Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Is An American Fascist Theorcracy In The Works?

Fellow CUANAS contributor, Publius 2000, recent wrote a thought-provoking article which he posted over at his fine blog. The subject is the lefts fear that the "Religious Right" are attempting to establish a Theocracy in the United States of America:

For instance, recently Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center at the Annenberg School of Communication at USC, said that he is troubled by this new "religious fascism" and the "drive toward theocratic oligopoly."

I've got to say, I agree with Mr. Kaplan. If there is anyone with an established power base in this country who is trying to institute such a government, then I am terrified right along with him.

Let's see what my good buddy Publius 2000 has to say about it:

Unfortunately this not an isolated instance where the term “theocracy” or “theocratic” has been ominously bandied about by the left. That charge seems to carry weight when simply thrown out to the public in the form of a generalization. Given the context of the 2004 Presidential election where the religious conservatives played a significant role; in addition to the confessed religious views of many key Republican leaders, even the President himself, this charge seems to ring true for many on the left, especially if the charge is unexamined in any depth.
Demagoguery of this nature has two targets. First, religious conservatives are targeted as having interests that are a threat to the public good and public liberty. Their reputation is maligned and such comments are meant to chill any future political participation on their part. Second, those who are told to fear the religious conservatives are the target as well, for they will carry the weight of concern over their harm at the hands of the "thoecracy."
The demagogues intend for such rhetoric to strike fear in those who are not particularly religious; fear that their liberties hang precipitously in the balance. Furthermore, such fear is meant to motivate the fearful to action and to isolate religious conservatives. Such rhetoric seeks to play on existing anti-religious prejudice and to sow the seeds of future prejudice in the minds of those who do not know any better.
I have good news to those who truly fear a “theocracy.” There is nothing to fear and you don’t even have to trust me, just trust yourself.
Just sit back, take a deap breath, open your mind just a bit and pretend that perhaps... just perhaps, the likes of Kaplan might not have a corner on the logic market. Just perhaps, they haven't the evidence to back up their claims. Just perhaps, he is using innuendo to sway your opinion and strike fear in your heart.
In the end, it takes just a little analysis to reject claims of impending "theocracy" as utter nonsense. Claims of theocracy usually find fertile soil in the educational gaps of pseudo-intellectuals who know just enough to be dangerous.
First, those charging theocracy do so by pointing to efforts of religious conservatives to address issues such as abortion, gay marriage, school prayer, embryonic stem cell research, etc. The obvious problem with this assertion is that mere decades ago all of these policies were exactly what the religious conservatives desired (save embryonic stem cells which weren't even an issue); abortion was illegal, school prayer was legal, homosexuality was illegal in most states let alone gay marriage, and yet no one has ever claimed that the United States at any time in its past has been a theocracy.
How can this be?
Either the United States was a theocracy (by the left’s twisted definition) and we are emerging from some past "theocratic era" or we have never been a theocracy and conservatives just want to preserve a certain status quo.
There is no room to argue that conservatives are seeking to institute a theocracy when they merely seek to “conserve” existing policies or reinstate policies that had previously existed. Even at that religious conservatives seem willing to accept significant compromise on most of these issues (e.g. no one is arguing to make homosexuality illegal, but merely to preserve marriage as solely being between a man and a woman).
Apparently, to secular demagogues resisting any change to the moral status quo in the dominant culture, or even seeking to slow it a bit, is the functional equivalent of instituting a theocracy. To hold this position is to essentially define the word theocracy in a manner that strips it of any real meaning.
Second, the one single silver bullet that will, and has, prevented any type of sectarian government from rising to power since the nation's founding is simply the unprecedented religious pluralism that has always characterized the United States.
Those charging theocracy are clearly out of touch with the dizzying diversity that is readily apparant in American religious life; and they are utterly uninformed of American religious history. The so called “religious right” as the left refers to it, is far from a monolith of theological uniformity. At a minimum, it is made up of religious Jews from varying traditions (Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox), Catholics, Mormons, mainline Protestants such as Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists etc. (each with their own unique theological doctrines), and of course Evangelicals (who are anything but monolithic). All of these groups have significant religious differences among them.

Go to Publius' site to read the rest.