God Crashes the Tea Party

From The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/god-crashes-the-tea-party_b_668922.html

Naomi Wolf

Bestselling Author, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

Posted: August 3, 2010 12:17 PM

OXFORD — Where does America put God? Historically, there has always been tension between the separation of church and state that the United States has enshrined in its Constitution and regular upsurges of religious faith, even religious extremism, that seek an outlet in the political process — or even seek to dominate it.

Nowhere is this tension more visible today than in the struggle for the political soul of the Tea Party. For, as the coalition on the religious right that dominated American conservatism since the 1980’s has begun to fall apart, some of the same Christian fundamentalist elements are seeking to absorb — some would say take over — the originally non-sectarian Tea Party.

The Tea Party emerged from a laudably grassroots base: libertarians, fervent Constitutionalists, and ordinary people alarmed at the suppression of liberties, whether by George W. Bush or Barack Obama. Libertarians, of course, tend to understand church-state separation: if you don’t want government intruding in your life, you definitely don’t want it telling you how to worship.

This anti-establishmentarian impulse is a time-honored tradition in America, where advocacy of separation of church and state — a radical view in the late eighteenth century — was driven by the experiences of religious minorities such as Quakers, Huguenots, and Puritans, all of whom suffered religious persecution in Britain and France.

Unfortunately, religious bigotry also has a long history in America, and there are powerful factions that cannot accept that God did not intend the US to be a Christian nation. Ronald Reagan saw the benefit of tapping these constituencies, introducing a faith-first element into what had been a more secularized, “big tent” conservatism.

Since the 1980’s, “culture wars” (usually staged) about homosexuality, abortion, and sex education, or other coded messaging about religious values, have served to mobilize the religious right. Bush’s early avowal of his conversion experience was given in language poll-tested for acceptance by fundamentalist Christians.

Continue Reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/god-crashes-the-tea-party_b_668922.html

11 Responses to “God Crashes the Tea Party”

  1. Anna Says:

    “Since the 1980′s, “culture wars” (usually staged) about homosexuality, abortion…”

    They may seem staged to Naomi Wolf, but to the people whose lives are ruined, or ended, the anodyne label barely cloaks a real and callous hatred. The murdered gynecologist; the pregnant woman put through hell; the women’s groups constantly having to fight the same old pro-choice battles instead of making progress with other important issues; the gay-bashed; the murdered trans women; the kids forced to undergo “exorcism” to drive out “homosexual demons”; the children thrown on the winter streets; the millions wasted fighting homophobic initiatives; the danger caused by slurs suggesting danger to children or families; the denial of human rights that leads to despair and suicide; these aren’t godly, they are the old anathematisation used to bind the faithful and gain power for demagogues from way back.

    Unfortunately in the USA all an evil demagogue has to do is call himself a preacher and he is free to spread hatred worldwide.

    • Suzan Says:

      Britain since the fascist regime of Thatcher seems little better. Cameras every where and some very restrictive laws regarding libel and freedom of speech etc.

  2. Anna Says:

    Suzan:
    “Britain since the fascist regime of Thatcher seems little better. Cameras every where and some very restrictive laws regarding libel and freedom of speech etc.”

    Why do you take criticism of the US State Department allowing Scott Lively to export genocidal hate as a personal affront requiring retaliatory attack upon my home country for restriction on freedom of speech? Are you defending is right to urge genocide?

    The only answer to the point I have is that the UK has laws against homophobic and transphobic hate speech. I would hope that Lively will be banned from entering the EU. Since most travel to Africa requires a change in Europe that might be some little protection for Africans too.

    • Suzan Says:

      Generally speaking I prefer free speech even when it means allowing bigot the same rights as I expect. As someone who has been labeled both a Communist and an Anarchist I am aware of the price paid by those persecuted and sometimes murdered for having those ideas. I admired Thomas Jefferson for ending John Adams’ Sedition Laws.

      As someone who grew up in the 1950s I am fully aware of the implications of McCarthyism and the secret police activities of the FBI and the local Red Squads and their Stasi like role. I didn’t much understand why the ACLU defended the right of the Nazis to march in Skokie, Ill. But that is the price one pays for the freedom to demonstrate and espouse controversial causes.

      The country that censors one faction can just as easily censor another and another and another until all that is left is a propaganda machine.

      When novelists write speculative fiction regarding a rise of fascism in the US they center it on the rise of a demagogue. Sinclair Lewis “It Can’t Happen Here” vs George Orwell’s 1984 where the fear is the suppression of freedom of speech.

      I fear too little freedom of speech not too much.

  3. Anna Says:

    Suzan:
    “I fear too little freedom of speech not too much”

    I fear that your identification with writers blinds you to the vulnerability of some to genocide, which I doubt any of your movements espouse.

    Try instead to think yourself into the situation of Tutsis in Rwanda in the 1990s. Or sexual minorities in neighbouring Uganda right now.

    Then watch Scott Lively in Uganda in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amVnWtpR1is from the 2 minute mark.

