What Republican political theology insists upon in 2012 hearkens back to the Puritan ideal of the City on the Hill – a special place for special (i.e. God’s) people, who happened to be white conservative Christians (converted Native Americans were always second class citizens). In the 21st century, that special place is reserved for – white conservative Christians.
And it’s not only a matter of skin color. There are taints of other sorts, what I have referred to here before as the Canaanite disease, where everything outside that perfect city is relegated to the role assigned to the Bible’s Canaanites – the cultural and religious other, skin color notwithstanding.
It’s difficult to imagine these days, particularly when looking at this fellow…
…but there was once a day when the Irish were not considered white. No Irish Need Apply. Those signs were once as familiar as Whites Only signs. The despised other can come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
You see, whiteness is defined not by some pesky gene but by the idea of what America is and what Americans are according to a narrow-minded bunch of religious bigots.
We’ve seen that in this mindset America is God’s city. What America isn’t, we are being told, is dark-skinned (even though the original Americans had darker skin than permitted under current regulations), foreign-language speaking (even though millions of Americans who considered themselves white and came to these shores spoke foreign languages – like my own Norwegian and Swedish ancestors), non-Christian (even though Thomas Jefferson said religious tolerance meant it didn’t matter if a man worshipped 20 gods or none and owned a copy of the Qur’an), atheists, or gay (makes you wonder what they plan to do with all those gay animals other than insisting they’re an aberration), or feminist (sinful temptresses with uppity ideas have no place in the City on the Hill).
There are a lot of things America is not (too many to list here) but only two things America is as God’s city: white and conservative Christian – Palin’s “real” Americans.
Republican rhetoric is full of examples (again, too many to list here). The Old Testament is full of examples too. And there are many points of intersection between the two. In fact, much of the former derives from the latter. Republican political theology is a gospel of rejection of the Other.
All of us who aren’t them threaten white Christian privilege. It all started with the Civil War, of course, which white southerners still haven’t come to grips with, when Lincoln freed the Other and essentially said, they’re like you. Cue cognitive dissonance on a grand scale. That is why you see this, which makes no sense on any level for a self-professed “patriot”:
In many ways, cognitive dissonance has become a Republican disease. Ideology insists on reality being a certain way, but nature cannot provide evidence for the claims made, which, nevertheless, still must be true. The GOP’s marriage to conservative Christianity only exacerbated the situation by tying the Bible to politics. The Bible is manifestly dated in many respects scientifically but the Bible can’t not be true because it is the literal word of God. Enter cognitive dissonance again.
Blacks are inferior. Mexicans are nearly as bad:
And we all know where gays stand:
Because, as we all know, God hates fags (only part of a long list, again, too lengthy to get into here).
And then there is Obama, who is damned on two counts: for being black and for being, supposedly [gasp] a Muslim (psssst. He’s not one of us aka he is the Other with his Kenyan, not American, thinking).
(Basic literacy isn’t a requirement for extremist ideologies)
It takes a little (half-baked) cooking but what you want eventually comes out, and presto:
White conservative Christians are threatened by loss of privilege. They have had America to themselves for nearly two centuries, lording it over Native Americans, blacks, women, Irish, Mexicans, Muslims and others. Now demographics are against them. All these folks are non-white, whatever their skin color, because white is synonymous with American and these folks aren’t American. They can’t be. They don’t fit the definition.
It’s no wonder White Supremacists are having a celebratory circle jerk: they have found a friend in fag-hating, woman-hating, creepy brown-skinned people-hating Ron Paul. At last, one of their own in the White House! But there are many white people who, if we use their own formula – white conservative Christian=American – are white supremacists who won’t admit it, including all the rest of our Republican hopefuls and their base.
The forces of reaction are terrible to behold, as America (and the world) have seen. President Obama, elected by a landslide, is somehow a usurper. He must be. He can’t possibly be the guy God wanted in the White House. Palin promised God would do the right thing for America but the right thing didn’t happen.
Cognitive dissonance again.
When evidence doesn’t support belief, something has to give. Lunacy seems often to be the result. After all, a noted Christian scholar can write a 700-page examination of the Resurrection only to conclude at the end that Jesus must have been resurrected because he had to have been. No other explanation is possible.
No stealing the corpse of belief.
If the Republican Party of 2012 has many features in common with zombie-ism…
…the dangers of which have been well-catalogued elsewhere)…
There is good reason for this.
Zombies don’t think much either. They seem like a perfect metaphor for the modern-day Republican, possessed of a single-minded purpose and driven by an all consuming need. You can’t reason with a zombie. You can’t reason with a Republican.
In many ways zombies would be preferable. At least they wouldn’t put up obscene signs advertising their unsavory passions before stripping you of all your rights and freedoms because you don’t meet their requirements for being American. They just eat you.
But they’re fictional. The real zombies are all around us, there is nothing make-believe about them, and there is no handy survival guide to protect you. America is threatened with across the board segregation, not only of blacks but of other minorities, as well as women and gays and atheists and those other religions the “real” Americans classify as “cults”. What the Republicans are selling is white America, and if you’re one of those who thinks your skin color is going to save you, think again.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.