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Americans love to talk about politics in apocalyptic terms. This is a function of a creed that is bathed in religious rhetoric, a belief in American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny as preordained by God, and a long vein of Protestantism and a sense that individuals are part of the Elect few--and by implication that nations follow a similar rule. In all, great nations dream great, succeed greatly, and are greatly paranoid, as they struggle to reconcile their great destinies as part of the long arc of history and the greatness of divine providence. The United States is no different in this regard. In many ways, we are Rome.

Americans are also dramatic and histrionic. The end of times is always around the corner. This has been to the credit and gain of the country, as she fought two great wars and "made the world safe for democracy." It has also been to her disadvantage, as foolish escapades abroad have been sold to the public by elites and yellow journalists using the language of patriotism, imminent threat, and supporting the troops.

Rick Santorum is part of this tradition. He argued that President Obama is Hitler and/or Satan. In his, and other Christian Nationalist Dominionists' eyes, the United States is under siege by the devil. Moreover, the Culture War is not a political abstraction. Rather, it is real struggle for the hearts, souls, and futures of good white folks, those "real Americans" and "Christians," from sea to shining sea.

In keeping with this Manichean logic, Rich Santorum has observed that the secular world is possessed of evil and sin. Universities and academia have apparently fallen to the seductive power of the Dark Prince. When challenged, Santorum has doubled down on his depiction of a world under siege by the devil. There is no retreat as he channels the worst parts of the paranoid and conspiratorial style in American politics.

I am not religious. I do not understand the religiously minded. I do not believe in white bearded deities floating in the sky who make judgments about the deeds--good or ill--of humankind. However, I do take folks at face value and try to work within the frameworks of reality which they have offered. What follows then is an obvious and reasonable question: Is Rick Santorum (and the conservatives of his stripe) evil? Are they under the influence of Satan?

Turnabout is fair play. Progressives, liberals, pragmatists, and reasonable conservatives lose the fight with radical Right wing populists because they want to keep the high ground. Their enemies will beat them over the head with bats, cut them with razors, and unleash mustard gas in order to win a fight. The pitiful Left and its allies smile and inhale the poison because they are content to "occupy the high ground."

Therefore, I engage Rick Santorum and his narrative of good and evil on its own terms. By analogy, when the myth of the liberal media is discussed, few counter-attack by pointing out the fallacy of the premise: as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, we should in fact ask, "what type of media do we have, and granting this fact, what is its ideological bent?"

Mirroring this example, when Rick Santorum suggests that Obama and those foul academics are evil, and the country is under assault by Satan, the question to him should be, "what side are you on?" As Jim Wallis has pointed out in God's Politics, the Right has cooptated Christianity and the language of Christian faith. Despite their hostility to the poor, war mongering, bigotry, and intolerance, the Right is able to maintain a monopoly on the rhetoric of Jesus and his teachings. This is as much a result of the cowardice of progressives, as it is the complicity of the media in circulating and validating a lie.

I have a long-standing interest in the occult. From reading about Nazis and their fascinations with the elder gods and objects of divine power, to Malachi Martin's books on demonic possession, one theme resonates across those disparate literatures. Evil is seductive and expert in seeking out a person's weaknesses. Those who channel the language of good and evil in order to gain selfish power and disparage others are often surprised by the outcome of their deeds and words. This is the hubris of Rick Santorum and his Tea Party GOP brethren. They exist in an echo chamber which is fueled by narratives of Eliminationism, and destruction for those that are not sufficiently conservative. In breathing this ether, Santorum and the American Taliban never ask if it is they who are in fact tools of evil and the devil. To do so is outside their realm of awareness, introspection, or thought.

Satan is a trickster. He lies without lying. And considering the policy positions offered by Rick Santorum and the other Tea Party GOP presidential candidates--a clique which claims that god gave them a personal revelation, and that the presidency was their calling--is it that outside of the realm of possibility to entertain the thought that they are evil, doing the work of Satan, and are the tools of the dark forces which they project onto others?

The myopia of the authoritarian Right is exemplified by the fact that they could never ask such a a self-reflective question. Rick Santorum and his allies' arrogance is a universal claim to good. Their shortcoming is an inability to consider that they could actually be a cautionary future chapter written in the next volume of the Good Book which conservatives always cite to disparage others with whom they judge to be insufficiently pious.

Ultimately, The Book of Job is one of my favorite myths. I wonder, what will the tale of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich be when it is written centuries or thousands of years in the future? Will it be triumphant or tragic? And will they care to even know the difference?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Exactly right (4+ / 0-)

    what better place for Satan to hide than in the congregation as a member of the flock? Or better yet, as a leader of the flock?

    I don't believe in this particular myth but if Jesus' return were true, and if the Devil existed, I think the Devil would appear as Jesus. With all his tricks and powers I'm sure many of the faithful would fall for it.

  •  Well he is Evil. nt (6+ / 0-)

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 11:35:24 AM PST

  •  Well, YES! duh...lol the devil's in his details. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2thanks, googie

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones."

