Narcissism in Politics

Oath Keepers

Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers paramilitary group, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in a seditious conspiracy to disrupt the electoral count. It’s the harshest punishment so far resulting from the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and is especially significant because Rhodes himself was not present at the Capitol that day. Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate, was convicted last November of the politically charged sedition charge and multiple other felonies.

Rhodes’s conduct was found to amount to terrorism by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, a first in a case related to the Jan. 6th attack. This factored into his calculations under the advisory sentencing guidelines. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stated that the sentences reflect the grave threat these actions posed to democratic institutions.

Ongoing danger of political violence

Rhodes, who never entered the Capitol building during the siege, was nevertheless described as presiding over the action like a general on the battlefield. Even after his arrest, he repeatedly invoked the prospect of political violence — including during his sentencing hearing. Judge Mehta cited Rhodes’s intelligence and charisma as factors that made him dangerous, as they inspired dozens of people to travel to Washington for the electoral count.

Rhodes plans to appeal his conviction and sentence. He testified in his own defense last year, but this decision backfired after inconsistencies were pointed out in his account of his actions leading up to the Capitol siege and his penchant for conspiracy theories.

Kelly Meggs, a co-defendant also convicted of seditious conspiracy and a former leader of Oath Keepers’ Florida chapter, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The judge heard emotional accounts from police and congressional staffers who continue to suffer from the aftershocks of the assault on their workplace.

Key takeaways from the Rhodes verdict

  1. The Impact of the Verdict: The sentencing of Stewart Rhodes could influence any sentence Enrique Tarrio, the former chairman of the far-right Proud Boys group, will face on the same charge later this summer. This case sets a precedent for future cases related to the Jan. 6th attack.
  2. The Role of Rhodes in the Capitol Siege: Despite not entering the Capitol building, Rhodes played a significant role in the events of January 6. His leadership and influence over the Oath Keepers were highlighted during the trial.
  3. The Aftermath of the Assault: The emotional trauma inflicted on the police and congressional staffers present during the assault continues to be felt. The sentencing of Rhodes and Meggs is one important step towards holding those responsible accountable for their actions.
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The term Christian nationalists brings together a number of radical religious sects seeking to overthrow the democratic republic of the United States and installing a strict theocracy, from dominionists to orthodox Catholics to Evangelicals and many more.

They tend to believe in Strict Father Morality, and desire to establish some sort of Christian fascist state in America, under the backwards idea that the founders never intended to separate church and state — despite religious freedom and the ability to worship as one pleases being precisely one of the founding ideals.

Christian nationalists abstract

Christian nationalists list

Here are some of the people and groups involved in — or foundational to — the modern day movement to establish a Christian theocratic government in America (this is a work in progress!):

