“See, you don’t really understand what the man is all about. He’s about holding up the dignity of other people by standing up for their beliefs. You may not agree with him, but that’s because you really don’t understand him. Maybe it’s because you’re too, well, too nice or something in that female or not-so-macho man kind of way. But he just comes out and says it the way it is, see? He’s honest that way. You expect people to have to explain everything. To go over and over things. But Trump just says it the way it is, right now. That’s what real Americans want, and men especially. For the last forty years since Reagan men have been told to shut up and be nice about everything. Men are tired of that, and Trump knows it. And a lot of women too! Look at all the women voting for the President. They’re not complaining when he makes a joke or admits that he likes to have a little fun with the gals, are they? So why do some women get their undies in a bunch about Donald Trump? He loves women! He tells them that all the time! “I love women!” he tells them. “No one respects women more than me!” He says this stuff and all the politically correct people ignore him! That’s the real problem here. People don’t give Donald Trump and men like him the benefit of the doubt! They’re the ones who really, truly respect women. Many of them are Christian men who put their women up on the altar of respect! To put it simple and straight, they take care of their gals, and the gals know it. They like it that way. Men who hold up their end of the bargain as head of the household do it best… if not with money then with strength and values so the women they respect feel valued and protected. This is the way the world works best, and Donald Trump knows this. He lives it. That’s why so many women and men stand by him on all of this political stuff. They know good people when they see it. They have jobs to keep and 401Ks to protect, and Donald Trump keeps his promises. The economy is roaring back from Covid. Just wait and see! When this stolen election stuff is settled, let me tell you…He’s going to get this country going like never before. You may not get that if you’re all caught up in junk about race and women’s rights and gays getting married, but once you stop abortions, the rest of that stuff will all fall into line anyway. Black people won’t be losing babies right and left. Immigrants won’t be dumping babies on us and going back home either, like that DACA stuff let’s them do. You look at Donald Trump. He’s got an immigrant wife who made the most of the American capitalist system. Her background is a little colorful but that just means she’s a liberated women. He doesn’t need to hold her hand all the time because she’s a strong person. Accent and all, but at least she speaks English, which is more than half the immigrants in this country ever do. You ever gone to the driver’s license facilities? They got more languages on the signs than anywhere on earth. That’s not America. That’s not how Donald Trump wants things to run. He wants to Make America Great Again, like it was before all this political correctness and Bill and Hillary Clinton scams. Let me tell you: Trump knew all along Obama was corrupt. That’s why the whole birther thing was spot on. He was right about Obama’s Muslim stuff too. Hussein. Who ever heard of such a name? Same as Saddam, you see? How that works? It shows you right there what was wrong with those eight years. All that smart guy talk and Obamacare lying was just for show. You look at Benghazi and realize that Obama never cared about Americans anywhere on earth. Clinton too. It was all about themselves and locking up money once they got out of office. Now they’re all millionaires, and fake ones at that. Who makes millions selling books? Crooks, that’s who. Not like Trump, who builds things all over the world. Plus those Clintons and Obamas…they’re narcissists. Any psychologist can tell you that. My friend’s a psychologist and he told me that. I see psychology stuff all the time on the Internet. There’s so much of it you can’t even wade through it all. That tells you how bad those people really are. But Trump, his sister or niece or whatever wrote a book about him and it was like water off a duck’s back. Nothing stuck because it wasn’t true. He’s good people, that’s why. Look at how he talks to everyone. It’s not uppity politician talk. He’s like a pastor or something, standing behind the podium. And those reporters? You know what’s wrong with them? They’re all dishonest. Every damned one of them. Looking to lie because they have a pen or a computer and know how to use it. But that doesn’t make them experts on anything. I’ll take Trump’s gut instincts over their gutless journalism stuff any day of the week. Look at how Trump fooled the doctors with that Covid stuff he got. He was back at the White House in days. Reporters were crying and moaning that he wasn’t wearing a mask. They’re the wimps. They couldn’t handle getting the Covid like Trump did. He blew right through it like he was playing through a slow foursome on the golf course. “Outta my way, Covid! I’m playing through!” That’s the kind of man we need to keep in office, not let the election be stolen by some old guy Biden and his sassafras Kamala Harris with her Obama looks and weird-ass background. What is she? Part-Indian, Part Black? And a white husband, right? How messed up is that? Our country wasn’t invented to have people mix up the races and have gays marching around like they own the place. That’s not what the Founding Fathers had in mind at all. If you don’t get that, you don’t get much at all. And you can thank me for explaining it to you. If none of this sinks it, you just have Trump Derangement Syndrome. TDS. I hope this cures you. You’re welcome.”
I was quite a young man when Ronald Reagan was elected. Yet right away, I knew that we came from a different political place. While no ‘one-issue voter,’ the environment has always been a main concern. Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, said things that made me want to scream. “When the last tree falls,” he was once quoted, “Jesus will come.”
In some ways, nothing much has changed in the Republican Party since then. Religious zealots still influence party leaders. The GOP still cuts taxes and blames government spending for causing the national debt. Conservative warhawks rattle swords and send young men (and now women) to useless wars. Stories are invented and blame is deflected from all these ideological travesties. Reagan claimed surprise at the Iran-Contra scandal. Bush claimed not to know that terrorists were plotting the 9/11 attacks. Then he claimed to know that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Behind the scenes Dick Cheney sent war profiteers to work and profited massively in the process. Then news of torture emerged. As a nation, we behaved no better than Saddam Hussein.
Then the Recession hit and millions lost their jobs. From that wreckage emerged a healing candidate named Barack Obama. He led the nation out of its tanked conditions and set a course of steady economic recovery that continues to this day.
Bitterness and denial
But people bitter about their party’s persistent failures were also in denial about the effects of Republican policies that devastated unions, devalued labor, flattened worker wages and shipped jobs overseas under the capitalist philosophy of globalization. So they cast around for blame and found cause for their anger in an intelligent Black President whom they accused of sowing the seeds of economic, race and class division in the country. It didn’t take much for those same people to transfer that hatred to a woman possessed of a similar intellect to Obama, and who spoke plainly about the “deplorables” more eager to make trouble than to make peace and work toward a better America.
These disgruntled Americans found their hero in a troublemaker named Donald Trump, whom they praised for his “honesty” about the state of the country and embraced the euphemistic slogan “Make America Great Again” because it conveniently covered up the greedy notion that the nation would be improved by turning back efforts to grant civil rights and economic parity. Instead, MAGA masked the selfish notion that diversity is the enemy of all prosperity.
These are the people that voted for Donald Trump. They may have had varied reasons; desire for tax breaks, banning abortion, contracting in a fit of xenophobia, or replacing the Constitution with conservative Christian beliefs, but all became one with the cultish opportunity to vote into a power the man promising to give them each what they wanted.
