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Two Sides of the Same Coin-- A Guest Post By Zoe Roberts

Hands Off MAGA


The greatest threat to America today isn’t foreign terrorism, and nor is it domestic terrorism, but it could lead to domestic terrorism and atrocities being committed in the name of Christianity. Nationalism is the biggest threat to the safety and security of our country. Specifically Christian nationalism and/or Evangelical nationalism, which in my opinion are two sides of the same coin.


Nationalism can be defined as the identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. To many this doesn’t sound so bad, in fact, many people confuse it with patriotism, which can be defined as devotion and vigorous support for one's country. 


However, nationalism’s roots, especially when combined with populism, as is the case in America today, is truly horrifying. We needn’t look any further in the past than Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, which murdered at least 6 million Jewish people, gypsies, and members of the LGBTQIA community. All were propagandized and turned into villains by Joseph Goebbels and the Nazi’s in order to dehumanize them, just as we are seeing in America today.


Now you may be asking yourself, doesn’t Nazism mean national socialism? The answer is yes, but there are things we need to understand about nationalism and socialism in order to have this conversation. Most importantly, the two terms are diametric opposites, meaning they simply don’t mix together. So although the word socialism was in their title, they were not functionally socialist as they were ruled by a dictator. In reality they were in fact fervently and violently populist and nationalist in orientation. Conditions which should concern every reasonable American today because these same conditions exist within the Christian nationalist movement in America. It is an infection that needs to be rooted out and dismantled. 


This is a movement spearheaded by Donald Trump and his MAGA faction. Threatening and partaking in violent action against those who would deny them their fiction can and has led to real world violence. Denying women, minorities, and LGBTQIA people their rights are some of their expressed goals. As is adding the teaching of Christianity to the public school curriculum. Something that simply isn’t realistic or reasonable provided the multi-cultural society America is made up of. 


To accompany this, they weaponize fear and paranoia through conspiracy statements and propaganda targeting these same groups of people to try to get their way through public policy. This distorted and unreasonable public policy takes the form of abortion bans, book bans, drag show bans, and a number of bans targeting the transgender community. Its aim is to prevent people from communities from living their lives openly, honestly, and fully. 


Much as the Nazi’s used propaganda to dehumanize people, so too do America’s nationalists. The goal of dehumanization is to excuse people from feelings of compassion and empathy for the targeted group. This in turn then allows increasingly hostile actions to be taken against those targeted within these dehumanization campaigns. As an example, today’s political right, which increasingly identifies as Christian nationalist in orientation, calls immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers “illegals.” The goal of this is to remove the dignity and humanity of the human being represented by the terminology being used. Politicians on the political right then use this to stoke fear of a coming invasion, or even provide bluster to their white replacement conspiracy theory. 


Here’s the rub, these same politicians stoking the fear of immigrants are the very same ones entrusted to resolve the issue, but they’d rather weaponize the issue to continually create fear within their adherents than to actually fix the issues with immigration, which I might add is literally their job.


As we dig deeper into this, we quickly learn about Kohlberg’s model of moral development. Now, I want to be careful and respectful when using this model, I therefore need to explain that people exist within a range on this model, many will not advance beyond stage 4 which is characterized by appeals to law and order and everything being very black and white. To many this may seem as though I’m characterizing these people as morally underdeveloped, that is not the point. The point here is that they are stuck at this lower level of development for any number of reasons, including a lack of exposure to diverse people, a lack of high education, and many other reasons. Many of these things are correctable, but willing participation is needed in order to do so, which as I’m sure anyone with a teenager can tell you, isn’t always easy to facilitate. It’s worth noting that “law and order” is a dog whistle that has been used for decades by America’s political right. It’s code for incarcerating marginalized groups of people, particularly the Black community in this case. 


When you think about this at a deeper level, it helps us explain and understand why right wing activists and politicians are change resistant and seemingly incapable of understanding why there are sometimes moral imperatives worth protesting and fighting for. Examples of these moral imperatives include the civil rights movement, LGBTQ rights movement, and more recently, efforts to reduce the militarization of the police among many others.


