"If there is a hard truth for American liberals to swallow, and swallow it they must, it is that their party allowed this to happen as much as the GOP made it happen" Well put Alan.

However, I'd go further and suggest progressive "liberals" in the US have not only allowed an intolerant religious sentiment to gain steam, but have played a key role in driving it forward because of unchecked excesses on their own turf. I lived in US in 2015 and 2016 in the run up to Trump's win, travelled 38 of the lower 48 states, and firsthand saw the Woke wave start to come in hard. We know what happened in the years since.

Apart from functioning as an insanely damaging distraction from addressing deeper and more complex socioeconomic and political issues, the inevitability of reciprocal radicalization by the furthest edges of the right in response to the left is one of the main gripes I have had with the absurdly destructive Diversity-Equity-Inclusion zealotry (male athletes are cool in women's sports, "Latinx", "defund the police", "All white people are racist", claiming "mostly peaceful protests" while surrounded by burning buildings, "looting is OK because of Jim Crow/red lining", "biological sex is a social construct and stereotyping gender norms is bad but gender identity is so real children need hormones and surgery if they have the wrong biological body" etc etc etc).

Woke madness and its sanctioning by those in power in Dems & progressive media have provided more weaponizable content to foster reciprocal radicalization than intolerant religious fundamentalists could have dreamed of generating themselves.

Andrew Sullivan (a gay Catholic) discussed this danger of Wokeness summoning a reactionary demon into existence with Bari Weiss (a gay Jew) recently. Great chat: https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/bari-weiss-on-saving-liberalism-from

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Thank you for your thoughts as always my friend. Sarah Posner, author of the recent book 'Unholy' about the coveting of Trump by the evangelical Right, and whom I referenced in the article, does talk about this at length. To quote:

"The Trump-evangelical relationship represents an intense meeting of the minds, decades in the making, on the notion that America lies in ruins after the sweep of historic changes since the mid-twentieth centruy, promoting nondiscriminatory and equal rights for those who had been historically disenfranchised - women, racial minorities, immigrants, refugees, and LGBTQ people - eroded the dominance of conservative white Christianity in American public life."

And I would agree that the radical identitarian rhetoric pours fuel on this fire. However, I think we need to be mindful of recency bias. "Woke" madness really didn't take off until, depending on the perspective, 2011 or perhaps 2014. The Christian fundamentalist Right existed long before "wokeness", and in fact its political awakening began with the Counterculture movement during the Vietnam War, which convinced them that America was now a godless, ammoral nation.

The evangelical Right has also been agitating politically, influencing policy, since 1980 with the Reagan administration. "Woke" wasn't even born then. So while it may have poured fuel on the fire, I would argue that "wokeness" is not the problem in a causal sense; it is an effect-modifier. If we take the long view, it is abundantly clear that the evangelical Right opposed any and every progressive step taken by the U.S. in the post-Second World War period, including desegregation. Opposed gay/lesbian rights, voting rights, you name it.

As Dobbs has been overturned using legal reasoning that now firmly places each of the unenumerated Constitutional rights in the crosshairs, the reality is that there is only one movement that is damaging the very fabric of human rights in America, and it isn't "the Left".

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Thanks for this man. Your recency bias point is extremely relevant. It had actually occurred to me as a blindspot of my own as I was writing my reply to you yesterday about my watching the culture wars blow up in 2015/16.

One thing I would point out though, is that what we see as institutional and cultural capture by the bizarre postmodern neo-Marxist infusion started a long while back too. It was bubbling for decades and only happened to really overflow from its bastions in last decade. For instance, I read Jonathan Rauch's book "Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought" recently. It was from 1993 but might as well have been a new release with his stuff on political correctness and a sort of proto-cancel culture based on causing offence. He also discusses science denying creationists on the other side of the aisle. An outstanding read about the philosophy of science and importance of Popperian fallibilism.

And while I by no means with to support his violent actions, The Unabomber Manifesto from 1995 also has critiques of this weird pomo-marxist infusion that was gaining steam in institutions and throughout society. Here is a paragraph from the 1995 manifesto to give an example:

"15. Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not correspond with their real motives. They SAY they hate the West because it is warlike, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so forth, but where these same faults appear in socialist countries or in primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them, or at best he GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points out (and often greatly exaggerates) these faults where they appear in Western civilization."

I also really liked this line of yours: ""wokeness" is not the problem in a causal sense; it is an effect-modifier." Great way of putting it. I see wokeness as a sort of weaponised aspirational victimhood based on an identitarian bastardisation of Matthew 20:16 which goes "So the last shall be first, and the first last." (Intersectionality status gamesmanship 101!!!) Unlike the best parts of Christianity though, the hollow religion of Wokism has no time for love or a possibility for true forgiveness.

In relation to "Unholy", I really must check that out. A recommendation I would make to you along very similar lines is the latest Sam Harris podcast with David French. French is an anti-Trump Christian who discusses elements of religious support for Trump I had never before encountered (such as "prophecy"). Great discussion.

The one place we may (or may not) differ is in the amount of attribution we can put at the feet of extremes in lefty progressivism for driving exhausted non-culture warrior people toward tolerating or even supporting extremes in righty regressivism. I'll contact you about furthering this chat privately as I'd love to get your views.

Much love hombre.

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deletedJun 26, 2022Liked by Alan Flanagan
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Thank you, and I agree we are on the precipice in many respects.

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