Eastern Democracy was based on Imitation, which confesses others are Superior

08:28
uh the the thesis of the book we were
asking
why is it that democratization produced
a politics of grievance and resistance
and resentment and one the simplest
answer
is that uh democratization was imitation
and imitation
uh uh is associated with the confession
that the other is superior you’re
inferior
and of course that produces resentment
but more
particularly if i could give you just
one i think uh
very revealing example
of how this uh how this developed let’s
take hungary as an example
the hungarians took standard model
thatcherit
privatization which uh uh developed in
the west
they tried they applied it in a society
with no private capital
the consequence of this was in a way we
should have seen it ahead of time
was that managers took the assets of
their enterprises
and uh used that to buy the enterprises
for themselves
creating their own private wealth and uh
this was the beginning of the
development of an appalling inequalities
in these uh in east european societies
post-communist societies unjustifiable
inequalities which were resented but not
only that
the the language of liberalism which is
the language of human rights individual
rights
was not able to capture or to articulate
the grievance uh experienced by those
who watched the public patrimony of
their country
put into the pockets of individuals who
were insiders
so the privatization of polypatrimony
was a uh was was experienced as an abuse
as a
10:09
as a as a crime but it couldn’t be
10:12
articulated in the language
10:13
of individual rights of liberalism and
10:16
indeed
10:17
the language of liberalism particularly
10:18
the language of private property rights
10:20
be uh beca banned blessed or justified
10:24
this process which was widely viewed as
10:27
illegitimate and unjustifiable and and
10:30
of course
10:31
personally painful if you are your best
10:33
friend
10:34
you have two friends uh uh they’re very
10:37
equal one day
10:38
in a couple years one of them is riding
10:40
around in limousines
10:41
the other can’t afford a bus ticket one
10:43
is eating at fish restaurants every
10:45
night the other
10:46
can’t afford a piece of fresh fruit that
10:48
produces resentment so the
10:50
the the westernization process created
10:53
traumas in these societies which we
10:55
didn’t foresee and didn’t predict
10:57
but that was the seedbed for this
11:00
populist revolt against the liberal
11:02
order
11:03
now for those of us who grew up during
11:04
the cold war this is going to sound
11:05
passing strange but there are many on
11:07
the right
11:08
in eastern and central europe that
11:10
consider the european union to be the
11:12
new
11:12
soviet union how can that be
11:15
yeah this is a very strange development
11:17
interesting and kind of
11:18
complicated so the first thing is that
11:21
reform elites
11:23
in eastern europe were very eager to uh
11:26
to join in the accession process to the
11:29
european union
11:30
and therefore accepted the post-national
11:32
rhetoric
11:33
of the european union that if you
11:35
remember was really developed to help
11:37
germany
11:38
overcome its nationalistic past so it
11:40
was a very post-national language
11:42
and that um meant that this these reform
11:46
elites
11:47
were leaving behind in their own country
11:50
national symbols
11:51
national traditions they kind of didn’t
11:53
speak about them
11:54
and therefore when resentment uh or when
11:57
when the west entered into crisis
11:59
particularly in 2008
12:01
and the western model seemed to be less
12:04
than it was cracked up to be
12:05
and to present problems um a counter
12:08
elite emerged
12:09
in eastern europe in central eastern
12:11
europe mostly of provincial origins
12:13
who blamed everything that went wrong
12:17
on the fact that they the reform elite
12:19
had abandoned the nation
12:20
had abandoned national traditions so
12:22
this was a uh
12:24
the the accession process was a viewed
12:26
as a
12:27
betrayal of national authenticity
12:31
uh in in addition there’s another very
12:34
interesting factor which is that the
12:35
european union was
12:36
asking all in and hungary become
12:39
democratic
12:39
you must learn how to become democracies
12:42
like we in the west
12:43
at the same time brussels was saying we
12:46
are going to write all of your laws
12:48
so while you’re becoming democratic
12:50
actually your laws are going to be
12:51
written in brussels
12:52
this produced also resentment and a
12:54
feeling that there is something
12:56
uh perverse or uh arrogant about
12:59
brussels obviously brussels is not
13:02
moscow it doesn’t have a boot
13:04
on their throats but it did it does did
13:06
convey
13:07
a sense of uh superiority judgmentalism
13:10
and then i i need to uh emphasize that
13:13
although
13:14
the west did not impose democracy and
13:18
liberalization
13:19
it did judge the progress of
13:22
democratization and liberalization
13:24
and in a way westerners when they
13:26
visited eastern europe i saw this a lot
13:28
i worked there of course in the 90s
13:30
uh it was as if it’s in the way tourists
13:33
visit a zoo you know
13:34
you go to the zoo you look at the
13:36
primates you say well
13:38
uh they’re like us but they’re lit
13:40
missing something they don’t have an
13:42
opposable thumb
13:43
or they don’t have the rule of law so
13:45
you’re kind of saying you’re you’re kind
13:46
of a copy of us but you’re not a very
13:48
good copy
13:49
and probably you’ll never be much good
13:51
so there was a feeling of
13:52
being looked down upon uh which also
13:55
stirred resentment uh and let me just
13:59
say one other thing about
14:00
i think authenticity the sense these
14:02
populists are claiming that they
14:04
are those in touch with the authentic
14:06
tradition which has been
14:08
lost by westernization and
14:10
democratization so
14:12
in 1989 uh it’s clear that the
14:16
nationalists were allied with the
14:19
liberals in the revolt against moscow’s
14:21
empire
14:22
so in poland there was a lot of
14:24
basically trying to get away from russia
14:25
was a very important motivation now they
14:28
didn’t
14:29
speak the language of nationalism at the
14:31
time probably because it was not a
14:32
language welcome in brussels
14:34
but also because this was the period of
14:36
milosevic you know the bloody side of
14:38
nationalism and milosevic was a
14:40
communist communist so a man like
14:42
kaczynski would never
14:43
echo milosevic so there was the language
14:46
of nationalism was subdued
14:49
and when after 2008 2014 the immigration
14:52
crisis
14:53
these populist knees near felt freed
14:56
from having to
14:57
to cover their nationalism with the
14:59
language of liberalism so
15:01
it it it had felt like a kind of cage
15:04
in which they were trapped and they
15:06
broke out of it
15:07
and returned to this kind of nativist uh
15:10
way of feeling which had always been
15:12
there but had been muffled so it was
15:15
that’s part of the why populism seems
15:18
authentic to them
15:19
well let’s extend your metaphor a little
15:22
further if we want to talk about the
15:24
number one primate in the zoo boy this
15:26
is a terrible analogy
15:28
uh should we ask about russia here why
15:30
didn’t i i mean
15:31
the the many of the central and eastern
15:33
european countries did sort of flirt
15:35
with
15:35
liberal democracy for a while before
15:38
adopting illiberal democracy that they
15:40
have today but russia never did
15:41
why why did russia never try it well i
15:44
mean first of all you have to remember
15:45
that in the soviet union
15:46
elites have been have found it very easy
15:49
to
15:50
fake democracy have fake elections
15:52
because they’ve been faking communism
15:53
for at least two decades before
15:55
uh they were sort of dressed up this way
15:58
let’s pretend we’re having to
15:59
have elections these are all rigged of
16:01
course uh
16:02
and uh we know he’s going to win and
16:04
there’s not really any competition
16:06
that was very easy for them to do they
16:07
also in russia by the way
16:10
they they had a communist training told
16:12
them that democracy is just
16:14
a trick by which elites uh deceive their
16:17
publics
16:18
and hold on to power capitalism is just
16:20
really an elite project to
16:22
exploit the working classes and so on so
16:25
they were
16:25
very comfortable with that idea of
16:27
capitalist democracy
16:29
but in the end basically uh russia
16:33
was so injured i mean the main thing to
16:36
understand about the russian
16:37
situation is they lost huge part of
16:40
their territory
16:41
uh a huge number of their population
16:43
they lost their superpower status it was
16:45
a
16:46
it was a huge injury to the self-image
16:48
of russians which was not true in
16:49
eastern europe that they didn’t
16:51
eastern europeans didn’t have this
16:52
imperial swagger this imperial
16:54
claims that they were you know on the
16:57
top of the world
16:58
uh and actually exporting their own
17:01
model
17:01
elsewhere so that was a very strong and
17:04
i think the so the russians for
17:06
a couple decades were pretty happy with
17:08
just faking democracy and
17:10
but in the end as putin came to power
17:13
the resentment of being treated as
17:16
second-class
17:16
citizens as being looked down upon as
17:18
being taught lessons
17:20
by the west boiled over and uh the
17:23
russians
17:24
went from this like faking a democracy
17:28
to a what we call aggressive imitation
17:31
uh that is
