Thomas B. Edsall | ‘The Capitol Insurrection Was as Christian Nationalist as It Gets.’ – The New York Times

“Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality. He has written extensively about the rise of the political right and the religious right.

Credit…Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

“It’s impossible to understand the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol without addressing the movement that has come to be known as Christian nationalism.

Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry, professors of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the University of Oklahoma, describe Christian Nationalism in their book “Taking America Back for God”:

It includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism. It is as ethnic and political as it is religious. Understood in this light, Christian nationalism contends that America has been and should always be distinctively ‘Christian’ from top to bottom — in its self-identity, interpretations of its own history, sacred symbols, cherished values and public policies — and it aims to keep it this way.

In her recent book, “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism,” Katherine Stewart, a frequent contributor to these pages, does not mince words:

It is a political movement, and its ultimate goal is power. It does not seek to add another voice to America’s pluralistic democracy, but to replace our foundational democratic principles and institutions with a state grounded on a particular version of Christianity, answering to what some adherents call a ‘biblical worldview’ that also happens to serve the interests of its plutocratic funders and allied political leaders.

This, Stewart writes, “is not a ‘culture war.’ It is a political war over the future of democracy.”

Stuart A. Thompson | Three Weeks Inside a  – The New York Times

“As President Biden’s inauguration ticked closer, some of Donald Trump’s supporters were feeling gleeful. Mr. Trump was on the cusp of declaring martial law, they believed. Military tribunals would follow, then televised executions, then Democrats and other deep state operatives would finally be brought to justice.

These were honestly held beliefs. Dozens of Trump supporters spoke regularly over the past three weeks on a public audio chat room app, where they uploaded short recordings instead of typing. In these candid digital confessionals, participants would crack jokes, share hopes and make predictions.

“Look at the last four years. They haven’t listened to a thing we’ve said. Um … there’s going to have to be some serious anarchy that goes on. Otherwise, nothing is going to change.”

I spent the past three weeks listening to the channel — from before the Jan. 6 Washington protest to after Mr. Biden’s inauguration. It became an obsession, something I’d check first thing every morning and listen to as I fell asleep at night. Participants tend to revere Mr. Trump and believe he’ll end the crisis outlined by Q: that the world is run by a cabal of pedophiles who operate a sex-trafficking ring, among other crimes. While the chat room group is relatively small, with only about 900 subscribers, it offers a glimpse into a worrying sect of Trump supporters. Some conspiracists like them have turned to violent language in the wake of Mr. Trump’s electoral loss.

“If the Biden inauguration wants to come in and take your weapons and force vaccination, you have due process to blow them the [expletive] away. Do it.”

From Navy SEAL to Part of the Angry Mob Outside the Capitol – The New York Times

“In the weeks since Adam Newbold, a former member of the Navy SEALs, was identified as part of the enraged crowd that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6, he has been interviewed by the F.B.I. and has resigned under pressure from jobs as a mentor and as a volunteer wrestling coach. He expects his business to lose major customers over his actions.

But none of it has shaken his belief, against all evidence, that the presidential election was stolen and that people like him were right to rise up.

It is surprising because Mr. Newbold’s background would seem to armor him better than most against the lure of baseless conspiracy theories. In the Navy, he was trained as an expert in sorting information from disinformation, a clandestine commando who spent years working in intelligence paired with the C.I.A., and he once mocked the idea of shadowy antidemocratic plots as “tinfoil hat” thinking.

Even so, like thousands of others who surged to Washington this month to support President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Newbold bought into the fabricated theory that the election was rigged by a shadowy cabal of liberal power brokers who had pushed the nation to the precipice of civil war. No one could persuade him otherwise.”

Deeply disturbing story. It actually left me with virtigo.  Here are the two most popular comments, which helped me grow more calm and centered.

RickNYC
Brooklyn3h ago
Times Pick

There is a real tendency in this country to automatically apply hero status to anyone in uniform. Here in New York, post 9/11 cops were afforded hugely outsized reverence, regardless of who the individual was behind the badge. This aura only grows when describing somebody as well trained and disciplined as a Navy Seal. That rare position has mythical status, automatically exalting the person. It is dangerous to forget that, regardless of rank or title, these are just people. People can be susceptible. People can be prone to fantasy, or delusions. I secretly reject the automatic hero status & credibility these titles impart, because it lets bad apples off the hook. Maybe this guy is a Seal, but to me he’s a dangerously well trained conspiracy theorist who should be regarded as such, full stop.

