White evangelicals, Republicans and wanting to ‘take our country back’

White evangelicals, Republicans and wanting to ‘take our country back’ November 18, 2012

Linda Harvey of the “Christian radio” program Mission America chimes in with her own version of Michael L. Brown’s awful “why have black people betrayed Christianity?” riff following the 2012 election. Harvey says:

Ninety-three percent of African Americans voted for Obama in this election. Where are the Christians? Where are those who choose candidates based on the content of his or her character?

“Some people,” white evangelical radio host Linda Harvey says, “are swayed by race.”

Harvey can’t imagine any reason that black Christians would vote for President Barack Obama other than because he’s black. (I suppose that’s also why Obama won over three-fourths of Asian-American voters and a large majority of women voters — because Obama is an Asian-American woman.)

Harvey goes on to claim, falsely, that Obama’s re-election means “that people of faith should be forced to pay for other people’s abortion-causing drugs … drugs that kill unborn babies.”

And then she speculates sadly on the cause of this tragedy, in which most African Americans have chosen to be Satanic baby-killers rather than real, true Christians:

Some people are swayed by race, giving him the benefit of the doubt; some find it impossible to accept the jaw-dropping reality about his actions though. He has insulted our Lord, our values and our faith in ways too numerous to mention. But folks decide which camp they want to be in: the cool camp, the one with the hip president who likes big government programs and nods at sexual sin, even if great harm comes to children as a result. No, for some people, first they choose their camp and then they try to figure out ways to justify it.

There’s just something about Obama that, for Harvey, is an insult to “our Lord, our values and our faith.” Whatever could that certain, ineffable something be? And what do you mean “our,” Kemosabe?

Whenever white evangelicals like Harvey speak of “our Lord, our values and our faith” or of “our country,” it’s always done in a way that excludes — to use Harvey’s phrase there — “some people.”

Just like Michael L. Brown and most of the other white evangelical leaders of white evangelicalism, Linda Harvey would insist that she favors diversity, in principle, and that she would be very pleased to see “our” church become more inclusive. In theory, people like Brown and Harvey can nod along with Alvin Sanders as he outlines his “Mission Lessons From Election Night“:

For 20 years I have beat the drum telling evangelicals that they need to get their institutional house in order because diversity is coming. That line no longer is accurate. Ladies and gentlemen, diversity is here.

And as demonstrated [Election] night, the organizations that figure out how to express their values, attitudes, and beliefs in a diverse manner will be the ones that come out on top. The ones that don’t will slowly and steadily lose their impact.

Here are the facts. Our country is browner, is more female, and is well on its way to becoming an ethnic minority/majority country. If we can’t figure out how to speak to this reality evangelical institutions will be completely marginalized.

The white evangelical leaders of white evangelicalism can murmur approvingly when conservative columnist Anthony Bradley writes:

And here’s a valuable lesson for conservative evangelicals from last Tuesday’s election results: If your church, college, seminary, denominational annual meeting, etc., looks like Romney’s concession speech audience, you likely will be unable to transform, influence, or engage America. To do so, you’ll need to start including minorities and women as executive leaders and thought leaders who will help chart institutional direction.

Michael Brown and Linda Harvey and other white evangelicals are fine with that. And they’d be perfectly comfortable tapping “minorities and women as executive leaders and thought leaders” just as long as those folks share all the exact same opinions, perspectives and priorities as those of the white evangelical establishment. They’re all for diversity, but only in the sense that they like the optics of a diverse-looking crowd all pledging unquestioning allegiance to the pure white evangelical agenda in lockstep conformity.