17:32
imitation of the west which is designed
17:35
to humiliate the west
17:36
uh which is designed to show that the
17:38
west is hypocritical so for example
17:41
in the speech he gave putin gave
17:44
justifying the annexation of
17:46
crimea he basically imitated word for
17:49
word
17:49
uh western speeches about the
17:51
independence of kosovo
17:53
human rights national self-determination
17:56
and so forth but this was
17:57
very much a kind of imitation meant to
18:00
expose the west’s
18:01
hypocrisy and uh yes i think that’s
18:05
i think that’s a good uh way to
18:07
understand the putin regime which is not
18:09
people often uh act as if putin is a
18:12
great strategist and it is true that
18:13
he’s played
18:14
beforehand well but he’s not a great
18:16
strategist his
18:17
his main aim which is not strategic and
18:20
is not
18:21
helping russia redevelop itself is to
18:24
expose the west as hypocritical that’s
18:26
his
18:26
obsession uh and i think that’s a
18:29
blind alley that’s a dead end maybe a
18:31
blind alley but most days of the week
18:33
it’s not that hard to do
18:34
whoops there’s my little editorial
18:36
comment uh let me try this
18:39
do we have to come to the unhappy
18:40
conclusion therefore
18:42
that liberalism as we understand it is
18:45
really not exportable
18:47
to cultures that are if i can put it
18:49
this way wired differently
18:51
from those of us in the west i think
18:54
one of the big lessons of the 2003 war
18:58
in iraq
18:59
is that uh trying to impose a
19:02
democratic system after a six-week
19:04
military campaign
19:05
in a country where three-quarters of the
19:06
population married their first cousin
19:08
and so
19:08
it’s a completely different social world
19:10
you can’t just you know uh
19:12
impose something like this and that that
19:15
was such a lesson even though
19:16
our uh uh international internationalist
19:21
humanitarian internationals uh went over
19:24
there
19:25
with the uh crude and i think uh
19:28
defenseless uh idea that the only
19:31
legitimate authority with whom we are
19:33
going to deal are going to be authority
19:35
that’s elected
19:36
i think it’s very good to help so the
19:38
listeners to contrast what
19:40
how we behaved in afghanistan and how
19:42
the americans behaved in afghanistan and
19:44
how they behaved
19:45
in iraq and afghanistan we had been
19:47
there for decades we
19:49
knew all the warlords we didn’t say to
19:51
the warlords you must be elected
19:53
before we negotiate with you but in iraq
19:56
the religious leaders the tribal shakes
19:57
were set aside we had this
19:59
fake ideological belief that we have to
20:02
create authority by elections which of
20:04
course is a
20:05
is a uh it is based on historical
20:08
ignorance
20:09
democracy is a tiny spot in human
20:11
history
20:12
it has cute enormously complicated
20:14
preconditions
20:16
it doesn’t we we’re confusing the
20:18
absence of obstacles with the presence
20:20
of preconditions we thought if you get
20:21
rid of saddam
20:22
you’re going to have democracy just like
20:24
if you get rid of communist elite you’re
20:26
going to have democracy
20:27
and this was an illusion it’s a
20:29
democratic ideology that
20:31
idea was uh is is is it
20:34
uh uh ex exposes a kind of disgraceful
20:38
historical ignorance which was uh at the
20:41
basis of much of american foreign policy
20:44
in the post-cold war era we’ve got about
20:46
five minutes to go here so let me try a
20:48
couple more questions with you
20:49
your book now suggests that we’ve
20:51
entered an age of illiberal
20:53
imitation how do you see that
20:56
well it’s a strange uh fact that uh
21:00
president trump seems to be uh uh
21:03
accepting putin’s uh a strategic goal of
21:07
dismantling the european union
21:09
of destroying all of the international
21:11
organizations created by the united
21:12
states after world war
21:14
ii uh and he’s at war not only with the
21:17
wto the who in
21:19
all the world america made seems to be
21:21
uh uh
21:22
the liberal world order seems to be
21:24
something that trump himself
21:26
is uh attacking so that is a a kind of
21:29
imitation of and he’s using the rhetoric
21:32
nationalist rhetoric anti-immigrant
21:33
rhetoric
21:34
of orban and kaczynski uh and the
21:38
anti-western
21:39
uh language and also by the way
21:42
uh he’s the first american president who
21:45
has not said we deserve to rule the
21:47
world because we’re morally superior
21:49
i mean that’s a kind of not a very
21:52
likable uh uh position to take but every
21:55
american president has taken that
21:57
basically
21:58
trump says no no we’re just like
21:59
everyone else uh
22:01
well what i was personally don’t you
22:03
think
22:04
is that again be a tough case for him
22:06
personally to make it
22:07
imitate him personally yes i would say
22:10
but he of course
22:11
his basic uh thing is he resents
22:14
this is sort of the trump world view is
22:16
he resents terribly
22:18
the countries that imitate our uh
22:21
economic productivity
22:22
or or are horning in on our market share
22:25
and so on so
22:26
he’s a person who has claimed i think
22:28
the first american president ever
22:30
to say that america is the greatest
22:33
victim of the americanization
22:34
of the world so that’s part of it but i
22:37
wouldn’t like uh to say a word about
22:40
uh the current crisis we’re in and i’m
22:43
i’ve been asking myself and my colleague
22:45
yvonne krustev
22:46
we’ve been speaking about this as well
22:48
what does the was the current pandemic
22:51
tell us about the trauma of liberalism
22:54
and the the competition between
22:56
liberalism and populism
22:57
uh because in a way uh the
23:01
the previous crises of liberalism 19
23:04
uh the uh 2001 in which it turned out
23:07
that
23:08
defending human rights the whole uh idea
23:11
of defending human rights as the primary
23:12
value
23:13
seemed to give way to the battle against
23:15
terrorism in which rights were viewed as
23:17
a trojan horse for our enemies
23:19
2008 which really showed that our
23:22
economic elite
23:23
i didn’t know what it was doing so that
23:25
also uh really hurt our prestige to uh
23:28
2014
23:29
in which the migrant crisis uh made
23:32
people feel like open borders
23:33
were a threat to western civilization
23:36
and so on all these things have
23:37
combined and and we’re under a
23:40
uh we’re living in a time where those
23:43
three crises have seemed to be
23:45
accumulating in the present one
23:46
and weakening the liberal commitment to
23:50
globalization and so forth
23:51
openness uh at the same time
23:54
every political order has its own
23:57
disorders and populism
23:59
is producing its own discontents and
24:01
these populist leaders
24:02
bolsonaro trump authoritarians like
24:05
putin
24:06
strangely enough they are very afraid of
24:09
this crisis
24:10
they are not you know taking hold of it
24:12
and using it
24:13
to uh to uh uh to their benefit
24:16
uh there’s a way in which this kind of
24:19
crisis has
24:20
uh had is is challenging any kind of
24:23
regime
24:24
the archaeon regimes we saw that in
24:25
china where they’re hiding evidence
24:27
we see it in the west some some
24:29
democratic societies have done well some
24:31
authoritarian societies have done okay
24:33
it doesn’t seem to fit well into our
24:36
ideological
24:37
uh polarities so i think that’s and the
24:39
way i would put this in the end the
24:40
question open to us
24:42
is now in the future is is the pandemic
24:45
going to
24:46
increase our reliance on science and
24:49
rationality
24:50
belief in fact consciousness or is it
24:53
going to
24:54
uh create a uh is the panic
24:57
of and fear going to lead to more
25:00
conspiracy theories
25:01
uh and more xenophobia uh uh
25:04
migrant bashing uh so we’re on a knife’s
25:08
edge
25:08
i think and the the fate of the liberal
25:11
model and the liberal commitment to
25:13
rational decision making
25:14
uh and uh the uh uh
25:17
and its competition with these populist
25:21
myth makers
25:22
sloganeers who are always trying to sell
25:24
something has not been decided
25:26
i definitely do not think the populists
25:29
have the upper hand
25:30
i think the populists are also
25:32
struggling and they’re
25:33
not finding this an easy crisis to deal
25:36
with
25:36
so although i don’t believe that the
25:39
west is covering itself with glory
25:41
either
25:42
uh the whale and liberal regimes are
25:44
also struggling because
25:46
uh the the disease is hard to understand
25:49
and it’s hard to master
25:50
i i definitely don’t believe that uh the
25:54
current crisis is going to
25:56
really decide the question in favor of
26:00
of the populists well why don’t i
26:02
freelance then and just uh re-title your
26:05
book the light that’s failed
26:07
so far and we’ll leave it there uh
26:10
i want to thank you very much professor
26:11
holmes for joining us on tvo tonight
26:13
congratulations again on your gelber
26:15
prize
26:15
uh for anybody who wants to pick it up
26:17
yvonne krastieff and stephen holmes
26:18
collaborated on the light
26:20
that failed are reckoning take good care
26:22
and thanks for joining us on tvo tonight
26:25
thank you steve
26:30
the agenda with steve pakin is brought
26:32
to you by the chartered professional
26:33
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26:35
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26:41
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26:45
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you
26:49

