Who Are We #2

Us versus Them. It’s tribal, a way of approaching life that has–unfortunately– persisted through centuries. For most of those centuries, the major divisions have taken the form of national boundaries, although religion and skin color have been close behind.

In our increasingly globalized world, however, perceptions of who “we” are–and perceptions of the threats posed by “them”– are changing. The identity of the “tribe” to which one belongs is no longer totally dependent upon nationality or even skin color, although religious beliefs remain a potent part of what we might call the New World Disorder.

I was struck by some statistics in a recent New York Times column.The author was considering the genesis and character of pro-Putin/pro-autocrat sentiment on the Right.

It may feel shocking, but it shouldn’t be surprising that many Republican leaders and conservative elites think the American president is a more dangerous enemy than the Russian autocrat. There is an influential tradition on the right of idolizing Putin as a defender of white Christian values against the onslaught of secular, “leftist” liberalism. In 2013, for instance, Pat Buchanan, a leading voice on the “paleoconservative” traditionalist right, described Putin as “one of us,” an ally in what he saw as the defining struggle of our era, “with conservatives and traditionalists in every country arrayed against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite”. Similarly, in 2014, famous evangelist Franklin Graham lauded Putin for having “taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda” – an agenda Barack Obama was supposedly pursuing in the US.

After the 2016 election, the simmering admiration for Putin morphed into GOP orthodoxy, with Donald Trump himself leading the Republican party’s pro-Russia turn. This rapprochement shaped the right well beyond conservative elites. Among voters in general, support for Donald Trump correlates strongly with a favorable opinion of Putin, and Americans who define the US as a “Christian nation” have a much more favorable view of Putin’s Russia. As recently as January 2022, Putin had a significantly higher approval rating among Republicans than Joe Biden.

The author followed those two paragraphs with a litany of far Right statements confirming that worldview: Steve Bannon declaring his support for Putin because “Putin ain’t woke, he is anti-woke;”  Christian nationalist Republican Lauren Witzke (a Delaware Republican candidate for Senate in 2020)  asserting that she supports Putin because he protects “our Christian values. I identify more with Russian, with Putin’s Christian values than I do with Joe Biden.”  Arizona state senator Wendy Rogers is quoted as saying “I stand with Christians worldwide and not the global bankers who are shoving godlessness and degeneracy in our face”; in case you (inexplicably) missed the anti-Semitic tropes in that statement, she then described Ukrainian president Zelenskiy, who is Jewish, as “a globalist puppet for Soros and the Clintons.”

There were several others–and of course we all know what Tucker Carlson has had to say.

This critique has basically become dogma on the right: a radically “un-American” woke Left is out to destroy the country – and has already succeeded in undermining the nation considerably, especially its “woke, emasculated military,” as Texas senator Ted Cruz put it; a weak west foolishly “focused on expanding its national debt and exploding the gender binary”, according to rightwing activist Ben Shapiro.

For these culture warriors, the message is clear: the democracies of the West had it coming; they’ve been weakened by liberal decadence and “woke culture.”

Those fighting the so-called “woke” culture celebrated Trump’s election as a success in that culture war–as proof that the forces of reaction would ultimately prevail.

Rightwingers everywhere understand the transnational dimension as well as the world-historic significance of the current fight over democracy more clearly than many people on the left: is it possible to establish a stable multiracial, pluralistic democracy? Such a political, social and cultural order has indeed never existed. There have been several stable, fairly liberal democracies – but either they have been culturally and ethnically homogeneous to begin with; or there has always been a pretty clearly defined ruling group: a white man’s democracy, a racial caste democracy, a “herrenvolk” democracy. A truly multiracial, pluralistic democracy in which an individual’s status was not determined to a significant degree by race, gender, or religion? I don’t think that’s ever been achieved anywhere. It’s a vision that reactionaries abhor – to them, it would be the end of “western civilization”. And they are determined to fight back by whatever means necessary.

We are about to see what happens when “we”–the despised, “woke” humans who want to live in that “stable multiracial, pluralistic democracy”–are targeted and opposed by “them,” the neighbors and fellow-citizens) who view that desire with fear and contempt.

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore….


  1. Once again, they aim low and make it about their bigotry versus the oligarchy that controls them. They quickly point out Soros and Clintons but never mention the Koch network of billionaires.