Matt Taibbi was writing about politics, not about the church, when he wrote the following. But I think Taibbi’s comments here on the Republican Party as a whole apply just as much to that party’s subgroup of the white evangelical church. Symbolic attempts at “outreach” to women, Latinos, African Americans, etc., won’t work, Taibbi says, because the real problem isn’t symbolic, it’s the resentful, indignant, self-righteous heart and soul of the Republican/white evangelical ideology:

But modern Republicans will never be able to spread that message effectively, because they have so much of their own collective identity wrapped up in the belief that they’re surrounded by free-loading, job-averse parasites who not only want to smoke weed and have recreational abortions all day long, but want hardworking white Christians like them to pay the tab. Their whole belief system, which is really an endless effort at congratulating themselves for how hard they work compared to everyone else (by the way, the average “illegal,” as Rush calls them, does more real work in 24 hours than people like Rush and me do in a year), is inherently insulting to everyone outside the tent – and you can’t win votes when you’re calling people lazy, stoned moochers.

You can’t win votes by insulting potential voters. And you can’t win over everybody else when you’re convinced you’re better than everybody else — because they’re all a bunch of evil, depraved, Satanic baby-killers.

Anthea Butler gets at the heart of white evangelicals’ “take our country back” rhetoric and the assumptions underlying it:

After four years of hearing the refrain “Let’s take our country back,” it is clear that 2012 is not only, as Sarah Posner writes, a religious realignment, but also a moral realignment.

Fake God talk doesn’t cut it with Americans. Everyone sees through it. For Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and a host of others, the last four years have been a confidence game, a careful calculation that if they could just promote themselves, their god, their America, and Obama as a socialist just enough, the tide would turn their way and the money would flow. It didn’t. Many Americans want gay people to have the right to marry, recognize that rape is rape, and view women’s reproductive rights as important.

Americans are tired of racist remarks and the denigration of the office of the President of the United States simply because an African American with a dual heritage and a white mother cracked and decoded the American dream.

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  • Dan Audy

    Frankly, I’m actually in (relative) agreement with Fox on that one, though notably not for the same reasons.  Sexualized insults towards women often come from misogamy rather than thought through issues with their positions.  I’d like a world where the issue with the Palin is that she was/is a lying ignoramus who supports horrific policies and affects a completely different persona to the actual life she leads.  There is a lot to dislike about Palin but the fact she is a woman, what she wears, or that the conservatives treat her as some sort of (creepily IMO) sex symbol isn’t a good reason or an ethical place to oppose her. I’d like to push the sexual judgments on female politicians out of acceptable mainstream discussion because it hurts the legitimacy of OUR candidates when the news review of their debate focuses what little time they get on their outfit/appearance rather than policy which hurts the best female candidates disproportionately.

  • Turcano

     “Political dissidents” makes the argument a tautology, as it’s defined as “voting/campaigning for someone or something I don’t like.”

  • Wednesday

     Also worth noting that some Romney supporters are folks who would’ve wound up in the camps. My Republican-for-the-money-who-thinks-paying-taxes-when-democrats-are-in-office-is-like-Haiti-being-impovereshed-by-reparations-to-France uncle (Jewish), my likewise-Republican aunt (race traitor), and of course  our own local Jewish Romney-fan here on Slacktivist.

  • More than that, what content does Mitt’s character have? The Republicans will keep flailing in national elections if they can’t admit that Mitt was a crap candidate.

  • So… Obama is C. Thomas Howell?

  • Turcano

    Hell, it even hit Bush, and he spent over a third of his two terms on vacation.

  • Turcano

    (Double post; ignore this space.)

  • Isn’t that Linda Harvey just a sweetheart? I hope these “evangelicals” keep speaking out. That way, progressives, liberals, Democrats, are assured of victory in the Presidential race for years to come. Most these right-wing mouth-pieces don’t have a clue. They would last about a half-hour in a room full of Christians before they would be asked to leave. As for Christ, I doubt He would have anything to do with them. In fact, He would be working the street against them.

  • AnonaMiss

    As in, all Aryans and WASPs are white, but not all white people are Aryan, or a WASP.
    Just wanted to sign my name as another ‘Aryan’ WASP-grown (since deconverted, otherwise still WASP) Obama supporter.

