Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Are We Headed Toward Fascism?

Godwin's Law.

I remember the first time I read of Godwin's Law. It was so plain. So simple. So right. It was something I had known & thoughtfully processed in my own mind for a long time. Then it became a Law. No more a guess or idea of principle: it was now an indisputable Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

This is not to say whether or not the application is true, but that the probability of comparison increases proportionally with the length of the discussion.

This post will just save the length & breadth & go straight for the jugular: we have some Fascists amongst us.

I don't use the term lightly. However, I do apply it quite appropriately, in my mind. And the group to which it is applied is part of our own, though I don't think they realize the extent to which they have fallen.

Good intentions do not negate intentional actions.

Many on the Religious Right/Religious Conservative/Whatever-Term-You-Wanna-Use have been telling us that our nation has "lost its way" with regard to our history. These pseudo-historians, like David Barton, have this gripe against our culture saying that America's on a downward, moral spiral. This descent is caused by our neglect of God in our gov't & schools.

While I agree there is a hint of truth there, I take issue with the implication that it becomes the duty of the church to resort to civil means. The making of disciples is the duty of the church, not the function of the gov't.

This is nothing new. It's been done before. Chris Hedges tells of Dr. James Luther Adams' warning that the same line was used in Nazi Germany. The comparisons of modern America to pre-Nazi Germany by Dr. Adams are chilling.

Conservative Baptist scholar David P. Gushee gave a series of lectures in 2006 making the same observation:

It was this cultural despaira toxic brew of reaction against secularism, anger related to the loss of World War I, distress over cultural disorientation and confusion, fears about the future of Germany, hatred of the victorious powers and of those who supposedly stabbed Germany in the back, and of course the search for scapegoats (mainly the Jews)that motivated many Germans to adopt a reactionary, authoritarian, and nationalistic ethic that fueled their support for Hitler's rise to power. A broadly appealing narrative of national decline (or conspiratorial betrayal) was met by Hitlers narrative of national revenge leading to utopian unity in the Fuhrer-State. Conservative American evangelicals in recent decades have been deeply attracted to a parallel narrative of cultural despair. Normally the story begins with the rise of secularism in the 1960s, the abandonment of prayer in schools, and the Roe decision, all leading to an apocalyptic decline of American culture that must be arrested soon, before it is too late and God withdraws his blessing from America. While very few conservative evangelicals come into the vicinity of Hitler in hatefulness, elements similar to that kind of conservative-reactionary-nationalist narrative can be found in some Christian right-rhetoric: anger at those who are causing American moral decline, fear about the future, hatred of the secularists now preeminent in American life, and the search for scapegoats. The solution on offera return to a strong Christian America through determined political action--also has its parallels with the era under consideration.

Maybe it's time we started learning from history.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stephen Fox here.
AS you, a signer of the Memphis Declaration; please engage the discussion in the same topic at Faith and Practice with Memphis Declaration heading.
Great oped this morning by Auburn FBC pastor Jim Evans and I will link this blog about fascism there as it relates to Mohler's candidacy in the SBC and Huckabee nationally.
Please help me bring Ben Cole and Ginny Brant to this discussion