To some extent, that is what happened. Massive tax breaks were passed. But the result was that the nation tumbled into greater debt and a bulging national deficit. That doesn’t make America great again. Then Trump struck a trade war with China whose effects required billions in farm subsidies to bribe farmers into accepting the market losses incurred as a result. Guess who paid for that? American taxpayers.
Everything the Trump administration did, it seemed, produced a net-loss or required a quid pro quo that too closely resembled his bankrupt behavior in personal life. Then news broke that Trump University was nailed for fraud and forced to pay a $25M settlement to those bilked by the fake school. Then the Trump Foundation got caught doing illegal stuff as well. It was also forced to close down with a warning that no one involved could engage in non-profit activity again.
Avoiding facts at all costs
Trump’s defenders, including the Republican Party, whose platform Trump absorbed like orange face paint, were increasingly forced to go outside the realm of fact to find ways to defend their corrupt leader. Even the seemingly righteous on the Right Wing so often collapse under the falsehood of their virtues, it is no longer a joke to brand all of them a tragedy waiting to happen. Such was the case with Jerry Falwell, Jr., now Rudy Giuliani, and a long line of Fox News sexual harassers whose highbrowed social and political criticism was proven farcical when the truth came out about their immorality and corruption. They’re all phonies in the end.
How do Right-wing defenders deal with the hypocrisy? They deny it is real.
When Trump was impeached for engaging in corrupt behavior in trying to coerce Ukraine into doing his political bidding in favor of his campaign, his supporters conveniently called it “Fake News.” Then the Senate broke its oath to the American people by refusing to conduct a legitimate inquiry by calling witnesses associated with the high crimes and misdemeanors Trump committed. Trump then doubled down in his corrupt instincts with even more disturbing behavior by granting favors to other world leaders, especially where his personal business interests lie. Donald Trump is the most corrupt politician to ever hold office in America. Anywhere. No one comes close.
Hoping for change
Rational Americans have awaited a political awakening when it comes to Trump’s entire lack of character on these and other issues. His verbal and social media support for white supremacists, violent militias and police who commit acts of brutality, even murder, are all signs that his fascist instincts lie just beneath his fake tan and vainglorious hairdo.
This all goes back to the Republican belief that began with Ronald Reagan’s unwitting tolerance for men and women who believe that the “ends justifies the means.” It is ironic indeed that the GOP and Trump should be questioning Joe Biden’s mental fitness when Reagan proved daft and fecklessly blind to the corruption taking place under his watch.
I saw it all for what it was way back when I was in my twenties experiencing my first political awakening. I’ve listened carefully over the years for signs that principled people were at work within the Republican Party. Those people have all been silenced, chased away or forced to act with complicit devotion to a narcissist brute with zero morals and even less character.
They call him a hero. A Savior. Some even insist that he’s a Messenger of God.
If any of those things were true, Trump has done nothing to earn them. In fact, his denial of the Covid-19 threat has produced 20% of all the world’s deaths from the disease even though the United States of America represents 3% of the world’s population. He’s not a Savior. He’s a failure.
The same goes for virtually everything thing advocated by the GOP for the last forty years. What single policy can anyone point to that improved the lives of everyday Americans? The Bush tax cuts were a pittance for middle class and poor Americans. So were the Trump tax cuts. These policies were lies designed to bribe people into supporting a policy with just two priorities: retaining and granting the rich even more money.
Tomorrow is another election. The GOP is doing everything it can to ignore its ugly, corrupt past and horridly compromised present in order to win the day. This is not America’s finest hour. I’ve been railing at Republicans ever since the dawn of my political awareness. My successes on that front are admittedly local in nature, but we do what we can.
Let’s hope this election is not America’s last faint cry for survival as a democracy, a republic, or a nation. Because that’s what’s at stake this time around. If Trump wins, the best we can hope for is a Senate and House takeover so that the man writhes in frustration until he withers and dies while Tweeting on his golden toilet bowl.
I looked up the history of the acronym GOP as a shorthand for the Republican Party. The Wikipedia page on the Republican Party says this:
“The term “Grand Old Party” is a traditional nickname for the Republican Party and the abbreviation “GOP” is a commonly used designation. The term originated in 1875 in the Congressional Record, referring to the party associated with the successful military defense of the Union as “this gallant old party”.
I’d always thought it stood for Grand Old Party, which is just as lame. But these days, the Republican Party is anything but Grand or Gallant. So the old terminology is moot. I propose that we give the GOP a new set of more accurate terms to replace its traditional claims to grandness or gallantry.
GOP and dying wishes
The option I propose, given the Republican Party’s tactics over the last fifteen years or so, is a far more accurate description of how the GOP operates. We’ll get to that in a moment.
But first, we need to understand the nature of the most recent hypocrisy. That is the installation of a third Supreme Court justice by decree of Donald Trump. We all recall how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell self-righteously claimed that no President up for election within the year should be granted the right to nominate a Supreme Court judge. So McConnell blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination, only to invite Trump’s last-minute nomination of a constitutional originalist to replace the recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose dying wish was that her replacement would not be named until after the election.
The GOP has for decades been whining about so-called “activist judges” on the Supreme Court. Their concerns have focused on the idea that supposedly “liberal” justices are legislating “from the bench” by voting in favor of civil rights, economic parity, corporate responsibility and environmental justice in America rather than dragging the nation back to an interpretation of the United States Constitution before slavery was outlawed, women had the right to vote and America was a population of just 2.5M people. But here’s a fact that matters: The country is 130 times larger today according to the United States Census Bureau. We have fifty states, not just a few. We are a diverse nation thanks to immigration over dozens of decades and a couple centuries. The Constitution as it was originally written was never sufficient to cover all that change. The Founders knew that, which is why the power to commend Amendments to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were implemented. To ignore that wisdom is to kick the Founder right in their constitutional nuts.
Yet that’s what some in the GOP love to do.
The idea that America is the “same place” as it was 243 years ago is an example of the controlling, abusive notion that all the Amendments and beneficial changes in law and policy installed since that time are meaningless affectations adopted by a whimsically feckless population of liberals.
Ironically, this country would not even have the Second Amendment if things had stayed fixed in place as Constitutional originalists would have it. On that subject, perhaps they’re correct that amendments can be used for ill-suited purposes. After all, America does not seem capable of managing “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state…” Now we’re being gaslighted by vigilante militias and the GOP, both who claim to represent an originalist interpretation of the Second Amendment that ignores that opening phrase in favor of the latter, “…the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
That is the gaslighting tactic (a lie by selective judgment) upon which activist interpretations of the Second Amendment now depend. As a result, Americans are literally being gaslighted to death by rampant gun violence in the streets, doctrinally motivated mass shooters armed to the teeth, and self-professed militia members playing soldier while claiming self-defense.
