Nationalism on Religious Steroids


    Religious sufferance is a quaint American myth. Religion is a cottage industry; but within limits. Religious discourse churns the American psyche. It stokes an inferno that burns through wallets and pocketbooks. In times of trouble, it is its own stimulus. In practice, sufferance is a blinding contradiction. The founders understood.

    “…these groups of people are actually walking the space between the Washington Memorial (sic) and Lincoln Memorial every day. And they are praying in the space to, you know, try to, I guess, invite the Spirit to be there…” – Glenn Beck

    The founders are constantly abused in the discourse stirred by the purveyors of fear; an evangelistic motivator. One Glenn Beck sidekick talking to him about the gathering 28 August said Friday “it’s almost, at this point, like you’re the baby Jesus except without the divinity…and the donkey.” They cite that the hotels in the District are full and maybe some attendees will have to overnight in mangers or some such. They went on to joke around that a donkey, the angels, the Holy Spirit and the star (but not the swaddling clothes) would be further evidence. This goofiness is a setup for the kind of credible deniability Beck uses to distance himself from the buy gold controversy which he rolled into the discussion.  

    “…there’s gold, yeah, we know that, no frankincense or myrrh, but there’s plenty of gold, at least in your stash…well that’s only because we’re ripping people off…right…obvious manipulating the worldwide price…the weak minded that are now going to think…the stable in Washington D.C….” – Beck show banter

    There is a Beck appearance at the Kennedy Center the night before 8/28 called “Divine Destiny” which will be closed to the press. Beck says that this will be “an evening of praise, an evening of history, an evening of prayer;” a prelude to the “miracle on the mall” that will follow and only the people in that audience will know what is coming the next day on stage.

    The bounds of tolerance are generally broad among the familiar as you can see from that chaff. There is an infusion of tolerant tradition in the American psyche that identifies such discussion as generally acceptable. But that sense does not tolerate the unfamiliar. Later that evening that was apparent in another reactionary media venue:

    Samantha: The reason why I was calling is about the Imam and this mosque that is being put up in New York City. And my statement is really, my question is really for the Imam. Umm…The American people love their families we appreciate and we, we care for our loved ones, our wives, our husbands, our children. And for this Imam who wants to come here and wants to institute sharia law in our government, in our cities, in our country…umm…if that’s the way you want to live, if you want to kill your wife, beat your wife, beat your children, kill your children, do whatever it is you feel that you have to do to your children in the name of honor killing, we don’t do that here…that’s not the way that our country lives. We don’t believe that. And if you, mister Imam, whatever your name is…

    Hannity: Wait a minute, Samantha, the Imam says, compares sharia to our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution…

    Samantha: What I feel like is that the Muslim religion, is not, is obviously not a Christian religion; it’s very opposite. And Satan is a great deceiver. And I think these people have been greatly deceived by Satan. And if this man feels like he and his followers and anybody else who follows Mohammad feels like that they need to kill their family members because they don’t agree with the way that they look, breathe, you know, make a noise with their shoes, then they need to go back to where they came from. Don’t come here because we don’t live that way…

    Hannity: Look, I don’t care what religious faith people follow, and, you know, I don’t go as far as you do in the description of Islam…that’s not what this is about to me…it’s about the radical past, associations, statements, positions, belief system of a guy who wants to build a mosque at the cemetery of 3000 Americans killed by radical Islamists.

    Samantha expresses the same kind of vitriol experienced by the Italians, the Irish, and wave after wave of newcomers. Even within closely defined groups, righteousness divided. The Irish workers on the Crozet tunnel had to be separated Catholic from Protestant and employed at either end to dig toward each other rather than fight each other. There is still an undercurrent of Christian righteousness in our culture that rationalizes intolerance.

    Despite the constant references to the founders espoused by the profligates of national fundamentalism they fail to recognize the divorce from religion they embraced. It was more than a disagreement among the states. James Madison argued against a chaplaincy in the armed forces. And wrapping that national fundamentalism in Christianity is exactly the kind of rationalization that could power fascism in America. If they sing “The Star Spangled Banner” on 8/28, then it will be an echo of Sinclair Lewis and a dangerous signal of nationalism on steroids.

    “…there are a lot of donkeys in Washington that talk…about 535…yeah, in one building…and then there’s a giant ass…” – Beck show banter

    There’s gold alright. Beck is mining it. But no matter what his motivation, it aids and abets an ugly side of American righteousness. It looks like the giant ass population in the District is going to grow exponentially in a couple of weeks to the detriment of democracy.

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