Right wing ideas and actions 2016

There’s a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Afoot, Fueled by Dark Money, By Eleanor J. Bader, Truthout | Book Review, April 3, 2016

Today’s GOP Might Be Most Dangerous Organization in Human History | by Noam Chomsky, by THE INTELLECTUALIST May 17, 2016

It’s so much worse than Trump: The history of the modern GOP is a history of racism, bigotry and dog whistles By Phillip Cryan, salon.com,  Apr 5, 2016 The party of Lincoln? Sure, in 1858. Today’s GOP wants to pretend Trump is an outlier. They should look in a mirror

 

 

Paul Crouch, Architect of Prosperity Gospel Televangelism, Dead at 79

by Sarah Posner, ReligionDispatches.com, December 1, 2013

Paul Crouch, the founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network and an architect of global prosperity gospel televangelism, died yesterday at the age of 79.

Crouch built the network from one station in the 1970s to a global empire featuring a 24-hour menu of health and wealth gospel, preying on the gullible to turn their money over to televangelists to receive God’s blessing.

The network has purchased property all over the world to spread its message to Christians and non-Christians alike. Last year, when the network acquired studio space in Jerusalem, Crouch said on his Behind the Scenes program, “the harvest is coming in so fast. People, the messianic congregations are growing like you can’t believe.” Crouch maintained the purchase was of a “prophetic” significance, claiming that it would reach both the Jewish and Arab residents of the city.

Crouch’s son Matthew, speaking from a Jersualem balcony with his father, added, “what is the message of the Gospel, if it isn’t for the Jew first?”

Best known for his controversially extravagant spending, with his wife and business partner Jan, Paul Crouch survived many a media exposé. He and his wife built their network, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, using tax-exempt donor funds, frequently, former insiders have charged, for their own enrichment.

In 2004, the conservative Christian financial watchdog Ministry Watch issued a scathing report on the network, charging that its “huge cash stockpile” should be spent on charitable works, rather than on the Crouches’ personal luxuries. That same year, the Los Angeles Times ran a damning three-part exposé of the family’s mansions, luxury cars, and private airplane. But perhaps the most damaging revelation was the claim by Crouch’s former chauffeur, Lonnie Ford, that Crouch had paid him $425,000 in hush money to keep silent, Ford claimed, about how he was forced to have sex with Crouch to keep his job. On the air, Crouch called the story a “pack of lies right out of the pit of hell.” Other prosperity televangelists closed ranks around Crouch; the enemy, after all, was the secular media.

More recently, in 2012, Brittany Koper, the Crouches’ granddaughter and daughter of their son Paul, Jr., sued the network. She described to the New York Times “company-paid luxuries that she said appeared to violate the Internal Revenue Service’s ban on ‘excess compensation’ by nonprofit organizations as well as possibly state and federal laws on false bookkeeping and self-dealing.” The luxuries included a “former Conway Twitty estate in Tennessee, corporate jets valued at $8 million and $49 million each and thousand-dollar dinners with fine wines, paid with tax-exempt money.” The network has repeatedly denied Koper’s allegations, and has claimed it was Koper who stole money from the network.

Koper’s sister, Carra Crouch, also sued the network, claiming her family covered up her rape by a TBN employee when she was 13 years old.

The Orange County Register reported last year that Koper’s husband, Michael, filed documents in her lawsuit alleging that Jan and her son Matthew were celebrating that the elder Crouch—thought then to be on his deathbed—had signed a letter leaving them, not Paul Jr., in charge of the network.

The Register, which closely follows the lawsuit against the network based in Santa Ana, also reported that Paul and Matthew Crouch suggested that God might punish TBN’s adversaries with death. “God help anyone who would try to get in the way of TBN, which was God’s plan,” Crouch said. “I have attended the funeral of at least two people who tried.”

Frequently overlooked amid the Crouches’ family feuds, financial and sexual scandals, prosperity preaching, faith healing claims, revelation, prophecy, and apocalyptic outlook was the role Crouch played in the development of Republican evangelical outreach in presidential campaigns. The Times obituary today notes that Crouch interviewed Rick Santorum last year; that’s a tradition, though, that dates back to the George H.W. Bush era, when Bush’s evangelical outreach guru Doug Wead brokered an interview for the Yankee Episcopalian to reach TBN’s audience.

Wead, who developed an extensive list of influential evangelicals with whom he wanted 1988 Bush presidential primary campaign to connect, had first-hand knowledge of the Crouches’ world. Yet he recognized the potential downside of Bush being seen with Crouch, whom he described as an “exaggeration of the most bizarre manifestation of the peculiar evangelical subculture.” He advised the vice-president not to appear for a televised interview with Crouch. But he staged such an interview himself, using the tagline “correspondent Doug Wead,” coaxing Bush to exhibit his faith in Jesus Christ for the TBN audience.

When George W. Bush first ran for president in 2000, Wead helped push for Crouch’s support without Bush appearing on the network. John McCain, however, had no such luck: he submitted to a 2007 interview with Crouch’s son, Paul, Jr.

To outsiders, the Crouches are comical, Elmer Gantry-esque caricatures of themselves, he with his prophecies and flamboyant fawning over the televangelists he helped turn into stars, she with her pink hair piled high on her head, garish make-up, high-pitched voice, and gaudy clothes. But as Wead recognized, they have an audience (one worth cultivating for votes, at least), in a subculture not only unfamiliar but probably outright incredible to many Americans.

When I was writing my book, I attended one of those notorious TBN “Praise-A-Thons” at the network’s suburban Atlanta studio. (For more on what happened that night, see this post on prosperity gospel and foreclosure.) The studio audience is nothing more than a prop. While the audience is asked to deliver money to an altar ready-made for the cameras, the real money comes pouring in from those at home.

The people in the studio audience, some bussed there in church vans, are true believers. They were willing to stay in their seats during crucial camera pans so television viewers could feel the anointing, too. They spoke in tongues and were slain in the spirit, but not too much if it wouldn’t play well on TV. The sad genius of it all was the orchestration to make the audience feel like a crucial part of something huge, something God wanted, something that God was going to bless many times over with miraculous riches and good health.

Jan Crouch was there, without Paul. The audience heard of her healing from colon cancer, “no radiation, no chemo, just Jesus!” she exclaimed.

After the healing story, Jan Crouch really got down to business. “The gift of the anointing for prosperity is flowing on this Praise-a-thon,” she said. The Praise-a-thon (which raises millions for the network that even conservative Christian critics charge lacks transparency and accountability) “is not about TBN,” said Crouch. “It’s about you.”

Paul Crouch managed to survive scandal after scandal, even those that tore apart his own family. For his supporters, he was a prophet, or at least a lucrative patron and ally. For anyone shocked by the excesses and abuses of prosperity preaching and exploitation of tax-exempt status, though, Crouch was a heretic and a charlatan. For both, his imprint will long survive him: he leaves not only a legacy of scandal, but a legacy of forever altering the landscape of American and global Christianity.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahposner/7422/paul_crouch__architect_of_prosperity_gospel_televangelism__dead_at_79

Conservative donors eye independent groups with new skepticism

By Matea Gold, Published: June 22, 2013

Charlie Spies knows how to raise money. The Republican lawyer helped rake in $153 million for Restore Our Future, the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC.

But he’s had a harder slog with one of his latest projects, Republicans for Immigration Reform, a super PAC that aims to be a dominant force in the fight over revamping the country’s immigration laws. So far, the organization has made just a tiny ad buy in South Carolina and financed a poll with two other advocacy groups.

