I wanted to understand the mind of the Trump supporter a little better so I read The MAGA Doctrine by Charlie Kirk (Donald Trump highly recommended it in a Tweet). In the Preface Kirk tells us that the book is a kind of manifesto of what Trump supporters think he is all about:
I’ve seen President Trump speak in front of high school students, my fellow young conservative activists eager to hear him — and afterward, I often hear students ask me, is there a key book or manifesto I can study to really understand the philosophy behind this burgeoning movement? . . . . Now there is. I would not presume to speak for the president, but I will try as best I can to explain the old ideas underlying the fresh thinking he brings to a country that desperately needs it.
Before I finished it an eerie recollection of another book kept intruding into my mind, one that I read many years ago as a historical document behind another disruptive right-wing movement. That was Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. No, of course neither Kirk nor Trump are Nazis or advocating the extermination of Jews and war to find living space for Germans. As someone else has pointed out, Trump is something of the polar opposite of a Nazi in that he enables the Business world to rule government (Nazis controlled every aspect of life including Business). So what was it that brought Mein Kampf to my mind?
Mein Kampf blamed Germany’s woes on the betrayal of evil-minded or simply immoral Jews (that’s my recollection, at least). MAGA Doctrine had a parallel theme. All USA’s woes (and some of them imaginary) can be blamed on a betrayal of traitorous, immoral “liberals”.
Just as Mein Kampf, as I recall it, failed to understand clearly the way German society worked by replacing clear-headed analysis with imagined conspiracies and betrayals and selfish anti-German motives of Jews and those who let Jews have their way, so Kirk shows no evidence of a clear-headed, informed awareness of either US or world history. Everything, all history and current affairs, are seen through the perspective of a “betrayal of liberals”.
Simply replace Jews with “liberals” and we have a book with a very similar theme.
Liberals appear by definition to be unpatriotic, hypocritical, stupid, sinister. And they lie with their “corrupt media”. It is impossible to reconcile the way Kirk portrays their policies with reality as anyone who has seriously studied them and their philosophy would know.
Ignorance pervades the book. Karl Marx — and by extension, all “socialists”, and by extension, many “liberals” — is even said to be opposed to any form of fair exchange of goods.
There can be no honest debate or discussion with a mind that is convinced from the outset that the opponent is a hostile subversive who wants to undermine all that you believe is good.
There can only by mud-slinging and misrepresentation from the MAGA side.
. . .
Then I noticed something else on the web, this time by someone accusing others with alternative views of Jesus of being hell-bent on attacking and destroying Christianity. I guess it’s the same with some biblical scholars, too. Some of them find it necessary to personally attack those (especially outsiders) who explore different perspectives on Christian origins so that the mainstream assumptions are called into question. The idea that others with radically different perspectives (and questions) might be seeking to be as intellectually honest as they can is something they seem not to be able to accept. (Yes, I’m thinking primarily of those who suggest it is legitimate to at least question the historicity fo Jesus just as some scholars have questioned the historicity of “biblical Israel”.) Such critics are assumed from the outset to be sinister, motivated by destructive and harmful wishes against the most precious beliefs humanity possesses.
And so the world turns.
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12 thoughts on “Liberals, the new “Jews” (with a sidestep into religious debates)”
Bingo! But this has been going on since at least the 1940s in the United States. They used to say “the Jewish Media;” but since 1970, they’ve modified it to “the Liberal Media.” All of it originates with the fundamental need for Christians to feel threatened and persecuted. The original foes were the liberal Christians of the early 1900s who accepted things like an old earth and the theory of evolution. From there it infected all of society. Both this and the Nazi Nordic myth are simply new iterations of the old Christians vs. Heretics worldview. God is on our side and they are ruled by Satan.
Careful, the Left also uses Liberal as a dirty word.
That’s the sort of mistake Charlie Kirk regularly makes. Using labels like “Left” as if a whole spectrum of views and people he finds himself at odds with can all be validly lumped together as one. Similarly the word L/liberal has a range of meanings and applications that cannot be lumped together — except, it seems, in Kirk’s mind.
It’s a kind of thinking in terms of vaguely generalized political positions instead of a serious analysis of events and situations themselves.
How about redefining labels like “racism” as if they can be applied to ideas or institutions having nothing to do with white supremacy? Any similarity there?
White supremacists deny they are racists. They believe they advocate racial equality by having each “race” live in its own “natural homeland”.
