A Rumor of War

Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family.

This is what it is worth:

After Janet Porter, the creator of a new “documentary” about how the gay rights movement will outlaw Christianity, discussed her “restraining order” campaign to convince Congress to strip the Supreme Court of its authority to rule on marriage cases, Dobson said that his fellow activists “need to be realistic about what we’re up against here.”

He said that the gay rights issue has reached an unprecedented “level of intensity” and put the country on the brink of conflict: “Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.”

Dobson also claimed that marriage equality will lead to the collapse of the nation: “The country can be no stronger than its families. I really believe if what the Supreme Court is about to do is carried through with, and it looks like it will be, then we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two. I just am convinced of that. So we need to do everything we can to try to hold it back and to preserve the institution of marriage.”

(Tashman)

Let us be clear that there really isn’t any sort of dog-whistling going on here; James Dobson is calling for armed insurrection because he hates gay people that much.

Certes, some might try to split the hair, but “we could have another” Civil War over human rights for gay people? Really? Bigotry is that important? And, as Dobson tells the cult, the nation will collapse if the gays aren’t stopped, and “We need to do everything we can to try to hold it back and to preserve the institution of marriage.”

Which is really quite strange. Once upon a time, Dr. James Dobson was a respected author who advised Christians on how to raise their children. And it is true that his approach to raising children is not exactly healthy, but that’s the thing; he wrote in a context serving an empowerment majority, so he could spend his efforts just finding ways to tell them what they wanted to hear and crafting a pretense of professional respectability.

And when we look out at the generational cohorts, we ought not be surprised to find those sectors of our society falling behind; there is a reason these supremacists are reduced to blithering about civil war―it’s all they have left.

Then again, really? Because of gay people? Out of everything else in the world, this is what stirs American Christians to revolutionary ire?

Over at Right Wing Watch, Brian Tashman also notes a bizarre tantrum from the conspiracy theorists at WorldNetDaily:

The conservative conspiracy theory outlet WorldNetDaily is out with a petition today asking lawmakers throughout the country to “ensure that religious freedom in America is not crushed by rigid imposition of ‘non-discrimination’ laws based on sexual behavior and sexual identification.”

WND’s petition warns that anyone who opposes LGBT equality will soon be “prosecuted and legally driven out of their homes and businesses” as a result of gay rights laws, which the outlet believes are “strikingly reminiscent of communist totalitarian countries like Mao-era China.”

The petition goes on call gay marriage a “social experiment being forced down the throats of a once-Christian nation” that will eventually make the practice of Christianity “effectively illegal, forcing faithful believers underground – just as faithful believers are forced underground in many parts of the world under the cruel dominance of totalitarian ideologies.”

Any official who supports the “naked totalitarianism” of the LGBT rights movement, WND adds, seeks to “outlaw” Christianity and “stamp out” freedom.

To the one, it is easy enough to wonder if this is about jealousy. Consider the objects of institutionalized bigotry in our society: dark skin, double-X chromosomes, homosexuals. And think about how the traditionally empowered opponents desperately want to cast themselves as some sort of victims. It should be enough to say that suffering such discrimination and hatred as blacks, women, and homosexuals have experienced and continue to endure is neither enviable nor glamorous.

To the other, there is also this:

Fundamentalist thinking is marked by a profound experience of crisis. The cause of this crisis is society’s desertion of eternally valid, divinely revealed, and textually literal received principles of order, which had once been realized in an ideal community―the “Golden Age” of original Christian, Islamic, or other communities. Overcoming the crisis is possible only by a return to these divine statutory prescriptions. Fundamentalism thereby distinguishes itself both from traditionalism and from utopian strategies, both of which likewise lay claim to an authentic realization of the revealed principles of order. Yet literalism and authenticity in the given cases have different functions.

Riesebrodt, Martin.  'Pious Passion: The Emergence of Modern Fundamentalism in the United States and Iran'.  Oakland: University of California Press, 1993.  (p. 17)Traditionalistic literalism represents an aid to orientation to and and affirmation of a certain sanctioned way of life. As a rule it also creates an inner, and possibly outer, world of imaginary idols and saints, to whom the faithful analogously relate themselves. Fundamentalist literalism, in contrast, reflects an ideology fighting a cultural struggle, one in which literalism, or the way of life associated with it, is disputed. In this sense fundmentalism is―if not revolutionary traditionalism―then at at least mobilized and radicalized traditionalism.