  • Glenn Beck lost it for me when he said that “Social Justice Christian” was a code word for socialist / liberal / Big Government etc. As if Christ hadn’t said a word about social justice. As if Paul hadn’t. As if a big part of the founding of the sect I belong to, the Methodists, didn’t come into existence to fight for social justice (in that case pro-education and anti-slavery).

     I’m more willing to trust a Social Justice Christian to be a real Christian than I am someone who thinks the whole definition of the faith is Sunday services, telling other people what to do, and listening to your guys on the political radio shows.

  • Tricksterson

    You would think that Beck, a member of a group (Mormons)  whom many Christians deny are themselves Christian would be a little shyer about casting stones on the subject of who is or is not a “real” Christian.  Oh wait, that would require empathy and or a sense of perspective, never mind.

  • PatBannon

    Maybe we can get them to compromise. They could say something like, “All right, we’ll take the African-Americans and the Asian-Americans…but we *don’t want* the Irish!”

  • Hilary

    Blazing Sadles!

  • AnonaMiss

    I was thinking earlier (unusual for me!) and I think the Republicans’ best chance in the near future would be to peel off some of the white women vote by reframing men who support abortion as potential deadbeat dads, with a dollop of racist dogwhistle on top to sever them from the rest of the Democratic base. Thus:

    “Not only is the life of an unborn child of concern, but the ability of single mothers to support their children. Once the abortion issue is settled, the next item on the the deadbeat dad agenda is to gut the child support system. After all, if a woman can choose to stop being a mother to her baby, why shouldn’t a man have the same legal right? That’s why we stand against abortion: we believe both the mother and the father should take responsibility for their child.”

    Obviously this wouldn’t do anything to sway me, as not only is it bullshit, but also I have an intense fear of childbirth; but it could help to sway the single woman vote in the way that Republicans are most skilled: through the politics of resentment.

  • EllieMurasaki

    For that to work, Republicans would have to show that they are in favor of stronger child support systems and Democrats are against same.

  • There’s a good chance that Hillary Clinton will run in 2016, and if she chooses not to, we might see a run by Kirsten Gillibrand or Elizabeth Warren (all the more plausible as a candidate since Obama proved that it’s possible for a first-term senator with a national profile to be nominated and elected).

    Whoever runs would do well to consider a Latino running mate, I think; Ken Salazar probably has the highest profile of any Latino Democratic polician, as a former senator and current cabinet secretary.  He’s not as progressive as I might like, but when the goal is winning a general election that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Ayn Rand was the prophet of the Cult of Mammon, and John Galt is a vision of that cult’s Anti-Christ, come to impose their demonic dystopia upon a world ruined by their sabotage.

  • AnonaMiss

    For that to work *on rational actors, the Republicans would have to show they are in favor of child support etc. But playing on resentment and fear has a way of short-circuiting reason circuits. I don’t think the current Democratic coalition is immune to those kind of appeals.

    They’d get a much bigger influx if they could come out in favor of government child support etc., but then they’d lose a substantial part of their base, too. Best to just condemn, rather than promise. They only need to flip a relatively small portion of the electorate, in the short term anyway – might not even need that, if they can find a charismatic candidate who doesn’t put their foot in their mouth.

  • It wouldn’t work. All the MRA’s who play up and blow up the statistically rather small segment of women who actually “pregnancy trap” men would throw a mighty strop and force the Republicans to back off that strategy.

  • Lorehead

    This made me curious: what was the President of the United States one hundred years ago saying about minorities?  That was William Howard Taft.

    The admission of Asiatic immigrants who cannot be amalgamated with our population has been made the subject either of prohibitory clauses in our treaties and statutes or of strict administrative regulation secured by diplomatic negotiation. I sincerely hope that we may continue to minimize the evils likely to arise from such immigration without unnecessary friction [….]

    Well then.  What about black people?

