I’m about to share three harsh, but truthful, criticisms from three different people. Each is directed toward a slightly different audience, but each says essentially the same thing.
Kevin Drum is addressing Republicans; Chris Hayes is addressing Republicans as influenced by white Christianity; and William D. Lindsey is addressing white Christians.
But before we turn to those posts, I first want to share this astonishing “open letter,” written by white evangelical Michael L. Brown and published on The Christian Post under the headline: “White Evangelical Asks Black Evangelicals Why They Re-elected Obama.”
Brown is the president/founder/pope/CEO of something called ICN Ministries (which stands for Israel, the Church and the Nations). He’s the author of many books including The Real Kosher Jesus, A Queer Thing Happened to America, and Revolution: The Call to Holy War.
Brown seems to regard his “open letter” as a generous gesture — offering black Christians the opportunity to confess their sin and to beg forgiveness for having voted for Barack Obama.
Are you guilty, on any level, of blind allegiance to the Democratic party? And, on Election Day, did any of you compromise your convictions out of racial solidarity?
… Was there no moral compromise involved in voting for him? Are there no issues that could disqualify him in your eyes? And must Barack Obama be elected and then reelected in order to make up for past injustices, as one black evangelical woman claimed?
… One black pastor explained to me that he is convinced that “many African American believers compromised God’s Word during the election in the name of Obama Care and social program such as foods stamps etc.” Is there any truth to this?
… In 2008, I warned my listeners that Mr. Obama, if elected, would support the goals of gay activism, including redefining marriage, but many listeners did not believe me. Now that President Obama has actually abused the teaching and example of Jesus to advocate same-sex marriage, how could you vote for him again?
OK. So that happened. And now, having read that, you don’t have to wonder if Drum, Hayes and Lindsey are overstating anything in the posts below.
Kevin Drum is specifically speaking of Republicans, but I think everything he says here is something that a particular sub-set of Republicans — white evangelicals — should particularly heed:
Lightening up on immigration won’t be enough. Like it or not, conservatives are going to need a much more thorough housecleaning if they want to survive in an increasingly diverse future. No more gratuitous ethnic mockery. No more pretense that reverse racism is the real racism. No more suggestions that minorities just want a handout. No more screeching about the incipient threat of Sharia law. No more saturation coverage of the pathetic New Black Panthers. No more complaining that blacks get to use the N word but whites don’t. No more summers of hate on Fox News. No more tolerance for Dinesh D’Souza and his “roots of Obama’s rage” schtick; or for Glenn Beck saying Obama has a “deep-seated hatred of white people”; or for Rush Limbaugh claiming that “Obama’s entire economic program is reparations.” No more jeering at the mere concept of “diversity.” And no more too-clever-by-half attempts to say all this stuff without really saying it, and then pretending to be shocked when you’re called on it. Pretending might make you feel virtuous, but it doesn’t fool anyone and it won’t win you any new supporters.
That’s just a start. One way or another, the Republican Party simply has to stamp this out. And not just because they need to do it to survive, but because it’s the right thing to do. That still counts, doesn’t it?
The beating heart of modern conservatism is its visceral appeal to anxieties and fears of white Christians. This is a different statement than saying the beating heart of modern conservatism is white racism or white supremacy. It’s not, or not principally. It is simply white “identity” politics, with all of the pathos and ugliness that implies. And if you don’t believe that, go read some conservative comment threads, or click over to the Drudge Report or Fox News, two outlets with a preternatural sense of the deepest anxieties of the modern conservative base.
Look at the ceaseless coverage of the New Black panthers, and voter fraud and immigrants living high on the hog off government welfare, and the absolute frenzy the right whipped up over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.
Once you understand this then you can see that the Republican party’s problems are deeper than, say, Republican opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, or even the far less controversial DREAM Act. That policy opposition is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. The deeper issue is that for conservative politicians and networks and websites there is simply too much to be gained by feeding the sense of persecution and siege that many white Christians feel down to their toes. I’m not sure what is going to shift those incentives, because that insecurity, as an emotional fact is real and isn’t going away.
And finally, here is William D. Lindsey on “Race Matters and 2012 Elections.” He’s specifically addressing white Christians, but everything he says also applies, I think, to the rest of the party to which those white Christians have pledged allegiance:
Since the cousin most fervently sharing these messages hasn’t darkened the door of any church in years and cares little at all for religion (or the Bible whose pictures she plastered across her Facebook page in the lead-up to the elections), I have to assume that there’s some other explanatory factor for her new-found zeal for Jesus and crucifixes and Bibles and patriotic schoolchildren and God-serving soldiers.
And I know full well what that explanatory factor is. It’s race. … She has responded to the demographic changes in her county with fury about the loss of control of “her” county. “Her” county voted, in fact, for Obama in this election, as did the county in which I live and as did all the counties along the Mississippi River in the Arkansas Delta — counties with a large majority of African Americans. The rest of the state went solidly red.
It went solidly red this election cycle, and, with lavish infusions of Koch brothers money, swept into office everywhere in the state an astonishing assortment of tea party knaves, fools, and bible-pounding con men, for one reason and one reason alone: race. All this was in direct relation to — in direct reaction to — the election of the nation’s first African American president in 2008 and his impending re-election in 2012.
This in a state with churches on every corner in every nook and cranny of the state. A story replicated all across the American South.