Well. Hmm.

Apparently, someone had a reaction to my piece on the Edwards blogger mess.
And didn’t bother to leave a comment. Thanks! I’ll be returning the favor.

Pardon me while I roll my eyes for effect.

I knew that piece wasn’t a total package, and that it relied quite heavily on readers knowing my other work. But it’s what i had time for. So when you get a queer dude telling you to take James Dobson seriously, do you assume that I’m trying to welcome in the New Theocracy? I’m not that masochistic, I swear.

Criminy, folks. This is exactly what I’m talking about. I’m telling you how to beat the system. And the first step is to stop laughing at it. You’re losing. Wipe that stupid grin off your face, and you may still get out of this before we all take the Hell’s Greyhound to Theocracy Land.

The reason that you need to take Christian rhetorics (note the plural here, since one of the sillier criticisms i got over there is that i think that there is a singular Christian belief. Right.) is that they have a historic pattern of being used by various actors and factions to shape American life. And right now, they’re being used by a certain faction of Christendom for some pretty evil ends, and we’re getting fucking rolled.

But all of this does not mean that they are ontologically irrational, stupid, or inferior. As I’ve said before, we’ve done this to them before…America has pushed Fundamentalists to the sidelines by the application of epithet and shame. They left after Scopes as disillusioned social reformers. They came back as Jerry Falwell and the Left Behind series. If anyone thinks that this is a good trade…

Dismissing these folks as sideshow or simply railing at how terrible that they have influence, and looking for any possible way to Other them (think about all the American Taliban comments, the burqa jokes, and all the ways “liberal” types go for a racist joke to try to alienate Fundamentalists from the American mainstream…because if we can’t bond over racist humor, what’s left?)…is flatly unproductive.

Now, I’ve got no love for the electorally minded response that comes from outfits like Sojourners and Jim Wallis, but they have a point this far. Demonization doesn’t work. But they’re not right in thinking that the way to win is to throw our lot with disaffected Fundies and hope for a return to the Social Reform days of Fundamentalism. These folks brought us some of the major energies for Suffrage and Abolition movements, but they also did Prohibition. No go…especially when abortion is so frequently cited as the stumbling block. As someone once said, what does it profit one to win the world and lose one’s soul? Sacrifice of our deeply held convictions just to get a vote is not what is on the table here.

Where my thesis resides is that in the understanding of the social forces behind Fundamentalist rhetorics, and the way in which they connect to social power as it is currently expressed gives us the best chance of responding with intelligence. A lot of this lies in the anxiety that comes out of the various social movements of the last century. Understanding the backlash is NOT the same thing as saying it’s valid.

As I said. Take these rhetorics seriously enough to engage them on their own terms.

Unless, of course, you like losing.

In which case…go on ahead.

-sc

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