“It has been a challenge to get donors on the Republican side to reengage,” Spies said.

Seven months after the 2012 election, a lingering hangover among conservative donors has stalled efforts by right-leaning independent groups to fill their coffers. Wealthy contributors who dashed off six- and seven-figure checks last year are eyeing super PACs and other politically active groups more skeptically, frustrated that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent to elect Romney went for naught.

“There’s donor fatigue,” said Fred Malek, a veteran GOP operative wired into high-net-worth circles. “Everyone was in a frenzy of giving up until the November elections, and then everyone was sort of worn out on the whole process. It’s very hard to raise money after an election, especially after you lose.”

Several Republican fundraisers said they remain optimistic that the money spigot will reopen as the 2014 congressional elections approach. But this time around, donors are seeking to be more judicious about where they put their money, asking groups for detailed strategy and spending plans.

“At the moment, I’m kind of in a waiting and watching mode,” said Howard Leach, an ambassador to France under President George W. Bush. In 2012, Leach gave $100,000 each to Restore Our Future and American Crossroads, the conservative super PAC co-founded by former Bush political strategist Karl Rove.

Post-election donor apathy is not limited to the political right. Organizing for Action, a nonprofit group launched by former advisers to President Obama to back his agenda, has halved a $50 million fundraising goal for its first year after slower-than-expected fundraising, according to people familiar with the group’s plans. The decision came after the group reversed course and said it would not accept corporate funds.

But the pressure to bring in big checks is greater for pro-Republican groups, which have not been able to match the extensive small-donor network that was built by Obama’s campaign and that OFA is now drawing on.

There are signs that donor reticence stems in part from dissatisfaction with the uneven track record of super PACs, which report their funding sources, and opaque nonprofit groups, which do not disclose their donors. Both types can raise unlimited funds.

One well-connected Republican donor and fundraiser, who has held off writing big checks to outside groups since the election, said he is among a group of top contributors now questioning the value of financing such organizations, which operate independently of candidates and party leaders.

“I do find it a little worrisome, frankly, that there’s so much more money and so few people behind it,” said the contributor, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about his misgivings. “I am concerned that all that money didn’t seem to bring results.”

Frank VanderSloot, chief executive of an Idaho nutritional-supplement company who gave abundantly to Romney and groups backing him, said he has concluded that it is not effective to finance tax-exempt advocacy groups that can only spend a limited amount on politics.

“If you can’t say what candidate you’re for, it’s hard,” said VanderSloot, who said he gave “several million” in all to various groups, including $1.1 million to Restore Our Future.

From now on, he said, he is sticking with super PACs, which have more latitude to directly engage in elections: “That’s where my money is going.”

Major conservative groups such as Crossroads have stayed out of Tuesday’s special election for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, leaving Republican Gabriel Gomez outmatched against the resources of Democrat Edward J. Markey and his allies.

Conservative donors said they have not softened in their opposition to Obama or stopped trying to stymie his presidency. If anything, recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s data gathering and the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of conservative groups have intensified those sentiments, they said.

Having failed to deny Obama a second term, some contributors said they plan to work on flipping the Senate to Republican control in 2014 in order to block the president legislatively. Obama is “taking this country down the tubes,” said Andrew Sabin, owner of a New York-based precious-metal refining business, who gave $100,000 to American Crossroads in the last election cycle. “I’m extremely motivated.”

One fundraiser for a top conservative group, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations with donors, said contributors understand that the midterms will be important. “I think they just have to understand how the money is being spent,” the fundraiser said.

New conservative outfits are finding that they have to work much harder to win over donors, some of whom now hire lawyers to conduct due-diligence inquiries about the organizations soliciting their support.

“We’ve learned to ask people: ‘What is your message? Where are you going to spend the money, and how?’” said VanderSloot, who said that he also requests information about how much of a group’s budget goes to paying people running the organization. “In some cases, you may want to get that answer in writing.”

The intense scrutiny “is winnowing the field of consultants who are able to raise significant funds,” said Robert Kelner, a Washington campaign finance lawyer who heads the political law practice at Covington & Burling.

“You’re seeing more impressive business plans, on better paper with fancier graphics,” Kelner added, referring to the efforts of political groups. “They look more like the kind of proposals someone would submit to a private equity fund.”

In their pitches, many organizations are pledging to diversify their approaches and not rely as heavily on expensive television advertising as they did in the last election, when the airwaves were crowded with discordant messages. The new emphasis is on digital campaigns and get-out-the-vote organizing — strategies that some groups expect to test this year in Virginia’s governor’s race and New Jersey’s U.S. Senate contest.

The desire of donors to see specific political plans has slowed the efforts of Republican groups seeking to promote their preferred versions of immigration reform, strategists said. The Senate is on track to approve a bipartisan compromise by the end of next week, but prospects in the House are less certain.

It remains to be seen whether any groups on the right will provide significant air cover for lawmakers who support the legislation.

So far, Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit sister of American Crossroads, has spent less than $100,000 to run a newspaper and online ad calling for comprehensive immigration reform. A spokesman declined to comment on whether the organization’s modest efforts so far were due to fundraising challenges.

One of the biggest players was expected to be Republicans for Immigration Reform, which Spies launched in the fall with Carlos Gutierrez, a former Kellogg chief executive who served as commerce secretary under Bush.

“This is not small ball,” Gutierrez told The Washington Post in November. “We’re serious, and we are going to push the debates on immigration reform to a place where I believe the Republican Party should be in the 21st century.”

Spies said that the group still hopes to launch a paid media campaign this summer but that no plans have been finalized.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/conservative-donors-eye-independent-groups-with-new-skepticism/2013/06/22/e8cb5f22-d8f3-11e2-a9f2-42ee3912ae0e_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines

11 Most Absurd Lies Conservatives Are Using to Brainwash America’s School Kids

By Amanda Marcotte, AlterNet, March 11, 2013

Excerpt

If recent elections have taught us anything, it’s that young Americans have taken a decided turn to the left. Young voters delivered Obama the election: the under-44 set voted Obama and the over-45 set broke for Romney. The youngest voters, age 18-29, gave Obama a whopping 60% of their vote.

Now Republicans have a plan to try to recapture the youngest voters out there: Take over the curriculum in public schools, replace education with a bunch of conservative propaganda, and reap the benefits of having a new generation that can’t tell reality from right-wing fantasy.

How well this plan will work is debatable, but in the meantime, these shenanigans present the very real possibility that public school students will graduate without a proper education. To make it worse, many of these attempts to rewrite school curriculum are happening in Texas, which can set the textbook standards for the entire country [3] by simply wielding its power as one of the biggest school textbook markets there is. With that in mind, here’s a list of 11 lies your kid may be in danger of learning in school.

Lie #1: Racism has barely been an issue in U.S. history and slavery wasn’t that big a deal.

Lie #2: Joe McCarthy was right.

Lie #3: Climate change is a massive hoax scientists have perpetuated on the public.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) [5] has been hard at work pushing for laws requiring that climate change denialism be taught in schools as a legitimate scientific theory...The reality is that climate change is a fact that has overwhelming scientific consensus…To claim that climate change is a “controversy” requires one to believe that there’s a massive conspiracy involving nearly all the scientists in the world…

Lie #4: The Bible is a history textbook and a scientific document.T

Lie #5: Black people are the descendents of Ham and therefore cursed by God.

Lie #6: Evolution is a massive hoaxscientistshave perpetuated on the public.

