More Politics of Fear

And the politics of fear continues.  This sounds like the New England Federalists after Jefferson got elected in 1800.  Some of them thought Jefferson and his henchman would invade New England, steal their Bibles, and close their churches.   The video embedded in Aaron Rupar’s tweet confirms a major part of my argument in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

One more thing: I want to know what court evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr. would actually do to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if she comes after his cows.

27 thoughts on “More Politics of Fear

  1. It took a while to track it down but apparently AOC was not making a personal hard prediction that “the world is going to end in 12 years” but, instead, was making a rhetorical point about generational perception and how the younger generations perceive global warming as an existential problem in need of a strong, sustained and global solution.

    “Millennials and people, you know, Gen Z and all these folks that will come after us are looking up and we’re like: ‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?'”

    The 12-year prediction is outlined in the 2018 UN “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC,” which was released last October and that uses the year 2030 – 12 years from now – not as the “end of the world” but as a threshold point that may be beyond clawing our way back.

    Of course this is diametrically opposed to the Earth’s highly-trained and leading scientists such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and the rest of outrage media. Better to be a bloviating contrarian and stop any meaningful attempt to confront the world of reality than to give into “Big Government™.”

    As to the Founding Fathers being shocked at the size, complexity and pace of the world and the dire consequences it faces today, I agree. However, given their penchant for actual science they would probably be citing the 2018 UN “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC,” and the need to act to preserve the union that they started so that future generations could benefit. And, of course, that would take the size of government commensurate to the problem. And the funding.

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    • One might also refer to the federal government’s recent report (yes, that would be Trump’s federal government) that says “’Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,’ researchers say in the report, officially Volume II of the National Climate Assessment. (Volume I was released last year.) The 1,600-page report details the climate and economic impacts U.S. residents will see if drastic action is not taken to address climate change.

      – USA Today On Politics “‘The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,’ Ocasio-Cortez says” 2019/01/22

      Liked by 1 person

  2. John: of course, all of this is quite silly, but you do realize that AOC is claiming that the world is going to end in 12 years unless we do something — thus, the urgent need to spend one meellion treellion dollars of other people’s money — about climate doom. She’s even suggesting it’s not morally defensible to bring more children into our dystopian near future.

    Is this the politics of hope? You’re going to accuse me of whataboutism again, but understand: I’m not primarily concerned about AOC’s silly hyperventilations. I’m interested in your remarkably selective denunciations of such fear-mongering.

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    • I don’t know if AOC is correct about her 12-year prediction. But her prediction is closer to the the truth than what climate science deniers and others who don’t want to do anything about this issue are saying. Climate change is a real problem. I agree with almost every scientist who says that this is a man-made problem.

      I am not a libertarian. I connect more deeply with the civic humanist tradition of our Founding Fathers. They believed that a republic only survives when people are willing to make sacrifices for the common good. I cannot think of a more pressing issue related to the common good of our planet and the planet our children will inherit than to spend money on curbing climate change. I see this as compatible with my Christian faith as well. We are called to care for the creation. I also see it as a life issue.

      I wish the churches or other non-government agencies would step up and try to do something about climate change, but it is not going to happen this way. It never happens this way. For example, the church had a chance to deal with Civil Rights and failed miserably–the government had to step in. So the government must step in on climate change. Voluntary societies and churches will not do anything about it, nor am I sure they are in the position to do anything about it as institutions. I believe that government, as an institution ordained by God, must serve the public good. (I am entirely on board with Catholic Social Teaching on this point as well as the National Association of Evangelicals). So yes, I will pay extra taxes to help create a sustainable planet for my children (yes, my literal children, ages 17 and 21–it will effect them) and my grandchildren and my children’s and grandchildren’s neighbors. I support the Green New Deal. What is happening at CPAC is fear-mongering. As I argued in *Believe Me*, fear-mongering is often not based on reliable facts. Of course Dems like AOC engaged in a degree of fear-mongering as well, but on this issue their views, as I see it, are closer to the truth.

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      • “When people are willing to make sacrifices for the common good.”

        And what of those whose view of the common good differs from yours?

        Then they will be coerced, via force of government, into making such “sacrifices.” For their own good, of course. This is always the end game for benevolent central planners like AOC.

        No thanks.

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        • Well, at least you have defined your position Tony. To me it is ultimately a selfish position–an American position for sure–but also a selfish one. If you believe that climate change is real and man-made, I cannot think of a more “common good” issue than the destruction of the planet. Can you think of a common good issue that affects more of God’s creation than the destruction of the planet? I cannot. This is not an identity politics issue that favors one group over another, this is an issue that affects the entire human race. Again, thank you for clarifying your position. We see the world and the implications of our faith in the world in fundamentally different ways.

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          • John: I don’t accept the question begging that we are facing an imminent catastrophe from AGW. Accordingly, I am not prepared to accept statist, redistributive solutions — which will be economically destructive and do far more harm than good — to a non-problem. I understand that you vehemently disgree. I fear never the twain shall meet on this issue. I’m pleased that I could clarify that for you.

