Trump and the poison of the racist right

So … Trump. Now what? There are a hundred ways to answer that question, some more pressing than others. One seems most urgent of all. The new administration must renounce any connection to, or influence by, alt-right racists and nativists.

I don’t think Donald Trump is racist, at least not consciously. Nor are the vast majority of his supporters. But, tarring any good person who did vote for him, Trump’s rise has invigorated white nationalists unlike anything I’ve seen in my life.

Reported attacks on minorities flooded Twitter and other channels hours after his victory. Many reports proved false, but Trump lent them all inadvertent credibility by welcoming alt-right support during his campaign.

The alt-right considers Western culture the exclusive product of the white race and the white race its proper beneficiaries. All others don’t belong. Trump doesn’t believe that but is supported by those that do. The KKK and other white nationalists cheered his victory.

Though on Sunday Trump told CBS he was “saddened” by the news of the attacks and directed supporters to stop the harassment, he nonetheless appointed Steve Bannon as his chief strategist. It feels like someone switched the tracks and pulled our national train into Worstfearsville.

Until joining the Trump campaign, Bannon was chairman of Breitbart News, a news and opinion site founded by the amusingly loud and lamentably late Andrew Breitbart. According to my friend Ben Shapiro, who once worked for the site,

Andrew Breitbart despised racism. Truly despised it. He used to brag regularly about helping to integrate his fraternity at Tulane University. He insisted that racial stories be treated with special care to avoid even the whiff of racism. With Bannon embracing Trump, all that changed. Now Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with [Milo] Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.

I don’t know Bannon. But I’ve known Ben for years. I edited his first book, Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth, over a decade ago. We don’t agree on everything—who does?—but he’s a straight shooter with an allergy to racism conditioned by on-the-job experience with antisemitism.

Whatever Bannon’s actual beliefs, he bragged about using Breitbart News to give the alt-right a platform. That’s reckless at best. The idea that Trump would consider his appointment strategically advantageous is baffling.

I understand why people are protesting, though I won’t Sharpie “Not My President” across my forehead. He is my president. Sovereignty doesn’t rest in the office, let alone the man. It rests in the people who constitute the government. And that’s why I won’t—nor should anyone else—condone or enable this ideology to gain influence in positions of power.

Reasonably enough, people on both the right and left say we should give president-elect Trump a chance. And just as reasonably, Christians remind us to pray for our leaders. But that’s not all we should do. Writes Fordham professor Aristotle Papanikolaou,

Christian responsibility is not done after we vote; it only intensifies after an election. No matter who is elected, Christians must always exercise a prophetic voice.… Christians must demand of Trump that he publicly disavow any and all support from white supremacist groups, and that he not appoint anyone to any position of power—let alone his Cabinet—that has any remote ties with white supremacist movements. It is not the case that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist; however, if Christians do not prophetically demand of Trump that he publicly disavow white supremacist support, then Christians are complicit in extending and empowering racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia.

It’s going to take more than a “stop it” from Trump, welcome as that was to hear. Unless he takes demonstrative steps to distance himself from racist and nativist ideologues, any good he might do will be spoiled. Debate immigration, refugees, trade, whatever. But do it without denigrating or dehumanizing people made in the image of God.

A leader is responsible for those that thrive in his wake. If Trump is serious about uniting the country, he won’t play softball with those who believe substantial numbers of us don’t fit because of extraction, color, or culture.

If Trump supporters really want him to prevail, they’ve got a vested interest in him playing hardball on this topic. He can’t be president for all when he passively accepts support from people who want to exclude some. Anyone who believes Trump is capable of positive change (and we can all hope and pray as much) has more than ample reason to pressure him to make the right move here.

We should give Trump a fair shake. He can demonstrate he’s worth it by shaking loose the support of the racist right.

Image: Trump Presidential transition team

45 comments:

  1. Part of the problem here, though, is that “alt-right” is a blanket term for everyone to the right of the Neo-cons/Republican mainstream, from white nationalists to Christian traditionalists. There are many (like myself) who identify more with the alt-right than the R mainstream, but are not racists. In a large part it was by distancing himself from the Republican mainstream that Trump won this election, and if he fills all his cabinet positions with mainstream Republicans, it will be a major disappointment to everyone who voted for him in order to institute real change. His apparent strategy of balancing out an experienced voice (Priebus) with a fresh one (Bannon) is reassuring to many. And if the best evidence of Bannon’s racism is one shock-blogger and a comments section, I’m honestly relieved.

