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Web Letter

I am reading Brave New World Revisited, by Aldous Huxley, and on Page 32 there is a passage that is especially appropriate in regard to the Christian Right, and our current national malaise:

Propaganda in favor of action that is consonant with enlightened self-interest appeals to reason by means of logical arguments based on the best available evidence fully and honestly set forth. Propaganda in favor of action dictated by the impulses that are below self-interest offers false, garbled or incomplete evidence, avoids logical argument and seeks to influence its victims by mere repetition of catchwords, by the furious denunciation of foreign or domestic scapegoats, and by cunningly associating the lowest passions with the highest ideals, so that atrocities come to be perpetrated in the name of God and the most cynical kind of Realpolitik is treated as a matter of religious principal and patriotic duty."

This was first published in 1958, but it is painfully apt in regard to the United States today.

Andy Harold

Carson City, NV

May 27 2007 - 12:01am

Web Letter

It's really interesting how the dynamics of race underpin American electoral politics of the last forty years. It's what turned the South Republican. And Nixon's Southern Strategy was a way of understanding and motivating a couple generations of white, Southern voters. It’s served the GOP well. I'd call it a kind of racism in every aspect except the spoken one. Racism thought, racism felt, racism acted upon but never spoken. Racism stripped of its epithets.

Charlie Baker

New York, NY

May 17 2007 - 11:37pm

Web Letter

What a hateful article. If you have half the followers Falwell had, you would be lucky. I only had the misfortune to read this as it hit the google news list. I am not a right-winger, nor a Moral Majority member, but if your mindset is the other alternative, no wonder people dig into their trenches against the DNC and all the leftists.He may have been not to your liking, as he was not to mine, but he was a man of his convictions who went down without ever wavering, and was loved by hundreds of thousands.

A true warrior admires a worthy opponent and mourns at his demise, while cowards smirk in diseased glee and yowl like dogs in the night....

Christopher Takacs

Carlisle, KT

May 17 2007 - 5:53pm

Web Letter

"Hurling maledictions." How accurate.

Entering teendom during the early 1970s made me a prime candidate for the, what was to become acceptable religious fanaticism of the early '80s. You see, for those who either don't remember (you know who you are) and those who were born too late to remember experiencing the '60s and '70s, the 1960s gave birth to religious freaks like the Mansons and massive cults like the Moonies, Krishnas and others who gained mainstream popularity during the 1970s. (Rent the movie Serial with Martin Mull if you want or need a good laugh and some insights about those days.) Well, not surprisingly, in or around 1972/73, at age 11 or 12 I was "introduced" by my then 16-year-old brother to the, not so new but new wave of the movement called "born-again" Christianity.

Now, most people probably think of born-again Christianity as part of the Christian religion and therefore accept it as not being a cult. I, on the other hand, lump it right up there with all so-called cults, especially the charismatic segment of the movement. So there I was, a young, impressionable, fatherless child moving from home to home to home and city to city to city and school to school to school (four schools in one year, thank you) when my brother introduces me to the "truth" called Jesus Christ.

For the next eleven years, I tried really hard to be a Jesus-type Christian. Preachers such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and later on Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggert, as well as an occasional glossy-eyed foster parent who looked as if she'd just seen the Lord, continuously reinforced in me their beliefs and convictions.

By 1979, my first year in college, I was at perhaps the peak of my Christian life. Feeling like it was time to set the world on fire for Jesus, I, along with many other Kutztown students, got on a bus headed for Washington, DC, to join the hundreds of thousands of other "true Christians" in the evangelically sponsored "March on Washington for Jesus." What a day that was. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing Pat Robertson speak live, but I'm a bit foggy on whether or not Jerry was there.

At that time in my life, my pre-teen and teenage years, fundamentalism was very attractive to me. And having the opportunity to see these "great men of God" preaching each week through the miracle of television encouraged me to spread "the Word." But little did I recognize that, by the time I was headed to Washington, DC, there was a growing paradox of thought and emotion stirring deep within. Little was I aware that while at my Christian peak, I was already beginning to lose my religion.

In a strange way, I have to thank Falwell for the role he played in freeing me from this bondage. I believe that I am free today, in part anyway, because of what he did. Jerry's long battle and ongoing stance against evil encouraged me to stand up and express my concerns about what I began seeing as the evil within Christianity. His anti-everything but himself attitude convinced me that he had no truth and that his message was not one in which I could follow.

Ironically, I can see how I'm a lot like Jerry. I hate what people like him do and how they do it. I criticize he and his followers for their bigoted, brainwashed and small-thinking minds. And I don't have any doubt that if there really is a just and caring God overseeing all this crap, Falwell's most likely suffering somewhere with the knowledge that he was so terribly, terribly wrong.

Irony is a strange thing. I'll bet not a single born-again Christian, least of all Jerry Falwell, would see the humor in this or accept their role in how I turned out.

John LeVan

Thorndale, PA

May 17 2007 - 4:06pm

Web Letter

Mr. Blumenthal gets it spot-on right. White supremacy lingers on, just to the right of the mainstream, in so many strange convolutions. The sheer gall that attached to the ministry of Jerry Falwell & to those of his various affiliates has its roots precisely there: in the 1960s & the last leeching throes of the segregationists who allowed for the success of Nixon's "Southern strategy," a strategy that, in turn, changed utterly the character of the GOP & presidential politics. That is the well-spring of Falwell's sour bitterness, of that excess of disgust that in every way colored his utterances & temperament. That the mainstream media sits in darkness on this question is no surprise. And the weird convergence of right-wing African-American activists with their white counterparts--largely the better to combat gay rights--should not color-blind us to this old fact.

The silence of the mainstream media as to Falwell's segregationist "fundament" calls to mind their silence as to the motives that underlay McVeigh's bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. That, too, was a vestige of the white-supremacist subculture that lies just back of so many rabid fundamentalists. What is McVeigh wearing in that mug-shot so often reprinted? An image of Lincoln, together with the words of his white- supremacist assasssin, J.W. Booth. What was in his car when he was arrested? Pages from the anti-semitic, white-supremacist Turner Diaries. If the mainstream media & the current field of Democratic presidential hopefuls neglect to inquire into the roots of the Falwell matter, & of the Christian "nationalists" as a whole, then they may well deserve to fall. To fall not well, but badly.

Mark Richardson

Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan

May 16 2007 - 8:46pm

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