Why do all these people deep-down claim to want to arm themselves? Many claim that their armory is to prevent the government from having too much power. Here’s a sobering fact: more Americans have died from gun violence on American soil than all the soldiers killed in wars on foreign soils.
That means we are being gaslighted by the idea that guns are the path to safety in America. The people who make that claim (through the NRA, and other bodies) form one of the GOP’s pet voting blocs. Some equate even the idea of personal freedom with gun rights.
Yes, our country had to fight for its freedom to gain liberty from the rule of England. Guns are useful tools in war. That’s what they were invented for. That’s why a well-regulated militia truly is necessary for the security of a free state.
But it is principles, not guns, that form the true foundations of freedom.
Liberalism and democracy
It was liberalism and the determination that America should be independent from the rule of a king that established the country in the first place. There is also the issue that the nation’s Founders recognized the danger of establishing or enforcing a state religion, so the Separation Clause was written specifically to avoid the rule of one religion over the country.
These days the Christian evangelical community persists in claiming that the United States of America is a “Christian nation,” founded on “Christian principles” and therefore subject to the directives of theocratic directives from whatever source they might be issued. This is another form of gaslighting, a way to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.”
These are crazy times we live in. To perpetually insist that something is true that is not true, especially by accusing those most affected by that untruth of being wrong, is psychological abuse. So is being a bully over every issue that confronts you. That is what the President of the United States does every single day of the year.
That is also the central tactic of the GOP these days. Choose any principle; be it racism, feminism, gay rights, environmental protection, even the rights of an individual in comparison to a corporation, and the GOP finds a way to flip those concerns around as a means to gaslight people into submission. Crazy times indeed.
Racism and the GOP
When it comes to racism, the GOP inherited the originally vicious views of Southern Democrats and turned into a voting bloc first exploited in dog-whistle fashion by the grandfatherly visage of President Ronald Reagan. The Southern Strategy persists through the era of President Donald Trump, whose open appeal to racists to gain votes for his re-election includes patronage and Retweets bragging that there are “good people” on both sides of the debate over civil rights in America. He doesn’t bother to explain what kinds of “good people” want to persecute blacks and send American citizens “back to Africa” or whatever racist taunt they choose to exhort, but Trump doesn’t care about such details. He is happy to gaslight principled citizens into questioning their own good judgment by wondering what the President means by describing angry white citizens as “good people.”
Blacks and police brutality
The scourge of police brutality toward black people in America is so longstanding and frequent that movements such as Black Lives Matter emerged to heighten awareness of the problem. But conservatives gaslighted the issue by pumping out alternative slogans such as Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. Rather than address and acknowledge that 200+ years of racial suppression continues in this nation, the opponents of full civil rights for people of color selfishly claim persecution for themselves.This is gaslighting at its worst.
The GOP encourages this attitude of denial with its support of Trump and the specious slogan Make America Great Again. Those words are a dog-whistle act of gaslighting unto themselves. They insinuate that the advances in civil rights, environmental protection and religious equanimity established by the Constitution are illegitimate.
Constitutional originalism is gaslighting
Now the Senate has installed yet another constitutional originalist in the Supreme Court. This is an outright act of the sort of judicial activism against which the GOP has railed for decades. It is gaslighting in its most extreme political form.
That is what the GOP stands for these days: Gaslighting Over Principle.
We’re stuck with it for the time being, but there will come a moment in history when the tables turn again. That may come sooner or later. But gaslighting does win the day on November 3, the country as we’ve known it for 243 years will cease to exist, and we’ll all be subject to the violent instincts and abusive advances of a highly conflicted man and his dysfunctionally self-absorbed family.
That’s the choice we’re making on November the third. We can let ourselves be gaslighted into insanity, or we can stand against the GOP and its lying tactics, sycophantic whorishness and cloying lust for power, black eyes and all.
It’s interesting what happens when you go “behind the scenes” and actually visit the page of a Trump Troll busy trying to defend the indefensible actions of a President compromised by his multiple breaches of constitutional law.
These include violations regarding emoluments, newly revealed evidence of tax evasion, genuine fraud convictions on both Trump University and the Trump Foundation, campaign finance regulations, impeached attempts at coercing foreign governments to aid in his re-election, secret payments to porn stars, serial refusals to pay for contracted work or compensate cities for law enforcement costs during his campaign rallies, and patently racist attempts to encourage police brutality and enact fascist tactics against American citizens across a number of fronts.
All while holding a Bible in a supposed demonstration of his pure conscience.
The fact that Trump Trolls support all this corruption because the President excels at political theater is quite an indictment of the overall greed for power. Those that support Trump refuse to confess that these confused ethics and the moral hypocrisy that drives them are a danger to the nation. Instead they spout platitudes such as Make America Great Again as if those four words have any meaning at all.
The fact of the matter is that Trump knows better than anyone that slogans sell even worthless products. HIs “You’re Fired” statement fueled a reality TV show that covered up his bankruptcies and bankrolled his brand despite its many failings. Without that $200M or so that he gained from playing a a business mogul on TV, he might have been exposed and deposed for financial fraud a long time ago. How ironic it is that his fake world saved his real ass.
Do like the Russians do
So we should not be surprised that the content posted on their the Facebook pages of Trump supporters is often comprised of fake attempts to justify the Trumpian appetite for power over purpose. The typical tactic of Trumpian memes is to purposely present a falsely black-and-white contrast on social conscience and civil rights. This happens to be exactly how Russian interference in the election proved most effective. It is no surprise that this type of disinformation was eagerly shared by Trump supporters to make the case that their preferred candidate holds the key to American prowess and success.
In fact, what Trump holds most dear to his heart is the authority to undercut the rule of law and democracy. This is exactly how Vladimir Putin conducts business. Trump supporters and to a large degree, the entire Republican Party is complicit in this behavior. The Party of Lincoln has become the party of Do Like The Russians Do.
Divide and Conquer
By way of exploration on this tactic, I explored the wall of a Trump support who was busy chirping at a friend of mine that about a post concerning the debt owed by Trump and how it might lead to a conflict of interest if foreign interests controlled loans to Trump totaling nearly half a million dollars. The Trump woman insisted instead that the “facts” were not in on Trump’s taxes and that no one should be allowed to pass judgment on the man until Trump himself released his tax records.
It’s pretty clear why Trump is not eager to let that happen. He’s spent five years avoiding the issue and doing everything he can to keep his tax records secret. To distract attention from this and other issues that indict his behaviors, he spends most of his time stoking up social and civic fears among his base, a sector of society that seems to prefer distraction over the substance of reality.
Here’s one of the memes that the Trump Troll woman posted on her page.
The group that claims to be the creator of this meme is called Keep America American, an apparel company whose About Us page states, “Our main goal at American Nation is to promote patriotism and love for our homeland no matter the occasion. It’s okay to be a NATIONALIST. It’s okay to be AMERICAN. ” The. slogan that adorns its logo is “Peace through superior firepower.”
