Goobers on Parade: Fake Christians and Sham Southerners

From the Dallas Morning News: GOP buttons on their shirts and faith on their sleeves. Excerpt:

SAN ANTONIO – Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell offered a greeting to delegates to the Republican convention. "It's great to be back in the holy land," the Fort Worth native said to the cheers of the party faithful.For the 4,500 delegates at last week's biennial gathering, it was both an expression of conservative philosophy and religious faith, a melding of church and state.

At Saturday morning's prayer meeting, party leader Tina Benkiser assured them that God was watching over the two-day confab. "He is the chairman of this party," she said against a backdrop of flags and a GOP seal with its red, white and blue logo.

The party platform, adopted Saturday, declares "America is a Christian nation" and affirms that "God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom…We pledge to exert our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and dispel the myth of the separation of church and state…"

At Saturday morning's prayer meeting, ministers delivered prayers, gospel singers sang, and the Rev. Dale Young, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Laredo, picked up the convention's dominant theme of immigration. "Lord, your words tell us there's a sign that this nation is under a curse, when the alien who lives among us grows higher and higher and we grow lower and lower," he preached.

The night before, East Texas evangelist Rick Scarborough exhorted Christians at a "values rally" to get involved in elections…Delegates sought him out, taking snapshots and having him sign his book Liberalism Kills Kids.

Can I just say, as a Southerner, from a long line of Southerners going back to the 17th century, that these people are a bunch of ignorant goobers? Back in my youth, growing up in the most conservative, traditional, church-going, Bible-believing, flag-waving, rural Heartland community imaginable, these people would have been considered freaks on the fringe, best kept under the slimy rocks they occasionally crawled out from under.

Now they are enthroned on high, in Texas, in Washington, in the White House, in the greasy-money media empires that belch their filth and their perversions of faith over the airwaves and in print in a relentless, unending stream. These people aren't Christians – imagine using the Bible, with its constant refrain of taking in the stranger, caring for the alien, the commonality of the human predictment (rain falling on the just and unjust alike) as a cudgel to beat immigrants! No, they aren't Christians, they are primitive nationalists, proto-fascists who despise democracy and human freedom, preening in self-regard, imbuing their own willfully ignorant, lovingly cultivated prejudices and fears (and their squirmy, creepy sexual obsessions) with divine sanction. They are blind guides, whited sepulchres, exalters of the self, haters of women and traitors to the God they profess to worship.

And they aren't Southerners either, not really. For one thing, a good many of these "Sun Belt" conservatives are actually transplants from outside the South, like that quintessential modern Texan, George W. Bush, a prissy prep-school cheerleader from an old-line Yankee blueblood family. The Bushes are about as authentically Southern as an igloo.

But mostly, they aren't true Southerners because every true Southerner has had to confront and incorporate the tragic dimension of the region's horrible past as part of their own character: an inescapable heritage that doesn't vitiate our love of the land that raised us up but marks it and complicates it, infuses it with a humility that acknowledges the great evil of slavery and racist violence that is inextricably worked into the cultural soil. It is this tragedy – and the acknowledgement of this tragedy – that makes genuine Southerness, and precludes the kind of witless chauvinism, raging self-righteousness, arrogant bluster and brutal condemnation of the "Other" displayed by the Texas proto-fascists and all their ilk who dishonor the South, again, with their bile.

There is a very real and great danger to the health of the Republic now that these fake Southerners with their fake Christianity and fake patriotism have been pulled out from under their muddy rocks and loosed upon the nation by cynical manipulators in the power elite, who have used them as blunt instruments to advance their own predatory agenda. This will turn out to be one of the great destructive follies of the age, comparable to the American arming, organizing, funding and training of a transnational army of violent Islamists to bait the Russian bear in Afghanistan. When the willfully ignorant and the blindly self-righteous are empowered in this fashion, no one can control the blowback or foresee what form it will take. But that there will be blowback, that there will be hell to pay, is as certain as the sunrise, as certain as the grave.
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