  • 700 Club — Airing since 1966, the 700 Club is one of the longest-running Christian TV programs in the U.S. The show is produced by the Christian Broadcasting Network, founded by evangelist and one-time presidential candidate (1988) Pat Robertson.
  • Howard Ahmanson Jr. — American businessman, philanthropist, and Christian conservative activist who has donated millions of dollars to right-wing organizations and the GOP. Ahmanson is the son of the late financier and philanthropist Howard F. Ahmanson Sr., and a supporter of the Intelligent Design movement.
  • Awake 88 — A 2008 initiative sponsored by the Family Research Council (FRC) in which J.C. Church visited 2500 churches in all of Ohio’s 88 counties in an effort to turn the state red in the 2008 elections.
  • Alexander AcostaTrump‘s Secretary of Labor from April 2017 to July 2019 who resigned when new details of his unlawful “sweetheart” plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein came to light. He was known to attend the weekly White House Bible study gatherings led by Dominionist Ralph Drollinger.
  • Alex Azar — Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services from January 2018 to January 2021, who was also known to attend the weekly White House Bible study gatherings led by Dominionist Ralph Drollinger.
  • Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) — The ADF is a nonprofit founded in 1994 by James Dobson, Bill Bright, and other Christian leaders to provide legal representation and support to people and organizations facing legal challenges based on their religious beliefs. The ADF was involved in the high-profile Masterpiece Cakeshop case, defending the baker who refused to make a gay wedding cake.
  • American College of Pediatricians — ACPeds is a small, socially conservative group of pediatricians founded in 2002 that has been criticized for its support of the discredited “conversion therapy” practice for LGBTQ+ youth and other views that run counter to the group’s stated purpose of promoting healthy and respectful development of children. The group is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • American Enterprise Institute (AEI) — A conservative think tank based in the United States that conducts research and advocacy on a range of public policy issues. Founded in 1938, the AEI is known for its promotion of conservative social values.
  • American Family Association (AFA) — A non-profit conservative Christian organization based in the United States, founded in 1977. The group has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which cites the organization’s history of spreading false and harmful information about LGBTQ+ individuals and promoting intolerance and bigotry.
  • American Family Radio Network (AFR) — A Christian radio network in the U.S.
  • American Heritage Girls (AHG) — The American Heritage Girls (AHG) is a faith-based scouting organization for girls based in the United States. The organization was founded in 1995 and describes itself as “a Christ-centered character and leadership development program for girls 5 to 18 years of age.” It requires all members to agree to a statement of faith that affirms a belief in God and a commitment to Christian values.
  • American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — Along with CNP, one of two primary right-wing groups with deep funding ties over the past half century to Republican lawmakers and donors & covertly driving “local” and state legislative agenda centrally from a nationally-coordinated source that shrinks from public view and carefully shields its operations from scrutiny.
  • Americans of Faith — A massive church-based get-out-the-vote campaign in 2004 led by conservative Christian activist and Salem Radio founder Edward Atsinger III.
  • America Wake Up — “America Wake Up” was a religious movement that emerged in the United States during the early 21st century, primarily gaining momentum in the late 2010s and early 2020s. The group, which combined elements of evangelical Christianity with apocalyptic and nationalist themes, aimed to rally Americans to restore traditional religious values and preserve the nation’s spiritual and cultural heritage. Its followers believed that America was in a state of moral decline and that God’s favor could only be reclaimed through a mass spiritual awakening. Although “America Wake Up” was never a centralized organization, its adherents often united through social media, small-group meetings, and public rallies. Critics accused the group of promoting intolerance and divisiveness, and its influence waned as mainstream religious and political figures distanced themselves from its more extreme rhetoric.
  • Robert Arnakis — Robert Arnakis was a prominent conservative political operative and trainer in the United States during the early 21st century. As the Director of Domestic and International Programs at the Leadership Institute, he played a crucial role in mentoring and training conservative activists, politicians, and future leaders. Although he maintained a relatively low public profile, Arnakis significantly impacted the conservative movement by shaping the careers of numerous political figures and promoting conservative values through education and training initiatives.
  • Arlington Group — The Arlington Group was a coalition of influential conservative Christian leaders and organizations in the United States, formed in 2002 to facilitate cooperation and strategic coordination among various religious and political factions. By focusing on shared goals such as opposition to same-sex marriage and the promotion of traditional family values, the group aimed to advance a socially conservative agenda on a national level. While the Arlington Group’s influence diminished over time, its efforts significantly impacted American politics and contributed to the ongoing debate surrounding social issues in the country.
  • Larry Arnn — Larry Arnn, the long-serving president of Hillsdale College, has been influential in guiding the institution towards a more conservative and Christian nationalist direction. Under his leadership, Hillsdale has emphasized a curriculum rooted in the traditional values of Western civilization and has increasingly associated with conservative religious and political figures. Arnn’s tenure has undeniably made Hillsdale a central hub for promoting and advancing conservative ideology and Christian nationalist delusions in American education and public discourse.
  • Edward Atsinger III — Edward Atsinger III is an American businessman and broadcasting executive, who co-founded and served as the CEO of Salem Media Group, one of the leading conservative and Christian media companies in the United States. Established in 1986, Salem Media Group operates a vast network of radio stations, digital media platforms, and publishing houses, targeting conservative and faith-based audiences. Under Atsinger’s leadership, the company has played a pivotal role in shaping American conservative and Christian media landscapes, with its platforms serving as influential channels for promoting conservative and religious viewpoints.
