Category Archives: Religion

A Brief History of Race and Politics: from the KKK to Donald Trump

If we want to understand how we got to this point in American politics we should remind ourselves of some basic history and not deny the facts.

Yes, it was Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, who freed the slaves. The North won the Civil War and the South still hasn’t gotten over it. From 1864 to 1964 the majority of the White South voted Democrat. Southern Democrats were not liberal in any sense of the term– but they were anti-Republican. Their resentment over the Civil War has lasted more than a hundred years. And their battle cry has always been “the South will rise again”.

The White South’s alliance with the Democratic Party, however, began to shift in 1964. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he turned to Bill Moyers and said, “we may have just signed the South over to the Republican Party for the rest of our lifetimes”. And from 1964 to 1984 – the White South turned Red. Barry Goldwater ran against the Civil Rights Act; Richard Nixon ran his famous “Southern Strategy”; and Ronald Reagan perfected that strategy. By 1984 there were very few White Southern Democrats left– they had all become Republicans.

Today’s Republican Party is not the party of Lincoln; they are the party of anti-Lincoln. They are the party of The South. If you look at a map of the Red States and the Blue States it basically still traces the Mason-Dixon line of the Civil War. There are few exceptions.

This is not to say that all Republicans are racist. But the party has aligned itself with the racially motivated elements of the South – they have accepted them in order to maintain a conservative majority. The Republican Party has, in effect, become a ‘white power’ movement. Republicans in The House of Representatives are 98% white and 95% male. And Fox ‘news’ is already pushing for a “white turnout” in the upcoming presidential election.

“Rapists and Criminals”

The Ku Klux Klan rose up after the Civil War claiming that the newly freed black slaves were criminals who were raping white women. Their stated aim was to protect “Southern Heritage”. Their underlying aim was, of course, racism. They were America’s first and foremost terrorist organization. They are still alive today. They just don’t always were white robes.

Remember Donald Trump’s announcement speech. When he came down that “golden elevator” from on high, the first thing that he said is that Mexicans are “rapists and criminals”. And he was going to “build a wall” to keep them out. Next he went after the Muslims– calling for a ban of all Muslim immigrants to this country. He immediately shot up to number one in the Republican primary.

We have seen this happen before. And not just in our country. We should keep in mind that Adolf Hitler’s campaign slogan was “Make Germany Great Again”. The same thing that Hitler said about “the Jews”– Trump says about Mexicans and Muslims.

This is not to say that all Trump supporters are racist. But all racists are Trump supporters. They have unmasked the most insidious elements of the Republican Party. They are once again speaking out– they hate “politically correct” speech. They want to “make derogatory language great again”.

Racists are fueled by hate, and they wear their emotions on their sleeves. What, in the past, has been “dog-whistle” politics has now become a fog horn. Much of this has been the language of “States’ Rights”.

“States’ Rights” was used before the Civil War to protect slavery. “States’ Rights” was used after the Civil War to protect segregation and suppress voting rights. And “States’ Rights” are being used today to re-suppress voting rights, women’s rights, and the rights of the LGBT community.

In fact, it was the Civil Rights Act which limited the ability of “States’ Rights” to undermine Human Rights. And that is why the South has always hated it.

Trump is galvanizing the South. His rallies are an emotional hotbed, fueled by rage. He has a brand of white ethno-centric nationalism and he is now courting fundamentalist Christians. Sinclair Lewis declared that “when fascism comes to the U.S. it will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross”.

Now Donald Trump is running as “the law and order” candidate. This was how Richard Nixon described himself– and look how well that turned out!
The Trump campaign knows that they cannot win-over even a small minority of the Hispanic vote.

The vast majority of African-Americans will never vote for him. Their strategy is thus to get out the white vote and suppress minority voting. Is this the democracy that we really want? To win elections by racial division and voter suppression.

That is where we are headed in American politics. No wonder so many Americans believe that our country is headed in the wrong direction.

As I said before: I am tired of remaining silent on these matters. Though I struggle with feeling that there is nothing I can do about it, I am going to be speaking out more– whether it has the desired effect or not.

 

Why Atheists Cringe when Church and State Collide

According to two U.S. Supreme Court justices, atheism is not protected by the first amendment. For any atheist, this is a very worrying admission.