America’s Parasite

Frankly, Trump doesn’t give a damn.

It’s funny that Donald Trump doesn’t like a movie about con artists who invade an elegant house and wreak chaos.

He should empathize with parasites.

No doubt the president is a movie buff. He has been known to call advisers in the wee hours to plan movie nights at the White House for films he wants to see, like “Joker.” And, in an early sign of his affinity for tyrants, he told Playboy in 1990 that his role model was Louis B. Mayer running MGM in the ’30s.

Trump interrupted his usual rally rant Thursday night to bash the Oscars, saying: “And the winner is a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We got enough problems with South Korea with trade. On top of it, they give them the best movie of the year?”

He added: “Can we get ‘Gone With the Wind’ back, please? ‘Sunset Boulevard.’ So many great movies. The winner is from South Korea. I thought it was best foreign film, right? Best foreign movie. No. Did this ever happen before? And then you have Brad Pitt. I was never a big fan of his. He got upset. A little wise guy statement. A little wise guy. He’s a little wise guy.” (When he accepted his Oscar, Pitt complained that the Senate did not let John Bolton testify.)

Our president is nostalgic for a movie romanticizing slavery and a movie about an aging diva swanning maniacally around a mansion, living in a vanished past. (I am big. It’s the party that got small.)

Trump’s xenophobic movie criticism, combined with his mocking pronunciation of the name “Buttigieg,” harked back to the days when George H.W. Bush ran in 1988 wrapped in the flag, saying he was on “the American side,” while his celebrity endorser Loretta Lynn complained that she couldn’t even pronounce the name Dukakis. Too foreign-sounding.

It also echoed a segment on Laura Ingraham’s show, in which it was suggested that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an American war hero who immigrated from Ukraine, might be guilty of espionage.

And in his Vegas rally on Friday, Trump was again calling his predecessor “Barack Hussein Obama.”

This was another bad, crazy week trapped in Trump’s psychopathology. No sooner was the president acquitted than he put scare quotes around the words justice and Justice Department and sought to rewrite the narrative of the Mueller report, whose author warned that Russia was going to try to meddle in the U.S. election again.

Philip Rucker wrote in The Washington Post: “As his re-election campaign intensifies, Trump is using the powers of his office to manipulate the facts and settle the score. Advisers say the president is determined to protect his associates ensnared in the expansive Russia investigation, punish the prosecutors and investigators he believes betrayed him, and convince the public that the probe was exactly as he sees it: an illegal witch hunt.”

Trump, who moved from a Fifth Avenue penthouse to the White House, is sinking deeper into his poor-little-me complex, convinced that he is being persecuted.

His darker sense of grievance converges with a neon grandiosity. Trump is totally uncontrolled now. Most presidents worry about the seaminess of pardons and wait until the end. Trump is going full throttle on pardoning his pals and pals of his pals in an election year.

The Republicans have shown they are too scared to stop him and won’t. The Democrats want to stop him but can’t. (Although if they win the Senate back, Democrats will probably end up impeaching him again and this time have plenty of witnesses.)

Now, in a frightening new twist, the president is angry at his own intelligence team for trying to protect the national interest. He would rather hide actual intelligence from Congress than have Adam Schiff know something that Trump thinks would make him look bad politically.

As The Times reported, the president’s intelligence officials warned House lawmakers in a briefing that Russia was once more intent on trespassing on our election to help Trump, intent on interfering in both the Democratic primaries and the general. (They also told Bernie Sanders that the Russians were trying to help his campaign.)