Lie #7: Sex is awful and filthy, and you should save it for someone you love.

Lie #8: Dragons actually once existed.

Lie #9: Gay people do not actually exist.

Lie #10: Hippies were dirty, immoral Satan-worshippers.

Lie #11: Ayn Rand’s books have literary value.

Full text

If recent elections have taught us anything, it’s that young Americans have taken a decided turn to the left. Young voters delivered Obama the election: the under-44 set voted Obama and the over-45 set broke for Romney. The youngest voters, age 18-29, gave Obama a whopping 60% of their vote.

Now Republicans have a plan to try to recapture the youngest voters out there: Take over the curriculum in public schools, replace education with a bunch of conservative propaganda, and reap the benefits of having a new generation that can’t tell reality from right-wing fantasy.

How well this plan will work is debatable, but in the meantime, these shenanigans present the very real possibility that public school students will graduate without a proper education. To make it worse, many of these attempts to rewrite school curriculum are happening in Texas, which can set the textbook standards for the entire country [3] by simply wielding its power as one of the biggest school textbook markets there is. With that in mind, here’s a list of 11 lies your kid may be in danger of learning in school.

Lie #1: Racism has barely been an issue in U.S. history and slavery wasn’t that big a deal.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute reviewed [4] the new social studies standards laid down by the rightwing-dominated Texas State School Board and found them to be a deplorable example of conservative wishful thinking replacing fact. At the top of list? Downplaying the role that slavery had in starting the Civil War, and instead focusing on “sectionalism” and “states rights,” even though the sectionalism and states rights arguments directly stemmed from Southern states wanting to keep slavery. There’s also a chance your kid might be misled to think post-Civil War racism was no big deal, as the standards excise any mention of the KKK, the phrase “Jim Crow” or the Black Codes. Mention is made of the Southern Democratic opposition to civil rights, but mysteriously, the mass defection of Southern Democrats to the Republican Party to punish the rest of the Democrats for supporting civil rights goes unmentioned.

Lie #2: Joe McCarthy was right.

The red-baiting of the mid-20th century has gone down in history, correctly, as a witch hunt that stemmed from irrational paranoia that gripped the U.S. after WWII. But now, according to the Thomas B. Fordham report, your kid might learn that the red baiters had a point: “It is disingenuously suggested that the House Un-American Activities Committee—and, by extension, McCarthyism—have been vindicated by the Venona decrypts of Soviet espionage activities (which had, in reality, no link to McCarthy’s targets).” Critical lessons about being skeptical of those who attack fellow Americans while wrapping themselves in the flag will be lost for students whose textbooks adhere to these standards.

Lie #3: Climate change is a massive hoaxscientistshave perpetuated on the public.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) [5] has been hard at work pushing for laws requiring that climate change denialism be taught in schools as a legitimate scientific theory. Unfortunately, as Neela Banerjee [6] of the L.A. Times reports, they’ve already had some serious success: “Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change.” Other states are taking the “teach the controversy” strategy that helped get creationism into biology classrooms, asking teachers to treat climate change like it’s a matter of political debate instead of a scientifically established fact.

The reality is that climate change is a fact that has overwhelming scientific consensus. In 2004, Science reviewed the 928 relevant studies [7] on climate change published between 1993 and 2003 and found that exactly zero of them denied that climate change was a reality, and most found it had manmade causes. To claim that climate change is a “controversy” requires one to believe that there’s a massive conspiracy involving nearly all the scientists in the world. So, your kids are not only not learning the realities of climate change, they are also learning, if indirectly, to give credence to conspiracy theory paranoia.

Lie #4: The Bible is a history textbook and a scientific document.

Texas passed a law in 2007 pushing schools to teach the Bible as history and literature in schools. Since that was already being done in most schools, the law was clearly just a backdoor way to sneak religious instruction into schools, and a report by the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) demonstrates [8] that many of them have taken full advantage. One district treats the Bible stories like history by “listing biblical events side by side with historical developments from around the globe.” Many other schools are teaching that the Bible “proves” that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. The Earth is actually over 4 billion years old.

Lie #5: Black people are the descendents of Ham and therefore cursed by God.

Among the courses justified by the 2007 Bible law, TFN found two school districts teaching that the various races are descended from the sons of Noah. All the Bible really says about the sons of Noah is that Ham was cursed by his father so that his descendents would be slaves, but American slave owners used this passage to claim that Africans must be the descendents of Ham and therefore their slave-owning was okay by God. Make no mistake. The only reason this legend has persisted and is popping up in 21st-century classrooms is that conservative Christians are still trying to justify the enslavement of African Americans over a century ago.

Lie #6: Evolution is a massive hoaxscientistshave perpetuated on the public.

Creationists have an endless store of creative ways to get around the Constitution and the courts when it comes to replacing legitimate biology education with fundamentalist Christian dogma. Various states have employed an extensive school voucher system that has allowed creationist dogma to flourish. College-age activist Zack Kopplin has been chronicling the problem, and has found various schools nationwide using taxpayer dollars to teach that evolution is a “mistaken belief” and that the Bible “refutes the man-made idea of evolution.” Why do these school administrators believe that scientists are hoaxing the public by making up evolution? Kopplin found a Louisiana school principal who claimed it’s because scientists are “sinful men” seeking to justify their own immorality, and another Florida school teaching that evolutionary theory is “the way of the heathen.”

Lie #7: Sex is awful and filthy, and you should save it for someone you love.

While things are improving, even in notoriously fact-phobic states like Mississippi and Texas, “abstinence-only” education continues to persist in school districts across the nation. TFN found that nearly three-quarters of Texas high schools are still teaching abstinence-only [9], which is based on the fundamental and easily disproved lie that premarital sex is inherently dangerous to a person’s mental and physical health. On top of this, TFN found that many schools are still passing on inaccurate information on condoms and STI transmission, usually exaggerating the dangers in a futile bid to keep kids from having sex. Unfortunately, even Texas school districts that use curriculum that educates correctly on contraception use are still trying to spin abstinence-until-marriage as a desirable option for all students, even though premarital sex is near-universal in the real world [10].  Abstinence-only may be discredited with the voters, but sadly it’s still very normal in Texas, other red states, and even across the nation [11].

Lie #8: Dragons actually once existed. 

As much as “Game of Thrones” fans might wish otherwise, dragons are not real and have never existed. But as reported by Mother Jones [12], Louisiana’s notorious voucher school system has let some crazy nonsense fly in the classroom, including the claim that dragons used to roam the planet. A book being used in Louisiana classrooms titled Life Science and published by Bob Jones University Press claims that “scientists” found “dinosaur skulls” that the book suggests are actually dragons. “The large skull chambers could have contained special chemical-producing glands. When the animal forced the chemicals out of its mouth or nose, these substances may have combined and produced fire and smoke,” the book claims.

Lie #9: Gay people do not actually exist.

After being beat back by gay rights and sexual health advocates, Republicans in the Tennessee legislature are once again trying to bring back the “don’t say gay bill.” The law would ban a teacher from admitting the existence of homosexuality [13] to students prior to the 8th grade, even if the students ask them about it. Instead, the bill would require turning a student who confesses to being gay over to his parents, with the legislators clearly hoping that punishment will somehow make the kid not-gay. The entire bill rests on and promotes the premise that homosexuality isn’t a real sexual orientation, but just the result of mental illness or confusion, and if it’s enforced, that message will come across to the students.

Lie #10: Hippies were dirty, immoral Satan-worshippers.