  • Marcus Bachmann — Marcus Bachmann is an American clinical therapist and entrepreneur who gained national attention due to his marriage to former Republican Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology and is the founder of Bachmann & Associates, a Christian counseling center in Minnesota that offers therapy services for a wide range of mental health issues. Bachmann has faced criticism for his views on conversion therapy for LGBTQ individuals, which he allegedly practiced at his clinic, although he has denied promoting this controversial treatment.
  • Michele Bachmann — Michele Bachmann is an American politician, lawyer, and former Republican Congresswoman who represented Minnesota’s 6th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2015. A prominent figure in the Tea Party movement, Bachmann was known for her conservative stances on issues such as limited government, pro-life advocacy, and opposition to same-sex marriage. In 2012, she sought the Republican nomination for the presidency but eventually withdrew from the race, returning to the private sector after completing her congressional tenure.
  • Jim Bakker — Jim Bakker is an American televangelist, entrepreneur, and former minister who became a prominent figure in the 1970s and 1980s as the host of the successful Christian television program “The PTL Club,” alongside his then-wife, Tammy Faye Bakker. Bakker’s ministry took a downturn in the late 1980s when he was embroiled in a series of scandals involving financial fraud and extramarital affairs, ultimately resulting in his conviction and imprisonment. After his release in 1994, Bakker returned to televangelism and has continued his ministry, albeit on a smaller scale, focusing on end-time prophecy and the sale of survival products.
  • Steve Bannon — Steve Bannon is an American political strategist, filmmaker, and media executive who gained national prominence as the executive chairman of Breitbart News and later as the chief strategist for President Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign and his early White House administration. Through his work at Breitbart and in the Trump campaign, Bannon promoted conservative and nationalist ideologies, often aligning with Christian nationalist values and narratives. Although not solely focused on Christian nationalism, Bannon’s influence in shaping the political landscape and amplifying the voices of the far-right contributed to the resurgence of Christian nationalist sentiments in the United States.
  • Baptist Press — The Baptist Press, established in 1946, is the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
  • George Barna — George Barna is a renowned American pollster, researcher, author, and speaker, best known for his extensive research on religion, culture, and public opinion. In 1984, he founded the Barna Group, a market research and polling firm specializing in studying the religious beliefs and behaviors of Americans, as well as the intersection of faith and culture.
  • Jeff Barke — Dr. Jeff Barke is an American physician, conservative activist, and author, known for his outspoken views on various public health and policy issues. He came out against the majority of the covid-19 public health measures including mask mandates, stay-at-home orders, and vaccines along with pushing unproven treatments.
  • Mari Barke — Mari Barke serves on the Orange County Board of Education, having been first elected in 2018. Married to Dr. Jeff Barke, she shares her husband’s conservative political views.
  • Stephen Barney — Stephen Barney is a conservative philanthropist, American businessman and donor to various conservative organizations, political campaigns, and educational initiatives.
  • David Barton — David Barton is an influential American evangelical Christian author, speaker, and political activist, known for his advocacy of conservative Christian values in politics and education. Born on January 28, 1954, in Texas, Barton is the founder and president of WallBuilders, a national organization known for its revisionist historical claims — including the idea that the First Amendment is not meant to establish freedom of religion.
  • Gary Bauer — Gary Bauer is known for his staunch advocacy of social conservatism and his prominent roles in various right-wing organizations. Born in Kentucky, Bauer served in the Reagan administration, first as the Deputy Under Secretary for Planning and Budget in the Department of Education, then as the Under Secretary of Education and Chief Domestic Policy Advisor. He left the White House in 1989 to become the president of the Family Research Council, a position he held until 1999. Bauer is especially known for his conservative views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In 2000, he made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Since then, he’ has remained active in conservative politics, notably founding’s founded the Campaign for Working Families, a political action committee dedicated to electing conservative candidates to office.
  • Glenn Beck — Glenn Beck is a prominent American conservative political commentator, radio host, television producer, and founder of the news and entertainment network, TheBlaze. He began his career in radio as a DJ, but his career took a turn towards political commentary in the 2000s. Beck hosted the nationally syndicated radio talk show, “The Glenn Beck Program,” and his television show, “Glenn Beck,” which aired on Fox News from 2009 to 2011, was known for its emotionally charged commentary, chalkboard diagrams, and historical analysis. His shows have often been controversial for their provocative content. Beck is recognized for his libertarian-leaning conservatism and his vocal support for the Tea Party movement.
  • David and Jason Benham — David Benham, along with his twin brother Jason, is a prominent figure in American conservative circles, known for his outspoken views on Christianity and social issues. Prior to his involvement in political and social activism, Benham was a professional baseball player, drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1998. After retiring from baseball, he and his brother co-founded the Benham Companies, a real estate conglomerate. The brothers gained national attention when their planned HGTV show, “Flip It Forward,” was canceled in 2014 due to controversy over their views on homosexuality and abortion. They are known for their strong pro-life stance, their opposition to same-sex marriage, and their misunderstanding of religious freedom.
  • Philip “Flip” Benham — Philip “Flip” Benham is an American evangelical Christian minister and anti-abortion activist, notable for his leadership roles in pro-life organizations. He was born on April 16, 1948, in Hartford, Connecticut. Benham is the father of David and Jason Benham, also known for their conservative activism. Flip Benham was the director of Operation Save America (formerly known as Operation Rescue National), a pro-life group advocating for the criminalization of abortion. The organization has been associated with protests at abortion clinics and other locations. Benham’s activism has often courted controversy, and he has been arrested multiple times during demonstrations. His vocal stances on issues such as abortion and homosexuality reflect his conservative Christian beliefs.