News of the House briefing caused another Vesuvian eruption from the mercurial president, who is hypersensitive to any suggestion that he isn’t winning all on his own.

The Times story said that “the president berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place,” especially because his nemesis Schiff was present.

A few days ago, the president replaced Maguire as acting director with Richard Grenell, the sycophantic ambassador to Germany whose qualifications for overseeing the nation’s 17 spy agencies include being a former Fox News commentator and Trump superfan who boasts a gold-level card with the Trump Organization.

As the Democrats sputter and spat and fight over federal giveaways and N.D.A.s, the unfettered president is overturning the rule of law and stuffing the agencies with toadies.

Nothing is in the national interest or public good. Everything is in the greater service of the Trump cult of personality.

In “Gone With the Wind,” Atlanta burned to the ground. In Trump’s version, Washington is aflame.

Trump: I don’t agree with Jesus @ National Prayer Breakfast

The Source of Trump’s Black Hole:

John Fea posted a Lawrence O’Donnell video that names the source of Trump’s black hole — his incomprehension of “love“.

O’Donnell was responding to events at the National Prayer Breakfast, which are listed below:

National Prayer Breakfast: Feb. 6, 2020

Arthur Brooks: America’s crisis of contempt

Arthur C. Brooks’s remarks, as prepared, for the National Prayer Breakfast keynote address on Thursday at the Washington Hilton.

Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mrs. Pence, Speaker Pelosi, heads of state, members of Congress and honored guests: Thank you for inviting me here today. I am deeply honored and grateful to address the National Prayer Breakfast.

As you have heard, I am not a priest or minister. I am a social scientist and a university professor. But most importantly, I am a follower of Jesus, who taught each of us to love God and to love each other.

I am here today to talk about what I believe is the biggest crisis facing our nation — and many other nations — today. This is the crisis of contempt — the polarization that is tearing our society apart. But if I do my job in the next few minutes, I promise I won’t depress you. On the contrary, I will show you why I believe that within this crisis resides the best opportunity we have ever had, as people of faith, to lift our nations up and bring them together.

As leaders, you all know that when there is an old problem, the solution never comes from thinking harder in the old ways; we have to think differently — we need an epiphany. This is true with societal problems and private problems.

Here’s an example of the latter: I have three kids, and two are still teenagers. (Pray for me.) Two years ago, when my middle son, Carlos, was a senior in high school, my wife, Ester, and I were having a rough parent-teacher conference. It was his grades. This was an old problem which we had tried everything to solve, but we were getting nowhere. We left the conference in grim silence and got in the car. Ester finally broke the silence.

“We need to see this problem in a whole new way,” she said.

“I’m all ears, sweetheart,” I answered, “because I’m at the end of my rope.”

“At least we know he’s not cheating,” she said.

See, that’s thinking differently! And that’s the spirit in which I want to address the problem of political contempt.

(By the way, in case you’re wondering what happened to Carlos: Currently he’s in Parris Island, S.C., at boot camp for the U.S. Marine Corps. We couldn’t be prouder of him.)

To start us on a path of new thinking to our cultural crisis, I want to turn to the words of the ultimate original thinker, history’s greatest social entrepreneur, and as a Catholic, my personal Lord and Savior, Jesus. Here’s what he said, as recorded in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, chapter 5, verse 43-45: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

Love your enemies! Now that is thinking differently. It changed the world starting 2,000 years ago, and it is as subversive and counterintuitive today as it was then. But the devil’s in the details. How do we do it in a country and world roiled by political hatred and differences that we can’t seem to bridge?

First, we need to make it personal. I remember when it became personal for me.

I give about 150 speeches a year and talk to all kinds of audiences: conservative, progressive, believers, atheists and everything in between. I was speaking one afternoon some years ago to a large group of politically conservative activists. Arriving early to the event, I looked at the program and realized I was the only non-politician on the program.

At first I thought, “This is a mistake.” But then I remembered that there are no mistakes — only opportunities — and started thinking about what I could say that would be completely different than the politicians. The crowd was really fired up; the politicians were getting huge amounts of applause. When it was my turn to speak, in the middle of my speech, here’s more or less what I said:

“My friends, you’ve heard a lot today that you’ve agreed with — and well you should. You’ve also heard a lot about the other side — political liberals — and how they are wrong. But I want to ask you to remember something: Political liberals are not stupid, and they’re not evil. They are simply Americans who disagree with you about public policy. And if you want to persuade them — which should be your goal — remember that no one has ever been insulted into agreement. You can only persuade with love.”

It was not an applause line.

After the speech, a woman in the audience came up to me, and she was clearly none too happy with my comments. “You’re wrong,” she told me. “Liberals are stupid and evil.”

At that moment, my thoughts went to … Seattle. That’s my hometown. While my own politics are conservative, Seattle is arguably the most politically liberal place in the United States. My father was a college professor; my mother was an artist. Professors and artists in Seattle … what do you think their politics were?

That lady after my speech wasn’t trying to hurt me. But when she said that liberals are stupid and evil, she was talking about my parents. I may have disagreed with my parents politically, but I can tell you they were neither stupid nor evil. They were good, Christian people, who raised me to follow Jesus. They also taught me to think for myself — which I did, at great inconvenience to them.

Political polarization was personal for me that day, and I want to be personal to you, too. So let me ask you a question: How many of you love someone with whom you disagree politically?

Are you comfortable hearing someone on your own side insult that person?

This reminds me of a lesson my father taught me, about moral courage. In a free society where you don’t fear being locked up for our opinions, true moral courage isn’t standing up to the people with whom you disagree. It’s standing up to the people with whom you agree — on behalf of those with whom you disagree. Are you strong enough to do that? That, I believe, is one way we can live up to Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies.

Let’s take a step back now and diagnose the problem a little bit.

Some people blame our politicians, but that’s too easy. It’s us, not them — I am guilty. And frankly, I know many politicians, many of them here today, who want a solution to this problem every bit as much as I do.

What is leading us to this dark place that we don’t like?

The problem is what psychologists call contempt. In the words of the 19th-century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, contempt is “the unsullied conviction of the worthlessness of another.” In politics today, we treat each other as worthless, which is why our fights are so bitter and cooperation feels nearly impossible.

The world’s leading expert on marital reconciliation is Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist at the University of Washington. Over the course of his work, Dr. Gottman has studied thousands of married couples. After watching a couple interact for just one hour, he can predict with 94 percent accuracy whether the couple will divorce within three years.

How can he tell? It’s not from the anger that the couples express. As I already told you, anger doesn’t predict separation or divorce. The biggest warning signs, he explains, are indicators of contempt. These include sarcasm, sneering, hostile humor and — worst of all — eye-rolling. These little acts effectively say, “You are worthless” to the one person a spouse should love more than any other. Want to see if a couple will end up in divorce court? Watch them discuss a contentious topic and see if either partner rolls his or her eyes.

Why do they do that? The answer is that it’s a habit, and that habit is tearing their marriage apart. And like a couple on the rocks, in politics today, we have a contempt habit. Don’t believe it? Turn on prime-time cable TV and watch how they talk. Look at Twitter — if you dare. Listen to yourself talking about a politician you don’t like. We are guilty of contempt.

