The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

When Jesus Stormed the Capitol or So They Imagined

The extreme Right is incredibly irrational and driven by myths and prejudices. One result is they constantly do things to undermine their own position. They don’t seek “success” as much as they are grievance collectors.

So, when the pandemic comes along they scream about masks and measures meant to slow the spread by reducing transmission. They call these emergency measures tyranny and get all holier-than-thou like some TV evangelicals with a drug habit and a hooker in his trailer.

They refuse to do things voluntarily thus forcing mandatory measures. Then they make massive displays of martyrdom over those measures. The result is a pandemic that grows and grows, with more and more deaths. The result was measures more restrictive and the self-righteous Truthers felt vindicated.

Look at the spiral of violence initiated by these loons. They march on DC and nothing happens to them, they are free to spout nonsense, conspiracy theories and the like. They do just that and are spoon-fed utter nonsense by the increasingly deluded Disaster-in-Chief. Then on orders from their Messiah they march to the Capitol unmolested and unhindered.

At this point they move into violence mode, start smashing windows, assaulting Capitol security officers, vandalizing the building, stealing equipment and chanting how they will kill the Vice President or Nancy Pelosi.

Now hundreds of them are being arrested and prosecuted and they are convinced it’s all bogus. For all their talk about “individual responsibility” they are lining up to give the most bizarre excuses as to why they shouldn’t be held responsible for their actions. One whackadoodle estate agent from Texas recorded herself illegally entering the Capitol, shouted she was doing so “in the name of Jesus,” and then tried to lie her way out of it in spite of video proving her dishonest. It would appear that Jesus, like poor Mises, has some horrible people acting in the worst ways and attributing their degeneracy to him.

The reason for this bizarre, self-defeating behavior, is the status they seek is that of martyr. Trump supporters and evangelicals are largely the same people. Sure there are plenty of Trumpists who aren’t born again loons but they share the traits of the evangelicals—they tend to be less educated, more likely to have a criminal record, greater levels of poverty and unemployment. They tend to be people who fail to live up to their own religious values on a daily basis and they need someone, or something to blame for their continual dysfunctionality.

Both groups thus tend to play the role of victim, ignoring all the privileges associated with being white compared to others in this country.

I spent years sitting the pews of evangelical churches, while at Bible college I even spent some time in pulpit as well. What I saw was individuals who were professional victims. They loved to quote Jesus when he was alleged to say, “you will be persecuted for my sake.” But in America they held the reigns of power. But that didn’t stop them from finding ways to seek out victimhood.

After I escaped the stifling arms of evangelicalism I was working at the university’s daily newspaper and also writing a weekly column. I wrote one about absurd groups on campus. One held a meeting where two grifters got up and claimed to have fought “demons” in real life and played an audio tape which they alleged was a “real demon” speaking. Another group on campus was holding a faith healing meeting where hypochondriacs are cured of diseases they don’t have and real problems go untreated. I said if this were to become common on campus the university might as well start handing out witch doctorats.

The evangelicals were livid—which is pretty much their permanent state—and demanded that the editor have a meeting with these poor persecuted victims. She asked if I wanted to be there.

I told her I said all I had to say to these people in my column and that her meeting would backfire. She wanted to know why so I told her what they would do. They would start complaining, she would explain that columnists are free to voice their opinions for the same reasons they are free to hold their meetings—freedom of speech. They wouldn’t care. They would continue to insist they are being persecuted and I must be silenced—which she wasn’t about to do. I then said they would pull the final tactic, they would get increasingly angry, ramps up their insults, perhaps issues threats but get more and more unbearable until she threw them out of her office.

That was their goal—to be thrown out. It proved to them they are truly holy individuals fighting for the Lord because they were just “persecuted.” But persecution isn’t telling an asshole to get out of your office, but it’s the best they could come up with.

Evangelicals have been seeking persecution for decades and the longer they go without any, the worse they behave. They don’t want genuine persecution; they just want something allowing them to assert a superior status. By being persecuted they are “true followers of Jesus” and that makes them better than you. They may have less education, but they’re better. They may have less money, but they’re better. They may be more likely to be arrested, divorced or deal with a teen pregnancy—but they’re better. They’re better because they hold special status from God. The worse they feel about themselves the greater their need to dominate others.

So they grab onto anything they can exaggerate and brand persecution—no matter how gross the exaggeration. These white evangelicals are convinced they face more discrimination than any other group in the country, in spite of having one political party entirely devoted to their authoritarian, intolerant agenda. No one goes around “born again bashing” but “gay bashings” still happen with regularity. Yet evangelicals are convinced they are the victims. Police don’t shoot white evangelicals with the slightest provocation but evangelicals are convinced their life is worse than Black Americas.

Because the GOP is the sock puppet of Evangelicalism this attitude dominates the party as well. Republicans and evangelicals are convinced blacks don’t face discrimination but white evangelicals do. PRRI did a survey of 40,000 people and found, “Republicans reject the idea that black people, immigrants, and gay and lesbian Americans face discrimination, while overwhelming majorities of Democrats say they do. White Americans — particularly white Christians — are also generally less likely to believe these groups face significant levels of discrimination…”

Even as they are screaming the most horrid things from their pulpits about gays, trans individuals, immigrants, and Muslims, etc., they are also assuring themselves they are the true victims. When same-sex couples wanted the right to wed they were “persecuting” evangelicals, but when evangelicals wanted to incarcerate, or execute, gays for being gay, it was “religious freedom.” When they preach hate it’s freedom of speech, when people respond to their hate, it’s persecution. Everything is a double standard for them.

The problem with this is it’s self-defeating—but that’s exactly what they want. They want evidence they are not the failures they appear to be. They demand superior status and so the invent a deity who whispers in their ears and points out to them who else to hate and assert dominance over. The quickest way to achieve superior status is to tear others down, not build yourself up. That is the strategy of evangelicalism one trait they share with the radical socialists.

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James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.