  • Robert J. Billings — Robert J. Billings was a significant figure in the American conservative movement, particularly known for his contributions to the rise of the Christian right in the late 20th century. Born on October 19, 1929, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Billings advocated for Christian education, founding Christian schools and serving as a superintendent in Wisconsin. His involvement in politics began in earnest in the 1970s, when he co-founded the American Association of Christian Schools and later became an influential figure in the Moral Majority, an organization that played a key role in mobilizing conservative Christian voters. Billings served as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan and was an instrumental figure in shaping the political landscape of the Christian right. He passed away on November 3, 1997.
  • Dr. Henry Blackaby — Dr. Henry Blackaby is an influential Christian pastor, author, and speaker, best known for his work “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God,” a study that has sold millions of copies worldwide. Born on July 11, 1935, in British Columbia, Canada, Blackaby served as a pastor in California and Canada before becoming the president of the Canadian Southern Baptist Conference. In 1976, Blackaby started working for the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention. His work in spiritual revival and church leadership has had a profound impact on evangelical Christianity, particularly in the Southern Baptist tradition. His “Experiencing God” study, developed with his son Richard, has been widely used in churches and study groups and is considered a seminal text in contemporary Christian education.
  • Sen Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) — Marsha Blackburn is a prominent figure in American conservative politics, known for her tenure as a U.S. Senator from Tennessee. Born on June 6, 1952, in Laurel, Mississippi, Blackburn attended Mississippi State University, earning a degree in home economics. Her political career began in the Tennessee State Senate, where she served from 1998 to 2002. In 2002, Blackburn was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Tennessee’s 7th congressional district, where she developed a reputation as a staunch conservative, particularly on issues such as healthcare, internet privacy, and fiscal responsibility. In 2018, Blackburn was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first woman from Tennessee to serve in the upper chamber. Known for her support of President Donald Trump and her opposition to big government, Blackburn has remained a significant figure in the Republican Party and American conservative politics.
  • Morton Blackwell — Morton Blackwell is an influential figure in American conservative politics, best known for his role in the development and training of young conservative activists. Born on November 16, 1939, in LaHarpe, Illinois, Blackwell became involved in conservative activism early in life, working on Barry Goldwater‘s 1964 presidential campaign and serving as executive director of the College Republicans. In 1980, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the position of Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison, working on youth outreach. Blackwell is perhaps best known as the founder and president of the Leadership Institute, an organization established in 1979 that provides training for conservative activists, particularly college students.
  • Bob Jones University — Bob Jones University (BJU) is a private, non-denominational evangelical university located in Greenville, South Carolina. It was founded in 1927 by Bob Jones Sr., a prominent evangelist and religious leader, with the aim of creating a training center for Christian workers. Throughout its history, BJU has been known for its conservative cultural and religious views. The university requires students to adhere to a strict code of conduct in line with its religious beliefs. Historically, BJU has been at the center of several controversies, notably regarding its policies on racial segregation, which it maintained until 1971, and its ban on interracial dating, which was not lifted until 2000. Despite these controversies, BJU has had a significant influence on conservative Christian education in the United States.
  • Bolthouse Foundation — The Bolthouse Foundation is a private foundation established by the Bolthouse family, who made their fortune in the farming and food production industry, notably through the Bolthouse Farms brand. The foundation’s mission has been to invest in Christian organizations and causes that align with their commitment to spreading the Christian faith and promoting social good. The foundation’s funding has often focused on supporting Christian education, religious activities, and other nonprofit organizations that align with their values.
  • Dick Bott — Dick Bott was an influential figure in American Christian radio broadcasting, known for founding the Bott Radio Network. Born on March 23, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, Bott launched the Bott Radio Network in 1962, which grew to become one of the nation’s largest Christian radio networks, featuring Bible teaching, Christian news, and music. Bott’s commitment to broadcasting Christian content led to a network that includes over 100 radio stations across the United States. Bott’s influence extended beyond his radio network, as he served on the boards of numerous Christian organizations and was a strong supporter of Christian education. He passed away on November 6, 2019.
  • Bott Radio Network — A network of 120 Christian radio stations operating in 14 of the United States, broadcasting Christian talk radio programs.
  • Lt. Gen. William Boykin (ret.) — Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin is a retired American Army officer and conservative political commentator known for his Christian views and involvement in special operations. Born on April 19, 1948, in Wilson, North Carolina, Boykin’s military career spanned over 36 years, during which he played key roles in several U.S. military actions, including the Iran hostage rescue attempt and operations in Grenada and Somalia. He was one of the original members of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force and eventually served as its commander. He also served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under President George W. Bush. After retiring from the military, Boykin became an outspoken conservative Christian activist, serving as Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian think-tank and lobbying organization. He has drawn controversy for his comments on Islam and other topics.
  • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation — The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is one of the largest and most influential conservative grantmaking foundations in the United States. Established in 1942 by Lynde and Harry Bradley, co-founders of the Allen-Bradley Company, a successful Milwaukee-based electronics and industrial automation manufacturer, the foundation began its significant conservative philanthropic activity in the 1980s, after the sale of Allen-Bradley to Rockwell International. It has provided substantial funding to conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, and scholars, with a focus on areas such as limited government, free markets, education, and the traditional family structure. The foundation has had a considerable impact on shaping conservative policy and intellectual discourse in the United States.