In the 1960s, it was common for conservatives to try to discredit the left by stoking paranoia about hippie culture and denouncing the supposed evils of rock ‘n’ roll. Forty years have passed, but in Louisiana, some school administrators are apparently still afraid that possessing a Beatles record means a young person is on the verge of quitting bathing and taking up a lifestyle of taking LSD and worshipping Satan at psychedelic orgies.

A history textbook snagged from a Louisiana school [14] funded by the voucher program tells students: “Many young people turned to drugs and immoral lifestyles and these youths became known as hippies. They went without bathing, wore dirty, ragged, unconventional clothing, and deliberately broke all codes of politeness or manners. Rock music played an important part in the hippie movement and had great influence over the hippies. Many of the rock musicians they followed belonged to Eastern religious cults or practiced Satan worship.” It’s unclear if the book also teaches that if you play a Queen record backward, you can hear Satan telling you to smoke pot, but that kind of critical information could also be conveyed during the teacher’s lectures on the subject.

Lie #11: Ayn Rand’s books have literary value.

Idaho state senator John Goedde [15], chairman of the state’s Senate Education Committee has introduced a bill that would require students not only to read Rand’s ponderous novel Atlas Shrugged, but also to pass a test on it in order to graduate. Goedde claims to mostly not be serious about this bill, but instead is using it as a childish attempt to piss off the liberals, but it’s still the sort of item parents need to watch out for.

After all, Texas textbook standards require that an obsession with the gold standard [16] be taught as a legitimate economic theory instead of the mad ravings of cranks that it is. We live in an era where no amount of right-wing lunacy is considered too much to be pushed on innocent children like it’s fact. Anyone who doubts that should just remember one word: Dragons.

See more stories tagged with:

texas [17],

textbooks [18],

racism [19],

joe mccarthy [20],

climate change [21],

amanda marcotte [22]


Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/education/11-most-absurd-lies-conservatives-are-using-brainwash-americas-school-kids

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/amanda-marcotte-0
[3] http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/jun/21/how-texas-inflicts-bad-textbooks-on-us/?pagination=false
[4] http://www.edexcellencemedia.net/publications/2011/20110216_SOSHS/SOSS_USHistory_Texas.pdf
[5] http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/01/alec-bill-in-three-states-to-require-climate-change-denial-in-schools/
[6] http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/16/nation/la-na-climate-change-school-20120116
[7] https://www.sciencemag.org/content/306/5702/1686.full
[8] http://tfninsider.org/2013/01/16/new-tfnef-report-texas-public-school-bible-classes-teach-races-come-from-noahs-sons-biblical-literalism-6000-year-old-earth/
[9] http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/Report_final_web.pdf?docID=2941
[10] http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2006/12/19/index.html
[11] http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/10/10/987411/federal-funds-abstinence-only-programs/
[12] http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/07/photos-evangelical-curricula-louisiana-tax-dollars
[13] http://www.advocate.com/politics/2013/01/30/tenns-dont-say-gay-bill-back-and-it-could-out-students-their-parents
[14] http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/03/11/1697601/textbook-for-louisianas-voucher-schools-teaches-hippies-are-dirty-rock-musicians-worship-satan/
[15] http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/feb/05/bill-requires-all-idaho-kids-read-atlas-shrugged/
[16] http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/03/conservative_bloc_dominates_latest_texas_textbooks.php
[17] http://www.alternet.org/tags/texas
[18] http://www.alternet.org/tags/textbooks-0
[19] http://www.alternet.org/tags/racism-0
[20] http://www.alternet.org/tags/joe-mccarthy
[21] http://www.alternet.org/tags/climate-change
[22] http://www.alternet.org/tags/amanda-marcotte-0
[23] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

Why are “Wedge Issues” Essential to Republican Rule?

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS,   23 July 2006

Excerpt

While they have the public and the media distracted with red hot emotional topics, they go off and make the wealthy wealthier, increase our national debt, dismantle the Constitution, and take away government social services. Wedge issues are a powerful distraction — and allow the right wing to accomplish their goals while the public is preoccupied with some trumped up emotional issue that the Busheviks could care less about… wedge issues are emotional in appeal. They bypass the cognitive function of the brain and go right to a subconscious emotional response. Name any Republican wedge issue from immigration, to abortion, to gay marriage, to flag burning… “the war on terrorism” … and you run head into an emotional, not a reasoned, hook…. Basically, the Republican “rule by emotional appeal” boils down to a big brother elitism whose message to Americans is simply this: “Don’t think. We’ll do the thinking for you. Just follow.”

Full text

Why are “wedge issues” so important to the modern Republican Party?

First of all, wedge issues are emotional in appeal. They bypass the cognitive function of the brain and go right to a subconscious emotional response. Name any Republican wedge issue from immigration, to abortion, to gay marriage, to flag burning — not to mention the granddaddy of them all: “the war on terrorism” and FEAR — and you run head into an emotional, not a reasoned, hook.

In short, the Republicans are tremendously skilled at employing the art of the demagogue to get Americans — around half at any given time — to avoid reasoned discussion of public policy. They do this by appealing to emotional, instinctual reactions that are not processed through a thoughtful process. It’s called pressing a hot button.

Second of all, the Republicans use wedge issues to, essentially, pickpocket the American public and dismantle the American government.

While they have the public and the media distracted with red hot emotional topics, they go off and make the wealthy wealthier, increase our national debt, dismantle the Constitution, and take away government social services. Wedge issues are a powerful distraction — and allow the right wing to accomplish their goals while the public is preoccupied with some trumped up emotional issue that the Busheviks could care less about.

Finally, wedge issues are a tremendous fundraising tool for the right wing. In fact, the campaigns of right wing candidates were financed by the money generated by right wing wedge issue direct mail. Richard Viguerie was the guru who started the direct mail juggernaut for GOP candidates — and organizations — and he’s still going strong. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Rove came to the fore in Texas politics as a direct mail consultant.

In short, wedge issues that press the hot buttons of right wing donors sell big time. We heard Viguerie speak recently and he referred to “pre-sold” wedge issues. In essence, these are topics like “gay marriage,” “abortion,” and “war on terror” that you include in the first sentence of a GOP direct mail piece and you are guaranteed a good response because they have such visceral impact on Stepford GOP followers.

Progressives and Democrats have far fewer “pre-sold” appeals — except for the mention of Bush and Cheney — because progressives and Democrats think more before acting. That may sound snobbish, but it’s true from a direct mail perspective.

Basically, the Republican “rule by emotional appeal” boils down to a big brother elitism whose message to Americans is simply this: “Don’t think. We’ll do the thinking for you. Just follow.”

http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/79-why-are-wedge-issues-essential-to-republican-rule

Apocalypse Now

By ANDREW ROSENTHAL, New York Times, October 30, 2012

The presidential candidates have told us many times that this election is vitally important and have stressed the dire consequences of voting for the other guy. President Obama says the poor will suffer while rich people will prosper if Mitt Romney wins. Mr. Romney counters that Mr. Obama will destroy the economy, coddle terrorists and betray Israel.

But now we learn that there is a much, much greater risk even than that in voting for Mr. Obama – the wrath of God.

“This November, Christians across the nation will be put to the test,” the Rev. Mike Huckabee, former governor and former presidential candidate, says in a new video.

“Your vote,” he says, “will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire?”

While the video shows burning fires (get it?) and a woman striding purposefully into a voting booth, Mr. Huckabee concedes that there are a lot of issues in this campaign, but “some issues are not negotiable.”

