Monday, June 08, 2015

The cynical myth

There’s a very popular rightwing myth in the USA that sometimes amuses me, but more often confuses me. Sure, they believe a great many things that aren’t true, but why do they keep believing in the “Christian persecution” myth?

Let’s get this out of the way up front: There is NO persecution of Christians in the USA. This isn’t a debatable point about which reasonable people might disagree, because first there would have to be evidence on both sides of the debate, and there isn’t: Those claiming the supposed “persecution” have zero evidence—none. That’s why it’s a myth. This is, by the way, a knowable thing, and facts, being facts, are always checkable.

Sure, the radical right has been losing the fight against marriage equality, but that fact changes absolutely nothing. If anything, the US states that now have marriage equality have found that the ONLY thing that’s changed is that same-gender couples can marry, just like their heterosexual friends and family members can. But losing a political fight isn’t “persecution”, it’s merely losing a political fight. Nothing more.

And “persecution” doesn’t mean those few cases in which religious people who wanted to discriminate against LGBT people found out that doing so violated a duly passed and enacted law—the same law that protects religious people from discrimination. Those few cases show only that no one is above the law—it's not persecution.

So where does this fantasy about “Christian persecution” come from? It comes from less than holy people.

In the video up top, Bill Maher takes on this myth and connects some of the political dots. And, yes, I’m aware that a lot of people, Left and Right, hate Maher for political reasons. I’d remind those who hate him of the aphorism, even a stopped watch is right twice a day. And boy, is Maher right on this.

The video gets at the heart of why this myth is being promoted: Politics.

The reality is that Republican politicians need some big, scary conspiracy to rile up their base to raise money and votes for their campaigns. I don’t know if any of them believe the nonsense they spout, but I don’t think they do. Instead, I’m sure it’s merely cynical politics, something they’re happy to use and exploit for their own ends.

The Republican politicians, though, are building on the mythmaking of their radical religious activists in Republican Party-aligned groups—nearly all of whom put the word “family” in their name to disguise what they’re really up to. Those Republican Party groups have been spreading this idiotic nonsense for a long time now, and their motivation is really no less cynical than the candidates in the political wing.

Fundamentalist Christian activists are using the myth as a scare tactic to raise money. Most—probably all—of the folks running those groups would be unable to get a job doing something that benefits society, rather than fomenting conflict and division. By scaring the hell—so to speak—out of their donor list, they can raise millions and avoid having to get a real job.

These groups also want to use this myth as a way to gain and hold political power. Among other things, they plan on exploiting the myth as a way to win passage of laws legalising and enshrining discrimination against LGBT people, not just in marriage, but also in employment and housing, too.

So, what we have is an absolute myth, something that, as Bill Maher pointed out, is totally non-sensical to anyone who bothers to look up the facts. The myth is being exploited by cynical Republican and Republican Party-aligned politicians as a way to raise money and votes and activists to continue to keep society divided, because doing so is their only way to remain in power.

Yes, the silly notion of “Christian persecution” in the USA is an utter myth—of course it is. But the reason it persists is the same as always: Crude, cynical, pandering, partisan politics. The sooner we’re rid of this idiotic bullshit, the better for us all.

1 comment:

rogerogreen said...

I'm NOT a Maher fan (for reasons you allude to, mostly his not-so-latent sexism), but he's right here.