Yesterday I asked whether batshit-crazy 25th LD Republican nominee Hans Zeiger agrees with me and the Seattle Times that, in their words, “loathing of Muslims … humiliates Christians and demeans their beliefs in the eyes of the world.”
Of course, it was a rhetorical question, as Zeiger’s extensive written record makes it clear that he does not.
For example, in a December 2006 column in the online wingnut mouthpiece WorldNetDaily, titled “The right must unite against Islam,” Zeiger actually makes the extraordinarily cynical and prescient suggestion that opposition to Islam should replace anti-communism as the organizing principle that unites the conservative movement:
When conservatism began its popular resurgence in politics and ideas in the 1950s, the thing that tied together the intellectual camps … and made their adherents a collective force, with time, for Ronald Reagan was the spirit of anti-communism. Conservatives, after all, are generally trying to conserve something good in the face of something bad. Conservatives need not agree about the ultimate good (the good could be liberty, or equality, or truth, or tradition). But they must agree about what is bad (communism was bad).
Today, as in 1964 and 1980 when communism was pulsing and the right was united, there are different views among conservatives about what constitutes the good. However, unlike 1964 and 1980, conservatives today are divided about what constitutes the bad. Some say that terrorism is the great enemy; others say that war is the great enemy. Some say that government is our undoing, others that the popular culture is evil. It is possible to hate terrorism and war and government and popular culture all at once, but it is not likely that a winning political movement can come together on all these themes.
It’s actually a pretty cogent if simplistic reading of history. According to Zeiger, even though the various flavors of American conservatism couldn’t agree on a single agenda, they were ultimately united in their opposition to communism. That was the organizing principle on which social conservatives and neo-cons and free market libertarians et al were able to join together into a united, disciplined and effective political movement. That was the unlikely coalition at the core of a resurgent Republican Party.
Huh. It’s as good a thesis as any. I’ll give him that.
But with the Soviet Union collapsed and communism vanquished as a meaningful threat, the conservative movement and its party lost it’s way.
Indeed, there is no winning conservative movement. Even if the Republicans are still a force in politics, what passes for the conservative party today is hardly conservative, because it is more driven by special interests than a resistance to something bad.
Zeiger’s solution? Find a new bugbear… a boogeyman… a scapegoat against whom conservatives can reunify into a dominant political force. It is a strategy straight out of Mein Kampf, all the way down to the semitic origins of this new enemy and the disturbingly unselfconscious turn of phrase Zeiger chooses to describe the threat they pose:
But there is evil in our world that will destroy souls and nations if conservatives don’t unite against it. Whatever arguments are to be made for the war in Iraq, the fact is that Iraq in the equation of public opinion and practical statesmanship has distracted from the realities of Sept. 11. It has moved conservatives away from what could define their calling at the launch of the 21st century. Our response to the problem of Islam cannot mainly be war, though it may include war. We must respond with a renewed culture. We must counter the rise of Islam with a faith of our own.
Understand that Zeiger is not simply advocating that conservatives and Republicans unite in their opposition to Islamist terrorism, he is arguing that they need to unite in opposition to Islam. You know… the Islamic Problem.
And Zeiger’s Hitlerian rhetoric doesn’t end there…
That is not to say that conservatives must be Christians, but conservatives must understand that the only defense against Islam is a vibrant Christian culture. Politics is a contest of opinions about how best to protect a culture; while culture has to do with ideas and relationships, politics has to do with force and order. Our politics need not be immediately religious, but our culture must be.
I mean, I hate to drop the F-bomb… but that bit about “force and order” is a fascistic political sentiment if I ever saw one.
And there’s no reading between the lines here. Zeiger goes on to clearly demonize “the cult of Islam,” while reiterating his call for conservatives to reunite in opposition…
The cult of Islam repudiates self-government and all we hold dear. If we are to continue to be a self-governing people, we must be a people of strong character, and strong character is founded in the Christian faith.
[...] If conservatives are to be reunited, we must first unite against Islam. From there we can renew our determination to be a self-governing and Christian nation.
Perhaps Zeiger truly believes that Islam is as “evil” as he says it is. Perhaps he doesn’t. Cognitive dissonance can yield strange results. But in his call to exploit opposition to Islam as the organizing political principle of the American right, one can’t help but hear a chilling echo of the German anti-semitism of the 1930’s, and its transformation of old fashioned, church sanctioned Jew hatred into an organizing political principle that would ultimately lead to the slaughter of millions. Thus as clever or as prescient as Zeiger’s call to action may be, there is little in it to distinguish his political instincts from those of the fascists… or even al-Qaeda for that matter.
Unfortunately, while young Zeiger fashioned himself a reputation as a sorta right-wing prodigy, based purely on his prolific portfolio of wingnut commentary, our local media seems prepared to dismiss it all as mere youthful indiscretion… even batshit-crazy columns such as this one, written less than four years ago. So if 25th LD voters are going to learn the truth about Zeiger, they’re going to have to learn it directly from his Democratic opponent, Rep. Dawn Morrell. So you might want to throw her some change.