These are “the right to life from conception to natural death; marriage should be reinforced, not redefined; it is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty to force the church to buy the kind of insurance that leads to the taking of innocent human life.”

That last bit is a combination of two lies involving Mr. Obama’s health care reform, which requires companies to offer coverage for contraceptives to female employees. It specifically exempts churches and it does not cover abortion.

Mr. Huckabee is not alone in casting this election as a test of your faith in God.

On his website and in newspaper ads (for the Milwaulkee Journal-Sentinel, among other places), the Rev. Billy Graham wrote: “I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel.” (Hint: That does not include Mr. Obama.)

“I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman,” he said. “Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that American will remain one nation under God.”

Although Mr. Obama isn’t above pandering, in this election cycle I have not seen the Democratic side stoop nearly this low.

http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/apocalypse-now/?nl=opinion&emc=edit_ty_20121030

Mitt Romney’s Prosperity Gospel

By Peter Laarman, October 29, 2012

The presidential candidate as televangelist

Mitt Romney’s endorsement by various televangelists obscures the more important ways in which the candidate himself now projects the essence of televangelism. As the campaign enters the final days, Candidate Romney increasingly exhorts his audiences to dare to have faith in the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11.1), to dare to imagine a whole new life for themselves under this very rich man’s care, to dare to believe in the Gospel of Wealth, and to be saved, finally, from real-world lives that are going nowhere in the $10/hour economy

Watching Romney’s preacherly side take the stage in the second debate, I mistakenly feared for a time that he was having the better evening because of his way with a microphone and his remarkable capacity to modulate his voice (not to mention outing himself as LDS pastor and bishop). But it was Billy Graham’s endorsement, splashed into our faces via an expensive full-page Sunday New York Times ad, that triggered my flat-out recognition: the 94-year-old daddy of all televangelists is laying his bony patriarchal hands upon a fellow preacher who shares his hawk-like profile, and that man is not Franklin Graham.

Romney wants us to turn away from the false gospel of an impostor, a usurper, a false messiah, who happens to be the sitting president. Pretty much every Romney speech tells the story of how this imposter’s hope proved to be a false hope. Romney is clearly trying to plead for the souls of those who voted for Obama the first time. Romney’s message: “It’s okay, I understand the seduction: they don’t call Satan the ‘Father of Lies’ for nothing.”

But far more potent than the trashing of Obama in the new Romney pitch is the miracle-cure element (and the part that makes Obama people go nuts). To wit: “C’mon, folks! Just walk through these waters and watch that dropsy vanish, watch those deficits just disappear, watch those good American jobs fall like manna from Heaven.” He joins this with a very effective appeal to a still-Puritanical American need to avoid indebtedness and accept austerity as the price of redemption.

This is what Romney means when he refers to “big things” that need to be resolved. The biggest thing of all, for his purposes, is recovering the will and the capacity to believe. This very much includes believing that some should suffer (working people, “takers,” not plutocrats) in order to achieve national redemption. As Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Jeff Madrick, and many others are quick to say, imposing austerity on workers is the worst possible remedy. But this doesn’t mean that many middle-class and working-class Americans, including many who consider themselves free of any residual Puritanism, don’t buy into the new austerity.

Obama’s response so far to Romney’s Austerity/Prosperity Gospel: “Do the math.” The professor’s answer to the preacher.

But Mr. President, with respect: Your own Education Department will affirm my suggestion that we are no longer the world’s most mathematically-inclined nation. We’re a scratch-to-win nation. We’re a roll-the-dice people. And our god is that God: the one who makes water flow from the rock (Numbers 20:11); who surprises us all the time by blessing us in the least likely circumstances. Mr. President: You need to understand this. You need to work with this, but very, very carefully.

Because, like it or not, the endgame in this election is going to be about which candidate does religion better, I fervently wish that Mr. Obama would say a bit more about the problem of cheap grace. Reminding us that people who work very hard for very little are not the abusers of cheap grace, but that others in well-feathered nests who are preaching sacrifice might be in real trouble on the cheap grace front.

Obama cannot and should not condemn those in the electorate who buy into Romney’s “there will be showers of blessing” message, but he probably does need to get his preacher voice on to remind folks that all covenant promises are conditional. That is, he should tell us in a religiously-resonant way that expecting God’s favor without loving mercy and doing justice is an utter impossibility. And (this is trickier) that God’s prescribed path of blessing is identical to the path of a bottom-up recovery, which necessarily means casting the rich down from their thrones (Luke 1:51-53—and the proof-texting business here is all mine: God knows that Obama should not be doing this except by implication).

It is not the least bit difficult to see why the Austerity/Prosperity Gospel claims so many Americans: it’s God and Mammon gift-wrapped together with a big shiny bow. It’s likewise not hard to see how a residual Puritanism and the Prosperity Gospel can reinforce each other.

I don’t expect the president to counter all of this through a few well-chosen words. But with so much at stake, we need a bit more than “do the math.” We need a bit more evocation of the most important part of Winthrop’s “shining city” sermon, which is the part about bearing one another’s burdens and prospering by way of ethical community. And also just a bit about how to recognize the false prophets of any age. That would be those who cry “peace!” when there is no peace, and those who pronounce God’s blessing upon an oppressive status quo.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/6553/mitt_romney%27s_prosperity_gospel

Jesus Hates Taxes: Biblical Capitalism Created Fertile Anti-Union Soil

By Peter Montgomery, Religion Dispatches, March 14, 2011

Excerpt

While the assault on unions by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other GOP governors and legislators seems driven mostly by the billionaire Koch brothers and corporate-funded groups, religious right leaders and activists have spent decades creating fertile soil for anti-union campaigns through the promotion of “biblical capitalism,” which researcher Rachel Tabachnick describes as “the belief that unregulated capitalism is biblically mandated.”
Pseudo-historian David Barton, a frequent guest of broadcaster Glenn Beck, is using his newly enlarged audience to promote American exceptionalism (America was created by its divinely-inspired founders as a country of, by, and for Christians) and Tea Party-on-steroids economics (Jesus and the Bible oppose progressive taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes, and minimum wage laws). The Religious Right has a long practice of claiming divine mandate for its policy agenda as it makes for an exceptionally potent political argument: if God supports radically limited government, then progressive policies are not only wrong but evil, and supporters of liberal policies are not only political opponents but enemies of God.
Two days after the November 2010 elections, Barton, Newt Gingrich, and Jim Garlow (who runs Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership group), held a conference call with pastors to celebrate conservative political gains. On the call, Garlow and Barton asserted a biblical underpinning for far-right economic policies: Taxation and deficit spending, they said, amount to theft, a violation of the Ten Commandments. The estate tax, Barton said, is “absolutely condemned” by the Bible as the “most immoral” of taxes. Jesus, he said, had “teachings” condemning the capital gains tax and minimum wage.
Barton also enlists Jesus in the war against unions and collective bargaining…and went on to explain why the Bible is anti-union…
It’s clear that the attempt to once again “break the spine of labor” is meant to cripple any opposition to the vision of a country in which corporations are given free rein to maximize profits without concern for workers’ safety, community well-being, and environmental protection. The seeds of that vision were first planted by Christian Reconstructionists and The Family and today’s conservative Christian leaders are only too eager to take advantage of the fruits of those labors to make the case that Jesus opposes efforts to ensure a living wage to workers, and that workers should accept as good slaves whatever treatment their employers dish out.