Antonin Scalia

In both a recent speech and a recent dissenting opinion (joined by Clarence Thomas) Justice Antonin Scalia has said that the first amendment specifically favors religion. In his speech to the Colorado Christian University last week, he said that it is “utterly absurd” that the first amendment protects freedom from religion.

I will not attempt to counter his interpretation of the first amendment – he is a Supreme Court justice, and I am not – but I would like to talk about a recent supreme court case.

In Greece v. Galloway, the court decided that prayers before local council meetings were constitutional as long as the prayer is not meant to convert people or disparage non-Christians.

This is one of those issues in which people often complain that atheists are really complaining about nothing, and are only trying to make life difficult for people of faith.

While I am sympathetic insofar as there are many atheists who really only seem intent on antagonizing Christians, we must recognize that there is actually a very good reason for atheists to be so hard-nosed about governmental displays of religion.

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“Islam Is Not A Religion”: More Republican Hypocrisy

Oklahoma State Rep. John Bennett (R) is no stranger to anti-Islamic sentiment. However, this “supporter” of religious freedom is apparently not a hypocrite, for according to him, Islam “is not even a religion.”

John Bennett

In an interview with the Huffington Post, apart from calling Islam a cancer, he explained that “Islam is not even a religion. It’s a social political system that uses a deity to advance its agenda of global conquest.”

Now, this brings two thoughts immediately to mind.

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I Don’t Know What To Do About ISIS, And Neither Do You

Socrates believed that “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Whenever I find myself in a discussion of ISIS and what the U.S. should do about these monsters, I can’t help but feel torn and confused. What do I think about fighting ISIS? I don’t really know.

ISIS Execution

I am well aware that many other people do know what to do.

Some know that we should avoid getting involved. They point to our recent track record concerning wars in the Middle East, and rightly show how victory is far from certain.

Others focus on the sheer inhumanity of ISIS, not only in their atrocities against our own people, but the people of Iraq and Syria who are caught in the crossfire just because they happen to live in the wrong part of the world. Crucifixions, beheadings, and mass executions on this scale, and at this level of brutality, cannot be tolerated. We sat idly by as Rwanda imploded; we must not do that again.

So, some know that we need to drop massive amounts of bombs. Some know that we need boots on the ground if we actually want victory.

Again, I can’t help feel that everyone is right, or perhaps everyone is wrong. There are valid points on every side, and I seem incapable of making a decision.

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The Evolving Conception of Marriage

One sign being held by an opponent of same-sex marriage, on the steps of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, simply read “Fag Court”.  With the justices examining two high profile cases involving the constitutionality of banning same-sex marriage, it seems people are talking of little else, and the debate is getting pretty heated.

Admittedly, this man’s view is not universal to all opponents of gay marriage, who would likely take a much more measured approach to the subject.  The two critiques that I have heard from the more thoughtful opponents of same-sex marriage involve maintaining “traditional” marriage, and the fact that homosexuals cannot procreate.

Are these valid arguments against gay marriage?  Examining each of these issues in due course, let us begin with this “sacred tradition” of marriage.

However, we first must recognize an important point – to claim that marriage is built on a long standing tradition implies that marriage has not changed (at least not much) for quite some time.  Is this really the case?

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Blessed are the Poor

The Bible is a very troublesome voter’s guide.  It would seem to place the voter in an awkward position that is not defended by either major party, let alone any candidate: Social conservatism and fiscal liberalism.

The Republicans are often considered the party of Christian values; this is far from obvious though because while the Republicans seem to stand by the social values of the Bible, they don’t do quite as well on the fiscal values the Bible promotes.  Any Christian whose politics are informed by the Bible must of course decide which set of beliefs is more important when casting their vote.

One obvious way for the Christian voter to decide which values are more important is to ask, which are more important in the Bible itself?  Of course only God could answer this question with certainty, so we will instead ask a question that we can answer: what issues are most prominent in the Bible?

Let’s begin with the two controversial social issues that seem to draw the most attention from contemporary, political minded Christians — abortion and homosexuality.  If one chooses to vote Republican based on Christian values, these are generally seen as the two issues that dictate that vote.  But how important are these two issues in the Bible?

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