The Anatomy of a Nightmare

The Anatomy of a Nightmare November 15, 2019

Observing the comments on blogs like this one, and trying to understand the thinking that informs them can be an interesting, but sometimes appalling, exercise. Most commenters here are liberal/progressive nonbelievers, but we get quite a few interlopers who come here to confront us, either to convince us that we are wrong, or often, it seems, just to disrupt our discussions. Their beliefs vary somewhat, but there is a common core that includes religious belief and far-right political views. Of course, this worldview is not unique to bloggers. It probably describes a sizeable portion of the population.

In trying to depict their worldview it has occurred to me that it can be metaphorically likened to a human body. Each part of the body represents a facet of the total package of beliefs. The body could be male or female, and of any race, but it is tempting to think of it as white and male for reasons that will become apparent. Now, I don’t claim that every individual of this political persuasion agrees with all of these ideas, but I think there is a widespread commonality that is shared by most of them. Let’s tear this body apart and examine each part.

The main trunk of the body is religious belief. This (mis)informs and motivates much of the other thought processes. It includes the heart, lungs and internal organs, with one exception. More about that later.

The head contains all the conspiracy theories, the primary one being global warming, which is seen as an evil scheme by a cabal of atheist scientists to create a secular, socialist world government. Climate change is dismissed as either a hoax, or nothing to worry about. And then, there are the other conspiracies, like Chemtrails and the HAARP antenna array in Alaska. These are schemes to poison most of the world’s population, so that the survivors can be managed by a totalitarian world government referred to as the New World Order. Here the nefarious conspiracists include shadowy groups like the Illuminati, Bilderberg Group, Freemasons and others, including those Satan-inspired, atheist scientists.

The right arm represents adamant opposition to women’s choice, including disapproval of contraceptives because they believe their availability facilitates pre-marital sex, especially among young people. Some even go further, suggesting that “hedonistic” sexual encounters, merely for pleasure, are wrong, even for married couples. The primary goal of sex should be to make babies.

The left arm is anti-immigrant xenophobia, white supremacy, and opposition to social welfare programs that help the poor. The fear here is that poor and immigrant minorities will gain political power, and the white, Christian dominance of our politics will be threatened.

The right leg is enthusiastic and uncritical support for capitalism, and opposition to most regulation and taxation of businesses. The belief is that if businesses (and by extension, their wealthy owners) do well, the benefits will “trickle down” to the lower economic classes.

The left leg is suspicion and hatred of government, including opposition to most taxes and “social engineering,” like civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination and progressive taxation aimed at narrowing the economic divide between the rich and the poor. Social Security and Medicare are the frequent target of kicks from this leg.

And finally, the exception mentioned earlier: The lower bowel, including its contents, and the orifice through which those contents are excreted, represent the most odious of all the beliefs listed here: Fanatical political support for an individual who is arrogant, willfully ignorant, narcissistic and profoundly immoral by any reasonable standard. This support is motivated by many of those other beliefs, and the policies implemented by this individual to pander to them.

Like the human body, this is a nice, neat package, each part supporting and motivating the others. It has an impenetrable outer layer that cannot be breached by logic, reason or humanitarian concerns…just as the skin of our bodies protects us from external threats.

It has come as something of a horrifying revelation to the rest of us that a substantial part of our population holds such views. We all knew that there were such people, but we thought they were a small despicable minority. Now we know better, and it is a frightening and dismaying discovery.

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