Monday, April 11, 2005

The Culture of War

The wingnuts argue that theirs is a culture of life, and perhaps they have a point when it comes to people not yet born or to those who are brain-dead. For everyone else there is very little of life in their culture, if life is seen as a positive, nurturing and invigorating force.

I think a better term for the wingnut culture would be a culture of war. Wingnuts love war, love war abroad in Iraq and love war at home against liberals, progressives, gays and lesbians, feminists, atheists and moderates. Even their language is war-like:

Confronting "judicial tyranny" is now "the great battle of our time," Gary Bauer, the former presidential candidate, wrote in his daily e-mail newsletter a few days after Schiavo died.


Republican John Cornyn of Texas, in a speech on the Senate floor last week, suggested that outrage over so-called judicial activism might lead "to the point where some people engage in violence" against judges. (He later backpedaled.)

The culture wars were named by wingnuts. It is they who view debates and disagreements as wars. Wars mean that people die, and at least in a metaphoric sense this is what the wingnuts wish to achieve. They want us dead as in non-existing. Compromise is impossible because there is no compromise in a war, only winners and losers (who are dead).

Wingnuts do love violence. Think of the great popularity of Mel Gibson's film about Jesus's suffering and how poorly the sanitized version sold in box offices. Also think about the favorite reading material of wingnuts: The Left Behind -series. It's full of violence as Frank Rich argues in his column about wingnuts:

This agenda is synergistic with the entertainment culture of Mr. Bush's base: No one does the culture of death with more of a vengeance - literally so - than the doomsday right. The "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins all but pant for the bloody demise of nonbelievers at Armageddon. And now, as Eric J. Greenberg has reported in The Forward, there's even a children's auxiliary: a 40-title series, "Left Behind: The Kids," that warns Jewish children of the hell that awaits them if they don't convert before it's too late. Eleven million copies have been sold on top of the original series' 60 million.

Rich calls the wingnut culture one of death but I believe that war is a more descriptive term. Wingnuts don't really like death that much, surprisingly, perhaps, given that they expect to be Raptured any moment. What they do like is a good fight and lots of whipping, and the idea that they will end up as the victor in a battle. They like hierarchies based on violence. The Jesus of the Left Behind books is a violent warrior.

Wars always start with "othering": the opposition must be made to look less than human, or killing them will be too difficult. The right is fairly far down the path in this kind of othering, both with respect to Muslims and the opposition here at home. (And no, my use of the term "wingnuts" is not othering but an endearment!)

Add to this the necessary component in wars: the belief that ones side is the right one, the correct one, and it's easy to see why the religious wingnuts would wish to believe that it is Jesus who they are fighting for. Then almost anything becomes acceptable, including killing a lot of people.

If this sounds familiar it may be because the very same arguments apply to religious fanatics of all kinds, including bin Laden's troops. They have decided that we are subhuman and that their god needs to drink our blood. Our local wingnuts are not there yet, and I hope that we can keep them from getting to the logical endpoint of the current developments. Before it is too late.