Religion - America's 2nd Civil War

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America may be marching headlong toward another civil war. Many of the descendant players are the same. Many of the strategies are the same. The motivations are the same. Even the flags are symbolically similar. Only a date of commencement and outcome of this second civil war remain unknowable.

The Players: In 1860, the Southern states stated a demand or they would secede from the Union. It was to preserve slavery and extend it into the new territories using the argument that blacks were inherently inferior to whites, and more akin to oxen or mules which justified using them for labor. The Northerners, largely not depending upon slavery for their economic base, were opposed to seeing slavery extended into the new territories, and would have eventual designs on eradicating slavery everywhere.

The Players today are largely white Southern Fundamentalist Christians who declare that the United States is a Christian nation and any who do not support them in their quest to make America a one-religion state, are amoral, godless liberals. The opposition lies largely on the West Coast and in Northern Christian and non-Christian moderates who believe a one-religion nation will result in intolerance of all other religions, hence, leading to the loss of religious freedom and practice in America.

Much of the pro-slavery ideology rested on the belief of superiority over African Americans. The Fundamentalist Christian Right ideology also rests on the belief that their brand of Christianity is superior to all others as well as non-Christian faiths. This belief in religious superiority leads inevitably to intolerance. The Fundamentalist Christian Right are intolerant of:

gays,
atheists,
choice over whether to become a mother or not,
immigration,
use of embryonic stem cells for research,
separation of church and state,
evolution taught in schools,
and freedom of art and speech which does not comply with their sense of propriety.

They cloak this intolerance with the Bible and the American Flag and brandish excerpts from our founding fathers as edicts from the grave that 'America belongs to them', and all others are out to destroy America and moral living. They are demanding the reins of power in Government to pass laws that will force their 'superior' beliefs and values upon all others using the power of the police and judicial authority.

Much of the anti-slavery sentiment rested on the belief that all men are created equal and that blacks were at least partially human, and thus should be treated as humans and not as beasts of burden or property to be bought and sold. They even considered giving Blacks 3/5 of a vote. They would rather err on the side of tolerance than intolerance, on the side of humanity than inhumanity, on the side of freedom rather than enslavement. But as important as the slavery issue was, the Northerner's believed that the nation would be diminished, and likely fail, if seccession were allowed to occur. The idea of multiple Americas and an unUnited States some argued, would leave the nation vulnerable to forces outside the union and open the door to foreign influences and involvement in furthering our divide amongst ourselves.

The Congressional Black Caucus is unanimously opposed to the judicial nominee 'nuclear option' lobbied for by the Fundamentalist Right. Moreover, it is no accident that most of the key players, spokespersons, and support base in the Fundamentalist Right's movement are Caucasion. Underlying the Fundamentalist Right's fears is the hard lesson of the Civil Rights Movement. When blacks acquired an equal voice in government, the Southern whites lost their beloved segregation from blacks. They see incidents like the Florida judge who ordered Terry Schiavo's feeding tubes removed, as a threat to their desire for a pure Christian Nation, or at least the option of not having to be governed those who:

-view science and religion as separate studies,
-value freedom above moral restraint,
-embrace immigration over loyalty oaths,
-and elevate the religion of Islam to an equal legal status as Christianity.

Some blacks and others of the opposition see a bit of the Aryan Nation and KKK in the Fundamentalist Christian movement and fear their unrelenting efforts to seize control of government through lobbyists and public relations mark the beginning of a return to the past and possible restoration of White Southern values as much as Christian values.

The Strategies: Many of the strategies of the North and South are repeating today in the media and Congress. The pro-slavers argued that the North's intent to make Blacks free and equal would lead to amalgamation of the races and giving power to heathens who can't even read the Bible let alone live by its prescriptions. The Fundamentalist Right today accuses their opponents of being godless and without moral character as evidenced by their support of abortion choice and separation of church and state. And of course they maximize the use of that time honored slander "UnAmerican" toward their opponent's departure from strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution and original Bill of Rights.

Those opposed to the Fundamentalist Right accuse them of siding with fascist constraints on freedom of speech, religion, and equal access. Many claim if the Right has their way, laws like the Fair Housing Act could be repealed, opening the doors to whole communities denying sales of homes to any who are not white and Fundamentalist Christian, not to mention denying access to jobs on the same basis.

Many liberals fear the Right would effectively do away with the two party system, replacing it with a conservative Republican Party with total control of all three branches of government while keeping a few conservative Democrats around as token gestures against critics and preserving the illusion of two parties. Largely, most Americans opposed to the Fundamentalist Right simply believe there would be a loss of freedom, tolerance, and diversity if the Right has its way, and they see freedom, tolerance and diversity as America's greatest strengths.

So, the Fundamentalist Right will continue to hammer out the Confederate-like message of self-determination, culture clash, and degradation of our Christian heritage at the hands of their opponents. They will strike at their opponents in the media with caricatures much like those that arose in the 1860's. But today, those caricatures will not be of apes and men or of blacks and whites. They will be of those bleeding heart liberals who will, in the name of tolerance, destroy American culture; who in the name of secularism will ruin the moral fabric of this nation; and who in their heart of hearts bear no love for America but instead, harbor conspiracies toward communism, socialism, and atheism.

