“Alt-right” meets Christian right: A marriage made in hell
The producers of “The Handmaid’s Tale” couldn’t have possibly known how timely their TV version of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel would be when they first pitched it. The horrifying misogyny of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was illustrated most vividly by his responses to women coming forward with complaints about his harassment and assaults over the years in the wake of the release of the Access Hollywood tape.
The shocking disclosures over the past year that Roger Ailes and Harvey Weinstein basically led reigns of terror at the top of the political media and entertainment world for decades brings Trump’s behavior once more into sharp relief. One would assume that America’s conservative Christians would be totally appalled. Instead, this past weekend, Trump became the first sitting president to attend the Family Research Council’s annual gathering, the Values Voter Summit, where he received a hero’s welcome.
Perhaps that’s not surprising. Despite Trump’s long record of immoral behavior, white conservative evangelicals are among the most fervent and loyal of his supporters. A Reuters poll last month showed more than 60 percent of white evangelicals back him, a far higher number than his overall approval rating, which hovers in the 30s. At the gathering of activists this weekend, they responded in ecstasy as Trump robotically read a speech about how he and they were unified in their love of family, liberty, the constitution, the flag and the rule of law. According to Trump, their shared values are the most important of all:
George Washington said that “religion and morality are indispensable” to America’s happiness, really, prosperity and totally to its success. It is our faith and our values that inspires us to give with charity, to act with courage, and to sacrifice for what we know is right.
You just have to laugh.
Think Progress interviewed some of the attendees who said things like, “I love President Trump. He’s really evolved . . . he has a biblical worldview now as opposed to just a billionaire’s worldview.” That’s absurd, of course. He does value their votes, asking a group of religious leaders the other night, “The Christians, they know what I’m doing for them, right?”
Unlike the other big annual conservative confab, CPAC, the Values Voter Summit has generally focused on social issues. They did again this time, with Trump himself declaring victory in the war on Christmas:
You go to department stores, and they’ll say, “Happy New Year” and they’ll say other things. And it will be red, they’ll have it painted, but they don’t say it. Well, guess what? We’re saying “Merry Christmas” again.
Everyone cheered madly.
Fox News radio host Todd Starnes claimed that liberals want to criminalize masculinity and described the Boy Scouts’ recent (partial) decision to admit girls as “a war on boys.” The NRA’s Dana Loesch announced that “feminism is dead.” Patriarchy has many fans in that crowd.
The Islamophobes were out in force, openly agitating for their grand theory of the clash of civilizations. Wild-eyed former congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and anti-immigrant activist Brigitte Gabriel accused Muslims of everything from being rapists who have “no respect for women” to being carriers of infectious diseases. Frank Gaffney, perhaps the most paranoid anti-Muslim leader in the country, claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood is working hand in hand with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
All of these are common right-wing Christian conservative battle cries, although they sounded harsher and more aggressive than usual. This year something new and disturbing was added to the mix: white nationalism. Breitbart chief and former White House strategist Steve Bannon and former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka were both big-name speakers at the summit. Neither is known for his piety, to say the least.
When asked about this association with white supremacist views, the attendees either said they were comfortable with it or simply refused to accept it. The same person who said she believes Trump has a biblical worldview said, “I don’t see them as white nationalists.” Another simply denied it all, saying “I’ve never heard them encourage hateful actions. I don’t attribute them to these hate groups.”
One woman knew who to blame for all this white supremacy stuff:
You know what’s emboldened neo-Nazis? Eight years of the previous regime saying “All white people are terrible and you have to pay back for what someone did 200 years ago” and stir up racial stuff.
None of these people had read the blockbuster BuzzFeed exposé about the extensive Breitbart collusion with white supremacists. Or if they had, they were fine with it.
Gorka got sustained applause for telling the audience, “The left has no idea how much more damage we can do to them as private citizens.” He got a standing ovation at the end of his talk. He didn’t talk about religion. He talked about waging war on the left.
Steve Bannon made his pitch to take over the Republican Party, exhorting the crowd to vote out everyone they’ve been supporting for years. He shared his unique apocalyptic worldview with a crowd that literally believes in the apocalypse — and they loved it. Tugging on their traditional values heartstrings in a new way that speaks to their love of Donald Trump and authoritarianism, he attacked Sen. Bob Corker for mocking and ridiculing “a commander in chief when we have kids in the field,” conflating Trump with the flag and the troops in a new and dangerous way. (The criticism of the anthem protests as attacks on the troops and their commander runs along similar authoritarian lines.)
Bannon told Donald Trump’s white conservative Christian base that liberals are scared of them: “They fear you. And they fear you because they understand you’ve had a belly full and you’re taking your country back.”
He didn’t have to explain whom they were taking it back from, since everyone present knew exactly who the enemies of God-fearing Real Americans are. It’s fair to say that many of them were already members of Bannon’s white nationalist posse, blaming Obama for causing all these problems with the you-know-whats and letting those Muslims run rampant with their Sharia law and all. But if anyone there wasn’t on board with this “alt-right,” neofascist vision for America, they didn’t seem disturbed by it in the least. They didn’t walk out. They gave Bannon an enthusiastic ovation.
The marriage of the Christian right and authoritarian white nationalism looks like a match made in heaven — or perhaps in the other place, depending on your perspective. “The Handmaid’s Tale” seems less and less implausible every day.
via Salon http://bit.ly/2iFnE88
October 16, 2017 at 05:15AM