Walter Russell Mead: The “Christianist” Nightmare: It’s Just A Bad Dream
Walter Russell Mead is professor of foreign affairs and the humanities at Bard College and editor-at-large of The American Interest.
Recently I posted a short piece saying that the specter of a “Christianist” takeover of the United States is a figment of overheated imaginations, mostly on the left. Every few years a leftie journalist dabbles in right wing websites and obscure theological debates and emerges with horrifying tales of totalitarian Dominionist plots to turn the United States into something like the dystopian world of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale.
Andrew Sullivan thinks I am blind to the inquisitorial realities of Republican politics today. Writes Sullivan:
Has he [Mead] been conscious since Roe vs Wade? The point here, it seems to me, is that Focus on the Family is no longer necessary. Its positions – once radical – are now litmus tests for every GOP candidate save one. It controls the party on social issues so completely the likeliest nominee began his campaign at a prayer rally. The winner of the Iowa straw poll is not just anti-gay, but actually has a business “curing” them. Criminalizing all abortion is now not even up for debate within the GOP, and blind, faith-based support for Greater Israel in a global war against Islam is also de rigueur. Mead can dream on … but you don’t need a religious right when the GOP has itself become synonymous with it.
Many younger readers will have trouble believing that anybody older than Andrew Sullivan exists, but I am not only a good bit older than Mr. Sullivan, I’ve been immersed in American life much longer, and I can remember when the Right was really Right. I remember KKK billboards on the roadside, and I especially remember one showing a picture of Martin Luther King in a photograph captioned “Martin Luther King in a Communist training school.” I remember when you couldn’t buy a drink in much of the South, when mixed race dating led to bloody beatings if not death, when the liberal position on homosexuality was that it was a terrible and destructive disease that might, possibly, be treated by years of psychotherapy, when divorced people couldn’t get re-married in mainline Protestant churches, abortion was illegal, Ulysses was banned, marijuana was a life-threatening drug that beatniks and jazz musicians used in New York, and members of the Communist Party couldn’t speak on university campuses or hold teaching jobs.
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