Wednesday, August 25, 2010
On Obama, Islam, and Right Wing Rage
Mystified. Plain mystified. That is the only way I can describe my take on the political scene in the US these days. I have seen the country polarized before. I recall Vietnam days. Folks were polarized then. Much of it was generational. As a teenager in the late 60's and early 70's, I felt a million miles distant from my dad. What to do about the problem? My mom told me that Dad thought the problems would all go away if I was forced to get a haircut. As if the cause of the polarization in our country about the war, about civil rights, about worldview could be boiled down to hair.
That's the nature of extreme polarization. It comes down to simple solutions. The notion is one that spells out solutions to complicated problems as simple and easily implemented. Another thought associated with extreme polarization is demonization. Make a devil of those who disagree. This is common among fundamentalists. Fundamentalism thrives on the view of "us vs. them."
Hence the polarization. Currently it is fueled by the "rage in the right." We see it most clearly in the belief, supposedly held by a third of Republicans, that Obama is a Muslim. Never mind that he has a long public history as a member of a Christian denomination. Never mind that he has publicly stated that he is a Christian. Never mind his escalation of the war in Afghanistan-- a war that is clearly about killing Muslims. A war that kills both the radical and the innocent. So here I am, mystified by the crazy rhetoric.
This rage, and these accusations, demonstrate several characteristics of the fundamentalist mindset. First, there is an appeal to emotion over facts. Second, there is a xenophobia run completely amok. Finally, we can see the demonization that fuels it all. When you consider how all of this adds to the entire notion of "them vs. us" and contributes to the sense of being a righteous, picked-on remnant of the brave and true, it is easy to see how the right wing rage makes common cause with its fundamentalist cousins.
And the rest of us? Those not in the "Holy Club?" I think we watch it all and continue to be mystified. How did it all get this way?