The Gentiles and their Kings
September 30, 2010 3:02 AM   Subscribe

Inside C Street–Six Questions for Jeff Sharlet
It’s about the Idea… the monolithic vision of fundamentalism always threatening to subsume the many lowercased ideas that constitute democracy. In Uganda, we see the Idea verging on murder, in the military, we see it gathering force, at C Street we encounter its enduring corruption.
( Jeff Sharlet previously).
posted by adamvasco (13 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I remember researching the early nineteenth century Evangelicals at one point... They were very fond of this quotation from Matthew 10:16:

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

They were quite a mixed bag and probably did more good than modern evangelical politicians; but it was quite striking how willing they were to deceive, based on their belief in their own superior virtue.
posted by lucien_reeve at 3:06 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

My friend JoAnn Wypijewski, writing in The Nation, said it best—“Christians thunder, liberals sneer, but it amounts to the same thing, counting sins.” Talking about political sex is actually a form of prudishness, a euphemism for real political problems. We are afraid to talk about secrecy, about the possibility that our elites don’t have our interests at heart, that they are not part of “us”; so we can only do so when that secrecy, that other intimacy, is made literal, physical, through sex scandal. Sex removes corruption from the world of ideas. Sex is an act. It is secret. It proves the politician is both not part of “us”—that he has other engagements, that he’s gone on the Appalachian Trail—and that he is: just like us, physical, bound to the world of grunting desires. Talking about sex allows us to talk about secrecy by encoding real political problems in universal questions of desire and deception. Sex talk as metaphor is usually fatalistic, and ultimately conservative. It’s always prudish, a substitution of naughty but bawdy sex for the dirt and despair of a broken democracy.
posted by kipmanley at 6:13 AM on September 30, 2010

Talking about political sex is actually a form of prudishness,

Well, they started it. These guys who thunder on about family values and how heterosexual marriage is the bedrock of civilization, and how gay marriage/no marriage/having kids out of wedlock will bring down the wrath of god - when they get called out as hypocrites, whose fault is that? They have set up and chosen to participate in a system in which public displays of prudishness are rewarded, and then they get all "This is a private family matter and I'd like you to respect that" when they violate the terms they themselves have set?

posted by rtha at 6:53 AM on September 30, 2010

The recent New Yorker piece by Peter Boyer about C-Street and The Family (referenced in the linked article) is here.

Moe Tkacic, referring extensively to Sharlet's book, rips Boyer to shreds in yesterday's Washington City Paper.
posted by kosem at 7:28 AM on September 30, 2010

His discussion of this organization's efforts in Africa and among Muslims abroad are especially interesting. Thanks, adamvasco.
posted by clockzero at 7:50 AM on September 30, 2010

Holy heck this is fascinating. Meanwhile everyone is over in the Tea Party threads tilting at scarecrows while these foxes eat all the chickens which represent liberty. I guess that analogy doesn't make sense but you see what I mean.

I live right down around the corner from C St. And I thought the only awesome partying around here happened at the tune inn!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:48 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

kosem: “The recent New Yorker piece by Peter Boyer about C-Street and The Family (referenced in the linked article) is here. \ Moe Tkacic, referring extensively to Sharlet's book, rips Boyer to shreds in yesterday's Washington City Paper.”

That New Yorker piece is indeed fawning and mostly pointless drivel. However, this bit I am very interested in:

link, second paragraph: “Coe’s flock consisted of a quarter of the members of the House and the Senate, and a wide international network of parliamentarians, potentates, military brass, and business executives. He had no pulpit and no title, and although he was called the “stealth Billy Graham,” he was no preacher. (A video of a talk he once gave to a group of evangelicals shows him prone to disjointed narrative and given to bizarre analogy, suggesting that Christians could use the sort of blind devotion that Maoists, Nazis, and the Mafia understood.)” [emphasis mine]

I am exceedingly initrigued. Does anyone know where I can find this footage of the 'leader' of the Family suggesting that Christian leaders model themselves on Hitler, Mao, and members of cosa nostra?
posted by koeselitz at 9:48 AM on September 30, 2010

Ah, never mind – of course it's on Youtube; apparently it's from 1989. [ 1 2 3 4 ] At least I assume this is it; obviously I haven't watched the whole thing yet. This is a really weird-ass sermon. He seems like an odd guy, but affable I guess.
posted by koeselitz at 9:58 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Also – sorry for the serial posting – the bit where Doug Coe compares dedication to Christ with dedication to Nazism, Chinese Communism and organized crime starts right here. It's a creepy, creepy metaphor, one that's more than a little frightening, but Coe is fumbling enough and folksy enough that you have the impression watching that he just doesn't realize that, and that he's just not a very good public speaker and is making a mistake. I have a strong feeling, though, that this appearance of down-home, casual stuttering is diversionary, as real as its causes might be (he may well not like public speaking very much) – and it seems worthwhile to note that he goes on about this whole 'mindless-devotion-is-great' thing for a good five minutes, talking about the devotion people have to 'gangs in LA,' Muammar Gaddafi, Gorbachev (!), and others.)
posted by koeselitz at 10:08 AM on September 30, 2010

Thanks for the additional links kosem. From the end of the WashingtonCityPaper link
this especially caught my eye:
...many members of the military these days seem to have become seized by the belief that the Constitution makes no mention of the separation of church and state, and he quotes a promotion for a book called Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel as saying: Under the rubric of free speech and the twisted idea of separation of church and state, there has evolved more and more an anti-Christian bias in this country.
The book is blurbed by Gen. David Petraeus, who writes it “should be in every rucksack for those moments when Soldiers need spiritual energy.” But if we’ve actually gotten to the point in this country where the New Yorker is specifying that only the secular left finds any of this prayer breakfast pecadillo death squad stuff truly disturbing, we are going to need all the “spiritual energy” we can get.
The rise of Christian fundamentalism or Dominionism in the US military is not new but it is worrying.
War in Afghanistan beig lost by "Kingdom Crusader" Islamophobes..
posted by adamvasco at 12:05 PM on September 30, 2010

"What did you think of Boyer’s piece?"
I prefer journalism.

I read the entirety of Boyer's piece and wondered how the New Yorker got paid to present this bit of damage control.
posted by stratastar at 8:02 PM on September 30, 2010

Democracy Now interviews Sharlet regarding Ugandan tabloid's cover story on Uganda's 100 "top" gay and lesbian "kill list."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:43 PM on October 21, 2010

On Uganda's WHAT??!?!

WTF kind of planet is this?
posted by rtha at 4:07 PM on October 21, 2010

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