I know many of you have seen Glenn Beck on Fox and are as sickened by the wacked-out message he is sending. He claims that he is just putting two and two together and reading the signs on the wall. Personally, I think he is mixing apples with oranges and forcing people to eat fruit salad. Whether he is identifiying a problem we have in the US with religious tension, or stirring up said tension himself, he is insinuating - daily- that "the time has come", that "the prefect storm is arrising". He speaks not just of political unrest, but of Muslims bringing a caliphate to America, and We The People standing firm with the religion of our Founding Fathers (ha), and doing all things to the glory of God... yada yada yada.
Every other day or so, I catch about 5 minutes of his show while I am switching channels. Yesterday, he was telling people -- once again -- to stockpile food, and to 'look around and know who your friends are' while raising his eyebrows above his glasses. He really frightens me and I don't even believe any of his jumbled, psychotic crap. What scares me the most, is that I know tons of people who do. I think that there are so many deluded Christians out there who have watched a little to much reality TV, read every book in the Left Behind Series, and played soooooooooo many video games, that they can't wait for the End Of The World to begin so they can 'kill people for Jesus'!
And all this got me to thinking: What if this storyline plays out? Either way.. because he saw it coming, or he and the Fear-Mongers stirred it into action?
How does a small atheist family in the middle of the Bible Belt defend itself? (Please don't advise me to stockpile weapons or join a compound.)
How will I maintain my beliefs without being targeted by my neighbors?
Where would you go to stay safe and when?
How can the Atheist community do something of good measure to stop the religious people of the US before they do something stupid? This is my real hope..... Although I think Christians would see any uprising by Atheists as an attempt to wipe out Christianity and contribute to bringing about the end of the world.
Or am I just playing into the whole delusion?
Any thoughts a welcome.
Actually, the religious are already at war with us. Many of us just haven't noticed because they think that war has to involve overt homicide by trauma. It doesn't. There are many other ways to wage war such as social and economic discrimination and, more importantly, efforts to undermine the marketplace of ideas to deprive your opponent of support--sometimes even in his or her own mind.
An essential part of this type of warfare is gaining control over weapons and supplies just in case hostilities become necessary. If you have been keeping up with efforts to fight theocracy in the military, then you know that the religious are way ahead of us on this score. Take a look at what happened in other countries, such as Chile, Argentina, and Spain. The religious took over the military, then, when they felt they time was right, the country.
Cass, I think in my heart this is the answer that rings true. I just don't think that I will be able to get out before it unfolds: selling the house, kids in school, etc. etc. etc.
Joseph, Dennis, and Mo all bring up similar concerns for me. The US is definately at a place that is unsustainable and unpredictable.
Let me side track for a moment. The US spent billions and billions of dollars on the wars. What does that mean? Billions of dollars came out of US coffers to pay for tanks, weapons, ammo, you name it for the war. That money was paid to someone. It didn't go to Iraq or Afganistan. Those items were taken to the Middle East, but the money was paid to the war profiteers right here in America. (I might add that those are some of the very top 2% who don't want their taxes raised.) Those profiteers also invented their own military, Blackwater. It makes me wonder if the TeaBaggers who often talk of cecession or revolution plan to use this entity against our own US military. They certainly have all the money and the firepower. A deadly combination.
Wow. I'm starting to sound like an alarmist. But I think it is something we should talk about.
We are talking about it. These are frightening times in many ways, for many reasons. Another devastating terrorist attack, a climate catastrophe or a series of them, a plague, a great drought, an asteroid collision, a rash of bloody resource wars in Asia and Africa, all these are possible calamities that, in concert, could bring about a collapse of social structures here in this country that would lead to fractious violence.
But these grim scenarios are, altogether, unlikely speculative fantasy. They have been the stuff of fearful visionaries and doomsayers and demagogues and fiction writers (and I'm one of them) for many decades--for centuries, no doubt. Not to downplay these speculations overmuch, because they are not impossible; indeed, their very possibility is what gives them their thrilling charm. They could happen. Maybe they will happen.
But in all likelihood they will not happen. In all likelihood, in fact, whatever happens, we will deal. The world as we know it will not subside into chaos and horror. Still, we do love to entertain our worst fears. That's what this is about. If your need to entertain your worst fears is galvanizing, then you'll join a survivalist community. You'll move to Vancouver Island or Newfoundland and lay in canned goods and medical supplies and ammunition. That's what people did in the 50s on Long Island while I was growing up. What happened to their fallout shelters, I wonder. That's what happened in the 70s, too, here in Vermont and in the Northwest, where communes promised a freer, more wholesome life apart from the repressive influences of the militaristic government, and so on.
Hey, untold disasters may well befall us. Name your ghastly doom. I mean, inevitably, for whatever reasons, our species will go extinct. For now, however, chances are things will go on as they're going on; that is, frustratingly, miserably, and perhaps incorrigibly. But day by day we will surmount the deterioration and cruelty and madness. We will endure. Our decline will be fitful but gradual. This society, for the time being, is still strong and stable.
"Our decline will be fitful but gradual. This society, for the time being, is still strong and stable" WTF are you saying? Let's just set back and endure the inevitable deterioration, cruelty and madness? You are being satirical right?
