Growing up in Jamaica during the Colonial era, I came across quite a few bigots, mostly English or of English descent, and even as a child I wondered at their steadfast belief in the superiority of European culture and the obligation of white colonists to “civilize” the descendants of African slaves and Indian indentured workers.
English poet Rudyard Kipling called it the “white man’s burden” but it was really an excuse to dominate and exploit other races. Don’t get me wrong; there is much to admire in European culture, and I personally feel comfortable in that kind of “cultured” environment. But that does not make it better than other cultures, and it certainly does not give anyone the right to belittle those who practice a different lifestyle.
These thoughts come to mind as I witness a worldwide resurgence of “conservative” ideology, and the zeal with which the disciples of this movement pursue political power. In America, for example, right-wing activists are dominating the Republican Party and are purging moderates from its ranks.
Commenting on the news that moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava had dropped out of a special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional district, Jon Vogel, the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, noted that high-profile Republicans Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck had endorsed a “conservative” candidate in the race. Vogel concluded:
It has never been clearer that the Republican Party has been hijacked by extreme right wing ideologues with a radical agenda that would effectively dismantle Social Security and Medicare, and are out of step with a vast majority of Americans.
Eight extreme right wing groups spent more than $1 million on this campaign including the Minute Men, Club for Growth and the Family Research Council.
But there’s more to it than that. There is a genuine grassroots movement in America dedicated to the pursuit of “conservative” moral and financial goals. Financed by a handful of enormously wealthy zealots and backed by powerful religious and commercial special interests, a significant segment of the American population is crusading for the right to impose its beliefs and prejudices on the rest of society.
Ironically, these people claim they are fighting for “freedom.” But the freedom they seek is the right to revoke the freedom of others. They want to criminalize abortion and ban same-sex marriages, for example. They argue that America is a “Christian” nation and they advocate establishment of a government based on their religious ideas.
Here’s a lament chosen at random from the web. It is attributed to the Hatton Church of Christ:
We live in a day in which the cry for individual rights has resulted in a wholesale endorsement of individual wrongs. It seems any and every pervert, malcontent or screwball must have his or her wrongs protected as if they were rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
Curiously, the “conservative” movement also denies that humans are contributing to potentially disastrous climate change. I can’t fathom why, but I think it has something to do with commercial interests that would be threatened by environmental restrictions. Somewhere in the logical muddle underlying the conservative cause, the generally accepted teachings of Christ have been turned upside down. Instead of conserving the world God gave us, we are urged to plunder its resources and foul its environment so that the rich may become even richer.
British Viscount Christopher Monckton, for example, recently claimed that climate change activism and the upcoming U.N. talks in Copenhagen are all a part of a gigantic communist plot.
According to Monckton (photo below):
So at last the communists who piled out of the Berlin Wall and into the environmental movement and took over Greenpeace, so that my friends who founded it left within a year because they’d captured it, now the apotheosis is at hand. They are about to impose a communist world government on the world. You (Americans) have a president who has very strong sympathies with that point of view….It is a privilege merely to stand on this soil of freedom while it is still free. But in the next few weeks, unless you stop it, your president will sign your freedom, your democracy, and your prosperity away forever.
Not surprisingly Glenn Beck invited Monckton on his Fox News show. And they warned that global cooperation on curbing climate change would somehow lead to global socialism. As you probably know, “socialism” is the bogeyman of the conservatives. They have the utmost contempt for programs designed to heal the sick and sustain the poor, and they oppose attempts to improve the public school system, encouraging home schooling and private education instead.
To this movement “conservative” has become the opposite of “progressive.” Why that should be a Good Thing beats me. I always thought that mankind’s manifest destiny was to progress, to become ever more evolved, ever more compassionate – and ever more Christlike.