November 20, 2008

In a recent phone conversation, Richard Spencer made an observation I then tried to qualify. Richard noted that Western Christians “€œare obsessed with being virtuous.”€ At a time when the Christian belief system has eroded, this fixation has led to exaggerated expressions of group self-denial and to the grotesque worship of the supposedly marginalized. I cannot say that Richard’s thesis struck me as weird. It is in fact one that I have developed in several books, and it is a cultural phenomenon that never ceases to amaze me. While this mentality may corresponds in some degree to what Freud defined during the First World War as a Ananke, meaning a collective death wish, it is something so unique in human history that I continue to puzzle over it.

The only qualification I would make to Richard’s generalization is that the suicidal quest for suicidal virtue is particularly characteristic of Protestants, that is, of those denominations that come out of an individualistic religious tradition. Such a tradition makes believers wrestle with or agonize over metaphysical guilt, and it also stresses the individual experience of redemption from sin and the act of making one’s redemption evident to the community. Such beliefs, and particularly the doctrine of justification by faith, have always impressed me in their pristine form as being expressive of a certain spiritual maturity, but as the Old Presbyterian theologian James Kurth notes, these same beliefs lead rapidly into “€œa succession of worsening deformations.”€ Wilsonianism and Political Correctness are both identifiable Protestant aberrations, but there are also others as well, which come to my mind from having lived and worked among liberal Protestants.

Of course it is possible to find the same traits among Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Christians. But among these groups such peculiarities are less common, and what often drives the multicultural engagement of some of their members is a sense of having been formerly excluded, directly or through one’s ancestors, from what was once a WASP society. As I have already noted in earlier scribbling, I have never known a single Jew who felt “€œguilty”€ about past discrimination against blacks or homosexuals. Far more typically, Jewish liberals identify themselves as fellow-victims, with other minorities seeking redress for the past indignities allegedly inflicted on them by white Christians. That is why it is to be expected that Jewish left liberals Abe Foxman, Alan Dershowitz, and Rahm Emmanuel are also in-your-face Jewish nationalists. Similarly one should not be surprised that Boston Irish could be partisans of Teddy Kennedy or even Obama, but also supporters of the IRA’s efforts to drive the English out of Northern Ireland. Unlike the Protestants, these religious-ethnic minorities have not joined the Left in order to obliterate their own group identity. It’s someone else’s identity that they are trying to weaken in order to feel more comfortable in American society.

These ruminations went through my mind when a longtime friend Wayne Lutton sent me clippings from Northern Michigan newspapers communicating the exhilaration of local inhabitants over Barack Obama’s election. In this heavily Protestant and very Nordic region of the country, the youth had trouble containing their joy on the outcome of this year’s election, according to the Northern Weekly Express. Throngs of young adults gathered at an election day party at the InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City, where the full house “€œrocked the rafters”€ as they watched Obama storm to victory. “€œSome of the biggest cheers that night came when images of African-Americans were shown on the big screen, WEEPING FOR JOY at the election of Barack Obama.”€ The paper hastens to remind the reader that this victory was “€˜by any measure, one of the MOST SIGNIFICANT events in the history of the United States.”€ Even without the use of caps, the Northern Weekly Express conveyed the ecstasy of the hour by showing the glowing faces of the Northern Michigan young standing beside cardboard images of their black savior. The election party looked more like a revival meeting than a Friday night bash, and it radiated something akin to the joy of being cleansed of one’s sins. To drive home this impression, Wayne sent me letters that had appeared in local newspapers expressing the religious “€œexcitement”€ of young Northern Michiganders who had voted for Obama.
Note that I am not ascribing such behavior to secularism or public education or the media exclusively. I think this hysteria that I”€™ve been observing is religious in nature. It is not confined to the atheist, social engineering Left; it is also very much alive and well among religious Protestants, and particularly among the Evangelicals and Mennonites of my acquaintance. These people are anything but non-believers. Nonetheless they entirely agree with Obama’s remark, made to Pastor Rick Warren, indicating that sin means “€œsexism, racism, and homophobia.”€ A neighbor, who is a very orthodox Mennonite minister and who has the Nicene Creed on his wall, was campaigning for Obama, as an act of overcoming the ingrained racism of his community.

Unlike my neighbor, I am struck not by the bigotry of my neighbors but at how terrified they are to say anything that is not PC. My point is that the prevalent ananke does not come from irreligious sources alone. It seems to be embedded in the otherwise religiously orthodox, whose minds have been snatched by some virulent form of what Nietzsche called “€œslave morality.”€ The exaltation of the supposedly downtrodden, as an act of group atonement for social sins and for thinking bigoted thoughts, and as the prelude to building a truly egalitarian society,  have become characteristic of those seeking righteousness. Religious fervor has now been turned toward the task of validating designated minorities, including illegals streaming across our Southern borders. Such behavior is no longer specific to professional atheists, raging at the Christian Right. It is now to all appearances an epidemic spreading through the American religious community and one that is likely to continue to spread. And unlike its manifestations in non-Protestant America, in Protestant America, the advocacy of multiculturalism is definitely aimed at the displacement of traditional ethnic-cultural communities”€”or of what remains of them. For all of the talk about red-blue-divisions, if present trends continue, Northern Michigan will come to look ideologically and ultimately physically the same as Brooklyn or Baltimore. And the GOP, as Larry Auster notes in a recent blog, has absorbed the same cultural poisons as the Democrats, a development that one might suspect would happen in a predominantly WASP political party. One need only look at John McCain’s celebration of the victory of his leftwing black presidential opponent in order to predict the direction of his party, or at least of those of its members seeking moral redemption. It has become hard to tell GOP politicians and partisans apart from those who were whooping it up at the Traverse City Obama camp meeting.

By the way, nothing here contradicts the view that I”€™ve expressed in the past, that many of Obama’s voters were looking for more government social programs or were upset with W’s ineptitude and therefore took it out on his would-be GOP successor. I am also fully aware that a majority of white Protestant voters supported John McCain over Obama, although it is unclear that this can be chalked up to their “€œconservatism”€ as opposed to their sociological practices. What I am adding, however, is that there is something intrinsically religious about the current Obamamania. It is by no means a phenomenon limited to secularists, and the multicultural politics of guilt that it exemplifies is fully consistent with the argument of my book about multiculturalism and its creation of an anti-white, anti-Western political religion.


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