Chapter 9: Does “Protecting the Nation” serve America?

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Does Protecting the Nation Serve America?

The bow was wedged in and could not be moved, but the stern began to break up under the pounding . . . Once we reached safety, we learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us extraordinary hospitality; they lit a fire and welcomed all of us because it had begun to rain and was cold (Saint Paul).[1]

The Executive Order 13769 titled Protecting the Nation and its revised version, Executive Order 13780 with the same title, were enacted by President Trump and his administration to ostensibly protect the American people from terrorism (Salama & Caldwell, 2017) “because you don’t know who’s who . . . We can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States” (Jarrett, 2017). According to the President, “hundreds of refugees are under federal investigation for terrorism and related reasons . . . We’re talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people” (Trump, 2017g). Prima facie, the intent behind these two Orders seems good – but is it?

At this time of writing, at the level of law, six courts (and counting) have struck down the two Executive Orders as violating both the letter and the spirit of the US Constitution. Some courts have found that there is no probable cause for the Orders in terms of specific evidence and that taken in the context of their construction, they represent nothing more than codified religious animosity toward a different people and a group of territories.

At the level of Christianity and the moral law, President Trump has been known more than once to pray with evangelical leaders, even in public, and it has been reported that he has a longtime spiritual advisor, the megachurch pastor and televangelist Paula White[2] (Timm, 2017). The President has admitted that “we all are made by the same God” (Trump, 2017g). But this public declaration as well as the no-less-equal and public manifestations of faith, taken in context of the design, construction, rollout, and implementation of Executive Order 13769 as shown in the first chapter and Executive Order 13780, beg the question: Are we really all made by the same God?  Continue reading “Chapter 9: Does “Protecting the Nation” serve America?”

Chapter 7: The new American alt-right population / A presidency of hatred?

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The American Alt-Right

All are brothers and all are children of God (Pope Francis).[1]

The American alt-right[2] has been defined as a broad group of people or movement who tend to ascribe to far-right ideologies that include “preserving and protecting the White race . . . in addition to, or over, other traditional conservative positions such as limited government, low taxes, and strict law-and-order” (Daniszewski, 2016). The movement has been considered to be “an offshoot of conservatism” (ibid.) that is characterized by the confluence of racism, White nationalism, and populism (SPLC, 2016b). It has also been critical of “multiculturalism, and more rights for non-Whites, women, Jews, Muslims, gays, immigrants, and other minorities” (Daniszewski, 2016).

Several individuals who ascribe to alt-right mentality, whether declared or undeclared, tend to reject the fundamental right that all human persons are equal under the law irrespective of creed, ethnicity, gender, or race. The core belief held in alt-right mentality is that “‘White identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice,’ to undermine White people and their civilization” (SPLC, 2016b).

The original alt-right. The term alt-right was first coined in 2008 by Richard B. Spencer, the now 39-year-old president of The National Policy Institute (NPI; Wallace-Wells, 2016). The NPI is a far-right think tank in Arlington, Virginia, that is involved with the ideology of White nationalism and the preservation of Western civilization. The motto of NPI (2017) is “For our people, our culture, our future.”

White nationalism has been defined as “the belief that national identity should be built around White ethnicity, and that White people should maintain both a demographic majority and dominance of the nation’s culture and public life . . . [thus] maintaining political and economic dominance, not just a numerical majority or cultural hegemony” (Kaufmann, in Taub, 2016). Western civilization has been defined as “a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe” (Wikipedia, 2017a). Populism has been defined as a Manichean-based “thin-centered ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogenous and antagonistic groups, ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite’ (Mudde, 2004; Mudde & Kaltwasser, 2013). The goal of populism is to unite the “uncorrupt and unsophisticated ‘little man’ against the corrupt and dominant elites (usually the established politicians) and their camp of followers (usually the rich and the intellectuals;” Wikipedia, 2017b).

According to Spencer, the alt-right was defined by

“A break with establishment conservatism that favors experimentation with the ideas of the French New Right; libertarian thought as exemplified by former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul; anarcho-capitalism, which advocates individual sovereignty and open markets in place of an organized state; Catholic traditionalism, which seeks a return to Roman Catholicism before the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council; and other ideologies” (SPLC, 2016b).

Two revealing examples of alt-right thought are shown below:  Continue reading “Chapter 7: The new American alt-right population / A presidency of hatred?”

Chapter 7: America’s 21st century alt-right / Make America White Again

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America’s 21st Century Alt-Right

A long time ago there was Apartheid, an ideology based on racial privilege, fear of the other, walls and barbed wire, censorship, ignorance and oppression (Scholars and Rogues).