It’s a habit, and it’s tearing our society apart.

How do we break the habit of contempt? Even more, how do we turn the contempt people show us into an opportunity to follow the teachings of Jesus, to love our enemies?

To achieve these things, I’m going to suggest three homework assignments.

  1. First: Ask God to give you the strength to do this hard thing — to go against human nature, to follow Jesus’ teaching and love your enemies. Ask God to remove political contempt from your heart. In your weakest moments, maybe even ask Him to help you fake it!
  2. Second: Make a commitment to another person to reject contempt. Of course you will disagree with others — that’s part of democracy. It is right and good, and part of the competition of ideas. But commit to doing it without contempt and ask someone to hold you accountable to love your enemies.
  3. Third: Go out looking for contempt, so you have the opportunity to answer it with love. I know that sounds crazy, to go looking for something so bad. But for leaders, contempt isn’t like the flu. It’s an opportunity to share your values and change our world, which is what leadership is all about, isn’t it?

I’m asking you to be kind of like a missionary. I’ve had missionaries on both sides of my family, and they are amazing entrepreneurs. They don’t go out looking for people who already agree with them, because that’s not where they are needed — they go to the dark places to bring light. It’s hard work, and there’s lots of rejection involved. (Here are words that have never been uttered: “Oh good, there are missionaries on the porch.”) But it’s the most joyful type of work, isn’t it?

I’m calling each one of you to be missionaries for love in the face of contempt. If you don’t see enough of it, you’re in an echo chamber and need a wider circle of friends — people who disagree with you. Hey, if you want a full blast of contempt within 20 seconds, go on social media! But run toward that darkness, and bring your light.

My sisters and brothers, when you leave the National Prayer Breakfast today and go back to your lives and jobs, you will be back in a world where there is a lot of contempt. That is your opportunity. So I want you to imagine that there is a sign over the exit as you leave this room. It’s a sign I’ve seen over the doors of churches — not the doors to enter, but rather the doors to leave the church. Here’s what it says:

You are now entering mission territory.

If you see the world outside this room as mission territory, we might just mark this day, Feb. 6, 2020, at the National Prayer Breakfast, as the point at which our national healing begins.

God bless you, and God bless America.

President Trump: National Prayer Breakfast, Feb 6, 2020

Washington Hilton
Washington, D.C.

9:11 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Well, thank you very much.  I’m working very hard for you, I will tell you.  (Laughter.)  And sometimes you don’t make it easy, and I certainly don’t make it easy on you.  (Laughter.)  And I will continue that tradition, if I might, this morning.  And, Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you.  (Laughter.)  But I don’t know if Arthur is going to like what I’m going to say.  (Laughter.)  But I love listening to you.  It’s really great.  Thank you very much.

And thank you, congressmen, for the great job you’ve been doing and the relationship and the help.  You’re a warrior.  Thank you very much.  And, Kevin, you’re a warrior.  Thank you.  The job you’ve done is incredible.  It wasn’t supposed to be that way.  A lot of extra work.  Unnecessary work.

It’s wonderful to be with the thousands of religious believers for the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast.  I’ve been here from the first one, where I had the privilege of being asked.  I’ve been with you for a long time before then.  And we’ve made tremendous progress.  Tremendous progress.  You know what we’ve done.  I don’t think anybody has done more than all of us together during these last three years.  And it’s been my honor.

But this morning, we come together as one nation, blessed to live in freedom and grateful to worship in peace.  As everybody knows, my family, our great country, and your President, have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people.  They have done everything possible to destroy us, and by so doing, very badly hurt our nationThey know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.

Weeks ago, and again yesterday, courageous Republican politicians and leaders had the wisdom, the fortitude, and strength to do what everyone knows was right.  I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.  Nor do I like people who say, “I pray for you,” when they know that that’s not so.

So many people have been hurt, and we can’t let that go on.  And I’ll be discussing that a little bit later at the White House.

We’re joined today by two people whose faith inspires us all: our amazing, wonderful friend, Vice President Mike Pence — (applause) — and his wonderful wife, Karen.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.

Thank you to all of our great political leaders out there — so many that I’ve been working with so hard over the last three years.  And we’ve accomplished so much.  And to members of my Cabinet in attendance — Secretary Mike Pompeo, Mark Esper, David Bernhardt — (applause) — Gene Scalia, Alex Azar, Ben Carson, Dan Brouillette, Betsy DeVos, Robert Wilke, and Administrator Jovita Carranza.

Joining us — (applause) — for this cherished tradition are a lot of friends in the audience.  And many, really, have become friends.  They are political leaders.  They’ve become great friends.  That’s all I get to meet anymore.  (Laughter.)  That and the enemies and the allies.  And we have them all.  We have allies.  We have enemies.  Sometimes the allies are enemies, but we just don’t know it.  (Laughter.)  But we’re changing all that.  But thank you all, and thank you all for being here.

I also want to welcome foreign dignitaries from more than 140 countries.  That’s something.  (Applause.)  That’s something.  Everyone here today is united by a shared conviction.  We know that our nation is stronger, our future is brighter, and our joy is greater when we turn to God and ask him to shed his grace on our lives.

On Tuesday, I addressed Congress on the state of the Union and the great American comeback.  That’s what it is.  (Applause.)  Our country has never done better than it is doing right now.  Our economy is the strongest it has ever been.  And for those of you that are interested in stocks, it looks like the stock market will be way up again today.

According to the latest Gallup poll that just came out a little while ago, a few minutes ago, American satisfaction is at the highest level ever recorded.  Can you imagine?  And that’s from Gallup — no friend of mine.  (Applause.)  Ninety percent of Americans say they are satisfied with their personal lives.  How about that?  Isn’t that something?  Just came out today.  (Applause.)  They must have known I was going to be here.  (Laughter.)

In everything we do, we are creating a culture that protects freedom, and that includes religious freedom.  (Applause.)

As I said on Tuesday in the House Chamber, “In America, we don’t punish prayer.  We don’t tear down crosses.  We don’t ban symbols of faith.  We don’t muzzle preachers.”  We don’t muzzle pastors.  “In America, we celebrate faith, we cherish religion, we lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the Glory of God.”  (Applause.)

So much of the greatness we have achieved, the mysteries we’ve unlocked, and the wonders we’ve built, the challenges we’ve met, and the incredible heights that we’ve reached has come from the faith of our families and the prayers of our people.

Before America declared independence, patriots in all 13 colonies came together in days of fasting and prayer.  In the bitter cold of Valley Forge, Washington and his men had no food, no supplies, and very little chance of victory.  It reminded me a little bit of 2016.  We had very little chance of victory.  (Laughter.)  Except for the people in this room and some others believed we were going to win.  I believed we were going to win.  But what they did have was have an unwavering belief that God was with them.  I believe that too. God is with the people in this room.

Before a single skyscraper rose up in New York City, thousands of poor American families donated all they could to build the magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  (Applause.)
When Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon, he said, “Houston, I would like to request a few moments of silence.”  Then, he read from the Bible.  (Applause.)

At every stage, our nation’s long march for civil rights was inspired, sustained, and uplifted by faith, prayer, and devotion of religious believers.