    He promotes genocide, carefully, deliberately, and repeatedly, which is a whole other ballgame to freedom of speech.

    Not seeing the difference would of course be part of the problem.

    • Suzan Says:

      There is a reason why we fought an anti colonial war of independence to gain our freedom from British rule.

      There is also a reason why people like Thomas Jefferson made Freedom of Speech the first of all the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights that people learned were required to enact our Constitution.

      We also have the Second amendment which allows us the right to bear arms to defend ourselves from tyrants like Scott Lively.

  4. tinagrrl Says:

    Here’s some information. :

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws. Criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy, such as racism, sexism, and other hate speech are generally permitted. There are exceptions to these general protection, including the Miller test for obscenity, child pornography laws, speech that incites imminent danger, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising. Within these limited areas, other limitations on free speech balance rights to free speech and other rights, such as rights for authors and inventors over their works and discoveries (copyright and patent), interests in “fair” political campaigns (Campaign finance laws), protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons (restrictions on fighting words), or the use of untruths to harm others (slander). Distinctions are often made between speech and other acts which may have symbolic significance…………………….

    Despite the exceptions, the legal protections of the First Amendment are some of the broadest of any industrialized nation, and remain a critical, and occasionally controversial, component of American jurisprudence.

    As far as some historical perspective: In the 1780s after the American Revolutionary War, debate over the adoption of a new Constitution resulted in a division between Federalists, such as Alexander Hamilton who favored a strong federal government, and Anti-Federalists, such as Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry who favored a weaker federal government. During and after the Constitution ratification process, Anti-Federalists and state legislatures expressed concern that the new Constitution placed too much emphasis on the power of the federal government. The drafting and eventual adoption of the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, was, in large part, a result of these concerns, as the Bill of Rights limited the power of the federal government.

    The First Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791. The Amendment states:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    The Supreme Court applied the incorporation principle to the right of free speech with the case of Gitlow v. New York. This decision applied First Amendment speech rights to state laws as well as federal ones.
    [edit]

  5. tinagrrl Says:

    By the way, most right wing”uber-christians” really HATE the incorporation principle. Some go as far as wanting their own super-christian state, where they can have a state mandated religion — as opposed to a federal one.

    In the USA our Constitution usually protects us against our own worst impulses. Some folks seem to have a constant desire for royalty and/or repression.

    Over time, our best impulses have led to greater equality. Periodic setbacks, followed by moves forward (so far). right now is a bad time for both diversity and dissent in the USA.

    Some of the current religious fervor has to burn out first — it always has, in the past.

  6. Anna Says:

    tinagrrl Says:
    > Here’s some information. :
    >
    > From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    >
    >| Freedom of speech in the United States is protected… There
    >| are exceptions to these general protection, including … speech
    >| that incites imminent danger… Within these limited areas,
    >| other limitations on free speech balance rights to free speech
    >| and other rights, such as… protection from imminent or
    >| potential violence against particular persons
    >| (restrictions on fighting words)…

    Thank you Tina for demonstrating that that US constitutional law provides for action against Scott Lively. As I said, the problem is lack of action.

    Perhaps the reason for that is flagged in the excellent federal court judgment on Proposition 8: that people wrongly see sexual minorities as lesser than them. Perhaps it will take the US Supreme Court to endorse it, and rule unarguably that is not a permissible basis for US law and action, before Scott Lively faces restrictions. Unfortunately some of those against whom he (and others) stokes hatred don’t have that long.

  7. Anna Says:

    Suzan Says:
    > There is a reason why we fought an anti colonial war of
    > independence to gain our freedom from British rule.
    >
    > There is also a reason why people like Thomas Jefferson made
    > Freedom of Speech the first of all the rights enumerated in the
    > Bill of Rights that people learned were required to enact our
    > Constitution.

    And it wasn’t to enable Scott Lively to travel the world stoking genocide. But Tina has demonstrated that you do your country a great disservice by that argument; its law does provide the necessary powers.

    > We also have the Second amendment which allows us the right to
    > bear arms to defend ourselves from tyrants like Scott Lively.

    Rwandans and Ugandans have lots of weapons too. Check out the photographs of the Rwandan genocide victims.

    The problem is that Mr Lively and his pals fall carefully below the level where it would be reasonable for you, in the US, to shoot him. He only uses words. He claims the cloak of religion, of scholarship.

    But all this was understood 50 years ago. The genocide convention made it clear that the words used to bring people to the point of killing their neighbours were equal partners in the act. And the US signed that, enthusiastically.

    But now it does nothing. And you (and no doubt Mr Lively) cite Jefferson as the reason. I don’t know about Jefferson, I imagine that as educated white guy he wasn’t much subject to genocidal hatred, but I’m pretty damned astonished that you identify with writers rather than even with Ugandan WBTs on this point.

  8. Suzan Says:

    I am not a writer because I “identify” as a writer. I am a writer because I practice the craft of writing.


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