Saturday, November 23, 2019

But is it a cult?

By Emma Goldman
Religion Editor with Nellie Bly,
Spy Washington Bureau

After just two weeks of live testimony, it is clear to even the meanest intelligence that the President of the United States extorted a foreign state to manufacture dirt on a political rival for the political gain of said President and contrary to the national security interests of the United States.  Therefore, Congress has reached an inescapable bipartisan conclusion that the President must be impeached and removed from office because he committed the trifecta:  1) treason, 2) bribery and 3) high crimes and misdemeanors.

Just kidding, folks (about the bipartisan consensus bit, that is).

The elected representatives of one political party have ignored the tower of unrebutted evidence pointing to the guilt of President PAB and to a man and woman and one black man have refused to consider any punishment for his multiple impeachable offenses.

The intrepid and the curious are bound to ask why.

One answer that has been proffered by well-meaning critics of the sorry spectacle of Republicans conspiring to destroy the rule of law and our Constitutional order: that President U Bum and the Republicans are involved in some sort of a “cult.”

Here's a recent example from The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who appears to sworn off Conventional Wisdom in favor of real reporting, proving that there's always hope:
Alternatively, you could view that as cult-like behavior. 
Once he declared his support for impeachment proceedings this summer, Amash was essentially banished from the party. Also cult-like: Republicans’ claims not only that Trump did nothing impeachable but also that he did nothing wrong when he withheld an ally’s military aid for a promise to investigate a political opponent.
At their post-vote news conference, Republicans were asked: “Will you all go on the record and say the president did nothing inappropriate?”
“Yes,” chorused the 50 men and three women onstage.
“A very clear yes,” said McCarthy.

The Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief has as usual stated the quiet part out loud, boasting that he could kill someone on Fifth Avenue and his followers wouldn't mind.

Fact check: true.

But the cult trope used to explain this otherwise inexplicable behavior doesn't seem like a fully satisfactory explanation.  It does explain why U Bum Kissers choose to follow their Dear Leader rather than what's in front of their lying eyes.  We think though that a true cult involves a blind adherence to a charismatic leader that endures regardless of whatever babble comes out of his mouth.

That's the origin of the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” – the followers of Jim Jones were so in Jim's thrall that they believed whatever he said even when it went against their most basic interests, like staying alive.

Does anyone believe that the followers of the Bigot-in-Chief would follow him anywhere?  Sure, they're jiggy with any crimes he commits because that just shows how super awesome he is: unlike his toothless couch potato followers, who can't even use one racial epithet without being fired from their wiping gig at the car wash, their idol can smear, slime, attack, and seek to ruin women like courageous Foreign Service officer Amb. Marie Yovanovitch or men of integrity like Rep. Adam Schiff with impunity.

We know they would follow him into the dressing room where the underage contestants in the Miss Teen Universe contest are changing.  But would they really follow him anywhere?

Consider the case of Shabbatai Zvi, a false prophet who enjoyed a vogue among 17th Century Jews even though, or perhaps because, he abolished most of Jewish ritual and replaced it by a millenarian belief in him as the Messiah:

The adherents of Shabbethai, probably with his consent, even planned to abolish to a great extent the ritualistic observances, because, according to a tradition, in the Messianic time most of them were to lose their obligatory character. The first step toward the disintegration of traditional Judaism was the changing of the fast of the Tenth of į¹¬ebet to a day of feasting and rejoicing. . . .

This message produced wild excitement and dissension in the communities, as many of the pious orthodox rabbis, who had hitherto regarded the movement sympathetically, were shocked at these radical innovations. Solomon Algazi, a prominent Talmudist of Smyrna, and other members of the rabbinate, who opposed the abolition of the fast, narrowly escaped with their lives.

(Source: The Jewish Encyclopedia).

So far, so good.  But when he converted to Islam, that tore it.  His followers abandoned him because he offended their core beliefs.

Let's do a similar thought experiment with U Bum.  Let's say he called into Fox and Friends one morning and instead of a deranged rant about falsified Ukranian conspiracy theories and nasty women who wouldn't hang his picture in the US Embassy in Kyev (also a lie), he told the Three Stooges and the folks at home that he had some new insights to share.

Let's say he said that (1) immigrants were an important part of American life, (2) while he disagreed with many of President Barack Obama's policies, he recognized his integrity and honesty, and (3) there was something profoundly wrong with a system that continues to place unfair burdens on people of color and women.

Does anyone think Fox Nation would follow?

Of course they wouldn't.

Funny how the cult of U Bum
preceded him
It's not President PAB they admire; it's his repulsive ideas.  They'd follow a meatball sub if it echoed their anger over attacks on their unmerited white privilege, their bigotry, and their fear and hatred of women who have the temerity to insist on their agency and equality.  It's not a cult, implying blind loyalty to an individual no matter how evil, like Jim Jones or Charles Manson.

No, it's a clear-eyed and knowing embrace of anger, hatred, and bigotry in all its forms.  Fluff that, like President U Bum, and they're yours.  Turn away from the glorification of white nationalism and they'll drop you like a kale salad.  Just ask John McCain.

This is why we aren't as optimistic as Dana Milbank is about the Cult of U Bum, whether or not he beats the impeachment rap, when he asks: “Doesn’t he know that cults always end badly?”
Do they?

The cult of white racism begin not later than 1619, with the arrival of the first ship bearing enslaved Africans to America.  It ran without serious interference for over 200 years, until the effusion of 400,000 lives brought about national emancipation in 1865.  After the stolen election of 1876, white racism in the guise of the Redemption continued without much successful pushback until 1954. 

While the struggle continues today, does anyone think that the reign of white privilege is over in this country?  Maybe we could ask Trayvon Martin.

That's why Republicans oppose impeachment: it's not an attack on U Bum, it's an attack on the hatred and bigotry for which he stands.   That's why fake Christian demagogues like Franklin Graham are praying so hard for Bigot-in-Chief.

And that's why their Republican acolytes always say 'Amen.'

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