Those statements are rife with the barely concealed racism of words such as “homeland” and the tradition that says America is originally and foremost a white nation. Thus it also supports the “whatever it takes” mentality of KKK tactics that define and defend that homeland. The apologetic headline “If the KKK is a hate group” pretends to admit that fact, but only as a precursor to claim that Black Lives Matter is a far greater threat to public safety.
Dismissing the fact that the KKK tortured, raped, persecuted, lynched or murdered thousands of Black Americans in order to claim that Black Lives Matter is its counterpart is a sick attempt at moral equivalency. The KKK emerged in direct response to the abolition of slavery. For 100 years until the Civil Rights Act was passed in the mid-1960s, Black Lives were subject to Jim Crow laws and harsh discrimination all across America. That institutionalized racism bled into law enforcement, filled American prisons with a disproportionate number of Black American citizens, and led to the serial murder of dozens of Black citizens at the hands of police across the nation.
That trifecta of corrupt outcomes is why Black LIves Matter was conceived and introduced as a protest against the American system as a whole. Its original premise is that respect for life was not being shown to Black members of society.
Trumpism is destructive
Into this conflicted scene marches the Racist In Chief, President Donald Trump. His own history of racist statements are not confined to Black Americans. His appetite for racial taunts and discrimination emboldens Trump supporters to espouse racism as a normal and legitimate state of mind in America. Trump has leveraged that approval as a tool for political power. Though this blog posted prior to the Presidential debate on September 29, 2020, it is worth this revision on September 30 to note that Trump refused to disavow white supremacist groups such as the Proud Boys. Instead he instructed them to Stand Down and Stand By. By any normal measure of law and order, those words constitute a threat and an act sedition against the United States of America. So much for the Second Amendment, which begins, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state.” Trump prefers vigilante fear and injustice instead.
The Trump administration builds its rhetoric from the foundations of racist advisor Stephen Miller. Trump and his followers seek to turn back the clock on social progress to a period when intimidation based on race was an acceptable tool of social dominance. While many Trump supporters adamantly insist they are not racist, and Black conservatives claim to love the politics and policies of Donald Trump on matters of economics, trade, housing and healthcare, the inescapable burden of such support is that racism is strapped to the backs of all those who carry water for Trump.
Confusing racism with patriotism
The sickest thing about in all this social conflict is that these brands of closeted racism are now considered a brand of patriotism. Racism and a cultlike brand of nationalism is what Trumpism promises to carry out through its slogan Make America Great Again. What else could it mean? Trump loyalists eager to dismantle American institutions such as the Department of Education and Environmental Protection Agency have worked to dismantle the purposes for which those governmental bodies were established.
Their efforts are succeeding, especially with Covid-19 gutting even normal educational processes thanks to Trump’s disaffecting response to the pandemic and wildfires burning away millions of acres of land in California even while Trump disavows any possible effects of climate change on dramatic environmental disasters. Trumpism is destructive of every type of public trust and responsibility. All of this destruction is backed by religious ideology that claims white people are the Chosen People of God and that the earth is doomed by Original Sin, and isn’t worth saving even if we wanted to try.
Nothing really changes
This is the America in which we now live. It is probably the America in which we have always lived. Civility and justice owned the stage for a while, but the reign of the Great Entertainer Donald Trump is indeed a fulfillment of the self-indulgent wishes of the Great Communicator and Original Dog-Whistle President Ronald Reagan, who started the destruction of America rolling in the early 1980s.
Now Trump has turned the fight for the survival of the American ideal into a real-life nightmare. The only real concern of the Reality Show President is saving face and saving his own skin from indictment and conviction. He knows from his TV experience that pitting Americans against each other in a war of survival is an ideal distraction while he sucks money from the nation through his ill-earned position as President of the United States.
That’s why Trump loves the racist memes and hate spouted by his supporters. It is his only hope for some kind of redemption against the fraud and corruption he’s already committed and plans to expand upon with a second term. Trump knows that gaining fascist control of the nation is worth the kind of money that even money can’t buy. It all lines up under Donald J. Trump.
Last night I watched one of the most compelling documentaries I’d seen in a long time, a National Geographic biopic that traced the study and exploration of Mars, the planet on which the human species has long projected visions of other life in our solar system.
Alas, the truth of the matter is the magnetic forces that keep earth’s atmosphere and water in place were disrupted on Mars long ago, so the whole planet is fucked.
While there is evidence that water once covered significant portions of Mars, even gouging out massive canyons at some point in the planet’s geological history, all that H2O evaporated into space when the guts of the planet turned inside out, splitting a giant, visible gash in the surface while all traces of water disappeared.
Yet the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is still making plans to send people to Mars. We’ve already sent a series of amazing rovers to study the surface. These machines take massive amounts of photographs and even dig core samples to analyze rock composition. Next we’ll send a rover that will be digging through sedimentary layers to see if there are samples of fossilized life hidden below the dusty void.
Mars is a beautiful planet in its barren stolidity. There is a HiRise satellite orbiting Mars with a HiRes camera has beamed back 200,000 images of the planet from top to bottom. Along the way, it documented the movement of giant dust devils towering twelve miles high. These traced fantastical patterns on the surface.
They also likely blew the gathering dust off the solar panels of a Rover that was shutting down due to lack of power. The machine was only expected to run for 90 days anyway, so the fact that it lasted 14.5 years on Mars was an enormous gift to science. It finally died when a massive dust storm blocked out the sun so long that temperatures dropped so low it killed the rover for good. A few scientists cried over that. The rover didn’t even get a decent burial.
It really does get cold on Mars at times. At the poles, the temperatures drops to 190 degrees below Celcius. Patches of white visible on the top and bottom of the planet are dry ice formed of CO2, not water. When the sun hits them as seasons change the dry ice builds up pressure and explodes.
All this fascinated me. The photos of the surface are surreal. Massive sand dunes mix with barren rock. A mountain standing 90,000 feet tall sticks out of the surface. That’s three times taller than Mount Everest. Even Reinhold Messner would have trouble scaling that one.
An imposing place
The fact of the matter is that Mars is an imposing place. Conditions seem far worse than the moon. The worst part of life on Mars seems to be the radiation problem. Either the planet is just plain radioactive or there is nothing blocking the sun’s rays from killing people who hang out on the surface. I didn’t quite understand that part.
Scientists think they’ve found a solution to that problem in a set of giant volcanic tunnels where people can hide below the surface and even build big cities there. Seriously: that’s the plan. There are even people crawling around in caves under Spain to practice for this scenario. This is all going to take place within a generation. People will be going to Mars in the name of exploration. That’s why we’re doing it. Because human beings “have to explore.”
