Sunday, March 25, 2018

Chickenhawks flock to the White House

Image result for donald trump chickenhawk
John Bolton: Chickenhawk

See John Bolton avoids Vietnam.

Stephen Metcalf on Slate:

...Donald Trump’s selective service file reads as follows: Between 1964 and 1966, as American troop commitment in Vietnam escalated and the military draft began in earnest, Trump received three 2-S classifications—student deferments—for being enrolled at Fordham University and later at Wharton business school. 

In the ’60s, graduate school was an easy way to extend a student deferment until you turned 26, at which point you aged out of the draft...In July 1968, Trump received a 1-A classification, signaling he was fit to serve on the basis of a physical he had taken roughly two years earlier. 

Then, in October 1968, Trump was examined again, and classified 1-Y. He was no longer protected by a grad student deferral, but it didn’t matter. He had been made exempt from military service due to an unspecified medical condition.

Not surprisingly, Trump has dissembled on the issue, claiming his high draft lottery number prevented a call-up. But Trump’s publicly available files show he received his 1-Y classification before the lottery went into effect in 1969. 

When Trump’s biographer confronted him about the timeline, a curious exchange ensued. “As he talked, Trump slipped off his black loafer and pointed to his heel, where a little bulge pushed against his sock. ‘Heel spurs,’ he explained, ‘on both feet.’ ” 

By his own account, Trump was a golden boy athlete through high school, “always the best player” on the field, one who excelled “not just in baseball, in every sport.” Yet somehow, thanks to a minor protuberance, he was declared unfit for military service...

Labels: , ,

Why evangelicals don't care

Image result for billy graham pictures
March 18
Neil Carter

A week ago Forbes published an opinion piece by Chris Ladd, a lifelong Republican who ditched his own party in 2016, but then they took the article down because the editors felt the subject matter was too controversial for their audience. The article was spot on in my opinion, and Ladd put his finger on something I’ve never read anyone express so succinctly.

At the end of my most recent post about the passing of Billy Graham I argued that today’s evangelical theology was significantly influenced by a political party desperate to survive into the next generation by cobbling together a unified base of voters in the Deep South no matter what it took. In a kind of reverse Faustian bargain, the GOP sold their collective soul to Jesus in exchange for another 40 years of existence.

Baptists changed their view on abortion (something the Bible never condemns but actually prescribes in at least one place) to match that of the Catholic Church only after the Supreme Court ruled that fundamentalist Christian schools couldn’t discriminate on the basis of race. Suddenly Baptists and Catholics began holding hands and moving as a unit, and thus was born the Religious Right.

But after reading Ladd’s article I realized I didn’t go far back enough. If you truly want to understand all the cultural and economic influences that have shaped the evangelical mind of today, you have to go all the way back to the Civil War.

Ladd states his thesis at the outset:

Modern, white evangelicalism emerged from the interplay between race and religion in the slave states. What today we call ‘evangelical Christianity,’ is the product of centuries of conditioning, in which religious practices were adapted to nurture a slave economy. The calloused insensitivity of modern white evangelicals was shaped by the economic and cultural priorities that forged their theology over centuries.

He then proceeds to back it up with a concise thumbnail sketch of how things got to be the way they are. He begins by pointing out that the largest evangelical denomination, Southern Baptists, formed in 1845 during a split over slavery. From that point forward, social and economic pressures dictated how white Christian churches in the South read the Bible, leaving them with a selective biblical memory so curiously inverted it makes you wonder if you’ve stepped into a Bizarro world where up is down and wrong is right.

Ladd gets right to the point:

If all you knew about Christianity came from a close reading of the New Testament, you’d expect that Christians would be hostile to wealth, emphatic in protection of justice, sympathetic to the point of personal pain toward the sick, persecuted and the migrant, and almost socialist in their economic practices. None of these consistent Christian themes served the interests of slave owners, so pastors could either abandon them, obscure them, or flee.

Jesus clearly belongs to that dissenting prophetic tradition within Judaism which calls out the rich and the powerful, demanding that they share their bounty with the less fortunate. But this central theme to his ministry is all but erased by the way that evangelicals read their Bibles today.

Social benevolence is alternately the secular government’s business and not the government’s business depending on whichever answer at the moment will ensure that nothing is demanded of them personally to ameliorate the living conditions of those who aren’t white or male.

And now you know why: Any teachings of Jesus which favor the poor, the immigrant, the widow, and the marginalized were systematically expunged from the Southern white Protestant hermeneutic until they were left with a Savior who only cares about what happens to you after you die...

Labels: , , , ,