I grew up being taught it was not racist to prohibit interracial marriage; that the White Australia Policy was not “racist” (but motivated by the need to protect our standard of living); that our national treatment of Aborigines was not racist but fraught with good-will; and I could list more. I don’t think it is always easy to recognize racism in ourselves.
When I lived in Asia I experienced some anti-white racism and experienced just a little of what minorities in our societies sometimes experience. I doubt those few Asians who spoke and acted towards me the way they did believed that they were racist.
White Supremacists deny they are racists. They say they advocate racial equality by wanting each “race” to move back to its own “natural homeland”.
I grew up being taught that our treatment of Aborigines was motivated by nothing but good intentions for their welfare and by no means racist; that interracial marriage was forbidden for the sake of “half-caste” children who would not belong to either society; that the White Australia Policy was an economic policy and not fundamentally racist at all; and I could list others.
When I lived in Asia I occasionally experienced racist jibes and treatment (not often) but I am sure that those who spoke and acted that way would never imagine their words and acts as racist. I learned that it’s easier to notice racism when one is part of the minority.
I don’t think it is always easy for us to recognize racism within ourselves. I don’t think we always even understand the nature of racism.
As for applying the charge of racism to “ideas and institutions” — certainly it can be applied to institutional practices, and some ideas clearly are racist. Education is as necessary as censure, though.
I was in my late teens during the early 60s and briefly dated a black girl. I was warned by some decent people to “consider the children” if the relationship happened to go that far. (It never got anywhere close.) I also remember lots of people in those days, in contexts where the conversation had nothing to do with my social life, saying things like, “I have nothing against those people as long as they stay in their place.”
It’s always a problem when people guilty of some moral offense deny their guilt. Always has been and always will be. It’s part of our human nature, which I am persuaded is a very real thing. (Denial of that fact is another persistent problem in the current ideological climate, it seems to me.)
I intended no suggestion that racism cannot be applied to ideas or institutions. My concern was with the evolving criteria being used to identify racism. The cause of that evolution seems to have been a frustration on the part of liberals over the ease with which people deny being white supremacists and the consequent difficulty of enacting political solutions to the problem of racism.
I think this led to a mistake of which William F. Buckley accused the John Birch Society: the inference of subjective intentions from objective outcomes. During the early Cold War, the U.S. government was pursuing certain policies that happened to have some outcomes favorable to international Communism, and the Birchers were using that as evidence that the nation’s leaders were actually pro-Communist. Buckley was as hostile to Communism as any Bircher could have been, but he correctly identified that reasoning for the nonsense that it was. He also understood that in promoting such nonsense, the Birchers were making it seem as though only idiots like the Birchers could be opposed to Communism.
So, here is the analogy I think I’m seeing. Certain ideas, if acted on and implemented as public policy, will have outcomes that white supremacists wish to achieve. Therefore, those ideas are racist. If that is a bad analogy, I hope I’m still teachable enough to be shown the error in my thinking.
When I say “The Left” I’m speaking of the group I’m a part of. I’m a full blown Taborite. Most of us see “Liberals” as in mainstream Democrats as just Conservatives with better branding.
Re that term “L/liberal”: what comes through in The MAGA Doctrine that any analysis or reporting that is focused on a factual or broader analytical survey of situations is deemed “liberal” if its conclusions are critical of what the “right/conservatives” are hoping for.
This is one reason I find labels like “L/liberal” — so often dispensed without much rigour of definition — problematic.
While queuing outside a restaurant (one person allowed in at a time) waiting for take out Shawarma sandwiches. I sarcastically described the situation as “Life in the Trump Toilet Paper Apocalypse”. One person corrected me by stating that the Coronavirus Pandemic was not Trump’s fault.
Conceding the validity of her point, I then laughingly asked: But in what world (with a Democratic POTUS in the same situation) do you think a Trump devotee would concede this same point, or not rabidly blame the Democratic POTUS every hour of the day for the Coronavirus Pandemic and its social/economic “Apocalypse”. And would you also correct them on this issue? (more bluntly, I was accusing her of being a hypocrite).
Sidestepping the question, my interlocutor responded: “All I know is that people should get the facts for themselves by researching the issue.”
Further conversation ended as she left with her order, as did I to enjoy a very tasty Apocalypse Shawarma 🙂
“Liberal” is a word, when used in a political sense, that has morphed. Quite recently too. Even saying that, I don’t know if it has meant the same from one English-speaking polity to another ever.
Another thing; if Hitler and Nazis have nothing to do with something, don’t bring them up.