Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Donald Trump: American

Over at USA Today, Stephen Prothero of Boston University reminds us that the kind of anti-Muslim rhetoric that Donald Trump is spewing has a long history in the United States.  

He is right.

Here is a taste of his piece:

Trump is popular because he is giving voice to anxieties deeply held in the heartland, not least the anxiety that “they” are taking away “our” country. In North Carolina, for example, 40% of Republican voters in a recent Public Policy Polling survey think Islam should be illegal. But Trump also stands in a long line of culture warriors from the late 18th century to today.

Protestants attempted to banish both Catholics and Mormons from the American family on the theory that their religions were incompatible with American values. Just as some today argue that the religious liberties of Muslims should not be respected because Islam is not really a religion, many 19th century Americans claimed that Roman Catholicism was really a political scheme to take over the country and that Mormonism was really an insidious business enterprise. Liberals who allowed Catholics or Mormons to hide behind the cloak of religious liberty were called either dupes or fools (or both) because popes and Mormon presidents alike were considered unrepentant theocrats.

So today’s Islam wars are not an aberration. They are the norm. Culture wars are a recurring feature in U.S. history — episodes in the story of a not-so-indivisible nation forever at war with itself.

Read the rest here.  Prothero blames culture wars on conservatives.  I wonder if any of our readers might take issue with that statement.