Category Archives: Politics

Essays on politics and current events.

Life in a time of moral clarity

My enemies are admitting they want to go back to a time when white men could own human beings. This is progress of a kind.

✎  Wayne K. Spear | December 12, 2017 ◈ Politics

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NDER THE OLD dispensation politics was a bipartisan craft and the interests of the country superseded those of the party. Or so was the theory. In any case, that was then and this is now. Not long after this article is published, Alabama may well have elected to office a man already twice removed from office, for refusing to uphold the oath which he had sworn. As Senator, Moore will go to Washington in the mode of a Trumpist, which is to say contemptuous of the rule of law, of the constitution, of the norms of the legal profession, of most of his colleagues, of the separation of church and state, and of the American culture itself.

Before Roy Moore was notorious as a Gadsen, Alabama deputy district attorney with an appetite for teenage girls, he was the notorious champion of a Ten Commandments monument who was removed from office for (among other things) refusing to follow the law and for abuse of administrative authority. Roy Moore’s career has been a lifelong effort to play a both-ways game, as a simultaneous officer of the law and a conscientious objector to the law. Courts and judges and rules and norms are all fine and good, for you and for me, but Mr. Moore recognizes the legitimacy only of the subjective interpretations of his personal God. The law is what Judge Moore decides that God wants it to be.

The Trumpists have not simply endorsed or welcomed Moore, they have made him into a figure of existential significance. And it’s not wrong-headed for them to do so. Either the Party of Trump is going to take the country further along the trajectory of autocracy and vengeance, and in doing so flourish, or else it will stall and maybe even perish. The bits of their souls “establishment” Republicans were unable to sell they’ve now given away, by making a final bargain with the racists and authoritarians of which Moore is of a piece. Let’s go over the inventory: candidate Moore is now on record for linking 9-11 to American godlessness, for glancing nostalgically upon the era of American slavery, for recommending elimination of all constitutional amendments 11–27, for wanting to keep women and Muslims out of politics, for comparing homosexuality to bestiality, and for supporting Birtherism. And this is only a partial list.

His opinions are not illegal but they are necessarily a matter of law, or will be if once again the people of Alabama choose to hand Moore the power to legislate. It’s not hard to imagine what laws a Senator Moore would champion. He’s told us time and again. But apart from any individual law, Roy Moore is eager to take America back to the cultural norms and atmosphere of the 1800s, when African Americans were property and women knew their place and the South had not yet suffered ignominy. To get there Moore will doubtless support Trump in the work of persecuting, prosecuting, firing, intimidating, or otherwise eliminating any and every critic and obstacle, including institutional and constitutional checks and balances.

The onset of my adulthood arrived roughly at a time when the Roy Moores of our world were in retreat, forced by the advances of civil rights and feminism to rephrase themselves. The terms of that long yet superficial armistice have now been repudiated. We are now firmly in the Trump Era, where abolition of the 15th Amendment is a Twitter hash tag and where deliberations of the coming white ethnostate are occurring in an urban coffee house near you. Donald Trump has clarified the landscape in an exhilarating way. The people who love and admire him are emboldened to undertake his cause, and the rest of us should likewise be emboldened—to fight and to prevail. We are living in a time of moral clarity, and that’s progress of a kind.

God’s Men In Washington

As weird as it may seem, “Theocracy” is the logical description of Trump’s Administration.

✎  Wayne K. Spear | October 31, 2017 ◈ Politics

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HERE’S A GAME I sometimes play on Twitter, and it begins whenever I find a vicious troll in a Twitter feed. If you use Twitter, you know the type of person I’m talking about. He (or she) confuses your / there with you’re / their, uses the words snowflake and libtard, has a thing for all-caps, and loves Donald Trump. Now for the game. You must guess the precise wording on his (or her) Twitter profile. Follower of Jesus? Proud Christian? Lover of God? Five points if you correctly choose “Bible citation” as your answer, ten if you pick the chapter and verse.

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It’s petty, I know. But it’s also revealing. Across social media the Jesus People are handing hourly beat-downs to their fellow-Americans, oblivious to the irony. Perhaps there is no irony. Evangelical Christianity is an angry and self-pitying creed, obsessed with persecution and impatient for a strong leader to initiate the final battle against the enemy. Soon enough the social media wars will be transposed to the streets, and when they are I won’t be surprised to see Christians trading their bullet-points for bullets, once again with no sense of irony.

Eighty-one percent of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump, a man who enjoys the support of a pious rogue’s gallery including, but not limited to, Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), Jerry Falwell Jr (Liberty University), Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Ralph Reed (Christian Coalition), and Pat Robertson (700 Club). In the days after the Unite the Right rally, in Charlottesville, several of the President’s advisory boards disbanded, appalled by his non-denunciation of neo-nazis and white supremacists. But the Evangelical Executive Advisory Board remained intact, minus only one member, the African-American and megachurch pastor A.R. Bernard. Evangelical Christian support for Trump has been strong from the beginning, and it looks as if it’s going to stay that way until the red heifer comes home.

White evangelical Christian best describes the Tribe of Trump. Not everyone who supports this President is an evangelical, but an evangelical is highly likely to support this President. Tucker Carlson identifies himself as an Episcopalian, but his contempt for the Episcopal Church makes it clear that his religious views are fundamentalist. Sean Hannity is the executive producer of a recently-released conversion-porn movie called Let There Be Light, about a miserable and alcoholic atheist who finds god in a near-death experience. Hannity plays himself, although not very convincingly according to a review I found online.

