White Christian Nationalism is the Most Dangerous Weapon in America | Opinion

Last week, a wave of violence swept our country as liberals from coast to coast were targeted by bombs, black elders were shot in a Kentucky grocery store, and eleven Jews worshiping at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh were massacred.

Political violence and terrorism on this scale makes clear that it’s not the guns or the bombs, or even policy changes that can rip families apart and destroy lives that gives the right its power. Their single most effective and destructive weapon is an idea: white Christian nationalism.

White Christian nationalism says that some of us have no place in this country, or have less claim to our own bodies, American prosperity, and, crucially, to voting and our democracy. It finds expression in racism, anti-blackness, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny, and transphobia. Their fantasy is that, without us, remaining Americans would be better off. And the more the president and the party he has commandeered champion that idea, the more powerful response they get, whether it’s through bombings, shootings, or street brawls.  

Of course, not all Republicans are white Christian nationalists. However, the party relies on white Christian nationalism, and increasingly infuses it into party rhetoric. Republican elites have tried to make this election a referendum on a caravan of refugees lawfully seeking shelter, all so they can distract from the consolidation of corporate power, inflame the nationalist right and win the majorities they need to cut taxes, gerrymander our districts, or appoint anti-regulatory judges to the federal bench.

It is their rhetoric that is adding personal, vigilante, and organized right-wing violence to the already existing, ongoing, and grinding structural violence that too many Americans experience in so many ways.

Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers and the conservative media think their strategy is working and they have shown they are more than willing to accept this rising tide of violence as collateral damage. The only way to stop them is to prove them wrong. We must prove that appeals to white Christian nationalism will not only fail—they will backfire.

We can and will mourn for our fallen community members, but it would be a disservice to stop there. We must reject the calls to depoliticize our response to politically motivated attacks on Jewish people, on black people, the free press, and so many others. We will be sorrowful, we might be scared, but we won’t be shaken. We saw this coming and we will rely on our bonds to support one another, remain brave, and mobilize towards this midterm election and beyond through organizing year-round.

GettyImages-1055517186 People protesting against US President Donald Trump wait near the Tree of Life Congregation on October 30, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

While the right can only double down on division, movements for justice have a competing vision of promise, of abundance, of shared prosperity. Ours is more powerful because it’s popular. Ours is a movement that offers policies that lift up all people, regardless of race, religion, or background. Medicare-for-All is hugely popular among people of all parties because it’s the idea that everyone should be able to go to the doctor when they need to. People overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage because they believe that, in the most prosperous society in human history, everyone should have enough to eat, a safe place to live, and even enough to have a little fun. We have other massively popular ideas, like access to birth control and abortion, investing in schools, child care, and care for the elderly instead of prisons and police forces.

This is a movement that can rally the justice-minded, multi-racial, multi-gender, multi-faith, pro-refugee, pro-immigrant majority in this country. Instead of operating from a place of hatred and scarcity, ours offers love and abundance.

We are working to build an inclusive, democratic political movement built on solidarity. Solidarity is the idea that we don’t have to be the same to want the best for one another, that we can keep each other safe, we can share what we have, that we can find our way to consensus about how best to be in community together, better known as “democracy.” And that we will fight for it and for one another.

This movement we’re building is growing and winning. We see the national response to make sure our native siblings in North Dakota and elsewhere can vote next week. We see people ensuring that votes in Georgia get counted. We see Andrew Gillum’s and Stacey Abram’s inspiring races. We see local organizations making it clear to the rest of us that the shooting in Louisville was about race and power and politics, not one deranged person (though sick he might be). We see people of all faiths —and none at all—naming that the shooting in Pittsburgh was about George Soros conspiracy theories, Islamophobic slander, and ongoing xenophobia about asylum seekers, not one sick person (though sick he might be).

Terrorism seeks to distort our reality, break social bonds, and disrupt the commonwealth with fear.  Amid the terror we see the potential of solidarity. We will not be deterred by bombs or bad ideas. We are unwavering in our commitment to one another and our shared work of making good on the so-far unrealized promise of our democracy.

Maurice Mitchell is the national director of the Working Families Party. Dania Rajendra sits on the boards of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and Political Research Associates, and is extension faculty at The Worker Institute, Cornell University.

The views expressed in this article are the authors' own.

 

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