    Hence it is clear to all that the domination of an ignorant, irresponsible element can be prevented by constitutional laws which shall exclude from voting both negroes and whites not having education or other qualifications thought to be necessary for a proper electorate. The danger of the control of an ignorant electorate has therefore passed. With this change, the interest which many of the Southern white citizens take in the welfare of the negroes has increased. The colored men must base their hope on the results of their own industry, self-restraint, thrift, and business success, as well as upon the aid and comfort and sympathy which they may receive from their white neighbors of the South.  There was a time when Northerners who sympathized with the negro in his necessary struggle for better conditions sought to give him the suffrage as a protection to enforce its exercise against the prevailing sentiment of the South. The movement proved to be a failure. […] [I]t is not the disposition or within the province of the Federal Government to interfere with the regulation by Southern States of their domestic affairs. There is in the South a stronger feeling than ever among the intelligent well-to-do, and influential element in favor of the industrial education of the negro and the encouragement of the race to make themselves useful members of the community. The progress which the negro has made in the last fifty years, from slavery, when its statistics are reviewed, is marvelous, and it furnishes every reason to hope that in the next twenty-five years a still greater improvement in his condition as a productive member of society, on the farm, and in the shop, and in other occupations may come.

    Well then.

    But it may well admit of doubt whether, in the case of any race, an appointment of one of their number to a local office in a community in which the race feeling is so widespread and acute as to interfere with the ease and facility with which the local government business can be done by the appointee is of sufficient benefit by way of encouragement to the race to outweigh the recurrence and increase of race feeling which such an appointment is likely to engender. Therefore the Executive, in recognizing the negro race by appointments, must exercise a careful discretion not thereby to do it more harm than good. On the other hand, we must be careful not to encourage the mere pretense of race feeling manufactured in the interest of individual political ambition. Personally, I have not the slightest race prejudice or feeling, and recognition of its existence only awakens in my heart a deeper sympathy for those who have to bear it or suffer from it, and I question the wisdom of a policy which is likely to increase it. Meantime, if nothing is done to prevent it, a better feeling between the negroes and the whites in the South will continue to grow, and more and more of the white people will come to realize that the future of the South is to be much benefited by the industrial and intellectual progress of the negro.

    Well then.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    Yet again, if Rush works as hard as a Montana Snowbowl liftie, he should make as much.

  • Daughter

    Ta-Nehisi Coates has documented the fact that throughout American history, some white people have denied their racism all the while they are spouting all kinds of racist nonsense. Denial of racism is nothing new, and is certainly not a result of a modern backlash against “unfounded” charges of racism, as some people claim.

  • Demonhype

     I guess that’s what happens when you make decisions based on what other people tell you to believe rather than using your own judgment.

  • Demonhype

     Which isn’t even close to being true, as the Repubs seem to have a lot of sympathy for rapists and want to define rape to the point of being non-existent in practice, and they see access to contraception for women as “paying for sluttery”, but access to viagra for men as acceptable and important health-care rights.  I can’t imagine those misogynistic monsters ever being able to bring their mouths into a shape to say “we’re going after deadbeat dads next”, much less actually do it, much less convince anyone that they’re serious.  Besides which, I’ve got a hunch that they couldn’t do that without losing just as many votes as they gain from women, because I have a hunch that deadbeat dads are a part of their loyal base (MRAs, PUAs and all, they tend to love the anti-woman pro-male-privilege platform of the Repub party).

  • Carstonio

    I suspect they would care about deadbeat dads only when these men aren’t white. Or else they would treat the issue as though it’s the women’s fault, the same mentality behind mandatory ultrasounds. For all their talk about families, they probably would sense that any government action about deadbeat dads would mean decreasing power for men and increasing power for women.

  • Nelson Rudolph

    Michael Brown is Jewish. He was dishonest to say he’s a white evangelical in his letter. Jews generally don’t talk to blacks in that tone about race. We’re in the same boat.

  • Barry_D

     One has to sort through a lot of right-wing talk before finding something which is *not* straight up Freudian projection.