Reza Aslan told Salon (in an interview you can read here) that America is “one 9/11-style attack from the end”.
We’ve been down that road before. Although 9/11 was a turning point in American history, too much has happened since. We have too much social media to tend to. If another attack like that occurs, it might be newsworthy for a few weeks. Months at most. It will absolutely bring out the racists in America, don’t get me wrong. But as a whole, Americans are too self-absorbed to care.
But another economic collapse? Now that’s a different story.
Much of the interview was a discussion on Evangelical support for Trump. Lukewarm liberals often wonder how “values voters” could vote for someone that lacks any of those characteristics. But who cares? As Aslan says, people do not “derive their values from their religion as they insert their values in their religion.” So they can twist their “values” to fit their personal demands. It’s a relatively uninteresting question. But to me, Evangelical “values voters” were never the problem.
In my experience, Evangelical hatred for homosexuality and progressive ideals were mostly skin-deep. They paid lip-service towards it, but when confronted with it face-to-face, they realized that they didn’t care. I attended a mostly-evangelical university. I went to Bible-Thumping Baptist high school. Were there gay people there? You betcha. Illegal immigrants? Totally. I’m not saying that outright homophobic and racist sentiments weren’t present. Of course they were. But at the end of the day, these followers genuinely believed in a God and had to reconcile their hatred with their belief.
Their faith took precedence over their prejudice. While Aslan is mostly correct in his assessment of evangelicals, there is a degree of give-and-take, however small, with followers and scripture. A BELIEF in a higher power is far more potent than we give it credit it for, and belief is what’s keeping evangelical hatred at bay if you will.
I don’t fear them.
But I do fear lingering alt-right sentiments. There is a degree of overlap between the alt-right and white evangelicals. BUT the alt-right hinges on being perceived as “counter-culture”. Additionally, many on this counter-Right movement aren’t as hostile to homosexuality. I suppose we have Milo Yiannapoulos to thank for that. But they do have open hostility towards non-white minorities, WHICH might stand against the evangelical project of “The Great Commission”. So while there is some overlap between these two movements, they don’t necessarily share the same vision. I understand Aslan’s concern, but if there’s going to be suppressive revolutionary movement galvanized by some national calamity, it won’t come from evangelicals….it’ll come from the irreligious alt-right that’s centered around a cult of “logic and intelligence”.
It’ll be championed by the Jordan Petersons and Ben Shapiros of the world. The “anti-PC” talking heads….guys like Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Joe Rogan, and those that do “Bro Humor” will probably also jump on this boat. It’s not the religious we have to fear….it’s the white, male, MGTOW, irreligious, “forbidden knowledge, bell curve”-sharing, faux-intellectual movement that’s taking shape. THAT should be more concerning.
Evangelicals are too inhibited and dwindling to be of much concern.
Internet dorks that can’t get laid are a much bigger problem. Loneliness and inability to connect with women are MAJOR motivators. The middling, Twitter Left failed in this regard. It didn’t understand this growing problem. This version of the Left presented a barrier to entry. Say one wrong thing and you’re expelled from the movement. Angela Nagle has plenty to say on this subject. This, of course, repulsed the otherwise intelligent, internet-dwelling nerds who found the anti-PC Right far more welcoming. Because the Left took on an establishment-like exterior, the nerdy Right oddly became the counter-culture.
Why should we fear this? Well, one can’t help but think back on another group of nerds that rose to power riding on a racist, semi-intellectual, right-wing agenda…the Nazis. Of course I’ve said before that “history doesn’t repeat itself”, so hopefully I’m just being paranoid. But still, I think I have good reason to be uncomfortable.
Aslan was asked what this “fascist America” might look like and his reply was a “Christian version of Saudi Arabia…or Iran.” And he’s right, even if that movement wasn’t motivated by Evangelicals. The end objective of this “alt-right” is the same: a restoration of a patriarchical society. Where “old fashioned” values prevailed and “men were men”. So it’s understandable why this movement would be appealing to lonely men trolling the web.
Donald Trump conveyed this out loud, and Evangelicals inherently don’t have the balls to do this. That’s why they twist their faith to continue their support.
Additionally, Aslan might be correct on this: America doesn’t recover from Donald Trump. For me, Trump isn’t THE concern. He’s an opportunist. He saw an opening and he took it. He’s not an actual ideologue. The “macho-ness” he exhibits is bullshit. He can’t fire people face-to-face. He gets into Twitter rants. He easily gets his feelings hurt. That’s not macho. My concern is the guy after Donald Trump now that he’s emboldened a radical section of the public.
Aslan explained that many immigrants understand the volatility of governments. Americans have grown comfortable with 200 plus years of a relatively stable government and constitution. Can this system last forever?
America is undergoing an identity crisis. The White American Male has interpreted this as an attack on them. Will they embrace the change or self-destruct the ship?