Today is yet another day of presidential primaries, and I will not talk about the races today. I may tomorrow or next week, but not today. Benito Mussolini proclaimed, “Let us have a dagger between our teeth, a bomb in our hand, and an infinite scorn in our hearts.” I have been looking at various polls, as well as comments on social media, including those made by friends, and others that I either know or that I have served alongside, who identify themselves as “conservative Christians” that trouble me, for they seem to embody in word, and maybe at some point, in deed, the words of the Italian dictator.
There are times that I hate being a very well read and knowledgable historian, not to mention a well read and theologically astute priest. Today is one of those days. In light of what I know, and what I read today; both the polls and what my friends write, I wish I was a some kind of imbecile who had no context to evaluate these things, and no capacity for self-reflection. Live would be easier, because I could just suck up the bullshit and not care. But I cannot do that, especially when the candidates that the men and women who I thought I knew, stands against everything that the non-political Christian Faith ever stood for; greed, averice, power, control, and even violence against anyone who stands in their candidate’s way.
This my friends is not the way of Jesus, it is the way of anti-Christ. Not the Anti-Christ of the Apocalypse, but the anti-Christ spirit which even some of the writers of the New Testement refered to in their day, a spirit which made a mockery of faith and would even deceive the elect. Mussolini himself said this this quite well when he said that “every antichrist is a baffled dictator,” and that “Facism is a religion.”
I am concerned because I understand history, and I understand what is feeding this beast, because at one time I fed at that trough of pseudo-Christian, pseudo-conservative ideology of hatred of the other at least “three hours a day every day,” for over a decade, from 1992 until I returned from Iraq in 2008 just like the conservative talk-radio hosts told me to do. So when I see others, people that I know and love doing the same I am terrified. I think with good reason. Self-reflection and the realization of the things that you once supported without question, even when you knew better, were evil, criminal, and made a mockery of the faith that you pledged your life to support and defend is not not something that is comfortable; it is not politic, nor is it something that many people are capable of doing. In fact when you look at history you will seldom find clergymen capable of realizing that the leaders that they supported were evil and recognize their own complicity in what happened, one of those men was Martin Niemoller, who wrote, “I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while. I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me.”
When I listen to the politicians, pundits, and preachers supporting proto-facists like Donald Trump do so in the name of their supposed Christian Faith, I am not surprised, but that is not my faith and my argument is more with them than it is Trump himself. Trump has no real ideology other than bullying people, he has done that his whole life. Having been bullied, and having fought back against bullies, even when I got my ass kicked, I know know how to fight back. But to see men and women who supposedly subscribe to the same Christian faith that even when I struggle, still attempt to follow; back someone who despises that faith, and who like Mussolini has no problem making agreements to get the political support of churches and Christians while at the same time mocking them is beyond me, but it is happening before our very eyes. This cancer will continue to grow, and whether it metatastisizes through Donald Trump, or another strongman in a future election, I do not know; but we have not seen the end of it, in fact we are only at the beginning. Mussolini noted when he invaded Etheopia in 1936 that he wanted to make Italians less nice, more odious, tough and implacable.
If that sounds familiar it should, it is an attitude little different that that Trump, and to a slightly lesser degree, Ted Cruz and their spokesmen and allies spout on the campaign trail day, after day, after day; and very few people who call themselves by the name of Christ dare to say a word in opposition, in a large part because they have ceased to love the people that Christ died for, and instead, see themselves and their political allies as the instruments of God to execute judgment on those that they believe to be the enemies of God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this “Satanic truth” Bonhoeffer wrote “It’s essence is that under the semblance of truth it denies everything that is real. It lives upon the hatred of the real and the world that which is created and loved by God. It pretends to be executing the judgment of God…” That my friends is why like Mussolini’s Fascist Blackshirts, and Hitler’s Brownshirts, they have no problem with the words of Trump, and the actions of his supporters to physically attack and harm anyone that stands in his way. This my friends is only the beginning.
When I watched the movie Conspiracy, something that I wrote about yesterday, I wondered wondered how many of my past, and even some current ministerial colleagues would say no to the will of Hitler and Himmler, expressed through Heydrich, if they were called to in such a meeting. Sadly, based on what I am seeing and reading in this election season, I think that quite a few would have no problem.
On that cheery note, have a nice day.