  • Bob Branch — Bob Branch is an educator and conservative political figure known for his involvement in Arizona politics. Branch is recognized for his conservative stance on issues such as education, immigration, and the Second Amendment. He ran for the position of Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2018, campaigning on a platform of local control of education, school safety, and curriculum transparency.
  • Lincoln Brewster — Lincoln Brewster is an American contemporary Christian musician and worship pastor known for his guitar-based songs. Born on July 30, 1971, in Fairbanks, Alaska, Brewster developed a passion for music at a young age, with his mother nurturing his talent. He became a sought-after session guitarist in his early 20s and had the opportunity to work with mainstream artists, including journeyman rocker Steve Perry. However, Brewster felt a spiritual calling to use his musical talents for religious purposes and transitioned to contemporary Christian music. In addition to his music career, Brewster has served as a worship pastor at churches including the Bayside Church in California.
  • Jim Bridenstine
  • Harold O. J. Brown
  • Brown v. Board of Education
  • Pat Buchanan
  • Mark Bucher
  • Building a Nation
  • Jonathan Cain
  • Capitol Ministries
  • Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation
  • Ben Carson
  • CBN University
  • A Choice Not an Echo
  • Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN)
  • Christian Coalition
  • Christian homeschooling movement
  • Christian Satellite Network
  • J. C. Church
  • Church United
  • Church Voter Lookup
  • Tom Coburn
  • Mary Colbert
  • Concerned Women for America
  • Conscience and Religious Freedom Division
  • Conservative Caucus
  • Kellyanne Conway
  • Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation
  • Council for National Policy (CNP)
  • Culture Impact Teams (CITs)
  • Jan Crouch
  • Paul Crouch
  • Ted Cruz
  • Dr. Kenyn M. Cureton
  • Robert Lewis Dabney
  • The Daily Signal
  • Marjorie Dannenfelser
  • Jeff Denham
  • Betsy DeVos
  • Richard DeVos
  • Richard DeVos, Sr.
  • James Dobson
  • Mark Drever
  • Karen Rudolph Drollinger
  • Ralph Drollinger
  • Dinesh D’Souza
  • Alan P. Dye
  • Eagle Forum
  • Stuart Epperson
  • Equal Rights Amendment
  • Frank Erb
  • Tony Evans
  • Jerry Falwell
  • Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • The Family
  • Family Christian Academy (FCA)
  • Family Life Radio
  • Family Policy Alliance
  • Family Policy Councils
  • Family Research Council (FRC)
  • Family Worship Center
  • Fellowship Foundation
  • Reverend Wilber Fisk
  • Tami Fitzgerald
  • Florida Family Action
  • Florida Family Action PAC
  • Florida Family Policy Council
  • Focus on the Family
  • Foster Friess
  • Free Congress Foundation
  • Lynn Friess
  • Jim Garlow
  • Rosemary Schindler Garlow
  • W. Barry Garrett
  • Godspeak Calvary Chapel
  • Barry Goldwater
  • Peggy Goldwater
  • Grace Community Church, Sun Valley
  • Billy Graham
  • The Green family
  • Ken Ham
  • Abraham Hamilton III — host of American Family Radio‘s “Hamilton Corner” who described the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas as “Satan’s work” that was “immune to legislation.” He went on to claim that the Democrats were “exploiting” the victims by calling for hearings on gun control
  • Mark Harris
  • Kristan Hawkins
  • Carl F. H. Henry
  • Heritage Academy
  • Heritage Action
  • Heritage Foundation
  • Eric Heubeck
  • Hugh Hewitt
  • Jack Hibbs
  • Rob Hilarides
  • The Hillsdale Collegian
  • Kay Hiramine
  • A. A. Hodge
  • John Henry Hopkins
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders — currently the sitting governor of Arkansas
  • Humanitarian International Services Group (HISG)
  • Nelson Bunker Hunt
  • Institute on Religion and Democracy
  • Larry Jackson
  • David Jeremiah
  • Bob Jones Sr.
  • Bob Jones Univeristy
  • Kingdom Warriors
  • KMMJ
  • C. Everett Koop
  • Ku Klux Klan
  • Beverly LaHaye
  • Tim LaHaye
  • Wayne LaPierre
  • Bill Lee — Governor of Tennessee
  • Leonard Leo
  • Mark Levin
  • Liberty University
  • LifeWay Research
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Elias Loera
  • Nathan Lord
  • Dave Louden
  • Barry Loudermilk
  • John MacArthur
  • Rachel MacNair
  • Danielle Madison
  • March for Life
  • Ed McAteer
  • The Moral Majority
  • Jeanne Mancini
  • Manhattan Declaration
  • Rob McCoy
  • Mark Meadows
  • Mark Meckler — Tea Party activist and co-funder of Convention of States
  • Janet Mefferd
  • Roy Moore
  • Museum of the Bible
  • The Naked Communist
  • Penny Young Nance
  • National Center for Constitutional Studies
  • National Christian Foundation
  • National Conservative Student Conference
  • National Federation of Republican Women
  • National Right to Life Committee
  • Richard John Neuhaus
  • New Christian Right
  • Kristi Noem — Governor of South Dakota
  • Gary North
  • North Carolina Family Policy Council
  • Michael Novak
  • Old Time Gospel Hour
  • John M. Olin
  • Organicgirl
  • Joel Osteen
  • Sarah Palin
  • “Pastors Briefings”
  • Mike Pence
  • Pentecostals
  • Sonny Perdue
  • Tony Perkins
  • Rick Perry
  • Howard Phillips
  • Buddy Pilgrim
  • Mike Pompeo
  • Art Pope
  • Reverend J. C. Postell
  • POTUS Shield
  • The Power of the Positive Woman
  • Dennis Prager
  • Praise Network
  • Tom Price
  • Erik Prince
  • Scott Pruitt
  • Quiverfull movement
  • Oleg Rachkovski
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Ralph Reed
  • Carolyn Richards
  • Road to Majority Conference
  • Pat Robertson
  • Jim Robison
  • Roe v. Wade
  • Rousas Rushdoony
  • Karl Rove
  • John Rustin
  • SAGE Cons
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders
  • Salem Radio Group
  • Richard Mellon Scaife
  • Jeff Sessions
  • Francis Schaeffer
  • Phyllis Schlafly
  • Alan Sears
  • Jay Sekulow
  • Ben Shapiro
  • W. Cleon Skousen
  • SonLife Broadcasting Network (SBN)
  • SonLife Radio Network
  • Springs Community Church
  • Horatio Robinson Storer
  • R.J. Rushdoony
  • Southern Presbyterian Church
  • Southern Strategy
  • Darla St. Martin
  • Stop ERA
  • Students for Life of America
  • Susan B. Anthony List
  • Donnie Swaggart
  • Gabriel Swaggart
  • Jimmy Swaggart
  • Jimmy Swaggart Bible College (JSBC)
  • Jimmy Swaggart Telecast
  • Bruce Taylor
  • Jeff Taylor
  • Steve Taylor
  • Taylor Farms
  • Thomas Road Baptist Church
  • James Henley Thornwell
  • Robert Tilton
  • Unity Project
  • “Values Bus”
  • Values Voters Summit
  • Richard Viguerie
  • Young America’s Foundation
  • C. Peter Wagner
  • Chester Ward
  • Washington Watch
  • The Watchmen
  • Doug Wead
  • Well Versed
  • Paul Weyrich
  • Paula White
  • Donald Wildmon
  • Farris Wilks
  • Dan Wilks
  • World Ag Expo
  • World Congress of Families

