Channel surfing last night between football and baseball games, and came across a speaker on c-span talking about academics, intellectuals, and progressives as being anti-American. Academics and intellectuals control the culture, he said, and we must learn our history in order to defeat them. I sip my coffee and try to grapple with the reality that many of my friends and relatives see me as one of them, and while the notion of being an intellectual is flattering, the claim that I am anti-American unsettles me. Who are you to accuse me of anything, I mutter at the flat screen. I served. That should be enough, he says, though he has always known that service is never enough.
The speaker went on to speak about our founding fathers, how deeply rooted they were in the Judeo-Christian ethic. I wonder if he has read Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson—the author of that much abused phrase in the Declaration, and Nature’s God. But then I am reminded that much of Jefferson has been removed from the Texas history textbooks and replaced with Mosses. Jefferson it seems has some quirky things to say about the Bible and religion. As did Franklin. Never mind Thomas Paine, but everyone knew he was a heretic.
I read an article about the new right and their embrace of Nietzsche and his notion of Übermensch or superman, though they misread him, about their notion of Christendom as opposed to Christianity. These new would-be fascists jettison the teachings of Jesus as a doctrine which empowers the weak to suppress the strong, and instead see Christendom as a unifying political force. They envision a world where the strong will prevail.
I take a breath. I am reminded of something Jesus said to Pilot when Pilot was telling Jesus he had the power to crucify him or free him. Jesus spoke of power in an other worldly sense—Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. (Tyndale) Pilot orders him crucified, and we are left to decide whether or not we believe the rest of the story. A stone rolls away from the tomb.
I know history well enough to know what fascism looks like, smells like. I know what happens to the “weak” under fascism, what happens to “the other.”
Then there is Jules in Pulp Fiction who, though he misquotes Ezekiel, understands in the end it is the duty of the strong to protect the weak, not to enslave them or exploit them.
I think about these things in the morning after my walk. I am reminded that my father always hated it, that I thought about those things. That boy is always thinking, he hissed at me with his pointed finger. But then I imagine he saw me as anti-American.