    1. There are a few other links in there that should trouble anyone. And it’s not just Bannon. He represents a much wider coalition (see here and here). David French recounts loads of abuse he, his family, and others have endured from alt-right Trump supporters. “I oppose Trump not just because he’s an ignorant demagogue and a naked political opportunist, but also because bigotry and intimidation cling to his campaign,” he says. “Every campaign attracts its share of fools, cranks, and crazies. But Trump’s candidacy has weaponized them” (link).

      1. I don’t deny that the alt-right has a lot of despicable people who have done horrifying things, and that bunch honestly probably just supports Trump because they like to blow things up. But then there’s, to quote the “Guide to the Alt-Right” you linked, the “Isolationists, pro-Russians and ex-Ron Paul supporters frustrated with continued neoconservative domination of the Republican party.” These are the alt-righters I know, and they are quick to denounce the racist alt-right at every opportunity. The fact that all these are lumped together under the same name means that expelling anyone labelled “alt-right” could throw out the baby (a non-interventionist foreign policy) with the bathwater (racist troublemakers).

        1. The racist ideologues came up with the alt-right label and are trying to legitimize their movement by proximity to traditional conservative positions (e.g., anti-interventionism). Why let them set the terms of discussion?

          1. It’s time for you to acknowledge the rapidly changing demographics within exclusively white countries worldwide. Fascism is also a reaction to losing culture. The more you push against those desperate to keep their culture from being burned at the stake (1930’s Spain ring any bells?), the more you side with the enemy that wants to put you on the stake. And why? So you can get social capital by signaling how “anti-racist” and enlightened you are? That’ll be like having millions of U.S. Dollars after the economy totally collapses.

          2. So that’s the choice: losing one’s culture or “being burned at the stake” by “the enemy”? When you buy into false dilemmas, you end up making bad decisions. I don’t need social capital, just a clean conscience. And you’re helping make my case. Last I checked, most immigrants wanted to work a lot more than put me on a stake.

  2. “White Supremacists” make up an extremely small fraction of the U.S. population, so much so, that they don’t have any political power and they DEFINITELY don’t garner the support of the MAJORITY of Americans (this includes Donald Trump and Steven Bannon)-THAT’S what’s important here. As for the Democratic party, that is a different story, with a SIZABLE majority, of both Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s supporters, supporting such RADICAL, RACIST organizations as Black Lives Matter, the Latino Reconquista/La Raza movement, the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel CAIR and Muslim Student Association (MSA)-both of which are considered TERRORIST organizations, etc. being given SUPPORT and LEGITIMACY by not only BOTH Democratic candidates, but by the Democratic Party as a whole, leftist academics and by the leftist media (and by leftist media, I just don’t mean rags like The Nation, but by so-called “mainstream” publications such as The New York Times and Washington Post). Therefore, the REAL threat here, which has been for the past 40+ years, is the RACIST, INTOLERANT, ANTI-RELIGIOUS, RADICAL Left, not ANY ONE on the Right or any “White Supremacist”. Unfortunately, since the media is under the influence and in the pockets of INFAMOUS leftists and globalists such as George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, and the like, stories of racism, violence, and intimidation, against Trump supporters, Republicans, and Whites in general, has gone UNREPORTED, except for non-mainstream outlets SUCH as Breitbart-which in NO way shape or form is a “voice” for “White supremacy”. And since, the MAJORITY of those in power in academia and the media, support the LEFTIST organizations and globalist agenda, (and they ARE still in POWER) they are the REAL threat to America’s future, that needs to be defeated, due to their race baiting and divisive agenda (not ONLY along racial lines but along sex, economic, and sexual orientation. If you want just ONE example, leftist, racist, minority students in UC Berkley, barred entrance, and exit, to ANY “Whites”, with the support of leftist professors and administrators, and the non-intervention of campus police. Doesn’t that seem RACIST to you? Or are you one of those people who believe that minorities can’t be racist because they are minorities? Also, why not note the threat that radical LGBT organizations, post to the people of religious faith in this country, by pushing a divisive and absurd agenda of “gender fluidity” and 50+ “gender identity pronouns” that ALL must follow or accept consequences such as getting fined (New York City) or getting dragged in front of University tribunals (professors and administrators) and facing getting fired? Please don’t be like the leftist media and be more educated and balanced in your writing, especially as a self-identifying Christian, because YOU will lose the support and respect of your readers.