See also: Christian nationalism terms

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Newspeak Dictionary

George Orwell’s 1984 lexicon is a lingua franca of authoritarianism. Newspeak words have the stamp of boots on pavement, and are most likely to be found in the chryons of the OAN Network.

The terse portmanteus are blunt and blocky, like a brutalist architecture vocabulary. Their simplicity indicates appeal to the small-minded masses for easily digested pablum.

About Newspeak

Newspeak is a fictional language created by George Orwell for his dystopian novel 1984, published in 1949. The language serves as an essential tool for the oppressive regime, known as The Party, to control and manipulate the population of Oceania. Newspeak is intentionally designed to restrict the range of thought, eliminate words that convey dissent or rebellion, and enforce political orthodoxy. The language accomplishes this by reducing the complexity of vocabulary and grammar, condensing words into simplified forms, and eliminating synonyms and antonyms. The Party aims to eliminate the potential for subversive thoughts by ensuring that the language itself lacks the necessary words and expressions to articulate them.

In Orwell’s world, Newspeak works hand in hand with the concept of “doublethink,” which requires individuals to accept contradictory beliefs simultaneously. This manipulation of language and thought is central to maintaining the Party’s power and control over the populace. Newspeak’s ultimate goal is to render dissent and rebellion impossible by making the very thoughts of these actions linguistically unexpressible. As a result, Newspeak serves as a chilling representation of how language can be weaponized to restrict personal freedoms, suppress independent thought, and perpetuate an authoritarian regime.

Newspeak rises again

Those boots ring out again, from Belarus to Hungary to the United States. There are book burnings and the defunding of libraries in multiple states. It’s a good time to brush up on the brutalism still struggling to take hold.