It just seems like such a dead end. Surely a few brave pioneers flying along for seven months to reach Mars will go stir crazy first, then be faced with a crazy landing only to try to make do on a planet as inhospitable as a bowl of Grape Nuts without milk.
I love the space program and always have. I support funding space exploration and think it’s important to the advancement of knowledge among the human race. What I love about it as well is the technology that emerges from this process.
But I also love what it tells us about our own planet. Right now, we know that our planet is heating up due to just over one hundred years of human activity that has pumped out trillions of tons of carbon dioxide. That greenhouse trap is keeping the heat of the sun’s rays from bouncing back out into the universe. It’s not a novel concept. It doesn’t take that much imagination to appreciate how and why that can happen.
The earth exists in the most delicate balance of all the planets in the universe. Our watery planet is perfect for our existence because we all evolved in sync with its biotic potential. Nothing exists randomly. Every form of life on earth remains because it has the right survival potential for current climatic conditions. We’d have to create all that on Mars. In short, we’d have to play God to our own needs.
A few years back, a chunk of black meteorite was determined to have emanated from a galactic collision on Mars. An asteroid striking that planet sent shards of rock flying into space. Eventually one of those hand-sized rocks plunged into earth’s gravity and was collected in the deserts near Morocco or some dry spot like that. It came through the hands of a collector into the realm of scientists who spliced off a piece and found traces of water inside. Eureka! Mars was once wet.
But it isn’t any more. The climate changed. The same goddamned thing could happen to Earth. What is so hard to conceive about that? Human arrogance blocks it out.
The Earth is changing right now. Droughts are getting more severe. Fires are raging everywhere. Wine plantations are migrating up mountains for growing conditions.
There are people who deny that fact because they refuse to think beyond their own selfish, ideologically clogged noses. They are the snots of economic and religious prejudice. They likely haven’t studied the look and feel of a planet like Mars, where nothing lives perhaps except a batch of bacteria at some volcanic vents. We don’t know that for sure yet. But even that form of life doesn’t offer much hope to supporting human survival. We’d have to import everything we need to make it work on Mars. It’s 140 million miles away. And it’s smaller than Earth.
So I’m an advocate for taking a harder look at what we’re doing to life on Earth while we study what the prospects for life on Mars really are. Sixty years ago people imagined their might be Martians living there, and great cities awaited to be discovered. What we’ve discovered instead is a burned out sphere with rocks that look like a dumped out bag of granola and cinnamon. The bad news is that they’re not any more edible than Mars is livable.
Let’s focus on what the biblical notion of dominion really means to the human race. We’d better take care of what we’ve got, or Life on Mars will be all we have.
pimp/pimp/Learn to pronouncenoun
- a man who controls prostitutes and arranges clients for them, taking part of their earnings in return.
This week marks the start of the Republican National Convention. In a story posted on the Marketwatch website, it was noted that some unusual shifts in normal convention and nomination procedures have been implemented basically by direction of President Donald Trump. The story notes: “The Republican National Committee will go without a traditional policy platform at the upcoming GOP convention, saying instead that it “will continue to enthusiastically support the president’s America-first agenda.”
In a statement issued Sunday, the RNC said it adopted a resolution Saturday to go without a platform due to the difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced the convention to significantly scale back.
“The RNC has unanimously voted to forego the Convention Committee on Platform, in appreciation of the fact that it did not want a small contingent of delegates formulating a new platform without the breadth of perspectives within the ever-growing Republican movement,” the RNC said.
The irony of that last sentence should not be ignored. Claiming that the RNC “did not want a small contingent of delegates formulating a new platform without a breadth of perspectives” is beyond absurd. The RNC is doing one thing: the will of the President. He is their pimp and their controller. He arranges their clients and takes a portion of their earnings for himself.
Nothing more need be said about the nature of the Trump administration and its behavior. The Republican Party entered into a relationship with a pimp, and they’ve now been pimped.
The town of Crystal River, Florida sits at the mouth of its namesake ninety miles north of Tampa. The river empties into the Gulf of Mexico where its mouth widens into a brackish bay rimmed with marinas, waterside homes and canals reaching back toward land. These channels have long attracted sea cows, these days known as manatees.
The local economy of Crystal River feeds off the presence of these large, watergoing mammals. They are a tourist attraction in nearly all seasons, with tour boats taking curious adventurers out in the bay on warm summer days to peek at manatees in their natural habitat.
Some people don’t get it
But people left to their own devices sometimes fail to grasp the impact of human contact with a such seemingly benign beast. And in some Florida locations, people seek to love them a bit too much. In a story reported on Smithsonian.com, “As Florida native Ryan William Waterman just learned, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission takes its manatee safety seriously. After posting several photos on Facebook of himself and his two young daughters playing with a baby manatee, Reuters reports, the authorities arrested him. According to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, it is illegal to molest, harass, disturb or—as Waterman found out—hug a manatee. Federal laws also protect the species, which is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s Red List.”
The eager father didn’t just touch a baby manatee. He lifted it out of the water, posed his daughter sitting on its back, and then returned it to the water. Wildlife officials noted that the animal was experiencing what appeared to be cold stress from having been removed from its native habitat.
Don’t abuse the manatees
The Florida Wildlife Commission website describes the consequences of abusing manatees. “Manatees are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. It is illegal to feed, harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, annoy, or molest manatees. The state of Florida has also established regulatory speed zones to protect the manatee and its habitat. The zones are located where manatees live or travel regularly or seasonally. Anyone convicted of violating state law faces maximum fines of $500 and/or imprisonment of up to 60 days. Conviction for violating federal protection laws is punishable by fines up to $100,000 and/or one year in prison.”
There seems to be a general respect regarding safety of the animals near Crystal River. Motorized craft cruising out from the canals make their way slowly through No Wake zones. Between them, a daily flow of of vacationing kayakers paddles around a point in the bay to reach a once-secluded clearwater springs called Three Sisters, a massively popular tourist attraction.
Rush hour at Three Sisters
The water in the spring is indeed Crystal Clear. But kayaking into the pool on a summer day is like navigating a rush hour intersection on the Gold Coast of Chicago. Kayak traffic bottlenecks at the entrance of Three Sisters where three or four embedded stanchions force people to navigate between them. Those impediments keep people from ramming into each other. Inside the lagoon people run their boats up against the shore despite signs posted by the National Wildlife Refuge system not to do so. They also stand on rocks below the surface despite other signs warning them not to do so. The smell of cigarettes wafts across the water as families parked on large super rafts roll about laughing and talking at the top of their lungs.
Girls laced up in stringy swimsuits with naked butt cheeks mix with rotund men in soaked tee shirts lolling about uncomfortably in colorful kayaks. A few handsome young paddleboarders make their way into the cove as well. There are people of every nationality and language chattering away as if the crystal waters were nothing more than a local suburban swimming pool. Of course, there is not a manatee to be seen.