      1. Do you actually think the KKK is rioting right now? Are you totally immersed in your own leftist bigotry?

        I don’t see any pointy hoods on the current set of Soros-driven rioters.

  3. Hi Joel,
    Coming from the UK I was surprised to read about the Alt-Right. Your numerous links were very helpful to gain a perspective on the various “conservative” groups and their differing stances.
    I think you are right to want Mr Trump to distance himself radically from racist groups. From reading your other commentator and this article it would appear that there are differences in opinion among these groups, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ which complicates a simple analysis.

    1. Here’s a useful exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Jonah Goldberg (link) on the topic. One relevant snip:

      the one thing they [alt-right founders and activists] all agree on is that we need to organize this society on the assumption that white people are genetically superior, or that white culture is inherently superior, and that we should have either state-imposed or culturally-imposed segregation between the races, no race mixing with the lower brown people…. And I think rather than poisoning or blurring that distinction, we should take them at their word and say we want nothing to do with any of that…. These are not disaffected tea partiers. These are people who we have a fundamental, first principle disagreement with. And any movement that has them in it, doesn’t have me in it, and vice versa.

      1. Literally none of this is true though. The only thing which is remotely true is that the alt-right puts an emphasis on white culture. But even this is skewing the truth. The alt-right could be more aptly described as Western Purists or, in many cases, Paleconservatives. They view western civilization and culture as the single greatest driving force in providing the greatest amount of happiness, progress, and enlightenment the world has ever known. The folly lies when people like you and MSM journalists automatically associate pride and a desire to preserve traditional western values with white supremacy. It’s disingenuous at best and lazy at worst. Part of the problem identifying the alt-right is that it’s a catch-all term for anyone the media wants to paint as crazy. It’s akin to Hillary blaming the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ for all of her crimes and cover-ups. Alt-right is a bat wielded by journalists and people like you to dismiss differing conservative or reactionary viewpoints. Rather than actual engage the arguments of these people, you simply bash them over the head with the bat of the alt-right, thereby nullifying the need to actually understand what’s being said.

        In short, trying to characterize the alt-right as a single homogenous hivemind is another form of toxic identity politics. It devalues the thoughts of an individual or dissenting opinion by compartmentalizing anyone who dares associate with the alt-right into a convenient box of ‘racist, sexist, xenophobe’.

  4. Could not agree with you more!
    Spot on scary the choice of Bannon! Chief adviser on what? Deportations, inner city unrest, stop and frisk, relations with Israel, Mexico and the Middle East (I can go on for awhile here). Sure, drain the swamp of anyone who isn’t White and Christian. (Might make it hard for my half black daughter of the American Revolution and Mayflower descendant to get kicked out!).
    How will an avowed White supremacist try to change this Nation?!
    Alt-right is not what previous commenters say it is. Call your stronger right something else because alt- right is ugly. It means racist.
    We may be hopeful and we always pray for our President and all civil authorities but you are right when you say that we must exercise a prophetic voice as Christians and disavow racism, xenophobia, homophobia and
    anti-Semitism.

  5. I never run into these alt-right people on the internet. I think you have to go looking for them. I think this is largely fallout from racist identity politics originating on the left. And the answer to these people is honest political discourse in the place of political correctness.

    What do we expect a president to do about his most unsavory supporters, people like the Al Sharptons and Jeremiah Wrights of this world? I think the answer for a man like Trump is benign neglect rather than formal repudiation. Especially given that the racist elements of the alt-right have and will have zero influence over policy. They control no money. They have no caucus in congress. They are simply internet ranters and ravers.

    Resentment over illegal immigration, affirmative action and excuses for the pathologies of certain minority communities is not racist per se. I think there are racists who exploit these resentments.

    To me, the overwhelming preponderance of political violence is on the progressive side. But I do not deny that people like French and his family have been abused. Leftist thuggery, though, is pervasive, excused, institutionalized and funded by organized groups. Calls for Trump to disavow his racist supporters imply a certain false equivalency.

    1. I don’t think there’s any false equivalency. Any sort of ideological bullying is unacceptable, worse when it’s attached to public office. These people got traction because of Trump. If he doesn’t repudiate them, he’s enabling them.

  6. I’m really glad to see this. I’d also like to see a stronger response from Christian thought-leader-types about sexual assault in light of Trump’s campaign. I think the overall silence sends a message to girls and women that we don’t matter. Also, it makes no sense to me at all to be a hardliner on abortion but not sexual assault, because, you know, the two kinda dovetail.