Newspeak Orwell

Newspeak Dictionary

Newspeak termDefinition
anteThe prefix that replaces before
artsemArtificial insemination
bbBig Brother
bellyfeelThe blind, enthusiastic acceptance of an idea
blackwhiteTo accept whatever one is told, regardless of the facts. In the novel, it is described as "...to say that black is white when [the Party says so]" and "...to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary".
crimestopTo rid oneself of unorthodox thoughts that go against Ingsoc's ideology
crimethinkThoughts and concepts that go against Ingsoc, frequently referred to by the standard English β€œthoughtcrime”, such as liberty, equality, and privacy, and also the criminal act of holding such thoughts
dayorderOrder of the day
depDepartment
doubleplusgoodThe word that replaced Oldspeak words meaning "superlatively good", such as excellent, fabulous, and fantastic
doubleplusungoodThe word that replaced Oldspeak words meaning "superlatively bad", such as terrible and horrible
doublethinkThe act of simultaneously believing two, mutually contradictory ideas
duckspeakAutomatic, vocal support of political orthodoxies
facecrimeA facial expression which reveals that one has committed thoughtcrime
FicdepThe Ministry of Truth's Fiction Department
freeThe absence and the lack of something. "Intellectually free" and "politically free" have been replaced by crimethinkful.
–fulThe suffix for forming an adjective
fullwiseThe word that replaces words such as fully, completely, and totally
goodthinkA synonym for "political orthodoxy" and "a politically orthodox thought" as defined by the Party
goodsexSexual intercourse only for procreation, without any physical pleasure on the part of the woman, and strictly within marriage
goodwiseThe word that replaced well as an adverb
IngsocThe English Socialist Party (i.e. The Party)
joycampLabour camp
malquotedInaccurate representations of the words of Big Brother and of the Party
MiniluvThe Ministry of Love, where the secret police interrogate and torture the enemies of Oceania (torture and brainwashing)
MinipaxThe Ministry of Peace, who wage war for Oceania
MinitrueThe Ministry of Truth, who manufacture consent by way of lies, propaganda, and distorted historical records, while supplying the proles (proletariat) with synthetic culture and entertainment
MiniplentyThe Ministry of Plenty, who keep the population in continual economic hardship (starvation and rationing)
OldspeakStandard English
oldthinkIdeas from the time before the Party's revolution, such as objectivity and rationalism
ownlifeA person's anti-social tendency to enjoy solitude and individualism
plusgoodThe word that replaced Oldspeak words meaning "very good", such as great
plusungoodThe word that replaced "very bad"
PornosecThe pornography production section (Porno sector) of the Ministry of Truth's Fiction Department
prolefeedPopular culture for entertaining Oceania's working class
RecdepThe Ministry of Truth's Records Department, where Winston Smith rewrites historical records so they conform to the Party's agenda
rectifyThe Ministry of Truth's euphemism for manipulating a historical record
refTo refer (to someone or something)
secSector
sexcrimeA sexual immorality, such as fornication, adultery, oral sex, and homosexuality; any sex act that deviates from Party directives to use sex only for procreation
speakwriteA machine that transcribes speech into text
TeledepThe Ministry of Truth's Telecommunications Department
telescreenA two-way television set with which the Party spy upon Oceania's population
thinkpolThe Thought Police, the secret police force of Oceania's government
unpersonAn executed person whose existence is erased from history and memory
upsubAn upwards submission to higher authority
–wiseThe only suffix for forming an adverb
See also:
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seditious conspiracy

The first convictions of January 6 perps for seditious conspiracy in decades are epically monumental given the history of past efforts. Before the first conviction in November, 2022 of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and the latest round of convictions on January 23, 2023 (in which 4 more seditionists were convicted), there has been little success in the realm of prosecuting coup plotters for seditious conspiracy — and only a handful of trials:

  • No convictions in the Christian Front trial (1940)
  • None in the Sedition Trial of US Nazi sympathizers (1944)
  • None in Fort Smith sedition trial (1988) — Louis Beam and the Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord white supremacist Christian nationalist group
  • None in Hutaree trial (2010)

Does that make this the first successful sedition conviction of white paramilitaries?!

Before January 6, there came these attempts to overthrow the American government.

Christian Front trial (1940-41)

The Christian Front trial of the 1940s was a highly publicized criminal trial in the United States that took place in 1940 and 1941. The Christian Front was a right-wing, antisemitic, and pro-Nazi organization that was active in New York City in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Continue reading Forgotten Coups: January 6 wasn’t the first seditious conspiracy
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angry fascist dads

Old Boomers like Donald Trump and Charles Koch just copied their fascist fathers. Donnie inherited racism and eugenics from Old Fred, while Charlie was indoctrinated in the extremist delusions of the John Birch Society and the pseudoscience economics of the Austrian School acolytes.

