s why all the free air time is being given to Donald Trump, which is gosh-awful unfair to the rest of the candidates who have to pay for most of their air time.
The cable media and a.m. radio hosts need to fill the air time and Trump wants the free advertising with which he can simply rant, rave and insult without providing any plans or solutions, to real problems other than impossible walls, impossible deportation plans, or internment (ala Joseph McCarthy), for all of the same people in a religion that gives us peaceful, righteous people like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Mohammed Ali…and a tax plan that only benefits, his billionaire buddies, and adds trillions more to the U.S. debt. MSNBC and CNN literally cover every rally Trump holds and ignores everyone else, Republican and Democrat.
Yes, American social conservatives are surely a very frustrated group, because despite their seeming political success, they have failed to achieve their goals on the national level. There is a very good reason for this; it’s because the Republican Party, and their own conflicting ideologies, are at odds with their each other’s goals. And it wasn’t always like this.
Prior to the rise of Marxism, around 1917, Christian groups made up some of the strongest opponents to laissez-faire capitalism and big business, (i.e. “Wall Street”). Wealthy businessmen were seen by Christians as immoral and greedy.
When America entered the 20th century about 40 percent of Americans were still small farmers and the majority of Americans still lived in small towns. Christian groups often identified strongly with small town values and opposed the “fat greedy capitalists of the east coast.”
With the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 though, something changed. Communists had declared war on two things…capitalism and religion. This threat created a common enemy for both big business and Christians and led to a new and powerful alliance between religion and high finance, the likes of which had never been seen before in America.
And Republican Joseph McCarthy exploited the communism fear during the 1950s to push his agenda of fear to the point of indecency. Eventually moral Americans had enough of his paranoia and fear mongering and kicked the bum to the curb.
Many historians believe that this is when Richard Nixon, McCarthy’s right-hand man and highest ranking “lieutenant” began the formation of his “Southern Strategy”. So the GOP business faction began to court Christianity in order to use moral appeals against “atheistic communists” as a way to unite their interests, and during this process business leaders began establishing relationships with church leaders. Financial support for the GOP from the Christian community grew. The business faction convinced the Christian faction that they had a common enemy and together they could better meet the challenge of facing that enemy and that liberals were enabling them.
Take, for example, Christmas.
The yearly Fox News claim that there is a “War on Christmas” orchestrated by liberal elites is, on its face, ridiculous, but has become widely accepted on the right. Shop clerks saying “Happy Holidays” isn’t causing the de-Christianization of Christmas—they’re just effects of it— because profits are more important to corporations and their GOP partners than the religious celebration of Christmas. Roughly half of Americans celebrate Christmas as a cultural, or secular, but not a religious, holiday with Santa Claus, magic little elves making magic toys, massive advertising promotions, and Christmas trees, not baby Jesus in a manger (who was actually born in the early summer, late spring ).
It’s profoundly confusing to me how;
- “Love they neighbor” can exist in the same brain that encompasses “Let them starve before taxing me or my family”.
- It’s hard to reconcile corporate welfare with Libertarian let-each-person-and-corporation stand on its own, and not with my tax money.
- How can a person reconcile “we’re all God’s children” with the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murders but not even insist on comprehensive background checks for all gun purchasers?
- How can anyone reconcile that a mass shooting by a white, American-born, male happens almost daily isn’t domestic terrorism—even when they’re gunning down black Christians at prayer service–but we should fear women and children fleeing tyranny and horrendous conditions because there’s an infinitesimal possibility that there is a foreign terrorist embedded somewhere in there and an even more unlikelihood that they will end up harming anyone?
- How can anyone reconcile the difference between how France reacted to terrorists–with bravery and honor–to how we react—with fear, loathing and paranoia—and not be ashamed?
And the fear, confusion, paranoia, greed, selfishness and bigotry is being heaped upon otherwise peaceful, caring, concerned, Christian Republicans by establishment Republicans who are merely giving empty promises and lip service to “non-establishment” Republicans so that their personal gravy trains full of cash will keep pulling into their stations.
Harvey A. Gold