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Prophets of Doom

Published: September 26, 2008, Author: JayTaber

America didn’t suddenly become a nuthouse, that took some effort. While it’s always been home to religious fanatics and prophets of doom, it’s only by the mainstreaming of these damaged people that it seems like our society has come unhinged.

Not to downplay the public harm and threat to democracy that unleashing this violent milieu on the political process has done, but it’s worth remembering that while sometimes dormant or marginalized, right-wing terrorists have always been part of the American social landscape. It’s just that bringing them out of the closet makes them seem new.

Normalcy, as defined by the time prior to the mainstreaming of religious-based bigotry in the 1980s, had its problems, but the readily-apparent insanity of the present GOP ticket, for instance, signals a qualitative change in power politics that many Americans are having difficulty getting their minds around. And indeed, the fallout from this electoral fiasco may be something even the GOP regrets.

The decision by America’s aristocracy to unleash religious savagery on the American public is perhaps the ultimate sign of a society in decline, but the dysfunction of governance is only one of the consequent problems. The resurgence of domestic terrorism that is almost sure to come as a result, is not an easily controllable outcome. For, unlike the strictly criminal enterprise of the present administration, an apocalyptic regime inciting true believers to run rampant is a pathogen cured only by official violence.

In other words, what mad behavior we are unable to constrain by moral sanction, in time will have to be put down by lethal force. If one looks back over the last thirty years, it isn’t hard to find examples of what I mean.

(Jay Taber — recipient of the Defender of Democracy award — is an author, columnist, and research analyst at Public Good Project.)

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