Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why They Hate So Much: the History Behind the Right's Intolerance

One of the stark commonalities between the Christofascists and far right Republicans (to the extent they aren't one and the same) is their hatred towards others.  And "others" includes a lengthy list of people: gays, blacks, Hispanics, Jews, non-Christians, Muslims, etc., etc.  Behind this hate is a desire to maintain power and control - privilege, if you will - and to combat anything and everything that challenges their world view, much of which is based on a selective reading of a book of fiction: the Bible.  As a piece in Salon notes, through out America's history there have been those who have used hate and related paranoia to further their own interest, often to the detriment of most of society.  This hasn't changed and the GOP has perfected the use of hate towards the "other" to dupe the ignorant and bigoted into voting against their own interests,  Here are column highlights:
Is Ann Coulter an anti-Semite? What’s interesting to me about Coulter’s notorious tweet (“How many f—ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?”) isn’t what it does or doesn’t reveal about her, but the light that it sheds on the deep archetypes of American conservatism.

Watching the two Republican debates, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d come, in Kurt Vonnegut’s phrase, “unstuck in time.” Ted Cruz looks to me like a silent movie villain from the 1920s, and he talks like a wax cylinder recording of a Texas governor from the 1920s. Jeb Bush is, well, another Bush. Mike Huckabee is a beefier, more homespun Pat Robertson. And for all that he is a product of New York real estate and reality TV, Donald Trump is the living embodiment of the rural Populism that arose in the late 19th century.

Populism Populism is all about fear and hatred, and starting around the 1890s, when the myth of Jewish money power and the tide of Eastern European Jewish immigration were both at their peak, the fear and hatred of Jews in particular.

The so-called Jewish plot to undermine the economic and moral foundations of Christendom and rule it from Jerusalem was laid out in detail in the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a libelous forgery that was first published in Russian in 1903 and widely translated and circulated in the 1920s, when, not coincidentally, the Nativist Ku Klux Klan was enjoying a huge revival in this country and one of America’s richest and most powerful businessmen, Henry Ford, was weighing a run for the presidency. Ford also published a newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, that was almost entirely dedicated to the “Jewish problem.”

Elizabeth Dilling, an anti-Communist crusader of the 1930s whose book “The Roosevelt Red Record and its Background” has often been compared to Ann Coulter’s “Treason,” also wrote a book-length indictment of “Talmudism,” “The Plot Against Christianity.”

Racism runs deep in the Republican Party, as we have all learned, seven years into the presidency of Barack Obama. But the kinds of hatreds that animated Elizabeth Dilling, if not Ann Coulter, run much deeper than nasty tweets or even racial gerrymandering and voter suppression. 

Historically, the American Paranoid’s reigning obsessions were:

1) Papism. Back in the 1600s, American colonists worried about Jesuit subversion. From the 1830s to the Civil War, the Know Nothing movement attacked Roman Catholic Irish and German immigration. A second great wave of anti-Catholic feeling arose during the Populist era, between the 1890s and into the 1920s (the KKK was as anti-Papist as it was anti-black and anti-Jew).

2) Atheistic intellectualism. There were McCarthy-esque witch hunts against Masonry and Illuminism in the 1790s and again in the late 1820s and ‘30s. To its historical enemies, Masonry occupied much the same space that secular humanism does today; its chief sin was that it elevated reason and science above revealed religion.

3) Calibanic Demonicism. This is my own coinage; I use it as a shorthand for what our forebears saw as the unbridled sexuality and unregenerate sinfulness of natural man, as embodied in blacks and indigenous Americans—attributes that would also be ascribed to Suffragists and to birth control advocates, both then and now (Google “Sandra Fluke” and “Rush Limbaugh” to see) and to LGBT people today. A simpler shorthand might be “sex.”
4) The Anti-Christ. This last includes Jewish bankers, Jewish arms dealers, and Jewish pornographers, which is to say Hollywood producers and popular culture purveyors, as well as the “left wing media.” . . . . In the classic American Paranoid understanding, Communism was fundamentally Anti-Christian and shared the same goals as the Rothschilds and their heirs.

The corporate interests and other deep pockets that have historically exerted the most power in this country, and that are the most deeply invested in the Republican Party today, have never been monolithic in their aims or beliefs; . . . . But they haven’t necessarily disbelieved them either, and they’ve never stopped using them to manipulate debt-burdened dirt farmers, struggling artisans, and exploited (or nowadays discarded) factory workers to vote against their economic interests. 

The deep substructure of Hate remains pretty much as it was, but its superstructure has changed beyond recognition. Hitler made anti-Semitism disreputable, as, after much struggle, the civil rights movement did the most overt forms of racism . . .  Nativism is resurgent, as Donald Trump’s continuing success daily proves. With Catholicism, anti-Semitism, and overt white supremacism off the table, Islam and Sharia have taken their place, alongside sex and anti-scientism (which never went away).

The party of Lincoln has become the home of many neo-secessionists, who left the Democrats en masse after LBJ’s great betrayal in the 1960s, and to numerous Libertarians, who believe that all government is tyranny.

All of these people–many of whom wouldn’t have 10 words to say to each other if they had to sit next to each other on a long airplane flight–have crowded into the Republican big tent, along with the usual suspects who think that their taxes are too high and their businesses over regulated.

Seen in this light, it makes perfect sense that Carly Fiorina would have singled out Iran and Planned Parenthood as America’s two greatest existential threats, or that the legendary brain surgeon Ben Carson would attest to his disbelief in evolution (and that all of the candidates would dismiss the science behind climate change).

As for Trump, one thinker who wouldn’t be surprised by his success is the economist F.A. Hayek, one of the GOP’s patron saints. When a minority is looking to hijack a democracy, he wrote in “The Road to Serfdom,” it needs to attract a hard core of true believers. They will look to bring in comparatively less-educated people, he wrote, because “the higher the education and intelligence of individuals become, the more their views and tastes are differentiated and the less likely they are to agree on a particular hierarchy of values.” The program they will be offered, he adds, must be negative: “the hatred of an enemy…the envy of those better off….the contrast between the ‘we’ and the ‘they,’ the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action.”

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