    1. What message does it send to women/girls to support a candidate who’s husband has a proven track record of sexual assault and she a record of enabling and covering up for it?

      I’m saddened to see leftist tripe such as this on linked on AFR.

      1. I’m hardly a leftist. Hillary was a terrible choice as well. This post isn’t about that choice, however. If you read it, it was pretty obviously about what to do now that we have chosen. Enabling white nationalists can’t be among them, and if you want Trump to accomplish anything worthy, you have a vested interest in his distancing himself from these people.

  7. Joel,
    Have you happened to notice the extreme violence perpetuated by the thousands of left wing elements of the Democratic parties (Hillary supporters). How about the rape Melania sign hung by these people on Trump tower, or the many Trump supporters being beaten. These issues unfortunately will not get resolved or go away, if people on both sides do not acknowledge and take a real stance in officially denouncing such actions. Your commentary was very biased and narrow minded. Which is one of the many reasons we find our selves at this point in the greatest country on earth.

    1. Ugly all around. But who’s got the luxury (or ethical laziness) to wait for the other person to move first? Trump is now president elect. He should lead by example. And by lead, I mean go first.

  8. It may seem offensive to modern ears but being “racist” (however leftists choose to define that word) is not the greatest sin that one can commit. Worse is the losing candidate’s documented 30+ years of unabashed support of abortion (which overwhelmingly affects the Black community) and the promise to appoint pro-abortion Supreme Court nominees. Worse is the fact that war with Russia would have probably been a near certainty under a Clinton presidency. Worse is that, thanks to wikileaks, we learned that this candidate had plans for the Church which would have forced us into compromising our faith or suffering the consequences of remaining faithful in light of issues pertaining to same-sex “marriage.”

    The tired leftist narrative of Republicans being “racist”, “homophobes”, (insert favorite epithet) has been shown to be little more than liberal attempts to steer conversation away from real issues. The Left can claim many more true racists and other hateful malcontents than the Right, as a previous commenter pointed out. This election, and the rise of the so-called “alt-right” have shown that people are waking up to these tactics and are beginning to expose them.

  9. Not everyone on the alt-right is a white nationalist, and painting in such broad strokes is not helpful to the conversation. This sort of virtue signalling and political correctness is not profitable to anyone. There are many Orthodox Christians that are either part of the alt-right, or close enough to be lumped in with them.

    I would like to know just what political ideology a person is allowed to have in this day and age that isn’t a leftist ideology. I remember very well how evil the GWB administration was portrayed, and just how much I was supposed to hate establishment Republicans for their wars and their exploitation of cheap labor in foreign countries. Now a conservative movement comes along that says “Hey, maybe we should stop sending our soldiers to die in the middle east, maybe we should put our own citizens first. Maybe we should try and bring jobs back and reform bad trade deals.” And immediately it is compared to fascism or national socialism as a great evil.

    If you listen to Democrats, Republicans should have chosen John Kasich. The same guy who is pro-choice, who wanted boots on ground in THREE DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, and increased aggression against Russia. If John Kasich is the poster boy for “the acceptable right”, then I’m glad an alternative-right exists.

  10. I’m tired of blatant propaganda trying to link the ficticious “alt-right” movement with racism. The alt-right term itself was made up by liberals like Hillary Clinton just so they would have a label to pin all these hateful terms to. Frankly, it’s disgusting and anyone who adopts these terms and hateful buzzwords has zero credibility

  11. You appear to be way out of your depth on the subject of the so-called “Alt right.” Considering Bannon will be Presidential staff, you should have done more research on him at least. Instead you are regurgitating mainstream media narratives, sad to say. More is expected of an Orthodox perspective on world events.

  12. Hi Joel,

    Why are you against the God Emperor since he is against abortion and do not worship demon(Moloch) unlike Crooked Hillary ? Are you aware that she sacrifice chicken in her backward ?

    Are you even christian, Joel ?

  13. Until modernity, it would not have been very controversial to suggest a ruler should put his own people’s interests above the interests offoreigners. It would not be xenophobic to suggest that Greece belongs to the Greeks, or that France belongs to the French. It would not be racist to build a wall to protect your people from invading countries. It would not be islamophobic or anti-Semitic to resist your culture and people being displaced by Muslims and Jews.
    It seems as though you would rather give way to creeping modernism and liberalism than take a stand on anything, which is a real shame. We already have enough virtue signallers, you will get no brownie points for this.