    "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    by roseeriter on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 11:39:25 AM PST

  •  Personally, I don't believe any (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChurchofBruce

    posts -- even from the left -- that in any way further the myth of "satan" as reality do anyone any good, including capitalization of the word.  Destroying the myth of "satan" is even more important than destroying any right-wing politician.  This myth is just one of many that uses fear as a motivating and unifying force to perpetuate ignorance.

    Democrats have been asleep/hiding in the corner for YEARS while allowing the right to insert religion into any and every political argument where it was believed doing so would give such arguments gravitas.  This is what becomes of a country where the puritan ethic -- as opposed to truly funding education for the masses -- is allowed to continue to dominate the "thinking" of the ignorant.

    Kick apart the structures - Seth

    by ceebee7 on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 12:01:20 PM PST

    •  You beat me to it (0+ / 0-)

      My stock reply to "SATAN!!!" is, "I don't believe in him, either."

      "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

      by ChurchofBruce on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 12:08:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  absolutely agree but the research (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftist vegetarian patriot

      on the authoritarian mind and contemporary conservatism shows a deep belief in a Manichean vision of the world. As you pointed out with the gutting of public education, the masses are truly assess. Frighteningly, many in the public are already hardwired to believe such things.

      The left and progressives can either find a way to turn this meme on its end and use a language of morality and values to win the fight or concede it to Santorum and company.

      Your choice.

      •  Respectfully, maybe that's a false choice (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leftist vegetarian patriot

        Our Democracy is a secular realm. I understand that people are not all compartmentalized and bring their deeply held emotions and beliefs into every setting in which they engage including, sometimes, their religious beliefs into their political work. But we can insist on a secular public commons. Just because Santorum is trying to betray such boundaries doesn't create an ultimatum for us. There's a great distance between being open and honest with one's religious beliefs and usurping the public language. He doesn't need to be in the closet but he clearly doesn;t know how to observe public decorum for business in a secular world. That's his problem, not ours.

        Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

        by kck on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 01:26:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree, to a point (0+ / 0-)

          No, we need not allow them to always set the frame of the discussion. However, it is useful to keep in mind that even their chosen frame is frequently hostile to their position.

          For instance, Matthew 25:31-46 utterly destroys most of Republican ideology. And it's not some isolated sentence from an otherwise ignored or obscure Old Testament text involving long-abandoned purity codes, but one of the best known and quoted sections of the New Testament. The Bible is filled with more apt quotes favoring our side than favoring the other, and they generally have more historical resonance.

          We don't have to and shouldn't try to win every battle on their turf, but it's useful to know we can win there if we have to.

          My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
          --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

          by leftist vegetarian patriot on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 02:03:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Having a theological debate is proper... (0+ / 0-)

            ...in a forum not focused on political or even policy debate. Once we entertain that breech, right or wrong, then the foundation itself has given way. Their win.

            Otherwise, I agree, sure, engaging in a theological debate with the reactionary and fearful Santorum is quite easily done, albeit IMO legitimately only in a nonpolitical arena and within a common language and knowledge, biblical and Christian. Faith or belief is not necessary but language is since having a literal, legalistic debate of this or that English translation and without context is not usually an useful or authoritative biblical debate.

            Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

            by kck on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 03:07:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kck

              I don't think we should seek out religious arguments. Nor do I think we should ever make a faith-based argument the cornerstone of our side of the debate. However, I think ceding the Republicans the status of being the party of faith is an unnecessary concession.  

              I am not religious myself and do not respond to appeals to a faith I do not share. No Democratic candidate who tried to do so would get my vote on that account. In fact, quite possibly the reverse. However, like most people I dislike hypocrisy and I would appreciate seeing the GOP's frequent hypocrisy and staggering ignorance of what their (mostly Christian) faith actually entails more often pointed out in a more public way. They accuse us of godlessness and immorality. I don't think we should always be above the same tactic, especially as I believe those traits are more common in the enemy anyway.

              My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
              --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

              by leftist vegetarian patriot on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 03:22:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It has to get down to practical political ideology (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                leftist vegetarian patriot

                Plenty of people who take Matthew 25:31-46 to heart, who live consistent with that text, give all they have of their own resources, money, and time to the those in need, nevertheless firmly believe in conservative Republican minimalist government.

                We can have that debate on a political level but on a biblical level both sides can use Matthew 25:31-46 in a coherent manner as a basis for different political ideologies.

                That's not "ceding" anything. The transparent hypocrisy and, IMO, immorality of the bloviating supremacy of Santorum should be called out. But getting into that is a theological debate may not be as easy as it seems. Go for it though. These guys deserve getting it from us every which way.

                Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

                by kck on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 04:00:57 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  People lacking in practical talents to (0+ / 0-)

    sustain themselves have to cajole or coerce others to do for them.  Since people do not like being coerced and are likely to retaliate to the use of force, it is useful to justify this manipulative behavior as mandated by either a deity or in punishment for malfeasance.

    What's the point of salvation, if people are good and generous to begin with?  That all men are created evil is a prerequisite for the position that they have to be made virtuous.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 12:28:33 PM PST

  •  I don't know, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    but he's definitely a tool.