14 Replies1107 Recommended
 
 
ChristineMcM commented 3 hours ago

 

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts3h ago
Times Pick

““I tried to reason with him, show him facts, and he just went nuclear.”” Almost one third of the country thinks like this. There’s a fine line between patriotism in the original sense of the word, and fascism. All it takes is a desire to believe. The Trump phenomen is nothing new, as Eric Hoffer wrote seventy years ago in “The True Believer.” The question is, in a fractured society like ours, what are we going to do about all the Adam Newbolds out there? We’re moving from isolated malcontents like the perpetrator of the Oklahoma bombing to a true mass movement dominated by one party so cutlike and outrageous that it’s chilling it’s growing so fast. A free democratic society can’t exist when there’s no common ground on what constitutes reality.

4 Replies698 Recommended

Opinion | Parler and the Far Right’s Ever-Evolving Digital Ecosystem – The New York Times

Candace Rondeaux and 

Ms. Rondeaux is a senior fellow with the Center on the Future of War. Ms. Hurlburt directs New Models of Policy Change at New America.

Credit…Kevin Van Aelst

“Since the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol in Washington, right-wing extremists on social media continue to glorify violence, draw new adherents and forge fresh plans for mayhem. This ominous activity presents an urgent threat to the security and social cohesion of the United States.

But there is another, less obvious takeaway: Experts know — or can know — an enormous amount about the nature and evolution of the threat.

Data sleuths have combed through a 70 terabyte cache of data from Parler, the now-defunct social media platform popular among the far right. Researchers have archived and mapped millions of these ethically hacked posts, wrangled by an anonymous, purportedly Austria-based hacker. The haul — potentially bigger than the WikiLeaks data dump of the Afghan War logs and the Democratic National Committee leak, combined — includes valuable evidence and planning of further attacks, mixed in with the private data of individuals who committed no crimes (along with quite a bit of pornography). The early takeaways are terrifying: According to at least one preliminary analysis, the frequency of hashtags on Parler referencing hanging or killing duly elected members of Congress more than doubled after the November elections.

Until the nation reckons with the self-inflicted wounds stemming from an under-regulated, unreformed social media information architecture, President Biden’s calls for healing and national unity won’t produce substantial, lasting results. The new administration needs a long-term plan to confront the escalating threat, as far-right insurgents migrate from one platform to the next.”

Peter Wehner | The End of Trump Can Be the Beginning of America – The New York Times

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

“This is a text I received from a prominent conservative Christian minutes after President Biden’s Inaugural Address: “I broke down sobbing. It’s been a long five-and-a-half years.”

Shortly after that, Scott Dudley, senior pastor at Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Wash., emailed me a note that said, “I never thought I would be moved to tears watching a Democratic president get sworn in, but I was. It just felt so good to hear someone who understands and loves this country and constitution, and is an honorable person, take the oath. I’m praying for healing.”

I’ve had conversations with others who tell similar stories.

Joe Biden is an admirable human being, empathetic and generous in spirit, and his speech was elegant and uplifting. But the tears had to do with something else: We had just emerged from a national trauma. It was only two weeks earlier that the Capitol, on whose steps Mr. Biden took the oath of office, was under assault from a mob that had been incited by his predecessor, Donald Trump, in order to undo an election Mr. Trump lost.

Thomas L. Friedman | President Donald J. Trump: The End – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Folks, we just survived something really crazy awful: four years of a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, amplified by a network without integrity, each pumping out conspiracy theories without truth, brought directly to our brains by social networks without ethics — all heated up by a pandemic without mercy.

It’s amazing that our whole system didn’t blow, because the country really had become like a giant overheated steam engine. What we saw in the Capitol last week were the bolts and hinges starting to come loose. The departure of Donald J. Trump from the White House and the depletion of his enablers’ power in the Senate aren’t happening a second too soon.

Nor is Joe Biden’s inauguration, but he has his work cut out for him. Because we haven’t even begun to fully comprehend how much damage Trump, armed with Twitter and Facebook and leveraging the bully pulpit of the presidency and the cowardice of so many who knew better, has done to our nation’s public life, institutions and cognitive immunity.

This was a terrible, terrible experiment.

It’s not that Trump never did anything good. It’s that it was nowhere near worth the price of leaving our nation more divided, more sick — and with more people marinated in conspiracy theories — than at any time in modern history. We need to be simultaneously reunited, deprogrammed, refocused and reassured. The whole country needs to go on a weekend retreat to rediscover who we are and the bonds that unite us — or at least once did.”