On the other side, the moderates and liberals will exhort their fears of a minority, mad with delusions of power, who will stop at nothing to appoint, elect, lobby, bribe, blackmail, or use any other tactic necessary to move their minority members into seats of power. Then they can make and use the laws to force all others to choose, act, and obey, as they believe Americans should.

The Motivations: What motivates much of the vocal opposition to the Fundamentalist Right is a belief in maximum individual freedom while maintaining a national identity and relative domestic harmony. They will accommodate some concessions to the Fundamentalist Right in the attempt to restore domestic peace and harmony. In large part, whether religious or not, whether Christian or not, this group expects that government tend the affairs of the nation and the well-being of the people according to the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They expect that government be as unobtrusive and non-invasive into their personal lives of work, home, and travel as possible. This group expects the government to keep its nose out of their bedrooms, out of their homes, and out of their workplace and relationships with others.

The Fundamentalist Right is motivated by surprisingly enough, a history of inferiority. They have been inferior in numbers to bring about the changes they desire, and that has been their primary motivation to amass money, access to media, access to government officials and lobbyists, and access to the Whitehouse through the election of one of their own. Having partially succeeded in their goal of electing one of their own supporters to the Whitehouse, and amassing a very sizeable war chest to fund their efforts, they are now motivated by the smell of success like sharks to blood in the water. A kind of feeding frenzy is now taking place in the media as they force confrontations that depict their opposition as murderers, pedophile supporters, smut peddlers, and socialists and communists.

The Flags. Though the Fundamentalist Right spokespersons do not wear Confederate Flag pins on their lapels for obvious PR reasons, many of their supporters and subscribers do fly the Confederate Flag in their yards and on their vehicles. The Fundamentalist Christian Right rhetoric is hauntingly similar to that of the KKK, talking of America as a Christian nation threatened by Jews, Muslims and all manner of pagans and idolaters.

And while the Union Jack does not sit on the opposition's lapels, more of them are taking to wearing the American Flag pins in the hopes of depriving the Fundamentalist Right and Right Wing Conservatives from co-opting the American flag as their secret membership sign. The opposition used to think it wasn't necessary to wear an American flag to prove their love of country and freedom. But it is rapidly becoming a necessity in the fight against the Fundamentalist Right who imply they are the only true Americans.

The 2nd Civil War. While the first Civil War was essentially about power over others and the economics that supported it, the rhetoric of the day was wrapped in religion, patriotism, loyalty, and denigration and smearing of the opposition in every possible manner of cleverness that the human mind could devise. This served the purpose of heightening the divisions among Americans and forcing passions and emotions to take sides in this march toward civil war.

Nothing has changed in this new debate. The real issue is still power over others but, and the strategy is still divide and conquer, but, instead of the nation's economics that marched us to war in 1860, it is the religious economics moving us toward it today. The Fundamentalist Right is learning that as great or greater than the power of God's word, it is money that can really move a nation. And make no mistake, they are mastering the power of money in its use on lobbyists and media.

Whether America fights this civil war with bullets, rocks, and flames or not, largely depends upon the next two elections. If the Fundamentalist Right acquires even more seats in the halls of government, America could face a violent backlash in the streets just a few years later. While the vast majority of Americans will not want to take to violence to resist the Fundamentalist Right's exercise of power in government to limit freedom and choice, there is a minority that will. As people begin to die in the streets over political and religious affiliation and domination, more and more Americans as in the 1860's, with horror and emotions reaching new heights, will be forced to take sides.

What if the Fundamentalist Right is successful in overturning Roe V. Wade, or reinstating the Sedition Acts, or mandating prayer in public schools? What if, at the same time, both sides are 'recruiting' through news media coverage of violence and pitched emotional infomercials denigrating each other? Ever more moderates wanting tolerance and domestic tranquility will be moved to activism. If their activism is frustrated by the Fundamentalist Right in power, they will be left with only submission or violent means to engage in the protection of their rights to think, speak, live, work and play in manners opposed by the Fundamentalist Right.

The first Civil War was decades in the coming. News traveled far more slowly, and dissemination of the issues and their divides were hampered by illiteracy, and the slow speed of paper printed publications. America's second bloody Civil War, if it occurs, could come upon us as fast as the internet, and before we are aware things had gotten so bad. We will likely hear of the government interdicting secret organizations and be lulled into believing the authorities have matters well in hand.

That is, until Gestapo tactics and fascist type police tactics become ever more visible in response to attacks upon the police who are the most obvious symbols and long arm of those in power. But, by then, police will oppose police, brothers will oppose brothers, fathers will oppose sons, mothers will oppose daughters, and like the dawn of the 1860's, America will find herself at war with herself in her own country with no resolution in sight.

Unlike the 1st Civil War which lasted only from 1860 to 1866, the second Civil War could be played out over decades, exacerbated and drawn out by a population vastly largely than in the 1860's with far greater numbers of people unwilling to capitulate. It could be drawn out by horrendous economic conditions seeded by our current high and growing national debt and withdrawal of foreign investments from a country on the edge of, or engaged in, civil war. And sanity could be lost for decades until the death and cruelty have so insulted the sensibilities of those on both sides, that one or the other concedes in the name of humanity.

There will be those who will say this could never happen in America. The only response is, it already has once. Which is proof enough that it could again.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on May 20, 2005 11:16 PM.

200 Years of Unconstitutional Judicial Process was the previous entry in this blog.

Dobson Republicans: Hope for 3rd Parties is the next entry in this blog.

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