When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing, he believes in anything.
– G. K. Chesterton (attributed)
Marxism is the opium of the intellectuals.
– Raymond Aron
A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.
– George Santayana
Fanatical hatred of nonbelievers used to be the province of religion, and it still is in the Middle East. But in the West, religion has ceased to play an important role in many people’s lives. Sadly, instead of discarding intolerance, many people transferred it to politics, where it can be just as destructive.
If I believe Satan is tempting me, I will be aware of my weaknesses and try to overcome them. But if I believe that a politician with whom I disagree is satanic, I will do everything in my power to destroy him − and perhaps even kill him. And I will regard his followers as satanic as well. To believe Satan is tempting me is one thing; to believe a real person is satanic is quite another.
Having removed all religion from public life, we needed somewhere to put all the fanaticism and intolerance that people too often associated with religion. And where better to put them than politics?
Yes, let’s take a politician with whom we disagree, and instead of criticizing his policies, let’s condemn him personally. But let’s not be squeamish. Let’s not stop with making fun of his hair or his hands. No, let’s equate Donald Trump with the Antichrist.
On Google, “Trump+Antichrist” (in quotes) gives 5,220 hits, and “Trump+devil” gives an impressive 19,200 hits. By way of comparison, “Hitler+Antichrist” gives 1,640 hits, and “Hitler+devil” gives a paltry 1,720 hits. That is, according to the Internet, Donald Trump is associated with the devil 11 times more often than is Adolf Hitler. But if you need further evidence, check out Google Images for Trump+Antichrist and Trump+devil. To progressives, Trump apparently out-Hitlers Hitler, no easy task.
But wait – did Trump start an aggressive war in which 40 to 60 million human beings died? Did Trump set up death camps in which 10 to 12 million innocent civilians were murdered? Did Trump spread racial and religious hatred that reverberates to this day?
Yes, that Trump.
● The anti-immigrant Trump. The Trump whose paternal grandparents were immigrants, whose mother was an immigrant, and whose wife is an immigrant.
● The racist Trump. The Trump with two children married to Jews, one of whom converted to Judaism.
● The bigoted Trump. The Trump who opened up Palm Beach to African Americans and Jews, while other hotels remained segregated.
● The self-absorbed Trump. The Trump who got out of his limo to stop a mugger who was wielding a baseball bat.
That’s right, the diabolical Donald Trump. The anti-Christ Donald Trump.
We have taken the intolerance and hatred that were evoked by religious fanaticism, and instead of burying them in the graveyard of rotten ideas, we transferred them to politics.
But why are intolerance and hatred confined mainly to leftist politics? Conservatives are more likely to take religion seriously, so they already have a source of meaning for their lives. For many progressives, on the contrary, politics is their source of meaning − and their religion. So those who disagree are seen as heretical, or even diabolical.
That is why leftists insinuate their leftism into every aspect of life. Some years ago, we attended two funerals in a short time. At both, the speakers – children of the deceased – gave prominent mention to the deceased’s contempt for then-President Bush. And at my own mother’s funeral, a cousin handed out leftist fliers as we exited the funeral home. At the time, these actions seemed inappropriate and insulting. But now I realize that for those people, leftist politics had taken on a religious fervor, so a funeral was just the place to push their agenda.
This idea is borne out by the fact that extreme right-wingers, such as neo-Nazis, are also fanatical about their politics. They too attribute diabolical motives to their political opponents. But neo-Nazis are often irreligious. Many of them hate Christianity as much as they hate Judaism. In this they follow their idol, Hitler, who declared he was not a Christian because Christianity was rooted in Judaism. Propaganda Minister Goebbels wrote in his diary, “The Führer is deeply religious, but deeply anti-Christian. He regards Christianity as a symptom of decay.”
I am not implying that those who bring fanaticism to politics, and who equate their political opponents with Satan, are budding Nazis. But I am saying that it is dangerous to discard the ethical contributions of religion, while we retain the fanaticism − and then displace it into the political sphere.
If we are not careful, we will wind up with the worst of both worlds − absence of ethical principles to guide us in life, combined with the fanaticism to believe that our political opponents are diabolical. That is hardly the recipe for our survival as a free nation.
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