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Fear Mongering

October 20, 2015 1 comment

The American presidential election is more than a year away, but you wouldn’t know it if you watched the news. Right now, for some incredibly stupid reason Donald Trump is the front runner or the Republican party nomination. This is distressing. Not because he’s going to get the nomination (he will not) but because part of his popularity stems from his ability to make people afraid and then tell them that he can fix the source of the fear. This is the story relevant to the blog as Trump fields a question at a town hall.

“We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims,” said the questioner in the audience at the New Hampshire town hall meeting on Thursday. “Our current President is one. We know he’s not even an American,” he added. “We have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question, when can we get rid of them?” Source: Time.com

Trump’s response, which he has since dialed back, was that it was one of the things he was looking into. I’m not going to spend much of this post on Trump, because he’s irrelevant to my point. What is scary about the question was not the answer but that this person is more than likely asking a question that he feels is important. The person who asked the question feels that his country is under threat by Muslims who are forming training camps with the intent to begin some kind of war against either the people or the government itself. They are afraid of a religious theocracy being put in place here and their religion being outlawed.

I’ve mentioned several times since I have started writing about Atheism that the Liberals of the American system often get religion just as wrong as the Conservatives but they do so in a different way. Liberals tend to be more forgiving of religious atrocities committed by members of religions that aren’t Christianity. They blame the rise of ISIS on the Iraq War, which to some extent is true, but it’s also the fault of a an extremely narrow reading of the Quran and its ability to generate followers. The more extreme you get the more Western Imperialism is blamed for these kinds of things. The Conservatives seem to think that the only religion valid in the US is Christianity and to some extent Judaism. The further right you go, the more that gets exclusionary as Muslims, Hindus, Pagans, and Atheists become people that are deemed un-American. To think this you have to already be on the extreme side, but then comes the fear which Trump has been exploiting to gain followers.

This idea that a religious group has been arming and training its members in order to subvert the Constitution and put in place a theocracy is without foundation, unless that group is Christian. Right Wing Christian militias have been gaining popularity in the last eight years, one group: The Oath Keepers has been particularly active and vocal about its opposition to the US government’s ability to enforce its laws. Imagine if this group were made of Muslims who vowed to protect the Constitution.

Extremist Christians in this country have been steadily trying to eliminate or enforce their way of life on the rest of us who do not agree with their positions on a variety of issues. We’ve had state governments attempt to erect blatantly religious statues on public ground and then deny other religions the right to do the same and the current push to defund Planned Parenthood is only based on religious ideas. In Williamson county, Texas, a person applying to become a constable had to undergo a religious test to determine whether or not they were Baptists. Of course we have Kim Davis, who decided that her religion meant that she couldn’t do her job anymore, but not so much that she resigned. I could go on and talk about a judge who ordered a non-Christian woman to attend bible study as a way to allow her to share custody of her children but listing these situations depresses me.

My problem is that despite this vocal growth of people who are so afraid of a Muslim theocracy they are ignoring the other one that seems to be gaining strength. This country was founded on the idea of a separation of church and State yet this only gets applied when it’s the religion that a person isn’t a member of–which was the whole point to begin with. What gets forgotten about the establishment clause is that it was designed to protect one religious group from another and is applicable now as it was upon its enactment. These people who think that the Muslims are invading are just the type of person the law was specifically against as they are merely seeking to demonize a group of people that they don’t know because they threaten the worldview that is held dear.

It’s not happening. As an Atheist, I don’t agree with Islam. I think of the religion in the same way that I think of Mormonism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, et al. I have no love of their edicts or their book, but I respect their right to live in a country that guarantees the right to free religious expression and renders illegal the requirement of a religious test for public office. These apocalyptic scenarios should be more worrisome. We shouldn’t dismiss these people as lunatics who are harmless because these are the people that stockpile weapons and are looking for a justification.

Trump didn’t create these people, but he’s brought them out and somehow legitimized them to the point where it’s acceptable that at a public recorded meeting someone would ask such a question and that he would not shoot that person down. It’s also apparently accepted to the point where the only condemnation of his lack of response came in a mitigated response from Chris Christie who thought he “handled it wrong.” The correct response was, “Show me these camps” because they are located in the same place as Obama’s FEMA camps, the dead aliens from Roswell, and my collection of Unicorn horns—nowhere.

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