The terrorist specter (2)
A new slogan is now making the rounds, merchandised on bumper stickers, T-shirts, and so forth: Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8. To the secularist who doesn't know the Bible and wouldn't be inclined to look up the reference, it looks innocuous enough.
Here is the verse:
Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
The immediately-following verse (109:9) is:
Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
In case you feel inclined to protect your sanity by telling yourself that this somehow isn't as bad as it seems, here's Frank Schaeffer again (long video -- the relevant part starts at 3:30), who, recall, probably understands the Christian-fundamentalist subculture better than anyone else who isn't still an active part of it.
The real issue here is not incitement to violence. The real issue is the existence of a subculture so engulfed in religious fanaticism and hatred that a slogan like this finds a ready market, and the Obama-as-Muslim/Hitler/Marxist rhetoric of teabaggerdom finds a ready voice. This problem would still exist, and would be just as dangerous, even if there were no such rhetoric being aired.
I've argued before that the fundamentalist subculture in the US is in many ways equivalent to the Muslim minority in Europe. Furthering the parallel, it harbors an inner core of violent "jihadist" elements whose thinking is becoming more and more apocalyptic and dangerous as they see their hopes of eventually dominating and transforming the secular mainstream society slipping away.
The mostly-secular American left has always had trouble taking religion seriously, and constantly struggles to re-interpret the far right in economic or racist terms -- thus missing the point of what remains an essentially religious phenomenon.
We seem to have beaten down the threat of Islamic terrorism, at least for now. The threat of Christian terrorism may be just getting started.