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              • I could pose the same question to you, Alex, when you discover it’s not.

                We have a difference of opinion. No epiphanies necessary.

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                  • And I hate that this matters, but it might help you to understand I AM a libertarian. Actually a Christian ANARCHIST at heart. So don’t talk to me like my goal is big government. I really don’t care about government, I care about the church. Just tell me what your plan is. I’ll vote for Trump if you just tell me what your plan is.

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                • Then how long will you wait to change your ‘opinion’ about carbon pollution? Till Miami is underwater? That already happens regularly. Till the Petroleum Institute declares climate change ‘the greatest threat to American prosperity’? That has already happened. Till Margret Thatcher makes her own version of “An Inconvenient Truth”? That happened over 30 years ago! Maybe if the Majority and Minority leaders of the House show their concern in a miraculous show of bipartisanship? Newt and Nancy did that over a decade ago! Tony, what are you waiting for? Are you waiting for Jesus to personally show up and tell you you missed the boat, and the helicopter?

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      • John,
        You say you agree either Catholic Social Teaching that government should be a force for good. Is unlimited abortion a good thing? Catholic Social Teaching is rather dogmatic that it isn’t.
        As far as the NAE, I don’t know of anyone who takes them seriously or is even aware what they teach. I assume they oppose abortion but I still see them as largely irrelevant.
        James

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        • Unlimited abortion is NOT a good thing. I have written about this often here at the blog and I am on record as well in a piece at USA Today and elsewhere. I am sorry that you think the NAE is irrelevant. Perhaps this says more about you than the NAE. When an organization claims the membership of the Assemblies of God, the Christian Missionary Alliance, the Christian Reformed Church, Church of the Nazarene, Evangelical Free Church, Foursquare Church, Presbyterian Church in America, the Salvation Army, the US Conference on Mennonite Churches, the Church of God, the Vineyard USA, and the Wesleyan Church (among many others), I tend to take the organization, its statement of faith, and its social witness seriously. So there you go, James–you now know at least one person who takes the NAE seriously.

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          • Abortion is a far more immediate horror than climate change and I am pleased to hear you condemn it, John. Unfortunately, one political party is currently evolving from mere abortion to infantacide.
            On the NAE material you provided, I am sorry to learn that several reasonably sound denominations are linked to them. I doubt that the average pew-sitter even knows the NAE exists.
            I still believe them to be largely irrelevant and am disappointed that the money is being wasted on their Washington office. I turned against them years ago when I heard a man named Richard Cisek (spelling?) interviewed. He was just too theatrically and conspicuously “thoughtful” for my tastes. His manner was just a bit overly studied. I don’t know if he is still their spokesman.

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        • Pretty much no one is for abortion. And pretty much everyone is for decreasing abortions. But people disagree with how best to achieve that end. As with guns, most Americans simultaneously support freedom and regulation, that is to say pro-choice and pro-life (according to decades of polling data), and there is no contradiction in this. Also, most Americans tend to be both principled and pragmatic when it comes to abortion. The average person wants to do what is right and generally this is defined as what improves the lives of actual people. Very few people are motivated by abstract beliefs of ideological dogmatism. And because of this, most Americans are somewhere in the center on this issue, not at the extremes.

          Abortion only became a contentious debate quite recently. For centuries of American history, it was largely a non-issue with abortions being common and easily accessible. All across the country, in both cities and rural areas, there were doctors who would do abortions. It was considered an something of necessity, especially for families that were the working poor prior to a welfare state and prior to birth control. It wasn’t a political football of culture wars, partisanship, and moral righteousness. Not that it wasn’t an important point of morality. But interestingly, the earlier abortion laws in certain states were more used to protect women seeking abortions than to punish them. They were rarely enforced and only when a doctor was considered a problem. In communities, most people knew that abortions were done and simply looked the other way.

          The abortion rate has gone down in recent years. The main reason is that fewer women are getting pregnant. And a large reason is better birth control which means there are fewer unwanted pregnancies. That is what the data has shown across numerous societies. Liberal policies promoting birth control (and full sex education) is the reason why liberal pro-choice laws don’t increase the abortion rate. Instead, sometimes conservative policies can simply increase the rate of unwanted pregnancies. With unwanted pregnancies. women seek abortions at the same rate, whether abortions are legal or illegal. This is an unintended side effect of conservative policies. Abortion bans fail on their own moral standard and stated goal, in that they don’t actually decrease the number of abortions, in some cases increasing them. Calling abortion bans pro-life is factually false, if we judge a political policy by its results rather than its (good) intentions.