To protect faith communities, I have taken historic action to defend religious liberty, including the constitutional right to pray in public schools.  (Applause.)

We can also talk about the Johnson Amendment.  We can talk about Mexico City Policy.  We’ve done a lot.  But I also recently took executive action to stop taxpayer dollars from going to colleges and universities that spread the poison of anti-Semitism and bad things about Christianity.  (Applause.)

We are upholding the sanctity of life — sanctity of life.  (Applause.)  And we are doing that like nobody has ever done it before from this position.  You better get out and vote on November 3rd — (laughter) — because you have a lot of people out there that aren’t liking what we’re doing.

And we’re pursuing medical breakthroughs to save premature babies because every child is a sacred gift from God.  (Applause.)

Together, we are building the world’s most prosperous and inclusive society.  We are lifting up citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed.  We are bringing hope to forgotten communities.  And more Americans are working today — 160 million.  A little bit short.  Just a little bit.  One hundred and sixty million.  We’ve never been even close — than ever before.  Think of it: More Americans are working today — almost 160 million — than ever before.  Our unemployment numbers are the best in the history of our country.  (Applause.)

A more specific number and numbers that you hear me say, if you listen: African American, Asian American, Hispanic American — the best unemployment numbers in the history of our country.  Women — best in 71 years.  Sorry.  We’ll have you there soon.  Soon, it will be “historic.”  I have to apologize to the women; it’s only 71 years.

But the best unemployment numbers, we have — we’re doing things that nobody thought possible.  We’re setting records that nobody thought achievable.

And to give former prisoners a second chance at life, which so many people in this room have worked on for so long — (applause) — we passed criminal justice reform into law, and I signed it nine months ago.

And it’s proving more and more that America is indeed a nation that believes in redemption.  What’s happened with prisoners is a miracle.  Prisoners would come out and nobody would give them a job.  And oftentimes, most of the time — almost all of the time — they’d go back into prison.  They’d get caught doing something bad.  They had no money.  They had no hope.  They had no job.  Now they’re coming out into a booming economy.  And employers are hiring them, and to a certain extent, maybe because they’re having a hard time getting people.

First time in our country’s history, actually, we’re running out of people.  We have plants moving in by the thousands.  We have car companies coming from Japan and from Germany, from lots of other places, and we need people.  And employers are hiring prisoners, and they would have never done it, except for what we’ve done with criminal justice reform.  But even before that, because the economy has become so powerful.

And these prisoners have done an incredible job.  The employers are saying, “Why didn’t I do this 20 years ago?”

So it’s an incredible thing what’s happening to people that are given a second chance, and sometimes a third chance, in all fairness.  And it’s something that everybody in this room should be very proud about, because you’ve always felt that way long before it was fashionable.  So I want to thank you for that.  (Applause.)

As we revive our economy, we are also renewing our national spirit.  Today we proudly proclaim that faith is alive and well and thriving in America.  And we’re going to keep it that way.  Nobody will have it changed.  (Applause.)   It won’t happen.  As long as I’m here, it will never, ever happen.  (Applause.)

Something which wasn’t done nearly enough — I could almost say wasn’t done at all — we are standing up for persecuted Christians and religious minorities all around the world — (applause) — like nobody has ever done.

Last year, at the United Nations, I was honored to be the first President to host a meeting of religious freedom.  It was based all on religious freedom.  That was the first meeting of its kind ever held at the United Nations.  There I called upon all nations to combat the terrible injustice of religious persecution.  And people listened.

And countries that we give billions of dollars to, they listened because they had to listen.  (Laughter.)  It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it?  (Laughter.)  That nobody ever played that game before.  (Laughter.)

Weeks ago, a 21-year-old woman, who goes by the name of Mary, was seized and imprisoned in Iran because she converted to Christianity and shared the Gospel with others.

In Venezuela, the dictator Maduro has arrested church leaders.  At the State of the Union, I was honored to host the true and legitimate President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.  (Applause.)  Good man.  I told him that all Americans stand with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom.

Yesterday, our administration launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance, the first-ever alliance devoted to promoting religious liberty.  It was something.  Really something.  (Applause.)

More than 25 countries have already joined our campaign.  I want to thank Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with Ambassador Sam Brownback, who are both here this morning, for leading this historic initiative.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Mike.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

All of us here today reaffirm these timeless truths: Faith keeps us free.  Prayer makes us strong.  And God alone is the author of life and the giver of grace.  (Applause.)

With us this morning is a pastor who embodies the miracle of faith and the power of prayer: Reverend Gerald Toussaint from Louisiana.  Reverend Toussaint is an Army veteran, a truck driver, and a pastor.  He leads the same church that his father led, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, which has been a pillar of the community for more than 140 years.

Last year, Mount Pleasant was one of three African American churches in Louisiana that was destroyed in a fire set by a wicked, hate-filled arsonist.

Yet, in the wake of such shocking evil, America witnessed the unshakable unity, devotion, and spirit of Reverend Toussaint and his entire highly spirited, beautiful congregation.  Families quickly came together in prayer.  Soon, people from all across Louisiana came to help any way they could.  Americans in all 50 states and 20 different countries heard about it and they donated more than $2 million to help rebuild Mount Pleasant — (applause) — and the other two churches that were (inaudible).

On Easter Sunday, just days after he lost his church, Reverend Toussaint preached about what it all meant.  What does it mean?  “The Easter season,” he said, “is a fitting metaphor for recent events.  It was dark the day that Jesus was crucified.  It was dark [at] night when they burned our church.  What has happened since is like a resurrection.”  Old things are gone, but it’s going to be a brand-new start, and it’s going to be better than ever, Reverend.  (Applause.)  Better than ever.  Fantastic.

And today, just 10 months later, the ground is cleared.  Careful plans have been made, and they’re beautiful plans.  And construction is about to begin on the new and very, very magnificent Mount Pleasant Church.  Congratulations.  (Applause.)

You know, the Reverend says that we’re rebuilding because that’s what Jesus does.  He rebuilds, he lives, and he breathes.  It’s what he does.  He wants it to be rebuilt.  It was torn apart, but it’s being rebuilt again, and I’ll bet you it will indeed be bigger, better, and nicer than before.  What do you think, Reverend?  Yes?  And it’s going to have your mark on it.  It did have and now it will have even great.  And your father is looking down on you right now and he’s very, very proud of the job that you’ve done.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Very much inspire us, Reverend.  Thank you.

Well, I want to just thank everybody.  This has been very special.  Tell your congregation that — and all of your people — that we have 350 million people in our country.  They’re proud Americans.  And they respect what we’re doing, even those that you don’t think so much like us, respect us, want to be with us.  They’re respecting our fight, and we are in a fight.

Religion in this country and religion all over the world — certain religions in particular — are under siege.  We won’t let that happen.  We are going to protect our religions.  We are going to protect Christianity.  We are going to protect our great ministers and pastors and rabbis and all of the people that we so cherish and that we so respect.

