Revolution #145, October 19, 2008
The “Palin Factor”:
A Christian Fascist Nutcase Runs for VP
“If you thought, in the wake of the nightmare of the Bush years, and the euphoria surrounding the Obama campaign, that the political pendulum in the USA was swinging to the ‘left’…
“If you thought that the Bush regime was so widely and bitterly hated that a repackaged version couldn’t seriously contend for the presidency…
“If you thought that the Christian fundamentalist theocrats were passé…
“Then you got a shocking wake up call from the Republican National Convention.”
Sarah Palin emerged out of that convention as the self-described “pit-bull with lipstick” rallying sections of the middle classes around increasingly virulent expressions of Joe Sixpack’s “small town” values of arrogant ignorance, intolerance, implicit if not explicit racism, and hyper-patriotism, justified by and linked with fundamentalist Christianity.
In the closing weeks of the U.S. presidential election, in a time of great economic, social, political, and moral turmoil and uncertainty, the “heels are on, the gloves are off.” Palin’s campaign appearances bash “liberals” and “cosmopolitans,” lash out at the “mainstream media,” and implicitly call into question whether Obama should even be considered a legitimate presidential candidate by accusing him of “palling around with terrorists.” Reporters are confronted and harassed by crowds at her rallies, and the mention of Obama’s name at her and McCain’s events sets off cries of “liar” and “traitor.”
Only a millimeter beneath the surface in this mix are the winks, hints, and shouts from the audience that the real problem in this country is Black people and immigrants, with an ominous and dangerous tone reminiscent of how poor and middle class whites have historically been incited to violent racist pogroms against Black people.
When Adolf Hitler rallied the angry “volk”—the “common people” in Germany—against the “cosmopolitans”—(which in Germany, at that time, took extreme concentration in his attacks on the Jews)—it was called fascism.
What do you call it in the USA?
This fascist movement has arisen in some ways “spontaneously” out of the current situation, but mainly through major promotion by key sections of the ruling class. The forces now grouped around Bush have been building up in society for decades, a structure or infrastructure within society that could move this society towards a fascist kind of setup when things come to that. It is an effort to deliberately build a base of people, in their millions, who are frightened by the idea of thinking, who cannot deal with the complexity of modern society, who want simple absolute answers to the complexities of this society.
Who is Sarah Palin? Her bizarre biblical literalist beliefs put her squarely in the “religious nutcase” category. She is associated, through churches she attends and looks to for guidance, with one of the most extreme forms of fundamentalist Christianity—dominionism—whose program for the country is to establish religious fascist rule.
Sarah Palin doesn’t just oppose abortion—she opposes it even in the most extreme circumstances involving rape or incest. She is an active member of Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion group that also opposes the use of birth control. Palin opposes all rights for gay couples, and the church she attends hosted an event on “converting” homosexuals to heterosexuality through prayer. She has no doubt that the theory of evolution is wrong—despite the fact that its explanation of the development of all life is one of the most established facts in all of science, and the crucial foundation for all of modern medicine.
Under the cover of “states rights” and “local control” she wants creationism taught as science in the public schools—that the earth is 6,000 years old, rather than billions of years old as proven by science, and that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth at the same time—rather than millions of years apart as all scientific evidence concludes. And she has no doubt of this because she once saw a photo of a human footprint inside a dinosaur footprint. She attributes her victory in the Alaska governor’s race to the prayers said over her in her church in 2005 by an African minister—who also prayed for her to be protected from witchcraft. And Palin believes that the war in Iraq, along with drilling for oil in Alaska, is “god’s will.”
It’s not just that Palin is guided by an outlook and beliefs that are extremely detached from the real world; she is part of a movement that believes that people like her are mandated to impose these beliefs on the world.
Palin’s religious beliefs and connections—the churches she attends and gets guidance from extreme fundamentalist ministers—are rooted in one of the most extreme forms of Christian fundamentalism, a resurgent dominionist movement referred to as The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit or the New Apostolic Reformation. This is the same “Spiritual Warfare” movement featured in the movie Jesus Camp. That film showed young children being trained to “do battle for the Lord.” This movement rejects any separation of church and state, and tells believers they have a god given mandate to rid the world of evil. They are organizing youth into “Joel’s Army,” which they believe is prophesied to become an Armageddon-ready military force of young people with a divine mandate to physically impose Christian “dominion” on non-believers. They recently held a series of stadium events in Lakeland, Florida that lasted at least 100 days, drawing tens of thousands of young people from around the globe.
Palin has been treated with kid gloves by the mainstream media (that Palin bashes)—who elevated her to superstar status. Compare the lack of outrage over Palin’s connections and background to the way that Obama’s relationship with Reverend Wright was brought into the media “center ring” until Obama was forced to renounce his relationship with him. Think too about the way that people like Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader, or Cynthia McKinney are marginalized by the mainstream media—treated as fringe candidates beyond the pale of serious consideration, while Palin is generally portrayed as a perfectly credible candidate. Where, in contrast to the uproar over Reverend Wright, is the media outrage over Palin’s bizarre, reactionary beliefs, her dangerous connections to extremist, militant right-wing religious fascists, and her campaign of personal vilification of her opponents. And what does all this tell you about the parameters of acceptable political thought these days?
And what has Obama had to say about Palin? Here we have a very sharp example of the overall message and role of the Obama candidacy. Obama’s message of “getting beyond differences” is a call for accommodation and conciliation between polar opposite forces in society—those who believe in a woman’s right to an abortion, for example, and those who demand that women be forced to bear children against their will. Or those who see the historic and ongoing oppression of Black people as a crime and an outrage on the one hand, and those who celebrate white supremacy and blame those who have been oppressed and exploited even more than they have, for their current economic hardships and the fact that the world as they’ve known it is coming apart, on the other hand.
The fact that such a nutcase, and not a harmless one, but an extreme religious fundamentalist who believes she has been called to carry out “god’s plan” and is preparing for the “end times,” can be in a position to be Vice President of the United States—and the fact that Obama and the Democrats do not bluntly call this out, nor do the mainstream and so-called liberal media hammer at this point, reveals the utter bankruptcy of this whole system and the ruling class of this country. And it reveals once again how it is not the people who select their government through elections but the ruling class, with its media playing a major role in this, which shapes and determines who and what are “legitimate” candidates and issues, and what does and does not constitute illegitimacy in politics—and overall sets the terms within which the people are allowed to play a role by casting votes completely within these confines.
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