AMERICA HAS A CHRISTIAN TERRORISM PROBLEM
Anticipating this week’s wellspring of Christian terrorism, political writer Arieh Kovler tweeted in December, “On January 6, armed Trumpist militias will be rallying in DC. It’s highly likely that they’ll try to storm the Capitol. I don’t think this has sunk in yet.”
If you’re wondering how he knew this, he just read and paid attention to what they were saying on public channels for weeks on end. In the months leading up to January 6, conspiracy Twitter was rabid with…well, to be fair, all of the usual talk; these assholes talk about “uprising” more often than Kanye talks about Kanye.
In the hours and days after the feckless but dramatic attack on the Capitol, furious social media observers suggested that the hapless nature of the security response indicated (what else?) a conspiracy between Capitol PD and the terrorists.
This is possible, but I suspect a more banal explanation: America never takes Christian terrorism seriously, because conspiracists speak the language of America’s biases: on race, on politics, and most of all, on religion.
Fair being fair, most of us have at least fantasized about killing Mike Pence once or twice these past four years. I’m not suggesting that this is responsible rhetoric, but let those who are with sin cast the stones here.
But let’s be clear: This was a religiously motivated terror attack from fundamentalist America. There are of course other complicated socio-political factors that contribute to a development like this…but that’s also true of, say, Muslim extremism, and we have no problem calling that Muslim extremism.
Molly Olmstead writes in Slate:
“Alongside Confederate flags and white supremacist symbols, [terrorists] shouldered crosses, waved ‘Jesus Saves’ signs, and hung oversized ‘Jesus 2020’ banners. One rioter who made it inside the building carried a ‘Christian flag.’ Outside, on the National Mall, people chanted, ‘Christ is king.’ As the reporter Jack Jenkins noted, some in the crowd referred to the neo-fascist Proud Boys as ‘god’s warriors.’”
I would suggest that any size “Jesus 2020” banner qualifies as oversized, but be that as it may.
“It’s not a contest between whether the insurrection was a racist or a Christian uprising: It was both,” ex-vangelical Chrissy Stroop writes on Twitter.”
Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes (himself a Presbyterian) says, “I was overwhelmed by the intensity of the Christianity that pervaded the MAGA rally,” noting that rioters even chanted “deus vult,” which is perhaps surprising given their usual hostility to Latin culture.
Proud Boys knelt to theatrically pray before attacking the building; Klansman erected a giant cross on the hill; it’s not like Christian terrorism is a subtle vibe or anything. And it’s not hard to figure out why this happened: These people believe that most American politicians worship Satan, ritually sacrifice children to “Moloch,” practice black magic and cannibalism, and molest kids.
We know they believe this because they say that they believe this–constantly and loudly. “Biden is the Antichrist,” one helpful Twitter user explains; unless of course Kamala Harris is the Antichrist instead; or perhaps Mike Pence is “a member of the Church of Antichrist”–damn, just imagine how intense that tithing must get.
These people are not being ironic; they can’t, in the same way Commander Data can’t tell a joke. So of course they attacked the Capitol building; why would we expect them to do anything else?
In the past I’ve argued that anti-abortion kooks do not actually believe that “abortion is murder,” because their actions in no way match their rhetoric. Some friends have criticized this opinion as lacking perspective, which is possible. However, this week’s Christian terrorism pageant illustrates that these people mean exactly what they say–or in most cases, exactly what they misspell.
Security around lawmakers this week consisted of seemingly a single unmanned hockey net and an alarm made from tin cans and string, but neither should this surprise us. Statistically speaking, cops “are more than twice as likely to break up a left-wing protest than a right-wing protest,” Maggie Koerth writes for FiveThirtyEight.
“Protesters on the left virtually universally believe that police are rougher on them. And protesters on the right almost universally believe police are on their side,” Arizona State criminology professor Ed Maguire adds, confirming that America’s protest movements can in fact tell shit from Shinola.
(This blog brought to you by the fine people at Shinola, the world’s leading brand of non-shitty shoe polish.)
Perhaps we assume that cops don’t take conspiracy assholes seriously because they are fundamentally absurd; Trump himself is almost literally a clown. And yet, this standard doesn’t apply to other sorts of terror groups: French-Iranian cartoonist Marjane Satrapi writes that many Muslim extremists believe a woman’s hair emits invisible rays that make men horny, and yes, we’re right to laugh at this, but it doesn’t make Hamas seem less dangerous.
When America’s security apparatus looks at Muslims or Black Lives Matters organizers or immigrants, they perceive a foreign invasion. Even when these people are Americans it doesn’t matter, because that word loses all of its talismanic value once conferred this way.
Whereas when they see Christian terrorism, white supremacy, and fascism, they perceive familiarity, perhaps even kinship, or at worst some embarrassing but ultimately homogenous buffoonery.
An anonymous homily holds, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
But this is actually not a very daring prediction, because THAT’S HOW FASCISM COMES TO EVERY COUNTRY. That’s what fascism is.
Incoming President Joe Biden–who, like a jerked pork taco, is dry, questionably aged, and cannot possibly get here fast enough–repeated his favorite line this week about how, “This is not who we are.”
This is true, but only in a very misleading way: The fact is, there is no “we.” America has never been a “we” kind of country. And it’s not going to start now.