  14. BLM encourages killing cops and Hillary didn’t disavow them, in fact she encouraged their support. Should a politician disavow all those they don’t agree with ideologically. Such a politician could never win. Perhaps we shouldn’t judge people by the radical groups like the KKK and BLM that support them.

    1. Nonsense. BLM has never encouraged the killing of cops or anyone else. Here’s what Black Lives Matter cofounder Alicia Garza said after the killing of police in Dallas:

      Black Lives Matter has never, ever called for the murder of police officers. What we have said over and over again is that it is time in this country for policing to be accountable, transparent and responsible. That’s not rhetoric. That is what communities in the United States want to see from the people who protect and serve them. And so quite frankly, we can, at the same time as we grieve the loss of life of several officers who were killed last night, we can also push to demand that there be accountable, responsive, transparent policing… We are not anti-police. We are anti our people being murdered in the streets. What happened to Alton Sterling, what happened to Philando, what happens to so many black people in our communities is absolutely unacceptable, and I think that’s something that we can all agree on.

      Can we? Or do we just feel outraged that blacks are finally saying they’ve experienced enough maltreatment?

  15. Joel, May God bless you for writing this blog. Whether we are “liberal” or “conservative,” Christians need to remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is in charge. The best thing we can do is pray for each other.
    Stay strong.

  16. Joel,

    Good post and lively discussion! One of the challenges Trump presents to me is how deeply I’m willing to believe and practice ‘Light overcomes darkness’. The whole mindset right now seems to often ignore this simple Truth and confuses the end as justifying the means. This is one of the issues I personally find troubling about Trump . He believes and has a life experience of expressing that the victory in is winning not in how you play the game. It is so easy for me to find myself fighting him from this same playbook of wanting to return evil for evil …. yet I know that evil is simply a separation from the Good and from God… and I can only overcome evil if I am armed with the Good. The victory is not in the outcome but in doing it with God, and with His virtue as I follow His commandments. This is the true battleground.
    _________
    Ephesians 6:12 – For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
    __________

    So, I do believe in ‘Love Your Enemies’ and I do believe that whatever actions I take must be grounded in the Good as I attach myself to His principles and trust Him regarding outcomes. This situation has the potential to be an amazing teacher …. perhaps a cruel one … but still an amazing teacher of what we all most need to learn.

  17. This poem is a very good meditation for me as we think about where we find ourselves in this very polarized place …. perhaps, pretty alone and isolated from God. Saint Nikolai Velimirovich was a Serbian bishop in the last century who spoke out courageously against Nazism until he was arrested and taken to Dachau.
    ___________________
    Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

    Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.

    Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

    Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

    Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

    They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

    They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

    They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

    They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.

    They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

    Bless my enemies, O Lord, Even I bless them and do not curse them.

    Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

    Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

    Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

    Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

    Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

    Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

    Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment.

    Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

    Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

    so that my fleeing to You may have no return;

    so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

    so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

    so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins, arrogance and anger;

    so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

    ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

    Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

    One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

    It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

    Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and enemies.

    A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands.

    For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.

    Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

    From Prayers by the Lake by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, published by the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of New Gracanica,

  18. Dear Joel,

    I’ll skip the sociological discussion into which your post has evolved and join rather the political theology discussion that perhaps you hoped to provoke. The quotation from Aristotle Papanikolaou is both curious and revealing. Although it is hardly a crowded field, he is not quite alone in attempting to do Orthodox political theology. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, e.g., has also published a full length book — “Orthodoxy and Political Theology” (2012). Michael Plekon (CUNY) briefly describes three other Orthodox contributions to political theology (including Sergius Bulgakov) in “The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology” (2004).

    Papanikolaou’s approach is also not uncontroversial. His “The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy,” received a (well-deserved) scathing review from Vigen Guroian in First Things in 2014 (see “Godless Theosis”). More importantly, Papanikolaou is self-consciously trying to do for Orthodoxy in America what John Courtney Murray did for Catholicism in America – contribute to the innovation of an ‘Americanist’ Orthodoxy. John Courtney Murray wrote in a long tradition of Americanists going back to Catholic Bishop John Ireland (whom OCA faithful will fondly remember for his confrontation with St. Alex Toth!) to John Carroll (the first Catholic Bishop in the United States).