America is eternally in the debt of our nation’s African American churches all throughout this country.  That’s why it’s so fitting and so — it’s one of the reasons we chose this particular church in Louisiana.  For generations, they bravely fought for justice and lifted up the conscience of our nation.  And we’re grateful beyond any measure.

But I can say that going beyond that, we’re grateful to the people in this room for the love they show to religion.  Not one religion, but many religions.  They are brave.  They are brilliant.  They are fighters.  They like people.  And sometimes they hate people.  I’m sorry.  I apologize.  I’m trying to learn.  (Laughter.)  It’s not easy.  It’s not easy.  (Applause.)
When they impeach you for nothing, then you’re supposed to like them?  It’s not easy, folks.  (Laughter.)  I do my best.

But I’ll tell you what we are doing: We’re restoring hope and spreading faith.  We’re helping citizens of every background take part in the great rebuilding of our nation.  We’re declaring that America will always shine as a land of liberty and light unto all nations of the world.  We want every nation to look up to us like they are right now.  We were not a respected nation just a few years ago.  We had lost our way.  Our country is respected again by everybody.  (Applause.)

This morning, let us ask Father in Heaven to guide our steps, protect our children, and bless our families.  And with all of our heart, let us forever embrace the eternal truth that every child is made equal by the hand of Almighty God.

Thank you.  God Bless you.  And God bless America.  Thank you all very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END

 

Source: whitehouse.gov

The Nihilist in Chief

How our president and our mass shooters are connected to the same dark psychic forces.

What links Donald Trump to the men who massacred innocents in El Paso and Dayton this past weekend? Note that I said both men: the one with the white-nationalist manifesto and the one with some kind of atheist-socialist politics; the one whose ranting about a “Hispanic invasion” echoed Trump’s own rhetoric and the one who was anti-Trump and also apparently the lead singer in a “pornogrind” band.

Bringing up their differing worldviews can be a way for Trump-supporting or anti-anti-Trump conservatives to diminish or dismiss the president’s connection to these shootings. That’s not what I’m doing. I think Trump is deeply connected to what happened last weekend, deeply connected to both massacres. Not because his immigration rhetoric drove the El Paso shooter to mass murder in some direct and simple way; life and radicalism and violence are all more complicated than that. But because Trump participates in the general cultural miasma that generates mass shooters, and having a participant as president makes the problem worse.

The president’s bigoted rhetoric is obviously part of this. Marianne Williamson put it best, in the last Democratic debate: There really is a dark psychic force generated by Trump’s political approach, which from its birther beginnings has consistently encouraged and fed on a fevered and paranoid form of right-wing politics, and dissolved quarantines around toxic and dehumanizing ideas. And the possibility that Trump’s zest for demonization can feed a demonic element in the wider culture is something the many religious people who voted for the president should be especially willing to consider.

But the connection between the president and the young men with guns extends beyond Trump’s race-baiting to encompass a more essential feature of his public self — which is not the rhetoric or ideology that he deploys, but the obvious moral vacuum, the profound spiritual black hole, that lies beneath his persona and career.

Here I would dissent, mildly, from the desire to tell a mostly ideological story in the aftermath of El Paso, and declare war on “white nationalism” — a war the left wants because it has decided that all conservatism can be reduced to white supremacy, and the right wants as a way of rebutting and rejecting that reductionism.

By all means disable 8Chan and give the F.B.I. new marching orders; by all means condemn racism more vigorously than this compromised president can do. But recognize we’re dealing with a pattern of mass shootings, encompassing both the weekend’s horrors, where the personal commonalities between the shooters are clearly more important than the political ones. Which suggests that the white nationalism of internet failsons is like the allegiance to an imaginary caliphate that motivated the terrorists whose depredations helped get Trump elected in the first place. It’s often just a carapace, a flag of convenience, a performance for the vast TV-and-online audience that now attends these grisly spectacles, with a malignant narcissism and nihilism underneath.

And this is what really links Trump to all these empty male killers, white nationalists and pornogrind singers alike. Like them he is a creature of our late-modern anti-culture, our internet-accelerated dissolution of normal human bonds. Like them he plainly believes in nothing but his ego, his vanity, his sense of spite and grievance, and the self he sees reflected in the mirror of television, mass media, online.

Because he is rich and famous and powerful, he can get that attention with a tweet about his enemies, and then experience the rush of a cable-news segment about him. He doesn’t need to plot some great crime to lead the news; he just has to run for president. But having him as president — having him as a political exemplar for his party, and a cultural exemplar of manhood for his supporters and opponents both — is a constant ratification of the idea that we exist as celebrities or influencers or we don’t exist at all, and that our common life is essentially a form of reality television where it doesn’t matter if you’re the heel or hero so long as you’re the star.

One recurring question taken up in this column is whether something good might come out of the Trump era. I keep returning to this issue because unlike many conservatives who opposed him in 2016, I actually agree with, or am sympathetic toward, versions of ideas that Trump has championed — the idea of a

  • more populist and worker-friendly conservative economics, the idea of a
  • foreign policy with a more realpolitik and anti-interventionist spirit, the idea that
  • decelerating low-skilled immigration would benefit the common good, the idea that
  • our meritocratic, faux-cosmopolitan elite has badly misgoverned the republic.

But to take this view, and to reject the liberal claim that any adaptation to populism only does the devil’s work, imposes a special obligation to recognize the profound emptiness at the heart of Trump himself. It’s not as if you could carve away his race-baiting and discover a healthier populism instead, or analyze him the way you might analyze his more complex antecedents, a Richard Nixon or a Ross Perot. To analyze Trump is to discover only bottomless appetite and need, and to carve at him is like carving at an online troll: The only thing to discover is the void.

So in trying to construct a new conservatism on the ideological outline of Trumpism, you have to be aware that you’re building around a sinkhole and that your building might fall in.

The same goes for any conservative response to the specific riddle of mass shootings. Cultural conservatives get a lot of grief when they respond to these massacres by citing moral and spiritual issues, rather than leaping straight to gun policy (or in this case, racist ideology). But to look at the trend in these massacres, the spikes of narcissistic acting-out in a time of generally-declining violence, the shared bravado and nihilism driving shooters of many different ideological persuasions, is to necessarily encounter a moral and spiritual problem, not just a technocratic one.

But the dilemma that conservatives have to confront is that you can chase this cultural problem all the way down to its source in lonely egomania and alienated narcissism, and you’ll still find Donald Trump’s face staring back to you.

Kavanaugh Hearings on TV Offer Riveting Drama to a Captive Nation

Later came a Judge Kavanaugh who bore little resemblance to the milquetoast man on Fox News three nights earlier. Indignant and defiant, nostrils flaring, the judge unleashed a torrent of pain and grievance, at times unable to speak as he cried in front of a national audience.

.. Not all C-Span callers were sympathetic to Dr. Blasey. “She talks like she was raped,” said Sherry, a Republican in California who said she was sexually attacked at 17. “I’m going, ‘Was she raped or not?’ I don’t understand why she’s crying now.”

.. On the networks, commentators spoke of the day in historic terms. “Fifty years from now, people are going to be playing that exchange,” the CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, singling out Dr. Blasey’s pained recollection of the boys who, she said, laughed as she was assaulted.