    And, once again, they aim at the government as the problem while eager to work for the government they despise. How do they not see this double-speak?

    Sadly, those who call themselves democrats oppose those characters by aiming low and saying, “Stop those characters from ruining our democracy.”

    By aiming low, both groups only shoot each other and not those pulling their strings.

    Those of us who are woke are yelling at them both to wake up. 😉

    Good morning!

  2. At this particular time, “we”, in my mind on the global level, is our renewed and renewing connection to NATO, EU and all of our international allies who speak against Putin’s terrorism and genocide in Ukraine. “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” has become raising loud voices and carrying a willow switch against one man who evidently has more power than the combined “we” who claim support for Ukraine as we watch that nation and it’s people systematically destroyed by the primary enemy of democracy on the global level.

    But we have had six years of practice as here at home we watch “The Donald” continue his control over those against democracy in America and blatantly supports Putin and Russia. The parallels between Putin and Trump are now out in the open; including claims of those who have worked closely with Putin now telling us of his mental instability and that it is at increasingly dangerous nuclear threat levels.

    “We are about to see what happens when “we”–the despised, “woke” humans who want to live in that “stable multiracial, pluralistic democracy”–are targeted and opposed by “them,” the neighbors and fellow-citizens) who view that desire with fear and contempt.”

    “We” have met the enemy and it is “us”!!!

  3. As I said yesterday, our world is too small to be sorting us out by nationality or by color or by religion. When we learn to accept humanity as it is, with all of our differences, good, bad, or ugly we will finally begin to make real progress in addressing issues like climate change and what should we do with nuclear waste.

    On the lighter side, can we make a rule that you can’t threaten nuclear destruction if you can’t pronounce nuclear!

  4. Peggy, love your last comment. A Facebook post yesterday came to mind; “Without freedom of speech, we would have no way to know who the idiots are.”

  5. In the Russian language, the surname ‘Putin’, means man who belongs to the path he travels. The man does seem relentless not to be distracted on a path to go down in history as one who restored the empire.

  6. Buchanan had it almost right. They are part of putin’s crowd not the other way around. They understand that free people are more productive and innovative than unfree people. Freedom challenges their elite status. Innovation must be tightly controlled or ideas might sprout that overthrow the established order. Production must be regulated so that the average worker is forced to struggle for for their sustenance and has no time for strikes or revolution or even protest. This is the mindset of the conservative right and putin. They can only maintain their wealth and power by keeping a boot on the necks of average people and destroying any who fight against them. They are anti-innovation, anti-freedom and anti-progress. This is why I oppose them.

  7. I’m a retired professor and a disabled Vietnam veteran who is much more liberal due to my time in the military. I have a brother who is a Southern Baptist CULT “preacher” that I have told off calling him a fraud and no Christian but instead a Calvinist. I’ve decided to leave the country and take up residence in a different democracy as I see democracy failing in the US. I wish everyone all the best, but I’m out of here.

  8. I find it interesting that any of these political evangelicals can actually believe Vladimir Putin has good Christian values!

    The world courts have just ruled against Vladimir Putin for imprisoning Christians for no reason, Putin has been calling them subversive working against the state.

    The Russian Court not to be confused with the international Court, just sentenced a 70-year-old woman to 15 years in prison! Why? Because she had a Bible.

    Now, I’m not sure what Christian values Putin claims to have or that these political evangelicals believe he has, but, why would he and his court system be prosecuting, convicting and imprisoning Christians!

    The Christians are definitely not affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church. If anyone knows anything about the Russian Orthodox church, one would know that they actually are a wing of the Russian government. Their priests are trained to fight and carry ak-47s. The Russian Orthodox Church is also involved in vigilante operations. This is exactly from Adolf Hitler’s playbook! And who else reads Adolf Hitler rantings!?!? Mr Trump!

    So, we can see why these political evangelicals love Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump! Because they are of like mind. And, because their hypocritical religious leanings (Putin and Trump) border on power pornography.

    The Evangelical right-wing is no better than the Russian Orthodox Church which has zero Christian dogma and does not teach Christ’s law. I’ve said before, that these Evangelical groups becoming involved in politics or seeking power is going to end badly for them. What they do is not to glorify God, or to help their neighbors, it’s to gain power!

