There’s a new term in town that the mainstream media is using to smear populist conservatives as wannabe fascists: “Christian nationalism.”
At first, I thought this wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It almost sounds positive; unlike “white supremacy” or “white nationalism” — prior shopworn slurs — I could see a lot of people thinking the appellation applied to them:
I’m Christian. I believe in the value of nationalism. Sounds all right to me.
But, no, The Associated Press wants you to know that it’s a very, very, very bad thing.
Last week, the once-respectable news agency ran an article about a Christian nationalist who was described by a historian quoted in the article as “one of the most dangerous individuals in America today.”
The AP described the views of another person cited in the piece — a sociologist, no less — as holding that “Christian nationalism seeks to merge the identity of Christians and Americans, so that to be a ‘true’ American is to be Christian — and a certain type of Christian. The ideology pushes the idea that the United States was founded on biblical principles and has a favored relationship with a Christian God.”
According to the AP, that sociologist, Samuel Perry at the University of Oklahoma, said the movement “has nothing to do with loving Jesus or wanting to be a good disciple or loving your neighbor or self-sacrifice or anything like that. It has everything to do with Christian ethno-culture and specifically white Christian ethno-culture.”
It may not surprise you to find that the “Christian nationalist” being described as “one of the most dangerous individuals in America today” is Michael Flynn, a retired three-star Army general and former national security advisor under Donald Trump.
Flynn, who was hounded from that position after a dubious charge of lying to the FBI, is, according to the AP, “now focused on his next task: building a movement centered on Christian nationalist ideas, where Christianity is at the center of American life and institutions.”
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Speaking exclusively to The Western Journal last week, however, Flynn said the idea that he is spreading totalitarian ideology is classic psychological projection.
“I think that what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to project this idea of fascism on the American fabric,” Flynn told The Western Journal in response to the AP’s piece and other media smears.
“When I use ‘project,’ I use that word very specifically. They are projecting what they are on us.”
“Projecting,” in psychological terms, is a defense mechanism in which individuals attribute their own negative emotions or actions onto others. For instance, adulterers might convince themselves their spouse is cheating on them in order to justify their own behavior. Or to give an example the mainstream media might understand, chronic liars might accuse others of lying all the time.
“And so, this idea of ‘Christian nationalists,’ it’s like we’re a bunch of Nazis from the 1930s or something,” Flynn added. “That is so far from the truth.”
While the AP didn’t specifically invoke the Third Reich in its Thursday piece, author Michelle R. Smith didn’t stop that far short of it.
Flynn, Smith reported, has “drawn together election deniers, mask and vaccine opponents, insurrectionists, Proud Boys, and elected officials and leaders in state and local Republican parties.”
“When he speaks, the former top adviser to then-President Donald Trump spreads baseless conspiracy theories, stoking fear and fueling anger and division and grievance,” the article claimed.
The “one of the most dangerous individuals in America today” line came from Ruth Ben-Ghiat, labeled as “a historian and expert on authoritarianism and fascism.” (The fact Ben-Ghiat is an obvious progressive partisan, trotted out not infrequently as a guest on openly partisan programming like Don Lemon’s CNN show, went unmentioned.)
“He is spearheading the attack on our democracy, which is coming from many quarters, and he is affiliated with many of these sectors, from the military to Christian nationalism to election denial to extremist groups,” she told the AP. “All of this comes together to present a very live threat. And he’s at the center.”
There was no shortage of “experts” from academia willing to attest to the same thing.
Here’s another nugget from the AP’s piece: “Survey data shows many Americans believe what Flynn says — that the 2020 election was stolen — and have bought into COVID-19 misinformation and other conspiracy theories that he spreads, said Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a professor of history at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who studies the evangelical movement.”
“Any of these factors alone could be considered dangerous. But all of them together and the distrust it is sowing in our democracy,” Du Mez told the AP. “I think it’s extremely dangerous in this moment.”
Flynn, mind you, is currently banned from most social media platforms. His main interaction with the public is through the ReAwaken America tour, which the AP says is spreading those goshdarn Christian nationalist ideas.
Did I mention the tour was “Christian nationalist”? Because it’s “Christian nationalist,” the AP says. I hope you like the term “Christian nationalist,” because the term “Christian nationalism” or “Christian nationalist” is used no less than 13 times in the AP’s piece. (I actually had to use the term “Christian nationalist” seven times in this paragraph in order to exceed the number of times the wire service went back to the “Christian nationalist” well.)
At one recent “ReAwaken America” event, the AP reports, “thousands of people paid anywhere from a few dollars to up to $500 to hear and absorb his message that the United States is facing an existential threat, and that to save the nation, his supporters must act.”
I haven’t seen Flynn’s act in person, so far be it from me to judge. If you want to talk about the projection test, however, the AP’s piece succeeds on a surprising number of levels.
Flynn, we’re told, is so dangerous because he sows distrust in institutions. The institution of the media does a fantastic job of this on its own, though; just look at the misinformation we were repeatedly fed by prestigious publications and cable news regarding the Trump-Russia collusion hoax alone.
However, engage in any sustained criticism of the institution of the mainstream media and watch its celebrity aristocrats behave as if they were an imam and you were showing them your collection of cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed. Such criticism is regarded as essentially sacrilegious by the elite.
Regarding Flynn’s tour, the AP report seems to implicitly take issue with “his message that the United States is facing an existential threat, and that to save the nation, his supporters must act.”
According to the AP, the Sept. 7 report was part of an “investigation” by the news agency working with the PBS program “Frontline.” To get a flavor of the result, consider that “Frontline” is producing a documentary titled “Michael Flynn’s Holy War” due to air on PBS on Oct. 18. It’s sure to be a sterling example of fair and balanced journalism, no doubt.
I can only guess that the AP’s author, and the powers behind the “investigation” by AP and “Frontline,” think the former general is stoking fear. Which is ironic, because the insinuation Flynn is irrationally stoking fear comes in a windy scare-piece in which a man who spent his life in a career sworn to defend the United States Constitution is repeatedly painted as a literal threat to democracy.
The idea that social and political values should be immune from criticism, that straying from approved views sows distrust and makes one a dangerous individual, that dissenters must be silenced and denounced as extremists — all of these are hallmarks of totalitarianism.
If the AP and other outlets are going to continue to breathlessly report on the dangers of “Christian nationalists,” “fascists” and how Michael Flynn represents both, they should know that their projection is showing.