With Thanks and Admiration

Dear Mr. Weinstein,
 
“Gott mit uns” appeared on German soldiers’ helmets during World War I, and was relocated to the soldiers’ belt
buckles during World War II. I draw as an inference from this that there is no human institution so exalted
that it cannot be bent to a morally sinister purpose, assuredly including the institutions of patriotism and the belief in
a supreme being.
 
A democracy may allow for a national church, such as in Britain, but authentic democracy has no
place for sectarian triumphalism, especially in politics or in the armed forces. We Americans, drawn
from many lands and traditions, are ill served by a totalizing cult that arrogates to itself the
exclusive right to make an exegesis of Scripture, and to instill unit cohesion and a sense of
a moral mission solely through coerced, obligatory adherence to Iron Age religiosity.
 
Mr. Weinstein, in my view you are conducting an heroic opposition to what I call the redneck ascendancy, which began half a century ago with the Republican “Southern Strategy,” a devil’s bargain that brought with it ultra-right politics, dominionist Christianity, firestick idolatry and its corollary, incessant warmongering; indifference if not contempt for the critical needs of fellow citizens, institutionalized racism, and a penology that seems inspired by the Stalinist work camp. To me it’s all of a piece: reversing von Clausewitz by turning politics into civil war carried on by other means.
 
Now that’s a pretty expansive bill of particulars, and I am not asking you to subscribe to it. Taking on our despotic fundies is a herculean labor all unto itself. But it is the whole of belligerent provincialism that I want to see outvoted and displaced in this country, because atavistic zealots have never been a friend to liberty.
 
(name withheld)
 

Dear (name withheld),
>
> We’re delighted to know you’re there and that you’re aware of the work of the MRFF. Mikey, who is up to his ears and beyond in performing his portion of the very “herculean labor” you so ably identify, has asked me to respond to your quite wonderful and deeply appreciated message.
>
> I, for one, will happily steal from you when I next have the chance. Your coinage of “the redneck ascendancy” made me wish I’d thought of it and envy you for having done so.
>
> On behalf of Mikey and all those associated with the MRFF, you have our thanks and regards.
>
> Best,
>
> Mike Farrell
> (MRFF Board of Advisors)

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