Fundamentalist literalism also distinguishes itself from social revolutionary or reformist projections of the future that likewise seek legitimacy through an appeal to divine law, revelation, or an ideal original community. This identification with an ideal original order can be effected in either mythical or utopian terms. As myth it has the function of a restorative surmounting of a crisis. The “Golden Age” is to be recreated through a return to its principles of order as handed down verbatim. As utopia, in contrast, the ideal order serves the purposes of a “progressive” social reformist or social revolutionary surmounting of the crisis. Not the letter but the “spirit” of the ideal order as it was once in the past is to be realized under the new conditions. Consequently, “mythical” thinking is characterized tendentially by a statutory ethic; “utopian” thinking, in contrast, is supported by a radical ethic of conviction. As with all typological distinctions, borderline cases and other variations are conceivable.

(Riesebrodt, 16)

Establishing this sector of Christian nationalism at one or another stage in Riesebrodt’s developmental typology is perhaps the sort of argument best reserved for somewhere other than the American political discourse; what would seem obvious to any number of people might well be wrong. There is nothing to suggest that a dispute between utopian and mythical regress, or literalist-rational versus experiential-charismatic would be easily resolved, and in the case of the latter what happens if the more persuasive argument ends up placing Dobson, WND, and their ilk under some strange assertion of utopian regress?

Such ideas should not be political arguments unto themselves; they have to do with understanding manifestations, including the political, of fundamentalist development and behavior.

For our purpose, it is enough to note how the traditionally empowered in these issues are posturing themselves as oppressed. There is a central dispute that is easy enough to imagine; where circumstance sees the erosion of privilige, the privileged see an erosion of rights. And here the analogy to the Civil Rights era and racism becomes apparent; the empowered whites were offended by equality for losing their privilege to discriminate against dark skin.

What we have in the Christian tantrum against homosexuals is nothing more than an empowerment majority hiding behind constitutionally-protected, chosen behavior in order to reserve that choice unto themselves alone as a fundamental right. This is a case of Christian voices declaring, “Religious freedom for me, but not for thee”. That is: If people whose religious outlook does not match these Christians are not forced to abide by this assertion of Christianity, then the Christian’s equal rights in society are violated. Or, more basically, the supremacists argue that equality is supremacism.

And now we have rumors of revolution.

As Tashman noted earlier this month:

“It’s been manufactured by the left, just as was the war on women,” Huckabee said. “There was no war on women. The left has gotten very good on creating a crisis, something to divide the country, something to create this sense in which ‘we’ve got to go after these conservatives because they are trying to trample over our rights.’”

He added that the LGBT rights movement is like something out of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984”: “It is a classic example of — really a page out of ‘1984,’ when what things mean are the opposite of what they really are. And that’s what I’m seeing here is that in the name of tolerance, there’s intolerance. In the name of diversity, there’s uniformity. In the name of acceptance, there’s true discrimination.”

Perkins contended that gay people who are denied service by a business should simply try to find another shop that will serve them rather than filing a lawsuit against discriminatory business owners. “Where will it stop?” he asked Huckabee.

“It won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel,” Huckabee replied, “and I’m talking now about the unabridged, unapologetic Gospel that is really God’s truth.”

Taken as an isolated example, the discussion between former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins might seem like just another case of wingnuts fondling potsherds. What such isolation obscures is how much this comes up. In politics, it is called “messaging”, and this is the message: “Equality is injustice, they’re going to force us to defend ourselves with warring force by trying to take away our supremacy.”

Watch for this. Christian supremacists are aiming for a New American Revolution. They are calling their rank and file to arms.

____________________

Tashman, Brian. “James Dobson: Gay Marriage Will Lead To Civil War”. Right Wing Watch. 8 April 2015.

—————. “WorldNetDaily: Gay Rights Laws Will ‘Outlaw’ Christianity, Usher In Communist-Style Totalitarianism”. Right Wing Watch. 9 April 2015.

—————. “Mike Huckabee: Gay Community Won’t Rest Until ‘There Are No More Churches'”. Right Wing Watch. 2 April 2015.

Riesebrodt, Martin. Pious Passion: The Emergence of Modern Fundamentalism in the United States and Iran. Trans. Don Reneau. Oakland: University of California Press, 1993.

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