Posted Sunday morning, November 12, 2017.
A tribal chieftain defending a totem of his tribe: “Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court addresses a Pro-Life Mississippi and a Pastors for Life pastors luncheon in Jackson, Miss., Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Moore told the attendees that he cannot separate his faith from his job as chief justice and continues to oppose abortion and same-sex marriage.” Photo by Rogelio V. Solis—AP, courtesy of TIME.
Republican Evangelicalism is not Christianity and Republican Evangelicals are not sharers in a worldwide faith along practiced by billions. They are members of a tribe and the superstitious, patriarchal, authoritarian demon-worship they call Christianity is the tribal religion meant not to bind them together in Christ but band them together against attack from anyone outside the tribe.
“Christian”, “American”, “Southern”, “Alabaman (or whoever)”, “Republican’, “Conservative”---these are words that best translate as “the People” or, more precisely, “the Human Beings.” All outsiders are by definition not of the People, not people, less than fully human if not wholly inhuman.
Only human beings---only “the People”---are entitled to live in the tribal lands, which they call “America,” and only the People---only members of the tribe---are entitled to the rights, benefits, and protections that are God’s gifts to the tribe along with the gift of the tribal lands.
God protects and gives his gifts to those who worship him according to tribal rites and in accordance with tribal beliefs. Those rites and beliefs preserve the tribe and its identity and must therefore be preserved without question or deviation. To deviate from them is to be deviant with its connotations of perversion.
As members of the tribe, People are worth more to other members of the tribe than outsiders, even if they are bad people. Even if they are bad people, they are still people, still human beings, and they can’t be expelled from the tribe as long as they don’t hurt the tribe (as opposed to other individual human beings) and help protect it against threats from outside. Donald Trump and Roy Moore are People. Doug Jones, Hillary Clinton, and even Luther Strange are not.
What sounds like hypocrisy when they defend Donald Trump and Roy Moore and explain their votes for them despite their being bad people and, in Trump’s case, not just a bad Christian but hardly Christian at all is mistranslation. The words they would like to use cannot be put into real and exact English:
“You who are not Human Beings don’t get to tell us Human Beings what to do, even if what you think you’re telling us is to act like Christians and Americans. You don’t understand us, but we understand you. You are telling us we can’t practice our tribal religion as we see fit to practice it in order to preserve and protect the tribe. In fact, you’re telling us that we must cease to be a tribe, we must leave our tribal homeland in spirit and become what you call 21st Century Americans. You are explicit when you tell us that, using words like pluralism and diversity. A tribe cannot be pluralistic or diverse or it ceases to be itself. You want us to leave our tribe and join your nation in which our voices will be drowned out, our ability to live according to our ancient ways curtailed, our power to control the members of our own tribe diminished if not negated.
“You want our women to defy our men. You want our young men to defy our priests and elders. You want our children to reject the teaching of their parents and move away to live among you and like you or, worse, you want them to bring your ways and your beliefs here to corrupt us all.
“We hear you, even if you don’t hear us, and we will fight you with all our collective might!”
Roy Moore may not be their ideal human being but he is a Human Being, a loyal member of the tribe, loyal to the tribe. He’ll go to Washington as if to war, and there he’ll protect the tribe from outsiders. The enemies of the tribe, those who aren’t of the people, won’t be able to tell the People what to do or think or teach their children or how to treat their women, as long as Roy Moore has any say.
It doesn’t do any good to call Roy Moore a child molester or pedophile or even a weirdo and creep. The girls Roy Moore pursued when they were teenagers and he was a thirty-something adult on the brink of middle age are abstractions. The women coming forward now to accuse this old man of things he did when he and they were young are real in that they are threats to the tribe. Talk of prosecuting them is not motivated by the certainty that they are lying but by the fear that they are contributing to the tribe’s defeat by outsiders and its eventual extermination. That’s the crime they see being committed here.
Even more threatening to the tribe than the women’s allowing themselves to be used by tribe’s enemies as political weapons is what they represent in themselves: an object lesson that women have the right to lead independent lives and they can think and act for themselves in their own interests without needing permission from men and the tribal elders, and they weren’t put on the earth to serve as sexual handmaidens to men.
When Moore’s defenders acknowledge that he probably did what the women are saying he did, they don’t acknowledge that they were girls when it happened. They talk about teenagers as if they’re grown-ups because in their eyes all human females of childbearing age are women and all women are put on earth by God to perpetuate the tribe. They’re here to be companions to men and marry men as soon as they can and bear their children as soon as they can, as many as they can. Once they bear the men’s children, it’s their job to raise them to be Human Beings, that is, to be loyal members of the tribe, which means controlling their thinking along with their behavior. Viewed like that, it doesn’t matter if the wife and mother to be is sixteen or thirty-six. It doesn’t matter how much older the man who takes a woman of any age as his wife and mother to his children is. If it comes out that Moore pursued teenagers when he was in his forties, fifties, sixties, or even now as he enters his seventies, what he’ll be in the eyes of many members of the tribe is an ordinary adulterer not a pedophile and no politician of any tribe or party loses votes for that.
This is why we can’t expect that Moore will lose because his voters are disgusted with him. Roy Moore shouldn’t be allowed to hold any public office, let alone a seat in the United States Senate. He’s hateful, destructive, bigoted, and lawless---he believes he’s not subject to any laws except the ones he makes for himself, and he believes he can make laws for himself. The law is what he says it is, an attitude he’s held his entire adult life and almost got him fragged in Vietnam---usually fragging was the fate of too gung ho officers who got their troops killed in combat through their stupidity and careless disregard for their safety and survival; Moore was in a military police unit. His men despised him the way the crew of the Bounty despised Captain Bligh in the movies---but it’s the attitude that has served him well in his career in politics because it’s the attitude of his tribe. The law is what they say it is and not what outsiders like members of Congress from Northeastern and Left Coast states or federal judges of on courts higher than Moore’s say it is. And his voters like that. They like it because he uses his office not to uphold federal law but to protect them from having to obey it.
Whatever Moore may have done as an individual sexual deviant isn’t as important as what he has done and will do in his role as defender of the tribe. But they don’t see chasing after teenage girls as sexual deviance.
He had their mothers’ permission, after all.
The more realistic hope is that enough of Luther Strange’s voters who aren’t members of the tribe will be so disgusted they’ll vote for Jones or at least stay home.
The damper on that hope, though, is Strange’s voters are Republicans and the Republican Party everywhere has become a tribe itself.
“August 2003 rally in front of the Alabama state judicial building in support of Roy Moore. Taken from the Re-taking America website, copyrighted by Kelly McGinley at Re-Taking America, from whom permission has been received to license this material under the GNU Free Documentation License.” Via Wikipedia.
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