Full text

While the assault on unions by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other GOP governors and legislators seems driven mostly by the billionaire Koch brothers and corporate-funded groups, religious right leaders and activists have spent decades creating fertile soil for anti-union campaigns through the promotion of “biblical capitalism,” which researcher Rachel Tabachnick describes as “the belief that unregulated capitalism is biblically mandated.”

Pseudo-historian David Barton, a frequent guest of broadcaster Glenn Beck, is using his newly enlarged audience to promote American exceptionalism (America was created by its divinely-inspired founders as a country of, by, and for Christians) and Tea Party-on-steroids economics (Jesus and the Bible oppose progressive taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes, and minimum wage laws). The religious right has a long practice of claiming divine mandate for its policy agenda as it makes for an exceptionally potent political argument: if God supports radically limited government, then progressive policies are not only wrong but evil, and supporters of liberal policies are not only political opponents but enemies of God.

Two days after the November 2010 elections, Barton, Newt Gingrich, and Jim Garlow (who runs Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership group), held a conference call with pastors to celebrate conservative political gains. On the call, Garlow and Barton asserted a biblical underpinning for far-right economic policies: Taxation and deficit spending, they said, amount to theft, a violation of the Ten Commandments. The estate tax, Barton said, is “absolutely condemned” by the Bible as the “most immoral” of taxes. Jesus, he said, had “teachings” condemning the capital gains tax and minimum wage.

Barton also enlists Jesus in the war against unions and collective bargaining. Two years ago Barton devoted his Wallbuilders Live radio show to celebrating a Supreme Court decision that upheld anIdaho law ending state withholding of public employee union political funds. Barton’s co-host Rick Green called for activists to “spark a fire” and encourage other states to take up the effort to disrupt unions’ political activities. Barton called the Supreme Court’s decision “the right historical position and the right biblical position,” and went on to explain why the Bible is anti-union.

According to Barton, a parable from the 20th chapter of the book of Matthew about the owner of a vineyard making different arrangements with workers was about “the right of private contract”—in other words, the right of employers to come to individual agreements with each employee. Jesus’ parable, he said, is “anti-minimum wage” and “anti-socialist-union kind of stuff.” (This is just one of the parables of Jesus cited by Barton and others in support of laissez-faire economic policies.)

The religious right’s anti-union roots are long and deep. Researchers have traced them through the teachings of R.J. Rushdoony, an intellectual godfather of sorts for much of the increasingly dominionist religious right; Gary North, a leading Christian Reconstructionist; and through fundamentalist textbooks used by homeschoolers and Christian schools. The roots of the Family, as Peter Laarman notes in his examination of religious indifference to the decades-long war on workers’ rights, are in anti-unionism. Back in 1942, according to Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power:

[T]he National Association of Manufacturers staked [Family founder Abraham Vereide] to a meeting of congressmen who would become students of his spiritual politics, among themVirginiasenator Absalom Willis Robertson—Pat Robertson’s father. Vereide returned the manufacturers’ favor by telling his new congressional followers that God wanted them to break the spine of organized labor. They did.

One of the most striking examples of this theory reaching into the political realm is found in an early Christian Coalition Leadership Manual, co-authored by Coalition founder Ralph Reed in 1990. A section titled “God’s Delegated Authority in the World,” which argues that “God established His pattern for work as well as in the family and in the church,” cites four Bible passages instructing slaves to be obedient to their masters, including 1 Peter 2:18-19:

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

And then, the astonishing lesson drawn by Christian Coalition leaders from these slaves-obey-your-masters passages:

Of course, slavery was abolished in this country many years ago, so we must apply these principles to the way Americans work today, to employees and employers: Christians have a responsibility to submit to the authority of their employers, since they are designated as part of God’s plan for the exercise of authority on the earth by man.

Slavery also makes an appearance in “Indivisible,” a booklet of essays being aggressively promoted by the Heritage Foundation as part of its campaign to assert that genuine fiscal conservatism cannot be separated from social conservatism. In one essay, anti-gay activist Bishop Harry Jackson writes that minimum wage laws “[remind] me of slavery.”

There’s no reason to believe that religious right and anti-union forces won’t continue to join forces. Later this month, the anti-union National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation will join anti-gay activists, anti-immigrant groups, and other groups primarily associated with social conservatism, at a gathering in Iowaconvened by religious right favorite Rep. Steve King to discuss “American Exceptionalism.” National Right to Work promotes a guide for employees with religious objections to joining a union:

To determine whether your beliefs are religious instead of political or philosophical, ask yourself whether your beliefs are based upon your obligations to God. Do you simply dislike unions or hate this particular union’s politics? Or, does your desire to stand apart from the union arise from your relationship to God? If your beliefs arise from your decision to obey God, they are religious.

And in April, religious right and Republican leaders will gather for the second year in a row at LibertyUniversityat the invitation of the Freedom Federation, a collection of religious right groups launched in 2009 with a Declaration of American Values, which added opposition to progressive taxation to the religious right’s usual issue agenda. While the Freedom Federation refers to itself as a federation of faith-based organizations, its founding members also include Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded group that has funded attacks on Democratic lawmakers and mobilized Tea Party activists on behalf of right-wing candidates.

Just last week, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins tweeted his support for the Wisconsin Republicans’ union-busting: “Pro-family voters should celebrate WI victory b/c public & private sector union bosses have marched lock-step w/ liberal social agenda.”

It’s clear that the attempt to once again “break the spine of labor” is meant to cripple any opposition to the vision of a country in which corporations are given free rein to maximize profits without concern for workers’ safety, community well-being, and environmental protection. The seeds of that vision were first planted by Christian Reconstructionists and The Family and today’s conservative Christian leaders are only too eager to take advantage of the fruits of those labors to make the case that Jesus opposes efforts to ensure a living wage to workers, and that workers should accept as good slaves whatever treatment their employers dish out.

Peter Montgomery, an associate editor for Religion Dispatches, is a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way Foundation where he was on staff for 15 years. Before that he was associate director of grassroots lobbying for Common Cause and wrote for Common Cause Magazine, an award-winning journal featuring investigative reporting about the federal government.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4366/jesus_hates_taxes%3A_biblical_capitalism_created_fertile_anti-union_soil

The Debt Ceiling Crisis and Biblical Economics

by Julie Ingersoll, Religion Dispatches, July 14, 2011

Excerpt

An interesting week for biblical economics: the longstanding voice in the wilderness Ron Paul…In many ways prompted by tea party ideological intransigence, Paul has brought what were once considered extreme, fringe, even “crackpot” economic views to bear on the American economy and potentially the global economic system…his ties to the Reconstructionists…
The new GOP coalition, built on tea party support, is breaking down over the debt limit crisis…
now tea partiers like Michele Bachmann are saying they won’t vote to raise the limit at all and are claiming that the administration is exaggerating the impact a default will have. Moreover, they’re so sure about the tea party members staying in line on a vote, they’re going after Republicans who want to cut a deal….
rooted in what I described at a “theocratic reading of the Bible…
It’s much harder to make something happen (eliminating the Federal Reserve) than it is to keep something from happening (raising the debt limit)…
for proponents of biblical economics, there’s a much deeper motive. As I explained in the November 2010 piece on the Fed:
North’s overarching schema is that there is an impending social collapse which will provide the opportunity for biblically-based Christians to exercise dominion by replacing existing humanistic institutions with biblical ones…
“people will at last decide that they have had enough moral and legal compromise. They will at last decide to adopt a simple system of honest money, along with competitive free market principles throughout the economy.”…
For North, default of the U.S. economy is inevitable; he argues that it has already begun.
We know who he thinks will pick up the pieces.