On the first trip up the canal leading to Three Sisters, my wife and I missed the entrance. We paddled past the large waterside homes to a place where the clear water grew quite still. Even the sea breeze did not reach back into those spaces. It was quiet for the most part, with a few other kayaks sitting calmly as couples talked quietly. One noted that they’d actually seen a water moccasin snake a few meters back. At the far end of the canal we paddled through a u-shaped culvert beneath a local street. Finally the canal hit a dead end behind a Mobil station. Such is the condition of nature in the State of Florida.
That twenty-minute period of paddling was the most peace to be found during a two-hour paddle trip. But on our way out of the canal we approached a family of mixed ages piling off their kayaks and rafts to swim in the water. They paid no attention to our approach, neither the young or old, including one intrepid little spright with water wings and a lifesaving vest.
We waited patiently for them to cross the canal and slipped between the next round. A young father or uncle among them exclaimed how warm the water had gotten where they were swimming. In most pools, we know what that means. Someone just pissed in the water. But this warmth was likely the product of the sun striking the water at that point in the canal. Things warm up quickly in that case. That is one of the reasons why the manatees like the canals during seasons when the surrounding waters generally get cooler. Apparently one of the most popular manatee winter resting spots is the cooling pond nuclear power plant up the coast. The animals reportedly show up by the hundreds, bumping one another as they share the warmth.
All along the canal where we paddled there were manatee protection signs at almost every residence warning boats to drive at a slow speed. There were also signs instructing swimmers to stay off the stone walls rimming the canals because those were private property.
At the moment we paddled past those stone walls, the young father or uncle swimming around with the kids clambered onto the edge of one of the walls with one hand. He was likely bracing himself afloat to support one of the tadpole swimmers of which he was suddenly in charge. All of the family members bore shiny black hair and brown skin. Their accents suggested a Latino origin of some sort.
Suddenly a voice roared from a bit further down the canal. “Stay off the walls!” a man hollered. “That’s private property!”
The young man quickly hollered an obscenity back at the man. The approaching kayaker was clearly a man in at least his sixties with white hair and wrinkling pale skin. He paddled urgently toward the swimmers with a spaniel perched on the front of the boat. “I will take your head off with this oar!” he yelled ahead.
“I will mess you up, bitch!” the young man screamed back. The invectives continued as we paddled toward bay. There was no empathy from either side of the argument.
It was fair to assume that the man with the dog on his kayak was a local resident looking after the rights of those who live on the canal. His job would have been endless that day in August, because there were thousands of people on the move, a watery rabble one might say, paddling in and out of that canal and the Three Sisters lagoon.
It all makes for a lawless environment as a whole. There are no lifeguards inside the cove. There is no one monitoring boat traffic in or out of the canal. A motorized pontoon boat even traversed the narrow waterways where children swam. Out in the bay, there was a local sheriff out checking boat licenses . But he was busy with the big stuff, not paying attention to the little stuff taking place in the smaller channels.
Flags of glory
Many of the pontoons and motorboats parked along the canal wars bore large TRUMP 2020 flags. One lone craft bore a pair of Anti-Trump flags mounted to the back. One wonders if those neighbors are friendly with one another or not. It hardly seems likely.
The entire scene was a manic mix of American freedoms and personal rights. Like so many American waterways and streets and alleys in America, the nation is currently running on premises of vigilante justice.
That is why the conflict between the angry kayaker and the defiant swimmer escalated so quickly, and was so jarring to witness. It seemed a microcosm of everything wrong with America right now. The white guy clearly approached the situation too aggressively. That elicited an equally disrespectful response from the Latino guy swimming with his little relatives. Both felt they were protecting something dear to them. Yet both were in some respect exhibiting behavior that was immensely out of line with the scope of the situation. But everyone was somehow trying to make a point, and everyone was losing in the process.
That type of overwrought reaction seems to describe the American scene as a whole. The environment at Crystal River is uniquely symbolic of how American consumerism mixed with self-centered recreation, rabid patriotism, and abuse of the environment combine to create a warlike atmosphere even in the most historically significant of places.
We paddled back to return our kayaks only to find two women in black and white swimsuits standing waist deep in front of the beach where a batch of young men waited for us to return our little crafts. The two women seemed oblivious to the fact that they were standing right in the way of a commercial enterprise trying to do business. Neither of them wore a mask, either. Their arms were crossed and their expressions showed concern over some topic they were discussing. This selfish lack of self-awareness seems to be rampant in the world today. It happens at grocery stores where people focused on choosing green beans ignore other customers. It happens on the roads where drivers putz along in the left lane determinedly unconcerned that their presence impedes all other traffic. And it happens in the Congress and Senate where politicians preoccupied with their own ideologies refuse to turn an ear to anyone else.
So we sat idling in our kayaks for a couple minutes as the women stood hip deep in the water. We hoped they would notice that we were trying to come ashore, but after watching the kayak guy flip out at the swimmers back in the canal, our appetite for confrontation of any kind was gone. Thus we sat there patiently until someone trying to launch their kayak from shore less than politely asked them to move out of the way. Faced with the nose of a plunging kayak, they did move a few feet to the side. That’s when we quickly paddled our boats ashore. This is what America has come to. We’re all daily witnesses to casual abuse by force selfish distraction.
That’s the same force of will that once produced motorboat gashes in the backs of manatees swimming innocently in the canals of Crystal River. The laws passed to protect them actually serve to protect people from themselves in this world. There’s a vital lesson for America in that bit of history.
Manatees and the law
On shore, we returned the laminated bay map to the the kayak workers on shore. The back of the card also contained warnings against touching or abusing manatees in any manner. “Do not jump on their backs,” the card stated. “That has happened.” The card also listed a number of other stupid things that people have done to manatees over the years. Those antics were clearly the behavior of people acting selfishly and without regard for the well-being of the manatees. Like the man who dragged the baby manatee ashore, there are so many people in this world stuck in their own frame of reference it is getting difficult to know who can be trusted to act with civility, and who cannot.
Too many people assume that the law does not apply to them. Or, they believe it is their right to interpret the law according to their own selfish terms. Some folks seem to think that the act of flying a flag or defending a wall entitles them to act out their aggressions. The same goes for wearing a badge or claiming some status; be it race, religion or nationality, that confers them special status.
On the other front, there are many people taking insult too quickly. Some assume that prejudice is automatically at work and that a genuine threat is at hand when some of what goes on in this world is the direct product of cultural misunderstanding. Identity is one of the most powerful of all emotions, and when those come in conflict with each other, look out. It is all the product of human tribalism, and the craftiest of politicians know how to leverage those forces to gain votes and popularity.