The year 2016 saw the election of Donald John Trump as President of the US. A White billionaire of German and Scottish ancestry, Trump won the presidency with 304 Electoral College votes, while losing the popular vote by 2.86 million votes (Schmidt & Andrews, 2016). President Trump became the oldest and wealthiest male ever to hold the highest political office in the nation. He also became the first to do so without having prior government or military service to his name.

“Make America Great Again”[1]

We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us (John Winthrop).

An examination of the demographics related to the victory of President Trump reveals an interesting pattern of data in relation to the underlying reason for his election. According to the results of the national exit polls reported the day after the 2016 general elections, the distribution of the electorate consisted of 69% White voters versus 31% non-White voters (Henley, 2016; Tyson & Maniam, 2016). From the former group, 58% of White voters supported President Trump, with this statistic comprising 63% of White males and 53% of White females. From the overall total number of males and females (White and non-White) that made up the electorate, a greater number of males than females voted for the President (53% v. 41%). This gender gap was the widest to occur in presidential election exit polls since 1972.

Considered by education level, 67% of non-college-educated Whites voted for the President Trump, with 72% of that group being made up of males (Henley, 2016; Tyson & Maniam, 2016). Fifty two percent of the total number of college graduates (white collar) were reported to have voted for his opponent, Secretary Hillary Clinton. Conversely, 52% of the total number of voters without a college degree (blue collar) had voted for the President. This education gap was the widest in presidential election exit polls since 1980.  Continue reading “Chapter 7: America’s 21st century alt-right / Make America White Again”

Chapter 1: In the name of God / The imperial presidency

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In the Name of God

Look how they love one another (Tertullian).

Christians of all denominations across the US acted no different than their non-Christian counterparts throughout the entire process that was both unfolding and continues to unfold in relation to Protecting the Nation. They have done this despite their calling to manifest a very different kind of behavior by virtue of their professed faith and belief in God.

On the one hand, conservative Christians, in particular those on the extreme right, Catholics included, who had considered President Trump to be a postmodern-day King Cyrus II (the Great;[1] e.g., G. L., personal communication at A House of Prayer) or King Constantine I[2] (e.g., ChurchMilitant.com, 2016; Voris, 2016) upon his election – namely, that he was ‘sent by God’ to save both the nation and the world from its ever-increasing descent into postmodern-era paganism and violence, including the barbaric terroristic violence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) – stomped and hurled insults at their more moderate and liberal brethren on social media and elsewhere, with a fervor and zeal that would have put the Old Testament high priest, Phinehas, to shame. More often than not, these insults tended to end with the yelled exhortations to “PRAY!” and “STAY STRONG, Christians!” – combined with several requests to the administrators of the relevant social media platforms to censor or block those who disagreed with them in a manner quite different from that of a snowflake.[3]

On the other hand, liberal Christians, in particular those on the extreme left, hurled verbal abuse online, and at times even physical abuse in offline venues, at their more moderate and conservative counterparts with no less fervor, zeal, and versatility. Strings of profanities and vulgarities in the name of God abounded, even though some in the conservative camp engaged in the same behaviors. Civil resistance protests grew in urban areas across the nation and in more than a few cases, riots were incited on purpose to attempt to create a state of anarchy, with multiple instances of physical violence being the result.  Continue reading “Chapter 1: In the name of God / The imperial presidency”

Chapter 1: Who are you? What is your faith?

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Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door (Emma Lazarus).

January 20, 2017, brought with it the swearing in of a new president in the United States of America (US): the 45th holder of the highest political office in the land, Donald John Trump. Seven days later, the President signed Executive Order 13769 titled Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States (The White House, 2017a). Chaos ensued.

One of a trio of executive orders[1] that have been called “the blueprints for the most significant shift in American foreign policy since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941” (Suri, 2017), Protecting the Nation was intended to ban citizens of seven countries from entering the US for 90 days (The White House, 2017a). These countries were Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen; all Muslim-majority countries designated ‘of particular concern’ under the legislation H. R. 158 – Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. Protecting the Nation was also intended to suspend admission into the US of all refugees from any country in the world for 120 days and ban the “detrimental” admission of refugees from Syria for an indefinite time. Upon the resumption of refugee admissions subsequent to the 120-day ban, Executive Order 13769 was furthermore intended to prioritize admissions to the US “on the basis of religious-based persecution, if the religion of the refugees seeking admission was a minority in their country of nationality” (ibid.).  Continue reading “Chapter 1: Who are you? What is your faith?”