The chattering class is very preoccupied these days with “Christian nationalism.” The pundits who speak darkly about it don’t bother to define the phrase, but it is meant to conjure up a terrifying picture of extremism. That liberals consider it a devastating slur speaks to their own anti-Christian and anti-nationalist views.
The existence of patriotic Christians across the land certainly wouldn’t have alarmed the Founding Fathers. They would have found the use of “Christian nationalism” as an epithet puzzling. Indeed, they assumed that the American form of government would work best in the hands of a Christian people.
It is liberalism’s jaundiced view of the American founding that should worry Americans. Neither Christian nor nationalist, liberalism proposes a new political order alien to the country’s religious origins.
The more liberals lock arms with actual extremists — they have wedded themselves to Black Lives Matter, which is explicitly anti-American and anti-Western — the more they feel the need to invent imaginary ones, both from America’s past and present. By “extremism,” what liberals mean more often than not is simply traditional Christianity and conservatism. It is a slur designed primarily to tarnish liberalism’s conventional political opponents. The broad application of the label has rendered it meaningless.
In assessing religious extremism, liberals habitually strain at the gnat and swallow the camel. They inveigh against “Christian nationalists” while shrugging at Muslim jihadists. The same liberal publications that scoff at the threat of “Sharia law” churn out endless pieces on the supposed dangers of persistent Christianity. For them, the Little Sisters of the Poor pose a greater threat to the country than the Muslim Brotherhood. Notice also the reluctance of these publications to label any violence “Islamic,” even as they brood over the Capitol Hill riot as a “Christian revolt.”
Liberals would never direct at Muslims the insults they hurl at Christian bakers and florists, who merely wish to be left alone. As long as a religion is non-Western and non-Christian, liberals will avert their gaze from its illiberal practices. No liberal would ever accuse imams of “waging a war on women,” but liberals didn’t hesitate to level that charge against priests and nuns who objected to Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate.
Under Trump, Christians enjoyed a reprieve from that hectoring. But that is over. It is open season on Christians again. Like Barack Obama, Biden can only muster enthusiasm for religious freedom in the case of Muslims. Even as Biden ended the “Muslim ban” — his tendentious description of Trump’s immigration policy toward countries that are hotbeds of terrorism — he began hatching plans to harass Christians. The most cherished items on his agenda — from public funding of abortion to transgenderism — require restricting the freedom of Christians.
For Democrats, the growth of Christianity at home is always more disturbing than the spread of radical Islam abroad. Hence, Biden is busy turning the U.S. military into a toy of political correctness. Winning real wars is a lower priority for him than winning the culture war against Christianity. He is willing to hurt military recruitment and retention in order to purge the ranks of “extremists.”
It doesn’t take much to fall into that category. Mere opposition to open borders and transgenderism can make you a wild-eyed “Christian nationalist.” The very progressives who used to denounce McCarthyism now practice their own version of it, scouring the social media accounts of conservative Christian soldiers.
Never mind that these arbiters of what is and what is not acceptably American are themselves extremists, keeping company with athletes who boycott the flag and activists who torch police stations. Biden’s “extremism” task force within the military is stocked with proponents of critical race theory and apologists for Islam.
What we are witnessing is simply political combat disguised as “national security” concerns. Biden is doing exactly what he promised not to do at his inauguration — punishing those who didn’t vote for him. His search for “extremism” is nothing more than an attempt to delegitimize conservatives. It masks the Left’s drive toward a one-party state.
The media, which should encourage a wider political discourse, never fails to narrow it. CNN and other liberal outlets discharge most of their fire not on genuine extremists but on thoroughly mainstream conservative figures such as Tucker Carlson. That the media considers the most popular host on cable TV an “extremist” reveals its contempt for half the country. Hillary Clinton’s view of Trump supporters as “deplorables” remains liberalism’s normative view. It refuses to treat them as worthy participants in politics.
In their choice of smears, liberals reveal more about themselves than their opponents. Normally they call pious Christians “bigots,” but apparently that is not sinister enough. “Christian nationalism” sounds scarier, and so they have now adopted that as a mantra. But this straining invective only sheds light on liberalism’s own lack of patriotism and hostility to America’s historic religion.
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