I vote for being proactive, organizing , planning and doing things to make that outcome you describe less likely. As for not subsiding into chaos and horror - that may be a bit over the top. But how about a scenario where wealthy corporations with religious values ingrained into the board and leadership get justices elected to the supreme court to say public funds can pay for religious schools. Look at how many hospitals are owned by religious organizations. Very quickly a majority of schools will begin teaching religion based science, history, & US Government. How much will it take to tip the scales of government funding of science research to exclude all genetic studies, no stem cell research, etc. How many people and how much money would it take to change the rules of the internet and slowly limit the free exchange of ideas - possibly in the name of Homeland Security and/or in the name of family values. Remember the top 1% of wage earners in the US make more money than the bottom 129,000,000 wage earners. We are on a fast track to a Plutocracy and many of those wealthy folks are in lock step with the greatest controlling force over the masses - religion. What raises church attendance? Suffering, poverty, despair and loss of hope. And who is being blamed for these woes? Not the wall Street billionaires nor the international corporations that pay little or no taxes. It is the middle class liberal, leftists and atheists who have caused god's wrath to be unleashed on the US. And commies, socialist, other religions too. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups (thanks to Despair Inc.).
I disagree with the view that our society is still strong and stable. Just look at what the Republicans what to defund this year: Affordable Care Act, NPR & PBS, Planned Parenthood, Title X (health care to 4+ million people), funding for homeless veterans, and programs for developing clean energy, and the list goes on. I work with HUD funded grants for homeless and the numbers are increasing. What is not shown are the numbers of adult kids moving back with parents, families doubling up in shared housing, people couch surfing, etc. The number of foreclosures will likely be higher in 2011 & 2012 than 2010. Unemployment was down but that was due to people exhausting their benefits and not being counted. And many of the jobs created were $10-$15 PER HOUR. But business profits are up, more subsidies are being offered by the Republicans to the oil companies ($4 billion). Got bad credit, then it is 30%+ interest on your credit cards.
I know I sound like chicken little. Hopefully I am over dramatic and looking at a half empty glass. But I do remember from some of the history that I read or watched om TV, that few things are given to you and that most people and organizations with power and money are not likely to willingly share either.
Time to get off the soap box.
No, Brian, I am not being satirical. Please keep the context in mind here. My remark about this society's stability and strength was offered expressly in contrast to the OP's nightmarish vision of violent social upheaval and chaos--of open war between Christians and nonbelievers. What she fears is a version of End Times tribulation, when, if atheists do not flee the country or rise up and defend themselves against attack, they will be driven from their homes by those who want to "kill people for Jesus," as she put it.
I recognize all of the serious threats to our social cohesion and democracy and freedom that you do. And as a teacher and writer, I fear and deplore the possibility of a theocratic takeover of our institutions, like education and the courts and our free press. I am informed and well read. My senator, Bernie Sanders, whom I support with my work and contributions, is not just the only humanist in the senate, he is one of the few who are vociferously speaking out against those policies that have led to the infuriating and exceedingly dangerous economic conditions you cite. All the same, the mere fact that Sanders is a member of the Senate to begin with and that he and others, like Jane Mayer, can speak and write* openly about the depredations of the Koch brothers, for example, offers some real hope that the even-more-gross deterioration of our society may yet be stayed by reason. That's not to say we all will not have to struggle and yell and protest, as the demonstrators in Madison are doing right now, to try to turn the majority of opinion and social influence in this country to a more wholesome direction. We will. We are. Things look bleak, I agree. But I have hope. And my hope is not unreasonable or unsupported.
The impulses to populist anti-intellectualism in this country run deep, and the fearful and less well educated in the middle classes are too easily manipulated by demagogues and greedy bullies in the media, in government, and in the corporate world. These are definitely bad times. We are certainly being fucked over by bad people with a lot of money. But in all its frustrating complexity I maintain that this society remains relatively strong and stable. Barring some unforeseen world-altering catastrophe, it will not devolve into horrifying, everyone-for-himself chaos.
Don and Brian, I am grateful for your detailed posts. It literally sounds like the conversations we have here in our home daily. I'm so glad to know that other people see the seriousness of this as well and are willing to give me their perspective.
I met Richard Dawkins for the first time last year and expressed these concerns to him, although at the time, the Republican rhetoric had not yet brought about the horrible Gabby Giffords incedent and the Fox news commentary seemed to be endlessly ramping up the hate speech, so I was just beginning to get worried when I spoke to him. I told him it how I found it difficult to be atheist in the midwest. His reply to me was, " illegitimi non carborundum" and then traslated it for me. It basically means, "Don't let the bastards grind you down." LOL. I repeat it every day.... DON'T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN.
Living in Michigan, working as a state employee, I am seeing close-up the economic deterioration. Governor Synder, a millionaire businessman is every bit as driven and single minded as the Governor from Wisconsin. And the religious voices that are heard are most often very strident and full of anger and hate. I just see a perfect storm - not a tsunami - but an escalation of beliefs that are very threatening because many are so blind and other are so wealthy and powerful.
I see the need for more coordinated efforts to confront & to challenge these beliefs. What I do not see is how to make effective use of my time and efforts (our time and efforts) against these foes. I do not (yet) see an everyone for himself chaos. I see an increase in the killings of abortion doctors, or another attack from someone like Timothy McVeigh. And the slow pain and destruction of poverty and loss of hope. Then I think we'll start to see the chaos.
To sort of change the subject, but maybe not. How is it the the US president was prepared to sell military vehicles to to Libya? WTF! Obama approved more weapon sales in his 1st year ($40 billion) than Busch did in his last year ($34 billion). Wikileaks showed that in the 1990's a move called a "Bill of Rights for U.S. Business" by former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. A career foreign service officer, Eagleburger wanted corporate America to have a say in matters of interest internationally — a big change from how things had been done. Yeah, just who is making US foreign policy?
You hit it on the button. A Mormon alchoholic in recovery from stupidity. I grew up in a part of the country where Mormons are predominate and talk about cloning. You have to be a certain brand of dumb to believe their rambling. Strange fact is they are the fastest growing religion out there because of the missionary position.
Strange fact is they are the fastest growing religion out there because of the missionary position.
@ Joseph - You forgot to add "no pun intended" lol