That is why the nation is at such risk right now. If people can’t understand something as basic as leaving a peaceful manatee alone in its element, we are doomed to behave like ugly brutes on land as well. This is particularly true when our leaders can think of nothing better to do than make fun of the appearance of a creature such as a manatee rather than appreciate the wonder and uniqueness of their existence. But that’s where we’ve come in the last five years, and America as a concept is sinking as a result. When people feel powered to disavow the need for decorum, driven forward by inspiration from people with ugly spirits and angry hearts, it’s not just the manatees that are at risk. It is all of us.
An associate on Facebook sent me a link to the ravings of a so-called “Christian activist” Scott Lively. I clicked through and right away saw what the guy was going to be like. He had the full white beard of so many nationalistic arch-patriots claiming Jesus as their Savior with hate in their hearts.
It used to be true that these guys were relatively harmless. Typically they stood out in the front of the house yelling at kids and dogs to stay off their yard. That was their fortress against the world. Probably a little whisky in their morning coffee, a quick read of a few pages in a greasy Bible, and out they’d go to stand in the morning sun playing pocket pool with their saggy nutsack waiting for some errant kid to wheel a Sting-Ray bike across the turf grass.
On humid days, their aviator glasses would fog up, requiring a quick rub session using the cantilevered fabric of a shirt hanging from their profuse gut. If the lawn was deemed safe from intrusion for the nonce, they’d pick up their sprinkler-soaked copy of the Wall Street Journal and sit on the front porch with a pistol in the milk crate just in case the n****** decided to waltz into town.
I’d like to say that I hate to generalize, but I really don’t. When the cliche fits, some people get to wear it. Just take a look a this Scott Lively guy and read about his views. Then study that White Beard and tell me you haven’t seen it on a thousand angry mugs in a thousand photos of Trump rallies. These are the rapid consumers of Fox News who tune into local AM Radio stations to listen to tripe from the likes of Salem radio and Rush Limbaugh and even that faux-kindess stuff from the Moody Bible Institute and evangelicals across the nation.
The White Beard Factor is real. These guys consider America their front lawn. They’ve got the pistols and the sagging nutsacks to prove it, and they’re just itching for a chance to swing into action.
Lacking that, they’re in full support of an angry bastard who covers his face in war paint and sports a radical combover to rival the aging vanity of every White Beard in the country. These are men of a certain age whose toxic masculinity oozes from their brains. On one hand they’ll yell at the kids on their lawn and the next wink at their porch buddy with a creepy smile and say, “She’ll be a hot one in a couple years.”
This is how the White Beard Factor works. It utters its fears, spews its anger and claims all it can see as a personal possession. And it is killing America one conflicted soul at a time.
“God loves irony.”
That’s what I wrote on a Facebook post in a group calling itself Christians Against Trump. A person in the group was objecting to people crowing about the passing of the conservative businessman and politician, Herman Cain, who died from Covid-19 after attending a Trump rally. He’d boasted about the refusal to wear a mask on his Twitter account.
Cain was making the bold claim that PEOPLE ARE FED UP with wearing masks, yet he’s now dead from contraction of the Coronavirus. One cannot be sure that he caught the deadly bug while sitting in the audience cheering on Trump. But the quid pro quo is compelling nonetheless.
Herman Cain also considered himself a mouthpiece for God. He connected his religion closely to his politics. During his campaign for President in 2012, he made a direct connection between his 9-9-9 tax proposal and his ardent belief in the Almighty. “If 10% is good enough for God,” Cain proclaimed, “9% ought to be good enough for the federal government.”
Given these almost scriptural musings about the nature of life and government, one wonders if Cain understood the fuller meaning of scripture that warns us against putting the Lord our God to the test. (Matthew 4:7)
Going out in public without a mask during a worldwide pandemic seems to be a keen way to put the Lord to the test. Yet it is a popular meme with some religious folks. There is no escaping the fact that Herman Cain tested the power of his faith and it didn’t work out that well for him.
A common sense approach
That’s the problem with banking on religion to protect us from all kinds of evil. God still expects us to use common sense. The Book of Genesis starts out with a test of that sort to warn us against getting too cocky about the support of God in this world. Even after Adam and Eve are told not to take fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, they engage with a legalistic serpent who shows up with a promise that they can be like God, knowing good and evil, if they take matters into their own hands. “You surely will not die,” the Serpent promises them.
But a harsh lesson awaits. The Serpent’s promise is only good in the short term. The deceivingly religious Serpent has tricked Adam and Eve into thinking they have immunity from their own actions. Such is the case, it seems, with Herman Cain and millions of other religious believers who too easily neglect the lessons of their own scripture. While claiming to represent the Will of God, they eagerly take fate into their own hands.
The legacy of Herman Cain
There is more to the conflicted legacy of Herman Cain than his unfortunate death. HIs life as a businessman is depicted as a classic “up by the bootstraps” lesson about corporate perseverance. He rose through the ranks of several fast food companies to bring Godfather’s Pizza to renewed profitability. But when President Clinton pursued a plan to require employers to support health insurance for employees, Cain complained that plan would make it impossible for companies “like mine” to stay in business.
In a textbook example of conservative victimhood, Cain stated “For many, many businesses like mine, the cost of your plan will cause us to eliminate jobs. What will I tell those people whose jobs I will have to eliminate?”
Two bad choices
That tactic of offering up two seemingly bad choices to defend an ideological premise of conservatism under the banner of capitalism is a classic conservative ploy. What Cain refuses to consider or mention is why employers are even involved in the business of dispensing healthcare in the first place? Conservatives love to ignore such topics, leaving businesses across America responsible for the major headache of paying premiums and managing our healthcare system in the increasingly expensive triage of combatants vying for profitability. These are healthcare insurance companies, healthcare providers and networks, and Big Pharma. All of these lobbies want to protect their own interests, and corporate politicians gain big donations by doing so.
And the rest of America is left living a lie of bad choices. The United States barely ranks in the Top 40 worldwide in terms of quality and affordability of healthcare. So much for American exceptionalism. The fight against the Affordable Care Act was not about constitutional rights or Death Panels or any number of conflated reasons concocted by the Republican Party. It was about the selfish interests of all these profit-pursuing entities trying to slice pieces of meat from the other. And the GOP plays the role of butcher by trying to cut people out of the ranks of the covered.
Herman Cain’s purposefully blind approach to resolving health care needs in America is the entire premise of the Republican Party’s non-plan to protect the health of everyday Americans. For decades, millions of people living outside the bubble of corporate-sponsored health care went without coverage. And worse, those with pre-existing conditions were essentially banned from pools of favorably-priced health insurance even if they tried to buy it on the open market.
The Republican approach to health insurance was, and remains, a death warrant for anyone who works for a man like Herman Cain. So we must ask, how does a supposedly God-fearing Christian man come to a place in life where he aggressively opposes the needs of people who work for him? It turns out scripture has something to say about that too.
