Originally Published: October 18, 2017 6 a.m.
Interview with a supremacist leader
The way they reject Christianity
White supremacists don’t like Christian principles or basic American values, but their ideas are spreading and mingling with the edges of traditional conservativism, so traditional conservatives need to clearly know the difference and make their position known.
White supremacists often present themselves as promoters of the Christian world, but they don’t really like the softer parts of Jesus’ message, the do unto others as you would have done to you, compassion for the weak, humility, and certainly not love for your enemies. Instead they prefer the values the Romans held before Christianity spread. Values more Spartan in nature. Values of strength, and of hardness of the individual. If you’d like more on the roots of this, and explanations from some supremacist leaders themselves, see the links with this column.
Their connection to Christianity is not about New Testament values but about using the religion as a central, cohesive point of white, European culture.
It should be obvious from their bigotry that they don’t support basic American values, the idea of every person having rights, but it goes farther. The underlying attitude toward people expressed in the Bill of Rights is one of respect for everyone, and the understanding that each has full claim to a full set of rights. As a nation we’ve struggled over time to apply that, but that is the basis. That can come from a New Testament attitude toward people, or from a Buddhist respect for the sacredness of each, or from a non-religious understanding that each has all the rights of the others, but what it breaks on is a core attitude of, the heck with respect for others, or any interest in what is fair, or any valuing of goodness toward all others.
Strength is an important characteristic in its place. It’s how we won WWII. It’s how we’ve carried out struggles within the nation to get rights for all established in law. We don’t all have to be St. Francis avoiding stepping on bugs. But it is the idea that every person, no matter who, inherently has claim to all the rights of a person, that is our foundation. The supremacists don’t have that in their system. They are fundamentally unAmerican.
The supremacists would like their ideas to spread, to mingle with traditional conservativism and win over converts to their ways of thinking, and become the new core conservativism. Traditional conservatives, on the other hand, have been committed to American ideas and have deep ties to Christian churches.
If you’re a traditional conservative, be careful what media you’re consuming and which you are repeating and spreading. Understand that some who are trying to appeal to conservatives are, with one hand extending an invitation of camaraderie and overlapping interests, and with the other hand slipping in a contrary set of ideas. Have the distinction with their ideas clear in your mind, and make sure your family, coworkers, fellow conservatives, know that you value that distinction.
The supremacists would like to use media to create the impression that their ideas are what conservatives are all about. If traditional conservatives don’t make the distinction clear, then it’s hard to tell the difference. They all seem to be the same. The supremacists will have succeeded.
What conservativism is understood to be a decade from now will depend on what conservatives declare themselves to be about, now.
Tom Cantlon is a local business owner and writer and can be reached at comments at tomcantlon.com.