Friday, June 30, 2017

Left-Wing Christianity

Another immigrant friend who hated Clinton during the campaign and touted Trump's 'blow everything up' stance as a good thing, has fallen into a state of depression. Reason? He's facing an expired VISA and a merciless ICE. He though the GOP xenophobic talk just referred to the 'bad hombres.' Not him. Even though me and other people told him directly 'this is about you' he simply didn't include himself in the oppressed group under attack. Now he's depressed. Whenever I want to make him feel better I tell him that 'Clinton wasn't a very good candidate' and he perks up at that statement. With that cue, he's reminded of his hated target. He transforms and seems to relax because he has someone to despise...even at the expense of his immediate danger, Clinton hatred is a soothing drug. I am reminded of the Semantic Scale of Polling which states there are 3 dimensions ppl rate concepts on: a) good or bad? b) strong or weak? c) active or passive? Many ppl will choose a bad policy if it's strong and active over a weak policy that's good. Example? Open borders. Open border immigration policy really really works. Statistically it has made America wealthy. But it's seen as weak and passive: our borders are penetrated. The thought makes ppl angry, even if you try to explain all the stats. Many ppl -even immigrants- will support a destructive policy if it's framed as strong and active. Clinton's hatred was a strong and active thing...even if it was idiotic to one's self interests, it was favored over my kind of mild 'like' of Clinton based upon stats. My Clinton emotional 'like' wasn't strong...but it was consistent. But it's no match for strong and active hatred. So I wonder to myself 'how do we make love a strong and active thing to...well mostly men?'

I think it's difficult to combine the typically liberal education with religious faith and political activism, but it's not impossible. A new 3-dimensional paradigm must be formed on the left so that religion is not laughed out of the room: gov policy + religious org + activism. The GOP uses and cons the religious right in the most craven way in combining these 3 things. I've read reports of Karl Rove herding religious figures into rooms and coming up with anti-gay policy. And then GOP advisors laughing at the same Christian leaders as 'idiots' after they leave the room and giving their marching orders of hate to activate their congregation. The Koch Bros organize pastors to speak out against environmentalists and to discount global warming (it's God's just let it happen). So the right has effectively figured out a way to rewire some christians into an Orwellian doublethink: praise Jesus and Christian values while simultaneously espousing hateful policies which are in direct contradiction to Jesus. Doublethink is very effective b/c in requires a sort of self-brainwashing that becomes air-tight in its illogic: whenever confronted by something difficult, the brainwashed individual shuts down critical thinking and pivots toward emotional rage at a perceived 'enemy.' If you show a contradiction to an alt-right they will rage and threaten to destroy and at the same time claim to be the victim being destroyed. A well-trained conservative Christian will both claim to represent the might and will of God and say 'they are under attack' or Christmas is under attack or they are being oppressed or there is a 'gay agenda' or patch together any number of deranged conspiracies to avoid confronting their own hypocrisy. They will engage in 'whataboutism' and false equivalency to return to attack mode. Can leftists create an effective way to engage in right-wing doublethink without creating a left-wing version of brainwashing? Is there a facile, smart, constructive, religious activism movement that can counteract the hate activism that's disguised as white christianity?

In this country's history there were two very strong Christian movements: Protestants in the North and the Baptists in the South. Northern Christians were the foundation of the abolitionists and the suffragists: these were passionate ppl who believed that God put them on the earth to be a good keeper of faith and justice. They went after anything seen as a grossly unjust like slavery or women's rights. In the South, Baptism tends to operate more like a Hindu caste system: explaining the wrongs of the world as the will of a higher power, and thus pacifying poor white people...and when that failed, finding a scapegoat in black people. This is where fanatic hatred is so effective when you can blame a weaker and smaller group for societal ailments and get poor white people to buy into that concept then they have a passionate and active choice of wrong-headed hatred rather than the slow deliberate process of progressive change.. The clash between white New Engalnders and Southerners reached its peak during the Civil Rights Movement. Southern Black Baptists were working with White Northerners to not only seek racial equality but to stop the Vietnam War, start unions, and pass a litany of progressive issues. And then in the early 1970s the Northern Protestants movement just died. Either they were satisfied with the end of Vietnam and the Civil Rights Act, or rife with drug use and decadence, or they were bought off by careerism and/or they splintered into a hundred tiny factions. But the New England churches that used to be so full of protestors were empty. Meanwhile the Southern churches surged and this idea of 'right-wing Christianity' was backed and supported by big money interests. There was no George Soros for left-wing progressive Christians. Marilynne Robinson writes about this in her book of essays 'The Death of Adam.' So history has shown us that it is possible to have left-wing progressivism, but it's just harder to maintain without strong leaders, organizing principle of what to fight for, and financial backing.

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