          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/claims-of-us-becoming-pro-life/

          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/american-christianity-history-politics-social-issues/

          https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-abortion-rate-is-falling-because-fewer-women-are-getting-pregnant/

          https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/free-birth-control-access-can-reduce-abortion-rate-by-more-than-half/

          https://www.thelocal.no/20130726/free-pill-halves-norways-abortion-rate

          https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/wnwm8q/banning-abortion-doesnt-actually-reduce-abortion-rates-at-all

          https://www.bustle.com/articles/160450-anti-abortion-laws-dont-reduce-the-abortion-rate-new-study-finds-and-thats-not-all

          https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book-excerpts/health-article/impact-of-illegal-abortion/

          https://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-a-grimes/the-bad-old-days-abortion_b_6324610.html

          https://prospect.org/article/what-happens-when-abortion-outlawed

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          • I realized I didn’t explain the relevance of my comment, as it is a response to another comment that was off-topic in mentioning abortion. It is very much about the politics and culture of fear, as opposed to compassion and understanding. When in a state of fear, people often cling go group identities and belief systems, rather than remaining open to others on a human level.

            It really does come down to whether or not we take seriously the suffering and struggles of others, if we prioritize genuine concern over righteous outrage. It’s easy to be angry and to attack those one simply knows are wrong. But to sincerely try to make the world a better place for all involved is much more of a challenge, although not as hard as we make it.

            It isn’t mere utilitarianism to maintain one’s focus on the real-world consequences of our actions and policies. Morality that, based on abstract ideology, dismisses the harm done to others is no morality at all. And so if moral results don’t match moral intentions, that demands soul-searching. What good are moral principles that are wielded as weapons to attack one’s enemies and win political battles at all costs?

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      • If the Founding Fathers could see the out-of-control federal monstrosity in and around Washington, I think they would go screaming off into the Potomac River. The so-called common good takes a back seat to the bureaucrat’s bowl of rice.

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      • “I wish the churches or other non-government agencies would step up and try to do something about climate change, but it is not going to happen this way. It never happens this way”.

        I also wish the churches would step up and try to do something about climate change. But I am not going to dismiss the Church, because I’m never going to give up on the Church. I think I would rather see the worst effects of climate change than see the Church fail.
        **Having said this, I am NOT going to do anything to retard government efforts to do God’s work before the Church gets around to it.** In fact, I’m probably inadvertently helping the government’s efforts as I serve the Church by voting out all of the politicians who are misleading the Church to be complicit.

        “The Anarchists are right in everything; in the negation of the existing order and in the assertion that, without Authority there could not be worse violence than that of Authority under existing conditions. They are mistaken only in thinking that anarchy can be instituted by a violent revolution. But it will be instituted only by there being more and more people who do not require the protection of governmental power and by there being more and more people who will be ashamed of applying this power.” – Leo Tolstoy

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  3. The fear-mongering works both ways as any observer will note. At CPAC you WILL NOT hear:
    —-Someone is going to take away “a woman’s right to choose.”
    —.—Someone is going to turn federal parks over to private development
    ——Someone is going to bar certain groups from lawfully voting
    ——Someone is going to “gut public education”
    ———Someone is going to defund social security.
    ——Someone is going to remove “diversity” from the military and other venues.
    ——Someone is going to establish concentration camps for innocent people in Texas and AZ
    And, of course, the most recent and the most grand fearful remark is from the newest Democrat celebrity. She has stated that the world will end in twelve years without The Green New Deal.

    CPAC speakers are tame compared to the DEMs.

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      • It’s not whataboutism, John, as I point out above. Can you explain why one should take your critique of political fear mongering seriously when you seem incapable of identifying it — and as James points out, it is rampant in the party you vote for — among those with whom you are ideologically aligned?

        The argument isn’t: “they do it too.” It’s: “you seem unconcerned when they do it, too. Thus, why should others be concerned?”

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        • Tony and James: My post was not about the Democratic Party or the Left. It was about CPAC. These are the things that I write about here at the blog. I think that at this moment Trump is a greater threat to American institutions and the evangelical church than the Democratic Party. You may disagree. So when you guys engage in this kind of whataboutism, I interpret it as, “I don’t think what Cruz, Falwell, and others are doing in this video is fear-mongering” or “I don’t see what they are saying is a problem” Or “I have no issues with how these politicians are trying to claim a Christian mantle and still engage in the politics of fear.” Both of you guys claim strong Christian convictions. You both seem to have everything figured out about faith and politics. (Which frankly worries me). So let me ask you: Is there ANYTHING in this video that you see as problematic? ANYTHING?

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          • Sorry John, but I don’t know which video you are referencing. I tried to find a link above but came up short. That might be my fault. I commented on what I read. Had I seen the video, I would have commented on it.

            As far as your other general remarks, I am far more concerned about the totalitarian impulses of the coercive utopians on the left than I am about climate change. Furthermore, this statist system of the Democrats is patently secular and will result in the oppression of Biblical religion.

            Finally, you have cited Tony and me for “whataboutism.” As I said, I’d be happy to comment on the video if I see it. Concurrently, it is appropriate that Tony and I state that political rhetoric is not limited to one party.
            James

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          • John,

            Regarding your statement that Tony and I have it all figured out in the political and religious realms……….
            I will let Tony speak for himself, but as for myself it is much easier to separate the wheat from the chaff in the political sphere than it is in the spiritual and ecclesiastical world. In the latter area, we still see through a glass darkly.
            James

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