On Native Ground
FUNDAMENTALIST FOOLS AND THE CONSERVATIVES WHO LOVE THEM
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- How can a group of people have almost total control over government, the judicial system and the press and still whine incessantly about being victims?
We all know the answer. You can do it if you're a conservative.
With each passing day, the right's grip on our nation tightens, but still they whine about those mean ol' liberals who are supposedly still beating them up for their lunch money.
It makes a great diversion to take people's attention away from their goal of turning the United States into a one-party country where there are no checks, no balances, and no countervailing power to stop them.
That why we have to keep our eye on the ball in the coming weeks.
While conservatives whine about obstructionism, remember that Democrats approved nearly all of President Bush's nominees to the federal bench, a courtesy that Republicans did not extend to President Clinton.
While they rant about judicial activism, remember that conservatives now control 10 of the 13 circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals, the last legal stop before the Supreme Court.
While they try to hide behind Jesus and the Bible, remember that while outlawing gay marriage and abortion may motivate the conservative Christians who are the base of the modern Republican Party, that's not the real goal.
The real goal is to get rid of the minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, workplace safety rules, environmental protection laws, zoning laws, taxation, and Social Security - in short, virtually every law passed in the past 70 years.
It's not about Terry Schiavo. It's not about turning the nation into a theocracy, although that will be a pleasant side-effect for conservatives. It's about repealing the New Deal. It's about again consolidating economic and political power in fewer and fewer hands.
In other words, it's the same old song the conservatives have been singing for decades, except now, they are using Christian fundamentalists as their shock troops to achieve the one-party state where the fundamentalists can control morality while the industrialists control the money.
You think guys like House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist honestly and truly care about morality and Christian values? What they honestly and truly care about is staying in power and helping out the folks who funnel billions of dollars to support a political party that ensures the rich will get much, much richer at the expense of everyone else, including those good Christians praying for God to smite those few remaining liberals in public life.
If, by cloaking it in Christianity, you can make people accept what, by any objective measure, is economic elitism at best and fascism at worst, all the better.
Fundamentalist Christians, with their easy certainty about their ultimate salvation, don't particularly care about civil liberties, separation of church and state, scientific knowledge or anything that conflicts with their Biblical view of the world. And since many sincerely believe that God has blessed this nation with the steadfast leadership of George W. Bush, they will do anything that is asked of them.
You can't get better political footsoldiers than these folks. They are the true believers. They are the one who vote and work their butts off for candidates and causes. Conservatives know this, and are happy to embrace the fundamentalists as the key to staying in power.
We may yet get a theocracy in this country, but morality has been proven to be the most effective diversion to get people to support politicians who consistently act against their interests.
"Hell-bent to get government off our backs, you installed a tyrant infinitely better equipped to suck the joy out of life," wrote Thomas Frank in The Baffler magazine in 2001 as he summed up the costs of three decades of fighting the culture wars. "Cuckoo to get God back in schools, you enshrined a god of unappeasable malice. Raging against the snobs, you enthroned a rum bunch of two-fisted boodlers, upper-class twits, and hang-'em high moralists. Ain't irony grand."
It would be grand, except that, four years later, Frank's vision at the dawn of George W. Bush's first term turned out to be not bleak enough. While there still is a modicum of freedom offered to many Americans, there is still a pervasive fear that has gripped the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and when people are confused and afraid, they are willing to sign on to anything.
Prison camps and torture are fine, so long as dark-skinned folks are the ones being locked up and tortured. Invading other nations under false pretenses is OK, if it means we will be safe. Likewise for curtailing our civil liberties. After all, God is on our side.
Here is the ultimate question. We know that being Christian is not necessarily synonymous with being an irrational nut. We know there are thoughtful people who are appalled that their faith is being exploited for political gain. How many honest Christians recognize that they are being played for fools by conservatives who are more interested in money and power than in morality? How many of them are willing to stand up and reclaim their faith from the reactionaries who are using the cross as a sword?
Remember, it's not about God. It's about wealth and power and using the supposedly godly to push through the most ungodly policies this nation has ever seen. It's fascism with a cross instead of a swastika. < Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.