Imagine if you will, that some of those who once thought America could be restored to the bright, shining Christian Nation they believe had been stolen from them (but arguably never really existed) -- now doubt the dream.
As it happens, some of those people are entertaining such doubts. So much so that they think that a gradual dismemberment of the America they thought they held dear may be necessary to the point of martyrdom, secession, and civil war.
Of course, there are many Tea Partiers in tri-cornered hats or Confederate uniforms that they wear for reenacting the glories of the Old South. We needn't necessarily take such people seriously. But it is my observation, after 30 years of researching and reporting on various elements of the Right, that there is something else going on. Something has changed -- and merits our attention.
That's the subject of an essay I published recently in The Public Eye magazine, titled Rumblings of Theocratic Violence. Those rumblings are, for now, in the distance and maybe even not even quite on the horizon. But they are loud and distinct enough for us to take note.
While violent and revolutionary rhetoric has been so common on the farther reaches of the Right for many years it would be tempting to dismiss it. But I have been struck by how such disturbing claims of the need for martyrdom and more are appearing more frequently, more prominently, and in ways that suggest that they are expressions of deeply held beliefs more than provocative political hyperbole. These expressions are not coming only in the form of off the cuff remarks or posturing on Fox News. But you can find it in the considered writings of influential figures who are not household names, and who have no apparent desire to become household names.
One of these disturbing revolutionary claims was first called to my attention by Denise Oliver Velez, right here at Daily Kos, who flagged an essay by a top Christian Right campaign operative named David Lane -- a behind the scenes power broker, who seeks to build the movement and advance the careers of major Christian Right pols -- from Mike Huckabee to Rick Perry and Rand Paul. It turned out that Lane no longer believed that the dream of the Christian Nation was possible, his career of candidate development not withstanding, and that the time for blood and martyrs may be at hand. His piece was titled, "Wage War to Restore a Christian Nation."
Lane's essay was quickly taken down from World Net Daily -- but not before many of us had saved it. But even after it was gone, I learned that it was not an unrepresentative rant written and posted on a bad day. In fact, he has said similar things over time -- and so have other important thinkers and leaders.
Soon after my essay came out, we witnessed the spectacle of Cliven Bundy and the near shoot out between militia groups and the feds over western grazing land. And we were reminded that there are political tensions in the U.S. that run deeper than any of us want to think.
I was honored when this week, two veteran journalists who also cover the political, business and religious right, each published thoughtful articles about my essay this week. Salon.com front-paged an article by Paul Rosenberg; and Buzzflash featured an article by journalist Bill Berkowitz.
A Saturday ago at the annual conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused President Obama and other Democrats of waging a war against religious liberty and all but openly threatened a violent revolution, AP reported“I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States,” Jindal said, “where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”Of course, Jindal’s speech didn’t come out of nowhere. Jindal is notorious as a weather vane, not a leader. So this is a clear sign of the need to take threats of right-wing violence seriously — and to look to its justifications as formulated on the Christian right.
As the latest wave of theocratic violence continues to play out in Iraq, it must feel exotic for most Americans, for whom theocratic violence is something that happens elsewhere. Yet, the idea of such violence coming to America — something Jindal is apparently eager for — is hardly far-fetched. Violence against abortion providers has been with us for decades, after all, and as Jindal’s pandering suggests, there could well be much worse to come...
I hope that their articles will lead to the kinds of conversations we really need to be having about the rise of this kind of thinking on the Christian Right, where it could lead, and what we can and should be doing about it.