Newt Gingrich warns us: Atheists will impose Muslim law

As you may have heard, Gingrich told a church gathering in Georgia that “I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9 ..I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”
Matt Yglesias argues at the link, the bizarro evocation of atheists who are also Islamic fundamentalists makes more sense than it seems. Gingrich is talking to a right-wing, conservative Christian audience for whom American=Christian (or Protestant). Being Christian is what makes us great; if we turn secular/atheist, we won’t have the strength to stop the Islamists taking over because nonChristian secularists can’t possibly love America.
It’s a reflection of what I wrote about here, that Republicans continue to commit themselves to a white, conservative Christian constituency that defines itself as the Real America and feels it should be recognized as such even as it becomes more and more a minority.
But I think it’s also a reflection of something I noticed when writing Screen Enemies of the American Way (actually my friend Ross Bagby pointed it out to me years ago, which is one of the things that fueled my interest in writing the book). To the politically paranoid wing of America—and there’s a lot of that on the American right—all our enemies are one and the same. Communists, Nazis or Muslims, they have no purpose other than hating America and destroying democracy (Bush’s “They hate our freedoms” explanations reflects similar sentiments expressed in multiple WW II movies). As a result they’re interchangeable.
Hollywood’s version of the USSR routinely employed multiple Nazis, driving home that they were essentially the same enemy (of course, the USSR did make use of Nazis, but that no more proves any ideological kinship than our use of the Nazis). More recently the film Hired Gun showed the Russian Mafia (a frequent substitute for the KGB in film plots) and neo-Nazis equipping an Islamic militant group with a nuke to attack America.
And for some people, of course, liberals—particularly atheists and secularists (you’ll notice Gingrich’s speech assumes that secularism is apparently interchangeable with atheism)—are just as much a threat to America’s values. And so, therefore, interchangeable with Muslim terrorists.
In that sense, lumping Islamists and secularists together makes perfect sense (to the audience, I’m sure—I’ve no idea what Gingrich really believes). If American=Christian, Christian=American, so anyone who opposes Christians running America—liberals and Muslims alike—are all part of the same threat.
For many conservative Christians, there’s also the fact that it’s a given in their worldview that liberals are God-hating atheists who have made it impossible to talk about God in government, or in schools, so the fact they are actually tolerant to Muslims and not trying to ban them is proof they must be in sympathy with imposing shari’a law. Because liberals treat Muslims so much better than the oppressed masses of Christians who have no power and are on the brink of being herded into concentration camps.
So I agree with Yglesias that Gingrich wasn’t at all screwing up his argument, though I’m not sure I agree on the thinking behind it.


Filed under Politics, Screen Enemies of the American Way

6 responses to “Newt Gingrich warns us: Atheists will impose Muslim law

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