    The distinguishing feature of the Americanist project is the desire to create a syncretism of Americanism (i.e. modern democracy) and Catholicism or, in this case, Orthodoxy. The problem with this project (which is well documented and equally well criticized by Catholic traditionalists) doesn’t bring one closer to any Patristic theology; instead it brings one closer to Calvinism and reformed protestant theology. Modern democracy is not a non-theological political discourse; it is itself a Theo-political discourse, albeit a very bad one. In other words, modern democracy is a form of political theology – and that theology is decidedly (and necessarily) protestant.

    Catholic Archbishop Francis George said, in 1997, that Americans “are culturally Calvinist, even those who profess the Catholic faith.” American society, he argued, “is the civil counterpart of a faith based on private interpretation of Scripture and private experience of God.” That observation is buttressed by the research of Elizabeth Fenton, published in her “Religious Liberties” (2011), whose thesis is that the republic’s founding is inextricably entwined with Protestantism – something which should (but very often does not) pose a challenge for Catholics and Orthodox alike.

    William Cavanaugh (of whom Papanikolaou is critical) takes this analysis further and suggests that the modern state presents another type of political theology, one characterized by an empty (from an orthodox Christian point of view) public shrine consisting either of a functionally divinized Demos or a functionally divinized State. The functional divinization of those abstractions is not the same as the patristic Theosis; it is rather a form of idolatry, along the lines of Dea Roma. As Cavanaugh observes, “the term “idol” comes from the Greek eidolon, which indicates something that lacks substance, or is vacuous.” In this sense the paired “state” and “sovereign people” function alternatively as god/idol and church/temple.

    You write: “Sovereignty … rests in the people who constitute the government.” Really? How sure are you of your definition of “sovereignty”? Is it something different from the title that Origen attributes to Christ alone — autobasileia – “kingship itself”? Who/what is “the people”? Is it different from the ekklesia, which was the public assembly of the political community of a Greek polis?  Or from the Hebrew qahal, the assembly of Israel before YHWH? According to Scripture, was the qahal ‘sovereign’ or is YHHW ‘sovereign’? Finally, did Christ really give us the mission of “prophetically” purging racism from among the temple attendants and priests of Demos? or might we just possibly be called to displace the idol altogether?

  19. Joel,

    I am glad you are back posting regularly now. I have to agree with the majority of your commentators here that with this post you are on the back of “the Fonz” motorcycle, in the air, over the tank with the shark in it ;). I don’t consume the MSM much anymore at all, but I did after this (to me at least) surprise upset. Within moments I was watching a Yale educated black women (probably from an upper middle class family – her name escapes me at the moment) with a minimum 6 figure (maybe 7) career in “journalism” lament that:

    “”I didn’t quite understand how much white people hated us, or could at least live with that hate. Now I do” (her summary of her reaction to the Trump victory)

    She’s the “victim”. The white toothless Vietnam vet living on disability in a shack in West Virginia who voted for Trump, why he’s her her “oppressor”……yea right (this stuff is truly beyond parody).

    As I think I have said here before, I grew up (born in 1969) in the small town South and I do recall the real (and quite causal) racism and sexism. It is gone now – truly, it is really really gone. What is REAL is the ideological “racism” of the entire progressive left (about 1/2 the country). You see, I am a racist, as well as a homophobe and a bigot. Why? Because I do not agree with the ideological progressives. I believe in local culture, and think the “open border” philosophy of the globalists progresive left is morally and materially destructive – that by definition makes me a “racist”. I believe in marriage between a man and a women – that by definition makes me a “homophobe”. I believe in real qualitative differences between the sexes – that makes me by definition a “bigot”.

    As a 47 year old white male who *used to* agree with the civil rights movement, I now fully affirm my racist, homophobic, and bigot philosophy (which is nothing more or less than classical Christianity). The moral language of the civil rights movement has now been wholly appropriated (wrongly, but that is irrelevant) by anti-Christian ideology. Many of us are just now realizing the gravity of what all this means.

    Whatever Bannon’s and Trump’s sins in this area are, it is almost nothing compared the sins of the ideological and progressive left (which includes the “media”, both entertainment and news, government, the Academy, and corporate board rooms – in other words EVERY important institution in our culture). For every single word you write about the “racism” of the “alt-right”, you need to be writing a 1,000 (no, make that 10,000) about the REAL ideological and anti-Christian “racism” of the progressive left (about 1/2 the country). Anything less is to get on the motor bike with “the Fonz”…

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