There are enough evangelicals in Trump’s cabinet to cast a movie called Let There Be Theocracy, starring Mike Pence as the Vice-President, Jefferson Sessions (Attorney General), Rick Perry (Energy), Betsy DeVos (Education), Ben Carson (HUD), Sunny Perdue (Agriculture Secretary), Tom Price (HHS), and introducing Scott Pruitt, as the godly EPA Administrator who says that “true environmentalism, from my perspective, is using natural resources that God has blessed us with.” In Let There Be Theocracy, Sean Hannity also plays himself, again not convincingly, in the role of a Fox News host who believes that Hillary Clinton is the President and that she should be prosecuted for colluding with Russia.

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Steve Bannon and Seb Gorka went to the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit recently to declare war on behalf of the Judeo-Christian West. Bannon put one of the Bible’s most poetic books, Ecclesiastes, to a cheap and nasty use: “There’s a time and a season for everything, and right now it’s a season of war against the GOP establishment,” he said. The many evangelicals and conservative Catholics around the President keep telling us that Donald Trump is fighting for Christian (or “Judeo-Christian”) values and doing a great job of it. Who am I to argue?

America’s evangelical Christians finally have God’s man in Washington, and God’s man is stuffing the government with Theocrats. We will soon learn a lot about their God from this administration, and it’s going to be a long, long time before we’ll forget what we discover.

Jagmeet Singh’s Charm Offensive

His nice words don’t quite square with nasty realities

✎  Wayne K. Spear | October 5, 2017 ◈ Politics

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HE HEADLINES trumpeting Jagmeet Singh’s NDP leadership win each conformed to one of two themes. Either his victory as a “non-white” candidate was unprecedented, or it could be credited to the very-much-precedented appeal of charisma, GQ-worthy style, and handsomeness. The American papers in particular didn’t fail to notice that another Trudeau had arrived on the scene, ending the Prime Minister’s cornering of the charm market. Nor does the ringing of familiar bells end there. Kesh and kara aside, the new NDP leader is political boilerplate: a lawyer from Scarborough who speaks (cautiously) in both official languages and who celebrates Canada’s diversity and wholesomeness in, no doubt, focused-group-tested terms.

Jagmeet SinghCanada’s newest GQ leader

But, of course, he isn’t just another politician. He’s Sikh, and he is now leader of a federal political party, and as such he’s nullified a barrier to political office we should be glad to see nullified. The Charisma War can now begin, and how discouraging this prospect must be for the Conservative leader, Mr. Scheer, whose New York Times headline said: “Canada’s Conservatives Choose Andrew Scheer as Their New Leader.” In the meantime we all know how these battles are going to be fought, and that is with the ammunition of buttery words shot at the hardworking families of the middle class. Gone are the days when a political party might actually have something to fight for or about, such as proletariat revolution or tooth-and-claw capitalism. It’s three parties for the middle class, comrade. So who do you think has the nicest suit?

There are still things in this world for which and over which people fight and kill and die. The recent history of the Indian and Pakistan Punjab, birthplace of Jagmeet Singh’s parents, comes to mind. Since the British withdrawal from the region in the 1940s, the Punjab and Kashmir regions have been among the world’s most dangerous and volatile. The sectarian hatreds of two nuclear states and their diverse internal populations have engendered horrific violence, and while it may be true that none of this registers with the average Canadian, some of the old-world baggage has found its way to places like Brampton and Surrey and Vancouver. Canadians ought to care about that, more than they do.

There was a time when obscure causes like an independent Sikh state of Khalistan (obscure from a Canadian perspective) made headlines from Halifax to Vancouver. On June 23, 1985, Sikh terrorists associated with Babbar Khalsa put a bomb on Air India Flight 182 as well as on a plane bound for Japan—the latter detonated at the Japanese airport, killing the baggage handlers—one member of Babbar Khalsa having vowed that “we will not rest” until they had killed 50,000 Hindus. There are Sikh nationalists who to this day celebrate as a martyr the man behind this crime, the largest-ever mass murder of Canadian citizens, Talwinder Singh Babbar.

What has this to do with Jagmeet Singh? Nothing, really. But at the prospect of questions about Khalistan and Sikh extremism and the “martyrdom” of Talwinder Singh Babbar, the charming bespoke Jagmeet Singh fade into the curtains to be replaced by a cagey and defensive and lawyerly Jagmeet Singh? Why does he demand that all questions along these lines be submitted in advance and all transcriptions of his answers vetted prior to publication? Probably all the reasons one asks for these things: to prepare an answer, to avoid surprises, to make the best possible impression.

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 10.52.32 AMA headline from Sikh Siyasat News

To his credit, Jagmeet Singh appeared on the October 2nd episode of Power and Politics despite Terry Milewski’s refusal to grant Singh’s terms. There, Milewski asked, “Do you think that some Canadian Sikhs go too far when they honour Talwinder Singh Babbar as a martyr of the Sikh nation?” Singh argued, falsely in my view, that Sikhs and Hindus co-exist “in peace and harmony, and we need to celebrate that.” (I ask you: how on earth can you square this idea with the Flight 182 bombing?) Pressed further, he said:

So, it is so unacceptable that violence that was committed—the heinous massacre that was committed—is something that Sikhs, Muslim, Hindus all denounced, the violence as perpetrated against innocent Canadian lives, is something we all denounce. I regularly denounce it on the anniversary. It’s something that we all collectively are opposed to. There is no question about this, that innocent lives were killed and it is completely unacceptable and needs to be denounced as a terrorist act.

He never answered the question, “Do you think that some Canadian Sikhs go too far when they honour Talwinder Singh Babbar as a martyr of the Sikh nation?” But he did answer two questions that Terry Milewski didn’t ask. Again I am reminded of Trudeau.