The View from Next Door
Hullaballoo is running a good series right now on the homegrown American theocrats, the types who believe that their God really does have a political position on everything from taxation to Communism. It's definitely worth checking out, although if you've been more or less keeping up with the literature, you don't so much have to read the text as the editorial commentary (much of the text is approaching word salad anyway).
It's important to realise that these people are influential in their own way in the US political spectrum, and they're genuinely masters of using the Overton Window to inch their ideas surreptitiously into the public discourse. They don't actually need as much help with this as you might think, because they share deep ideological roots with much of the dominant US hard right (regardless of their intrinsic motivations), so their in-practice political positions are not too far off the "mainstream" of hard-right pseudofascist thought anyhow, even if their rationale for supporting these positions is completely different. They also represent another faction in the concerted action that has been pulling the US rightward for about 35 years now.
I have to take a slightly different tack on this than most bloggers who are writing on the subject, because I'm not a US citizen, so the concept of my defending US Constitutional rights just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I do believe that there are valid rationales for opposing US theocracy, even without doing it from a US-Constitutionalist perspective. First of all, from the point of view of a minoritarian civil libertarian (small-l, since I'm politically most closely aligned with the libertarian socialists, it's the right thing to do. Secondly, and this falls on the shoulders of the people actually living within the US' borders who can, say, vote in elections and petition elected representatives (and expect a response), a theocratic US would be very bad news politically and economically for the rest of the world.
I collect variations on an aphorism, heard in roughly the same form in various satellite countries of the US. In Canada, we say, "If the US sneezes, Canada catches a cold." In Australia, they say, "If the US sneezes, Australia gets covered in mucus." In Israel, they say, "If the US sneezes, Israel gets pneumonia."
What then if your country comes down with dancing mania, or, dare I say, Jerusalem syndrome?
If the theocrats take over, a US economic crash is almost inevitable (after a quarter-century of neoconservative rule, and yes, I'm counting Bill Clinton in there, since, despite accruing a surplus, he basically let the Republicans set his fiscal and domestic policy -- it's looking less and less avoidable anyhow). And if you go down, you take down practically the rest of the world with you. Canada, your second-largest (for years, the largest, but has now been superceded by China) trading partner, goes. The UK, the third-largest foreign holder of your Treasury securities, goes. Australia goes, albeit to a lesser extent. Israel, which is already on the brink of financial ruin, having first destabilised its functioning collective-based economy in an orgy of privatisation, and is now pumping vast amounts of treasure and blood into maintaining its war machine, goes. You'll probably hurt Japan, India, and China, too, although you won't destroy their economies quite as thoroughly. Remember how the Asian Currency Crisis basically caused a worldwide nuclear winter in the financial and employment sectors? If your economy crashes, multiply that by about ten.
Not only that, but you'll also destabilise world political relations. Who would want to deal with you? On the other hand, who would want to risk antagonising you, either?
Unfortunately, you, as US citizens, own this problem. There's very little the rest of us can do about it, since (surprise, surprise) we can't vote in your elections or petition your government effectively. What we can do is try to make you aware that the big world out here does actually give a damn about the problem (from where I'm sitting, being conversant in US politics isn't a hobby, it's a survival skill), and can point you to the bigger, non-US-centric issues.
A Brief Tangential Note: That reminds me... A friend of mine put a lovely quotation up on his LiveJournal today about how the true practice of Christianity is love, and how anyone who doesn't practice this isn't really practicing Christianity and so on. Peachy sentiment, but unfortunately, it really chaps my ass. My first reaction, speaking as an atheist and religious conscientious objector, is to say, "I'm sorry, what? And all true Scotsmen wear kilts."
You moderate liberal Christians, I love you all individually, but I'm sorry, you really don't get to cop out like that. Those guys, the Rushdoonys and the Peter Paces and Jerry Falwells of the world, they all self-identify as Christians. You can have all your private little doctrinal struggles, but from where I'm sitting you own those guys. You need to deal with them too, since they're interpreting your religion as their prime motivation for doing the crazy evil shit they're up to.
There isn't a damn single atheist you can say that about, and I don't want to hear any bullshit about either Stalin or Pol Pot, since neither of them did what they did because of atheism; they happened to be brutal, genocidal dictators who followed a political philosophy that had atheism as one of its minor tenets. Re-write the historical context of The Communist Manifesto so that organised religion wasn't an active collaborator in the oppression and suppression of labour (funny how that works, isn't it?), substitute a collective state religion, and it would have come off precisely the same way.
You own these folks, and you'd better damn well start standing up to them with Scripture in hand, because from where I'm sitting, the evangelical funnymentalist megachurch mindset is taking over, and that's not too far removed from Sinclair Lewis' formulation, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
You've all got some work to do. We'll keep up our end if you keep up yours. Good luck, again.