    Not unlike the Pharisees and Sadducees of the Sanhedrin which actually bastardized the Mosaic law to keep their thumb on the average Jewish citizen and worshiper. Do you see the Sanhedrin today? It went the way of the dodo bird after Jerusalem was sacked in 70 CE by the Romans. The Sanhedrin tried to exert influence on their Roman overlords which obviously grew tiresome for those overlords.

    So, what’s the lesson? History is cyclical, it repeats itself until there is no more history. You would think evangelicals would be wiser than they are, unfortunately, they aren’t particularly bright or knowledgeable for that matter.

    Christians are supposed to display “Fruitage Of The Spirit,” a list of them are Faith, Goodness, Joy, kindnesses, Love, Mildness, Patience and Longsuffering, Peace, Self-Control, amongst others! (Galatians 5:22, 23)….

    On the other hand, you have what the apostle Paul referred to in his second letter to the Thessalonians. That there will be “a lawless one, a false object of reverence, who would even put himself above God’s law.” (Read: 2nd Thessalonians 2: 3 – 12)

    So, what accurately describes the “Evangelical Political Operation?” Certainly not “Fruitage Of The Spirit!” But” absolutely like The lawless One, the one who puts himself above everyone and everything including God.

  9. As the reality of what bombing and missile strikes play out on social media, I think there is some realization of what an anti-woke autocrat is really like and there are few people that are starting to walk back on some of their words. I hope it is enough.

    My big angst is about from people that have a very small world view and make comments like, “we should just send in a cruse missile and take out Putin”. Putin now seems like a smart version of Trump, unhinged, and capable of doing a great deal of damage. The slightest armed provocation will most likely escalate, and possibly all the way to using nuclear weapons. Biden has done a masterful job of using diplomacy to tread the mine field Putin as laid before the west. Unfortunately, in a globally connected world, economic sanctions are a double edged sword. Closing air spaces to Russia means that Russia closes their airspace, and now European flights over the North Pole to Asia are no longer possible. Gas prices rise as the purchase of Russian oil slows, and this means that the average citizen will bear some of the cost of this war even if we never send in a single soldier.

    I saw a comment that said that if Biden could walk on water, the headlines on right wing media would read “Biden can’t swim”. Today I saw the millionth salvo, and even as we avoid nuclear war, or Americans dying in a armed conflict, there was an article detailing all of the ways Biden’s strategy is going to hurt the “Average American’s” bottom line.

    Also, a comment from another right wing friend, so I have to question if this is just aonther “whataboutism”, was that why has the war in Ukraine grabbed so much attention? What about all of those armed conflicts in Africa and Asia? Is is because those people aren’t white and don’t look like us? It made me think and it sounds like a valid point, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it is just a very effective and situational version of “What about the emails”.

  10. One of the defining traits of primates is SOCIAL NATURE. This means we have tribes…and tribes are often good. They teach us how we do things…what we believe…how to find our food/build our houses, etc.

    The ”down” side of tribalism is the ”us versus THEM” attitude. And until every human on the planet is educated on how to fight this part of our nature…we’ll be having wars, etc.

  11. Good Moooorning Todd!
    Can’t refute your comment today, Lol🙃 do U sleep?

    Good Morning Everyone!

  12. No doubt that we are caught up in an ideological battle for control of humankind between two extremes of the liberal/authoritarian spectrum, both fighting for freedom. The liberal end is fighting for freedom for all, in balance, between both each other and government. The authoritarian end is fighting for freedom of their tribe by religion, race, class, nationality or gender. Their war is to establish rank among tribes. That’s the extreme also of alliances of any kind as it’s not possible to form alliances outside of humanity.

    Both believe that the war is existential, liberals for humanity, authoritarians for their tribe(s).

    Of course like all human spectrums, the range of individual opinions are distributed normally, on the “bell curve”. Also typical is that the extremes are where political parties live.

    There is no better example of this than Putin’s war on the Ukraine. In that case it’s purely a war on nationality. A war to establish that Russian nationality outranks Ukrainian. Of course Putin sees that clearly but most Russians apparently don’t believe it is true. That’s why there appears to be much confusion among his armies and the Russian people.

    The war among the States formerly United here is more complex because it’s among all of the tribes, religion, race, class, nationality and gender but especially between sub-national states.