That “up-from-the-bootstraps” mentality favored by conservatives is more about selfishness than it is about solutions. It’s the “tough luck” school of thought that Jesus combatted in the religious authorities whose love of tradition moved them to invent laws and rules and restrictions that stood as stumbling blocks for those trying to reach out to God for spiritual sustenance. Instead it became a transactional religion run by people in positions of power and authority who got to call the shots, even to the point of sentencing people to death if they were accused of doing something wrong.
That’s the lifelong lesson of Herman Cain in a nutshell. His supposed love of personal responsibility was actually a politically dismissive ideal that cost him his own life in the end.
But as scripture tells us time and again, God loves irony. It teaches so many lessons.
The definition of a cancel culture is a society in which the past or present acts of a person are used to undermine their credibility to silence their voice and even end their career.
While the term “cancel culture” is fairly recent, the concept of canceling someone out based on supposedly scandalous behavior or wrongful ideas is as old as human history. And it has been a particular weapon of religion for thousands of years.
The most prominent example in religious history is the cancel culture of religious legalism that followed a man named Jesus around to dig up dirt on his teachings. Religious authorities fearing for their own positions in society and eager to defend their notion of “tradition” gathered everything they could find on Jesus to conduct a severe cancellation of his message and ministry.
They succeeded in the short term by collaborating with political forces in the Roman world to conduct a cancel culture trial, mocking his claim to be “King of the Jews” while casting blame for calling himself the Son of God. The religious authorities did everything they could to cancel Jesus, and he notably offered little resistance to their aims. That led to the crucifixion now celebrated by the sign of the cross, a holy symbol to Christians the world over.
Many Christian denominations love to lay claim to that cross as a symbol of their salvation. Yet these same Christians in many cases choose to aggressively ignore the cancel culture habits of those who brought that event about.
Legalistic culture wars
As a result, the most powerful branches of the Christian tradition became the one thing Jesus most despised about religion. By the third century A.D., the institution of Christianity was dominated by religious legalists whose adherence to rules and regulations were no less severe than the people who conspired to crucify Jesus in the first place. Anyone that did not adhere to the tenets of Christian religion could be “cancelled” and banned from society outright.
Christianity took cancel culture mentality to its extreme, engaging in pogroms and purges against all those who opposed its authority. The principal target was the Jews, on whom literalistic Christians placed blame for the death of Jesus. That was a necessary and calculated leap in gaslighting the world to distance themselves, at least in terms of perception, from their legalistic forefathers.
The worst cancel in history
Thus the greatest lie in all of human history took over a religion that started with disciples wandering two-by-two and town to town.
As it gathered political power, Christianity became a force for evil through a cancel culture carrying out inquisitions, crusades, witch hunts, and torture to enforce the authority of its traditions and its gathering wealth.
These efforts to suppress or cancel other cultures were “successful” in the sense that they led to the death of millions of people at the direction of the church. Entire nations succumbed to the brutality as claims of providence were veiled behind facetious terms such as Manifest Destiny to justify the cancellation of any culture that stood in front of the Christian Way. The same perverse mentality was used to justify slavery, and the Bible served as the tool to cancel others as well. From homosexuals to women, from immigrants to scientists, Christianity has embarked on cancel campaigns against all of them.
The Holocaust cancellation of Jews
Even that despot Adolf Hilter recognized the irony of these behaviors by the Christian religion. When asked about his vendetta against Jews, he stated, “We are not doing anything to the Jews that the Christian religion has not been doing for 1500 years.” Christians sought to “cancel” all Jews that refused to convert and confess Jesus as the Messiah. The same rage and cancel wars were brought against other religions and cultures as well. From the shrines of Islam to the huts of indigenous tribes in far flung regions of the earth, Christianity sought to cancel those faith systems outright.
The greatest lie in history is that Christianity as a religion was somehow an “improvement” over the legalistic traditions favored by the religious authorities whom Jesus came to resist in the first place. Too much Christian history involves bloodshed and merciless domination of cultures around the world. Let us recall that even King David was denied the right to build a temple to honor the Lord because, as God warned him, “You have too much blood on your hands.” God may work with flawed people, but in the end, there is still conscience to consider.
That brings us to modern times, in which the President of the United States is backed by a Christian cabal all too eager to conduct culture wars to impose their worldview on the nation it claims as its sole possession. With dismissive aplomb, the President engages in daily attempts to cancel out voices and destroy the careers of his perceived opponents. Some of these people served in his own administration. He hailed them for their service when they joined, yet assailed them mercilessly if they left. From his personal attorney Michael Cohen, the “fixer” who did Trump’s dirty work, to men such as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump praised them for perceived loyalty. But when they part ways, the sociopathic side of Trump uses Twitter to cancel those he sees as disloyal. All the while, Trump engages in well-documented corruption and collusion with despots around the world.
And predictably, Trump has in his corner a phalanx of highly calculating religious zealots who view it as their right to cancel anyone they deem enemies to the cause. As noted, this approach has a long, sordid history.
John Lennon was right
One of the biggest demonstrations of Christian cancel culture occurred when John Lennon of The Beatles made an accurate yet widely misunderstood statement about the nature of popularity. He wisely stated, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I know I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first – rock & roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
Lennon was right. Across the mainstream denominations in America, Christianity is shrinking because much of the religion and its legalistic foundations are anachronistic. That’s what makes so many religious authorities fearful of future irrelevance. Yet we should recall the response back when Lennon made those cogent remarks. All across the Bible Belt, buzz-haired teenagers and screaming girls threw records onto bonfires in an attempt to cancel The Beatles on the spot.
Fifty years later, The Beatles are more popular than ever. The timelessness of their music and the importance of their social commentary during a time of great social change has grown in significance with the passing years. A deranged fan jealous of Lennon’s fame and talent canceled his anti-hero’s life with a bullet to the head, a haunting reminder that the artist once wrote a song titled Happiness is a Warm Gun.
Smoking guns and gaslighting
So the Christian haters of John Lennon ultimately got their way. How ironic it is that so many hard-Right Christians seem to love and embrace their weapons as much as they love Jesus. Thousands of people die each year from gun violence in America, their lives cancelled by a twisted interpretation of the Second Amendment that ignores the requirement for a well-regulated militia in favor of a selfish claim to bear arms at any cost.
How ironic it is that a religion in its most conservative form celebrates the value of law, yet when it comes to protecting the lives of millions of people in history, it has dismissed the most important law of all, Thou Shall Not Kill in favor of a worldview that says it’s okay to cancel the lives of anyone who stands in the way of imperial or populist religious power.
Christianity is gaslighting the world by claiming loss of religious freedom when its own agenda for millennia has been aimed at canceling the freedoms and rights of people who don’t share the same belief system.
In my forthcoming book Rescuing Christianity from the Grip of Tradition, the issue of religious legalism is dissected and traced back to the earliest words in the Bible, where the Serpent in the Garden of Eden first adopts the Word of God to serve its own purposes.