How Gerrymandering Will Protect Republicans Who Challenged the Election – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio comes from a duck-shaped district that stretches across parts of 14 counties and five media markets and would take nearly three hours to drive end to end.

Designed after the 2010 census by Ohio Republicans intent on keeping Mr. Jordan, then a three-term congressman, safely in office, the district has produced the desired result. He has won each of his last five elections by at least 22 percentage points.

The outlines of Ohio’s Fourth Congressional District have left Mr. Jordan, like scores of other congressional and state lawmakers, accountable only to his party’s electorate in Republican primaries. That phenomenon encouraged the Republican Party’s fealty to President Trump as he pushed his baseless claims of election fraud.

That unwavering loyalty was evident on Jan. 6, when Mr. Jordan and 138 other House Republicans voted against certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner of the presidential election. Their decision, just hours after a violent mob had stormed the Capitol, has repelled many of the party’s corporate benefactors, exposed a fissure with the Senate Republican leadership and tarred an element of the party as insurrectionists.”

Jennifer Senior | Good Riddance, Leader McConnell – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“So tell me, Mitch, in these, your final hours as Senate majority leader: Were the judges and the tax cuts worth it?

Were they worth the sacking of the Capitol? The annexation of the Republican Party by the paranoiacs and the delusional? The degradation, possibly irremediable, of democracy itself?

Those close to him say that Mitch McConnell has his eye on his legacy, now more than ever. But I wonder whether he already understands, in some back bay of his brain where the gears haven’t been ground to nubs, that history will not treat him well.

McConnell may think that the speech he gave on the Senate floor on Jan. 6, objecting to the election deniers, will spare him history’s judgment. It will not. It did not make him a hero. It simply made him a responsible citizen.”

Fox Settled a Lawsuit Over Its Lies. But It Insisted on One Unusual Condition. – The New York Times

“On Oct. 12, 2020, Fox News agreed to pay millions of dollars to the family of a murdered Democratic National Committee staff member, implicitly acknowledging what saner minds knew long ago: that the network had repeatedly hyped a false claim that the young staff member, Seth Rich, was involved in leaking D.N.C. emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Russian intelligence officers, in fact, had hacked and leaked the emails.)

Fox’s decision to settle with the Rich family came just before its marquee hosts, Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, were set to be questioned under oath in the case, a potentially embarrassing moment. And Fox paid so much that the network didn’t have to apologize for the May 2017 story on FoxNews.com.

But there was one curious provision that Fox insisted on: The settlement had to be kept secret for a month — until after the Nov. 3 election. The exhausted plaintiffs agreed.

Why did Fox care about keeping the Rich settlement secret for the final month of the Trump re-election campaign? Why was it important to the company, which calls itself a news organization, that one of the biggest lies of the Trump era remain unresolved for that period? Was Fox afraid that admitting it was wrong would incite the president’s wrath? Did network executives fear backlash from their increasingly radicalized audience, which has been gravitating to other conservative outlets?”

Opinion | Trump Is the Republican Party’s Past and Its Future – The New York Times

The op-ed is right on the money. It’s truth, argues that the next step, is for the Lincoln Project to start a new party, so it can disenfranchise, or remove from office, the no nothing racists that have taken over the party.

Dr. McGirr is a historian and the author of “Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right.”

“The appalling siege of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump insurrectionists, on the heels of their upset defeat in two Georgia Senate races the previous night, will require soul searching among Republicans about the direction of their party. Republicans will certainly seek to pivot from the riot, but the nativism, extreme polarization, truth-bashing, white nationalism and anti-democratic policies that we tend to identify with President Trump are likely to remain a hallmark of the Republican playbook into the future. These qualities will outlive Mr. Trump’s presidency because they predate it: Republicans have been fueling the conditions that enabled Mr. Trump’s rise since the 1980s.

A growing Southern and Western evangelical base pushed the party to replace its big-tent, bipartisan and moderate Republicanism of the mid-20th century with a more conservative version. Under President Dwight Eisenhower, the party had made peace with New Deal social provisioning and backed large-scale federal spending on infrastructure and education. Even as late as the 1970s, President Richard Nixon passed legislation expanding federal regulatory agencies. Yet when Ronald Reagan moved into the White house in 1981, the Republicans sharply slashed government regulations. They cut taxes for the wealthy and oversaw a hollowing out of the American welfare state. At the same time, the party shored up its heavily evangelical base with tough-on-crime policies, anti-abortion rhetoric and coded racist attacks on “welfare queens.” “