  •  Pious Personified..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, kyril

    I think Santorum fights his devils every day.  He's keeping himself under very strict, very rigid control.  That sweater vest of his hides a lot more than his growing paunch.

    His smile isn't quite so wide lately.  His dream is slipping away.  I wouldn't be surprised if he has one of those flogging instruments, & he gave himself a good whack or two after that last debate in Arizona.

    •  self flagellating Santorum--make the tshirt! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril
    •  Self-mortification is practiced by Opus Dei... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snapples

      ...a group with which Santorum has been associated.

      Why do they do these mortifications?
      Penance and mortification are a small but essential part of the Christian life. Jesus Christ himself fasted for forty days to prepare for his public ministry. Mortification helps us resist our natural drive toward personal comfort which so often prevents us from answering the Christian call to love God and serve others for love of God. Also, this voluntarily accepted discomfort is a way of joining oneself to Jesus Christ and the sufferings he voluntarily accepted in order to redeem us from sin. The Da Vinci Code's masochist monk, who loves pain for its own sake, has nothing to do with real Christian mortification.
      Apparently he hasn't  learned to stick with the "self" version and stop mortifying the rest of us. As the diarist says, it's the conflation of an introspective activity and an extroversion (like inner jihadism and radical jihadism).

      Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

      by kck on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 01:36:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Truthfully...... (0+ / 0-)

        I feel sorry for his wife.  I wonder what penance he has made her go thru as a result of her former live in relationship w/ an abortion doctor?

        Something tells me Mrs Santorum has been put thru the Christian wringer by the Big Cheese.  And their kids.  Not much comfort or leeway in that home.

  •  It's a very valid question to ask! (0+ / 0-)

    Why is someone the likes of Santorum in his right-wing capacity as a morality-proclaiming conservative so out of contact with the realities of the 21st centuries?

    What has happened to Rick Santorum that produced in him such miscreancy?

    My theory:  Rick Santorum could be reacting on something!
    Santorum's almost obsessive compulsion with the Bible, Religion, and the supposed values therein, seem to indicate a reaction, not necessarily a real belief, but a reaction to something.  And isn't this why such right-wing ideologues are often deemed reactionary!
    It's not a natural compulsion for Santorum to be the way Santorum is!  At least I don't think so!  

    Santorum seems to be fighting his own demons:  Be it surpressed homosexuality, as hinted by his indepth consideration on that topic, or be it anything else!  

    GOP = Grossly Ostentatiously Preposterous

    by Poetic Mind on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 01:04:23 PM PST

  •  Relevant quote from C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, kyril
    Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou shouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.
    I'm not a Christian myself or a member of any formal faith, but any god (or God) who accepts the service of such as Rick Santorum is no better than Tash in my estimation.

    Or, from a more official Christian source:

    By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
    --Matthew 7:16

    My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
    --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

    by leftist vegetarian patriot on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 01:19:25 PM PST

  •  Even Satan can't get good tools these days (2+ / 0-)

    That was my first reaction.  Damn, I'm cynical.  

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity" -W.B. Yeats

    by LucyandByron on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 02:08:59 PM PST

  •  If people take Jesus' words seriously, then YES! (2+ / 0-)

    Jesus focused his teaching on the moral obligation to help the poor, forgive sinners, and associate compassionately and respectfully with people whom society deemed to be outcasts. He also taught that religion and politics should be separate ("render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's"), and that people should pay their taxes rather than oppose taxation.

    Rick Santorum believes in economic policies which hurt the poor. He believes in judging those he believes to be sinners, and he wants society to shun them and oppress them, i.e. gay people, women who have abortions, etc. He, like nearly all Republicans, has a highly negative attitude towards taxes. And he believes in combining religion with politics.

    In short, on most key issues he stands for the opposite of what Jesus taught. In Hebrew, the word "Satan" means "adversary." Based on the evidence, Santorum's views are adversarial in relation to many of the most important teachings of Jesus. Therefore, according to the original meaning of Satan, Rick Santorum is indeed manifesting the spirit of Satan in his political campaign.

    Eric Stetson -- Entrepreneur and Visionary. www.ericstetson.com

    by Eric Stetson on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 02:24:17 PM PST

  •  Well, just as a satiric instance... (0+ / 0-)

    An open letter to Rick Santorum from Satan.

    Ah, the exceptions. The details. Kind of my thing, really. You all believe in rights for people who act like you and think like you, and you're all trying to stomp on everyone different, and you haven't yet noticed that means you don't believe in rights at all. Rights only mean something if you want them for the other guy. If they're just for you, they're demands. Stupid, petulant demands from a superstitious loudmouth who is proud, yes proud, of his ignorance and his bigotry and his complete hostility to education and compassion and tolerance. I needed an army of you people. Instead I found a nation.
  •  Claiming "God" talking to them always makes (0+ / 0-)

    me wonder if those people ever, in their arrogance, question what entity was doing the talking.  Do they ever question if the voice of evil was conning them?

    "I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are?" Barry Goldwater

    by ranton on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 08:45:40 PM PST

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