Full text

An interesting week for biblical economics: the longstanding voice in the wilderness Ron Paul announced he is retiring from Congress to focus on a presidential bid and the crisis over the debt ceiling. In many ways prompted by tea party ideological intransigence, Paul has brought what were once considered extreme, fringe, even “crackpot” economic views to bear on the American economy and potentially the global economic system.

At Slate, David Weigel wrote about Paul’s retirement, noting that he was leaving behind a Republican Party that had “finally learned to love him.” But in his affectionate send-off, he wrote only about Paul’s ties to the Austrian school of economics and said nothing about his ties to the Reconstructionists.

While the tea partiers love Paul, the affection within the GOP itself may be short lived, as Aaron Blake at the Washington Post argues. The new GOP coalition, built on tea party support, is breaking down over the debt limit crisis.

A couple of months back Republicans (acting like Republicans) were demanding that, in exchange for the debt ceiling increase, there be substantial budget cuts and a strategy to reduce the debt.

But now tea partiers like Michele Bachmann are saying they won’t vote to raise the limit at all and are claiming that the administration is exaggerating the impact a default will have. Moreover, they’re so sure about the tea party members staying in line on a vote, they’re going after Republicans who want to cut a deal. My local tea party group, First Coast Tea Party, for example, is calling members to gather at Florida Senator Bill Nelson’s office today to urge him to vote against a debt ceiling increase.

Bachmann’s stance on the debt limit is not unlike Sarah Palin’s opposition to the Federal Reserve that I wrote about here in November 2010.

Both are rooted in what I described at a “theocratic reading of the Bible, arising out of the nexus between (Ron) Paul (and now his son, Senator-elect Rand Paul), Howard Phillips and his Constitution Party, and Gary North and the Christian Reconstructionists.”

But Bachmann’s position on the debt ceiling is likely more significant than Palin’s on the Fed because her view could win the day. It’s much harder to make something happen (eliminating the Federal Reserve) than it is to keep something from happening (raising the debt limit).

When tea party leaders like Bachmann seem to think default won’t be Armageddon, they appear to be parroting simplistic theories for public consumption. But for proponents of biblical economics, there’s a much deeper motive. As I explained in the November 2010 piece on the Fed:

North’s overarching schema is that there is an impending social collapse which will provide the opportunity for biblically-based Christians to exercise dominion by replacing existing humanistic institutions with biblical ones. In Honest Money, he wrote:

“First, the bankers and the politicians will continue to try to make the present system work. This will make the present system worse. Second, there will be a collapse in stages: inflation, then mass inflation, then price controls, then tyranny, and finally a worldwide deflationary depression. At that point, there will be new demand from the voters for answers. Third—and this is my hope and my prayer—people will at last decide that they have had enough moral and legal compromise. They will at last decide to adopt a simple system of honest money, along with competitive free market principles throughout the economy.”

In fact Gary North (who at one time worked for Rep. Paul) is currently describing the debate over the debt ceiling as political theater. But that’s because he is sure Congress will vote to increase it and, ultimately, he doesn’t think it matters. For North, default of the U.S. economy is inevitable; he argues that it has already begun.

We know who he thinks will pick up the pieces.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/julieingersoll/4866/the_debt_ceiling_crisis_and_biblical_economics

How Patriarchal, Christian Backlash Politics Have Only Become More Vicious

Salon.com / By Arthur Goldwag [1], Posted on AlterNet.org, October 28, 2012 |

When I tell Republicans — and even some moderate Democrats — that I wrote a book about right-wing hatred, their response, often as not, is skeptical and disapproving. Politics is a rough game, they say. Romney might have his 47 percent, but just listen to all those class war tropes about the 1 percent you hear from the left. Sure, the far right has an unfortunate legacy of racism, sexism and homophobia, but Obama has a whole deck of race and gender cards that he plays. And anyway, the nuts are ultimately unimportant — national elections are decided in the middle.

All of that might be true, but the kind of hatred that I’m talking about goes way beyond ordinary politics and deep into the realm of abnormal psychology. In its full-blown manifestations, it is akin to what an ophidiophobe feels at the sight of a snake: visceral and existential; categorical and absolute. It turns on the gut certainty that your adversaries aren’t looking just to raise your taxes but to destroy your whole way of life: that they are not only wrongheaded, but preternaturally evil. Comparatively few people experience these feelings on a conscious level, but they lie latent in many more of us than we might suspect.

It is precisely because appeals to those kinds of feelings work below the level of consciousness that I am so alert for them — and they have been very much in evidence throughout this whole campaign. When Mitt Romney promised to “keep America America [2]” and Michele Bachmann launched a witch hunt against Muslims [3] in the State Department, when Newt Gingrich called Obama a “food stamp president [4]” and Rick Santorum railed against the “elite, smart people” who will never be “on our side [5],” those were the buttons that were being pushed.

Conspiratorial shibboleths are seeded throughout the GOP platform, which, among other things, gestures toward a return to the gold standard and repudiates the John Birch Society’s favorite bugaboo, the United Nations’ Agenda 21 (which Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate, calls [6] a George Soros-financed attempt to “abolish ‘unsustainable’ environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads”).

None of this is new. Not surprising for a nation whose founders were in large part the descendants of religious refugees for whom the devil was both literally real and ubiquitous, an undertone of paranoid dread has been a constant if largely unacknowledged feature of American politics. All the way back in the 1790s, the Illuminati — a secret society that was founded in Bavaria in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt, an ex-Jesuit whose dream was a self-ruled, secular, trans-nationalist Cosmo-political order — became the screen on which New England religious conservatives projected their anxieties about the rising tide of anarchy and atheism. “God grant,” wrote an exposé that descried the hand of the Illuminati in the French Revolution, “that the United   States may not learn to their cost that Republics are equally menaced with Monarchies; and that the immensity of the Ocean is but a feeble barrier against the universal conspiracy.” A contributor to the Hartford Courant declared that President Thomas Jefferson is “the real Jacobin, the child of modern illumination, the foe of man, and the enemy of his country.”

In the 1820s and ’30s, apprehensions about what the Masons were getting up to in their secret Lodge meetings fueled a national political movement. Former President John Quincy Adams (who had been defeated by the Mason Andrew Jackson) ran for governor of Massachusetts on the Anti-Masonic ticket in 1834. In his book “Letters on Freemasonry,” he wrote that Masonry “is wrong — essentially wrong — a seed of evil, which can never produce any good.” If the Illuminati had been feared for their irreligion, the Masons were condemned not just as freethinkers, but as occultists, Jesuits and even Jews of a sort. The anti-Masonic panic was followed in short order by the know-nothing era of anti-Catholic Nativism.

And of course there is race. From the destruction of North America’s indigenous inhabitants to the importation of Africans as chattel slaves, from Jim Crow to racially targeted voter suppression efforts today, race has played as fraught a role in the American psyche as Freud believed sex did for bourgeois Austrians. “Affirmative action” and “reparations” are two of the most resonant buzzwords in the rhetorical arsenal of the right. Republican congressman Steve King ofIowahas accused Obama of plotting to make taxpayers pay slavery reparations to American blacks. In his bestselling book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” and the top-grossing documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” Dinesh D’Souza takes the idea even further, arguing that, as the heir to his father’s anti-Colonialism, Obama’s master plan is to “redistribute” America’s power and prosperity to the Muslim world, bankrupting the U.S. and turning it into a third-world country in the process.