.. “This was extremely emotional, extremely raw, extremely credible,” Chris Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” host, said of Dr. Blasey’s testimonial. Before lunchtime, he was calling the hearing “a disaster for the Republicans,” and Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News commentator who speaks occasionally with Mr. Trump, said, “The president cannot be happy with this.”

By evening, though, after Judge Kavanaugh’s tear-choked appearance, Mr. Wallace said the judge had delivered “exactly what a lot of people were hoping for.”

A Christian Nationalist Blitz

the mission has little to do with what most Americans would call religious freedom. This is just the latest attempt by religious extremists to use the coercive powers of government to secure a privileged position in society for their version of Christianity.

.. The idea behind Project Blitz is to overwhelm state legislatures with bills based on centrally manufactured legislation. “It’s kind of like whack-a-mole for the other side; it’ll drive ‘em crazy that they’ll have to divide their resources out in opposing this,” David Barton

.. more than 70 bills before state legislatures appear to be based on Project Blitz templates or have similar objectives.

..  allows adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate on the basis of their own religious beliefs. Others, such as a Minnesota bill that would allow public schools to post “In God We Trust” signs on their walls

.. The first category consists of symbolic gestures, like resolutions to emblazon the motto “In God We Trust” on as many moving objects as possible (like, say, police cars).

Critics of such symbolic gestures often argue that they act as gateways to more extensive forms of state involvement in religion. It turns out that the Christian right agrees with them.

“They’re going to be things that people yell at, but they will help move the ball down the court,” Mr. Barton said in the conference call.

A Former Neo-Nazi Explains Why Hate Drew Him In — And How He Got Out

you write that people don’t get into these kinds of groups or other kinds of terrorist groups so much because of ideology, but out of a personal need for community, identity, some kind of fulfillment. You didn’t come from a broken or abusive home. Where do you think your need came from?

PICCIOLINI: I felt abandoned by my parents, not understanding at that age that my parents as immigrants had to work seven days a week, 14 hours a day to survive in a foreign country. And as a young person, I just wondered what I had done to push them away and why they weren’t there. And I went in search of a new family. But you’re right. I don’t believe that ideology nor dogma are what drive people to extremism. I believe it’s a broken search for three very fundamental human needs of identity, community and purpose.

.. It was really the driving beats and the edginess of – and the angst that I was able to release through the music that was very appealing to me. I had already been a part of the punk rock subculture so I was already searching for something to express my anger. And when I heard Skrewdriver, when I heard this music that was coming over from England at the time, it allowed me to be angry because the lyrics gave me license to do that. And I very effectively then used lyrics myself when I started one of America’s first white-power bands to both recruit young people, encourage them into acts of violence and speak to the vulnerabilities and the grievances that they were feeling so that I could draw them in with promises of paradise even through my lyrics.

DAVIES: But when you were getting into this and you were hearing that Jews and blacks and Mexicans were the enemy, I mean, to what extent did that square with any of your own experience or opinions?

PICCIOLINI: Well, it didn’t start that way. It started out with Clark and several of the older skinheads in this group appealing to my sense of pride of being European, of being Italian. And then it would move on to instilling fear that I would lose that pride and that somebody would take that away from me if I wasn’t careful. And then it went on to name specific groups through conspiracy theories that were bent on taking that pride or that privilege away from me. So it was the fear rhetoric.

.. But I can tell you that every single person that I recruited or that was recruited around the same time that I did up to now, up to what we’re seeing today, is recruited through vulnerabilities and not through ideology.

.. There were disparate groups all around the country popping up after it started in Chicago, and the goal was to try and unify everybody. But that was the first time that I felt a sort of energy flow through me that I had never felt before, as if I was a part of something greater than myself. Even at 14 years old when I was desperately searching for that purpose, this seemed to fill it. And I certainly bought in.

DAVIES: And at this point, you had shaved your head and started wearing boots and took on the skinhead look?

PICCIOLINI: I did. And I noticed a change in my environment very quickly. The bullies who had marginalized me prior now would cross the street when they saw me coming because they feared me, and then I would begin to recruit them. And I noticed a very stark change in how people treated me, and I mistook that as respect when in reality it was fear and really not wanting to be involved with what I was involved in.

 

.. DAVIES: You know, the music has a lot of energy and a lot of anger to it. I mean, I – you know, it’s – how much of a connection is there that – between this kind of – the emotion of that kind of music and the violence of the movement, do you think?

PICCIOLINI: I think it’s very connected. At least, it was during the ’80s and ’90s. Music was the vehicle for propaganda. It was the incitement to encourage people to commit acts of violence, and it was a social movement. People would come in for the very few concerts that were held every year from all over the country or all over the world. And it was a way to gather. And still today, I believe that music is a very powerful tool that the movement uses to inspire vulnerable young people into a very hateful social movement.

 

..  You went to Germany and toured there with the band with some groups there. And there’s a point where you give a really evocative description of the skinhead rally where you say, it begins with speeches, and there’s lots and lots of beer-drinking throughout and then, you know, frenzied, you know, music and then eventually, sooner or later, fights break out among different groups who are in attendance or because someone was jealous over a romantic approach to somebody’s girlfriend. It doesn’t exactly sound like people were trying to put together a strategy for change, right? Either winning elections, or armed revolt or much of anything other than coming together and having these moments with each other which often ended in violence.

 

.. PICCIOLINI: Well, I don’t think that that’s correct. I do think that there were a lot of concerted strategies in the ’80s and ’90s that we’re seeing take hold today. We recognized in the mid ’80s that our edginess, our look, even our language was turning away the average American white racist, people we wanted to recruit. So we decided then to grow our hair out, to stop getting tattoos that would identify us, to trade in our boots for suits and to go to college campuses and recruit there and enroll to get jobs in law enforcement, to go to the military and get training and to even run for office.

And here we are 30 years later and we’re using terms like white nationalist and alt-right, terms that they came up with, by the way, that they sat around and said, how can we identify ourselves to make us seem less hateful? Back in my day when I was involved, we used terms like white separatists or white pride. But it certainly was neither one of those. It was white supremacy and – as is white nationalism or the alt-right today.

 

.. we ran businesses. We ran record labels. We ran record stores. We ran magazines that were glossy. We made videos before the Internet. I mean, it was for all intent and purpose a global movement that was highly organized but lacked a, you know, a very charismatic central figure.

 

.. Well, aside from just the indiscriminate violence that, you know, the acts that we committed on almost a daily basis against anybody – it didn’t really matter, there really wasn’t a reason – there were also times where we were involved in, you know, in planning armored car robberies, where we talked about that. There was a point in 1991 where I was approached by somebody representing Muammar Gaddafi, from Libya, who wanted to bring me to Tripoli to meet with him and accept some money to fund a revolution against the Jews in the United States.

And that’s something that’s always scared me because that set a precedent that I think that we will see more of in the future where we start to see some of these Islamist terror groups start to partner with these far-right groups.

And while that may sound crazy because they hate each other, unfortunately, their enemy, their number-one enemy is what they would consider the Jew. So I think it’s only a matter of time before we start to see these organizations begin to work with each other and start to spread their terror more globally.