Vladimir Putin and Russia rigged the 2016 election and swept Donald Trump into the White House. As it continues to push that narrative, the old-line establishment media (OLEM) has revived a familiar villain.
The “old guard religious right” once determined to stop Trump, explains Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times, but once he gained the nomination, “religious conservatives realized that their only path to federal influence lay in a bargain with this profane, thrice-married Manhattan sybarite. So they got in line, ultimately proving to be Mr. Trump’s most loyal backers.”
For his part, “President Trump may lack a coherent ideology, but he shares with the religious right a kind of Christian identity politics, a sense that the symbols of Christianity, if not its virtues, deserve cultural precedence.” The church-state separation stands in peril, and as Goldberg explains, “the religious right has been elevated to power without having to contest its ideas in an election. Sometimes, a deal with the devil pays off, big league.”
And so on, but Goldberg does provide some illumination. “Right wing,” and “far right” are the default descriptions for anything the OLEM fail to understand. That includes the role of religion in public life.
For much of the past century, many religious conservatives believed they were living in the end times, and that politics is dirty business. So they chose to stay on the sidelines but during the disastrous Carter Era (1976-1980) they realized that was a bad idea. So they took their place at the table, backing Ronald Reagan, and the OLEM ran to the barricades with a bullhorn. The “religious right” had breached the separation of church and state, the nation stood at the brink of theocracy, and of course it was all reminiscent of National Socialist Germany, which was also “far-right.”
As Richard John Neuhaus put it in The Naked Public Square, without religious values there would have been no anti-slavery movement, no women’s suffrage movement, no civil-rights movement, and no anti-war movement. Both Neuhaus and his anti-war colleague Dr. Martin Luther King were in fact Christian ministers.
Neuhaus defended the “country cousins’” participation in public life. They may be the most harmless and law-abiding segment of the population but for the OLEM they were always a “religious right” menace.
When left and right emerged as political terms around the time of the French Revolution, the “right wing” consisted of monarchists, aristocrats, and devotees of an authoritarian state church. One would be hard pressed to find support for any of that in contemporary America.
Activism for a human being’s right to life, for parental choice in education, and for the right to participate in public life on an equal footing, is entirely compatible with constitutional democracy as it actually exists.
Islam, on the other hand, is more representative of what “right wing” has meant historically.
Dynastic monarchies, kings, crown princes and such are typical of Islamic nations. Thriving political democracies are virtually unknown in Islamic lands, which do not separate religion and the state. Indeed, in Islam they are the same thing, and Islamic law prevails above all else.
Islam does not offer equal rights to women and in some Islamic countries women cannot even drive and may only appear in public trussed up in a burka. In Islam women are essentially men’s property and men have the right, as the Koran explains, to “banish them to beds apart and scourge them.”
Islam accords no rights to homosexuals and the Islamic State prefers to toss accused gays from the rooftops. Islam is also a supremacist ideology, reflected in Nidal Hasan’s cry of “Allahu Akbar,” when he gunned down 13 unarmed Americans at Ford Hood in 2009 including private Francheska Velez, 21, pregnant and preparing to go home. For this Muslim, like Syed Farook, Tashfeen Malik and many others, the duty of jihad trumps American laws against homicide.
If the group in question is the Nation of Islam things are more complicated. According to the NOI, revered by the President Formerly Known as Barry Soetoro and DNC contender Rep. Keith Ellison, people such as Nikola Tesla, Einstein, Joan of Arc and Eleanor Roosevelt are the result of an experiment by a mad scientist named Yacub. This all went down on the Isle of Patmos 6,000 years ago, but the spaceship is coming.
Supremacist, sexist, and militant, Islam is everything progressives profess to oppose. Yet the OLEM reserves the “right wing” put-down for Christian conservatives, who now rule the roost.
By supporting Donald Trump, as Michelle Goldberg explains, “the religious right has been elevated to power without having to contest its ideas in an election.” Yes, that’s what Vladimir Putin had in mind when he fooled the voters of 50 states and got Trump elected president.