Going all the way back to Jefferson and Hamilton’s bitter arguments about the national bank, Americans have been deeply suspicious of finance, for both good and terrible reasons. The rise of greenback and Silverite populism in the second half of the 19th century was partly driven by the fear that British/Jewish bankers were conspiring to destroy the Republic — the same cabal that would later be accused of foisting the Federal Reserve on the U.S., orchestrating World War I and financing the Bolshevik revolution. Oddly enough, today’s populists agitate for the return of the very gold standard that their forebears fought so hard against.

All of these different strains came together in a master template in 1920 when “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a forged document that had first been published in Russian in 1903 and that supposedly provided documentary proof of an ancient Jewish/Masonic conspiracy to rule the world, was translated into English. By the 1930s, the anti-Roosevelt far right had recast American history as the story of the endless struggle between red-blooded patriotic “producers” (farmers, craftsmen and manufacturers) and the parasitic, citified financiers who sucked them dry (aided by an unlikely alliance of dark-skinned and foreign-born moochers and collectivists). Progressives like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had delivered the federal government to the enemy.

They have been telling pretty much that same story ever since, though the Masons would take a back seat to the Communists, the specter of Shariah law would eventually understudy for the Vatican and the Elders of Zion, and George Soros would stand in for the Rothschilds. Florida’s Rep. Allen West proved that McCarthyism is alive and well last spring when he told a town hall meeting that “about 78 or 81 [7]” of the Democrats in the U.S. Congress “are members of the Communist Party.”

But as much as the extreme right might have hated FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton and even Eisenhower, Nixon and George H.W. Bush, President Obama is the visible embodiment of everything that they fear the most. He is an elite Harvard lawyer and the bearer of a foreign name. He is an urbanite and a community organizer in the Luciferian mold of Saul Alinsky. Last week Jerome Corsi — the bestselling co-author of ”Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry”took to right-wing talk shows to share his theory that Obama is not only secretly Muslim but also gay [8].

Most of all, Obama has dark skin. Let’s face it: Racism is infinitely more resonant than recondite monetary theories and tall tales about black helicopters. The thought that Obama really is an affirmative action president — earnest and full of good intentions but hopelessly over his head (“When you’re not that bright, you can’t get better prepared,” as John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor and Romney campaign co-chair put it [9] after Obama’s poor showing at the Denver debate) — might have even resonated, albeit guiltily and uneasily, with some of his disappointed supporters. Donald Trump’s latest publicity stunt — offering to donate $5 million [10] to charity if the president releases “his college records and applications and if he gives his passport applications and records” — plays off the presumption that Obama is hiding something (the bad grades that would prove that he is a beneficiary of affirmative action, an application as a foreign student or something “funny” about his passport that vindicates the birthers’ suspicions).

Speaking of that dreadful debate, one can’t help wondering whether Obama wasn’t overborne by his efforts to not look like an angry black man [11]. If true, it would be ironic if his own racial self-consciousness damaged his reelection prospects no less than his opponents’ overt and covert appeals to racism. Romney’s avidity to press the Benghazi non-issue in the second debate might be an example of just such a coded appeal — a cynical attempt to tap the suspicion that Obama is a crypto-Muslim who secretly sympathizes with al-Qaida’s aims.

Obama’s much stronger showing in the second and third debates did little to silence the murmuring. Writing on her Facebook page, Sarah Palin accused Obama of “shucking and jiving” on the Benghazi question. During a CNN interview, John Sununu dismissed Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama as based on a “slightly different reason [12]” than policy. When pressed, he insinuated that Powell was just being loyal to his race. “When you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United   States, I applaud Colin for standing with him,” is the tortuous exact quote. Sununu tried to walk back his comment a few hours later, releasing a statement in which he said he did “not doubt” that Powell’s endorsement “was based on anything but his support of the president’s policies” — but which elided the many specific critiques of Romney’s policies that Powell had offered. Sununu, of course, is also the person who said, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American,” back in July.

But as noisome as all this fear and loathing may be, I suspect it will prove less influential than one might expect in the long term — even though Fox News, conspiratorial websites like WorldNetDaily and pundits like Glenn Beck have been giving it wider circulation than it’s ever had. The great arc of American history bends toward greater, not lesser, tolerance and open-mindedness. Both candidates, remember, are members of minorities. For all that Romney’s Mormon faith informs his view of American exceptionalism, many Evangelicals consider his religion to be no less sinister than Islam, or for that matter, the Illuminati. Billy Graham’s organization didn’t get around to removing the LDS from its list of dangerous cults until last week. But, however belatedly, it did.

The glass is half full and it’s half empty. Things are a little like they were in 1928, when the KKK was strong enough to hurt Al Smith’s electoral chances (as president, it was said, he would extend the Holland Tunnel 3,000 miles to Vatican City), but not strong enough to keep a Catholic off the ticket in the first place.

The writing is already on the wall. According to the U.S. Census, 50.4 percent of the babies born in theU.S.between July 2010 and July 2011 were minorities — up from 37 percent in 1990. In “Suicide of a Superpower: Will AmericaSurvive to 2025?” Pat Buchanan envisions an Americain which whites “may discover what it is like to ride in the back of the bus.” Go to a meeting of white nationalists, and you’ll quickly learn that their deepest fears are demographic. “White Christians are threatened with extinction as a separate and identifiable people,” writes Dr. Michael Hill, the president of the neo-Confederate League of the South. “Demographers predict that whites will be a minority in this country by 2040 … we are sowing the wind because of our inaction regarding immigration and multiculturalism. We will likely reap the whirlwind.”

No matter how this election turns out, the endgame has already begun: Americais becoming more multicultural, more gay-friendly and more feminist every day. But as every hunter knows, a wounded or cornered quarry is the most dangerous. Even as the white, patriarchal, Christian hegemony declines, its backlash politics become more vicious. They may succeed in turning back the clock for some time.

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/how-patriarchal-christian-backlash-politics-have-only-become-more-vicious

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org/authors/arthur-goldwag
[2] http://www.snopes.com/politics/romney/slogan.asp
[3] http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/Decoder-Wire/2012/0719/Michele-Bachmann-links-Clinton-aide-to-extremists.-Has-she-gone-too-far-video
[4] http://www.npr.org/2012/01/17/145312069/newts-food-stamp-president-racial-or-just-politics
[5] http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/09/17/santorum-we-will-never-have-the-elite-smart-people-on-our-side/
[6] http://washingtonexaminer.com/so-does-ted-cruz-really-believe-in-a-un-conspiracy-to-take-away-golf-well/article/2504153
[7] http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/75025.html
[8] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/obama-gay-rumors-chicago-jerome-corsi-_n_1877990.html
[9] http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/10/26/1094491/john-sununus-history-of-racial-remarks-about-obama/
[10] http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505267_162-57539897/donald-trump-$5m-offer-to-president-falls-flat-joke-to-many/
[11] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/obama-debate-polite_n_1954559.html
[12] http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/26/opinion/martin-sununu-race/index.html
[13] http://www.alternet.org/tags/barack-obama
[14] http://www.alternet.org/tags/donald-trump
[15] http://www.alternet.org/tags/extremism
[16] http://www.alternet.org/tags/gop
[17] http://www.alternet.org/tags/hate
[18] http://www.alternet.org/tags/racism-0
[19] http://www.alternet.org/tags/right-wing-terrorism
[20] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B