  13. “LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — President Vladimir Putin warned Saturday that Russia would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as participation in the war there, while Ukrainian officials blamed Russian shelling for breaching a cease-fire arranged in two cities to evacuate civilians.”

    Putin also stated he considered the sanctions against his actions in Ukraine to be “a declaration of war”. How long will it take for the sanctions to actually have an effect on his war and how many will die as we wait for those results?

  14. Russian support? Trumpism?

    Russia has a lot of support among the people of South/Central America. It has got nothing to do with Trumpism. Perhaps the little people of Panama just may see a bit of American hypocrisy running amok at the moment?

  15. Not in Kansas anymore? We never were. We hit these shores, eradicated the then occupants, enslaved West Africans brought here by English slavers, and realized our “manifest destiny” from Gadsen and Louisiana purchases and sea to sea conquest at the expense of Spain and Mexico. That’s our Kansas in a nutshell; we have that record to live down, and any time any one of us begins to boast of our freedoms steeped in democracy we are reminded of that dismal display of the expansion we since decry by both naysayers and frustrated idealists – from both left and right. It happened, it’s history, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

    Putin, with the largest country in the world, has no need to expand and has no NATO problem on Siberia’s east coast but has one on the west border of Ukraine. Trouble is, that’s another country, but he’s demonstrably unconstrained by such a mere formality as a borderline. Nor does he explain how Russia went overnight from Stalin atheism to Orthodox Christianity, a Czarist reminder. I have a feeling that Orthodox Christianity is for the masses and Stalin atheism is a preserve for the ruling oligarchy. The prevailing religion in both Russia and Ukraine is Orthodox, so, ostensibly, we have brothers and sisters in Christ killing one another, which I would guess would be condemned by Christ in this ultimate test of church v. state – which the state won under the leadership of Putin.

    So whataboutism? Nearly every European country has a similar unethical record in their colonial and expansionist history as that of ours. They, like us, must admit to such misconduct and go from there, as we must. Again, you start from where you are, but chastened by experience, you do it right this time.

  16. Literally, since both sides have nukes, the only saviors will be the air crews, submariners and silo rats who refuse to fire the missiles.
    I hope the knowledge of genetics survives the nukes because we need a new version of humanity, and tribalism is gene deep.

  17. Peggy: I caught ‘nukular’ in Ms Greenfield’s speech about ‘nuclear’ weapons. I also tried to count the ‘uh’s’ in Blinken’s speech. No luck—too many! Lights, cameras and microphones would scare me, too, but the sounds and pronunciations from those who should know better…they leave me wondering.

    Aging Little Girl: Your comment yesterday was completely gratifying. I have wanted to say that for the longest. Good on ya!

  18. Recently finished Jaime Raskin’s book “Unthinable”. His knowledge of US constitution is enlighting. Throughout history people have been united over race, religion, sex & outward boundaries. Never before has a people been united by a Constitution. It’s wide based, inclusive and only restrictive against unfair & dicriminatory acts against fellow citizens. It takes effort to keep up & maintain this system, but it’s the best thing going.

  19. Yeah, gott watch out for those semitic Clintons, boy, oh boy!!!!!!!!
    Ben Shapiro needs to resume taking his meds. Which recent presidents increased the nat’l debt the most? Reagan and Trump? Naaaaa, can’t be.
    “I don’t think that’s ever been achieved anywhere. It’s a vision that reactionaries abhor – to them, it would be the end of “western civilization”. And they are determined to fight back by whatever means necessary.” If, indeed a pluralistic democracy has never been achieved,
    anywhere, I can see how the conservatives could be right to see such a thing as that end; rather by definition. One could see it as an
    evolutionary step in the development of western society. And, fearing change, not even ready to admit that Darwin might have been right, all those years ago, it would be a terrifying prospect.

    to such an extreme degree as they do, it would be frightening.

  20. Just now seeing this. The article, Sheila, is a home run. I long ago said you take a poll about who is more popular, Putin or Biden, in GOP circles, and Putin would win easily. Someone finally did the poll and confirmed that fact.

    It’s tough fighting this sentiment. As much as we complain about Republican elected officials, the real problem is the Republican electorate. They are so brainwashed. They need to be deprogrammed and I don’t know how that is done.

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