Because of how right wing politics works, when movements like these start, right wing politicians and media will begin stirring fear within their base. This is accomplished through the use of dog whistles and fear based messaging which in turn stimulates one of the most primitive parts of the human brain, the amygdala. Once the amygdala is stimulated, logical thought is far less likely. Because of the near constant stimulation of the amygdala by these sources, right wing activists and adherents are essentially put into a near permanent state of fear. Once the amygdala has been hijacked in this manner, these people go into a self preservation mode we all know as fight or flight. In this case this translates into them wanting to preserve the status quo or even revert how things were in earlier times. 


Likewise, this state of mind inhibits people’s ability to advance on Kohlberg’s model of moral development specifically because they are in a state of mind where deeper, more rational thinking isn't likely.


Going back to Christian nationalism, it’s easy to see how this state of mind plays into their thinking. The appeals within this subculture are in essence appeals to a lifestyle from an earlier era where men reigned supreme, women were subservient to their needs and took care of the children, where church doctrine, whether right or wrong, played a higher role in determining what was and wasn’t considered moral. It’s likely that when Christian nationalists make the claim that they are “under attack,” that this deprioritization of Christian doctrine within modern American society is likely what they’re talking about. 


However, with fewer and fewer people identifying as Christian, and many more identifying as agnostic, atheist, or none, does it really make sense to push harder into what the majority of people perceive as yesterday’s thing? The answer is of course no, but we must remember that this particular group of people is largely incapable, because of the amygdala hijack, of deeper strategic and tactical thought. Fear is their dominant emotion.


These fears are of course irrational in orientation. They’re based on human perception and the fact that Christian nationalists don’t like the fact that many people have moved beyond the stage whereby morality is handed to them. Increasingly, people in the United States are determining their own moral priorities, many of which do not coexist nicely with religious doctrine and dogma. For example, gay marriage. Gay marriage functionally changed how people view doctrinal morality in the United States and elsewhere. 


When people break free from having their morality told to them, they begin to wonder what is and isn’t actually moral based on their own lived experiences. They are advancing on Kohlberg’s model. This in turn helps explain the political right’s war on woke, their anti-DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) efforts and their desire to put church doctrine back in public schools. They fear that when people are able to make their own moral decisions, they’ll see the immorality of many of the things they’ve been told to believe and make change in order to correct the misgivings of the past.


Each of these maneuvers would in theory slow the development of America’s youth and their march towards a more fair and inclusive world. The reality is that these efforts also point to the success of DEI programs. Dismantling them would be a reversal of progress, which is what the analysis points to.


To put this in context, it also explains why Generation Z, which was raised with active DEI programs, isn’t voting for the political right in the numbers previous generations did. They are far more likely to determine what is moral, immoral, and amoral on their own. 


Christian nationalism is a clear and present danger to the sanctity of the United States, our march towards a more inclusive and fair world, and our status as a world’s leader. It is anti-liberty in orientation and presents unconstitutional acts as solutions to the moral development of our nation. This ideology must be resisted and pushed back into its box for America to continue to develop into a more moral and just society that leads the world into the future.


Dec 27, 2023

Covers the yin fairly well. Neglects the yan, as usual.

"Nationalism (aka christian nationalism) is the biggest threat to the safety and security of our country."

I ALMOST agree with this statement.

Here is how I would say it: The stupidity and apathy of the supermajority of americans who are NOT nazis is what ALLOWS nationalism (aka christian nationalism) to be the biggest threat to the safety and security of our country.

It's really very simple. 2 out of 3 eligible to vote do NOT vote for nazis and their pogroms of hate, fear and greed. In a democracy, one might think this would relegate the nazis to the rump southern white racist misogynist homophobic christian (redundancy alert!) minority th…

Dec 28, 2023
Replying to

Stupid does hurt. It's allowed losses of rights and privileges and hate as policy for women, lgbtqs, minorities, the poor, the aged and kids. It's made everyone pay ungodly amounts for terrible health insurance and meds. It's cost thousands of lives and 100X in maimed americans in arbitrary wars. It's cost untold lives by guns. Sadly, not any of these facts are enough to awaken americans to their own shit.

It will hurt even more when everyone is forced to live under the boot of the nazi reich.

And it will KILL everyone in a century or two via climate change and all that will bring.

But, still, nobody seems capable of knowing... anything.

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