They are men with little imagination, who seek to exalt themselves by squishing everyone else down into a mass of un-individuated peons. One of many right-wing Big Lies is that fascism is the opposite of communism — not so. Both are forms of collectivism, in which the masses must be relegated to nothingness by the immense, overwhelming pressures of society — such that a few secular gods of Greatness Thinking may shine above all the rest.

Fascists are Dittoheads

The ethos of “copying” is a signature psychological trait of fundamentalist minds devoid of creativity. Both Trump and Koch have fashioned themselves as carbon copies of Daddy — in true Strict Father Morality style. Thus they feel completely anachronistic in modern times — where children are falling farther and farther from the proverbial trees, ideologically speaking.

Continue reading Fascist fathers are pissed
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Logical fallacies are errors in reasoning that occur when arguments are constructed or evaluated. They are deceptive and misleading, often leading to false or weak conclusions. Recognizing and avoiding logical fallacies is essential for critical thinking and effective communication.

These flaws in rhetorical logic can be observed aplenty in modern political and civil discourse. They are among the easiest types of argument to dispel, because their basic type has been discredited and compiled together with other discarded forms of rational persuasion, to make sure that ensuing generations don’t fall for the same tired old unethical ideas.

By understanding and identifying these common logical fallacies, individuals can sharpen their critical thinking skills and engage in more productive, rational discussions. Recognizing fallacies also helps avoid being swayed by deceptive or unsound arguments — which abound in increasing volume thanks to the prevalence of misinformation, disinformation, and disingenuous forms of motivated reasoning.

Logical fallacyExplanationExample / Notes
ad hominem attackattacking something about the character of the opposing side, instead of engaging with the argument or offering a critique
ambiguityusing double meanings and language ambiguity to mislead
anecdotalappeal to a personal, individual observation as relates to the topic in questionoften used to dismiss statistical analysis
appeal to authorityusing opinion of authority figure or institution in place of an actual argument
appeal to emotionmanipulating emotional response in lieu of valid argumenta huge part of Donald Trump's playbook
appeal to naturearguing that b/c something is β€œnatural” it is valid / justified / inevitable / good / ideal
bandwagonappealing to popularity as evidence of validationRetort: "When everyone once believed the earth was flat β€” did that make it true?"
begging the questionwhen conclusion is included in the premiseone form of circular argument (tautology is another)
black or whitepresenting two alternative states as the only options, when more possibilities existvery commonly used by political and media resources as a way to polarize issues
burden of proofclaiming the responsibility lies with someone else to disprove one's claim (& not with the claimant to prove it)
composition/divisionassuming what is true of one part of something must be applied to all parts
fallacy fallacypresuming that a poorly argued claim, or one in which a fallacy has been made, is wrong
false causepresuming that a real or perceived relationship between things implies causation
gambler's fallacyputting a tremendous amount of weight on previous events, believing they will influence future outcomes (even when outcome is random)also a psychological bias
geneticvalue judging based on where something comes from
loaded questionasking a question with an assumption built in, so it can't be answered without appearing guilty
middle groundclaiming a compromise between two extremes must be the truththe media establishment is often guilty of this for a number of reasons: lack of time for thorough inquiry; need for ratings; available field of pundits and wonks; established programming formats, and so on
no true scotsmanmaking an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws
personal incredulitysaying that because a concept or argument is difficult to understand, it can't be true
slippery slopearguing that a small change or decision will inevitably lead to larger-than-intended (perhaps even disastrous) consequences rapidly
special pleadingmoving goalpost to create exceptions when a claim is shown to be false
strawmanmisrepresenting someone's argument to make it easier to attack
texas sharpshootercherry-picking data to suit an argument, or finding a pattern to fit a presumptionthe impending era of big data will increase the prevalence of this type of sheister
tu quoqueavoiding having to engage with criticism by criticizing the accuser

30 Common Psychological Biases β†—

These systematic errors in our thinking and logic affect our everyday choices, behaviors, and evaluations of others.

28 Cognitive Distortions β†—

Cognitive distortions are bad mental habits. They’re patterns of thinking that tend to be negatively slanted, inaccurate, and often repetitive.

Think Better with Mental Models β†—

Mental models are a kind of strategic building blocks we can use to make sense of the world around us.

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Psychological projection is a defense mechanism that occurs when an individual unconsciously attributes their own feelings, thoughts, or attributes to another person. Projection is a way for people to cope with and protect themselves from unwanted or uncomfortable emotions such as guilt, anger, or anxiety. In essence, psychological projection involves transferring one’s own emotions, thoughts, or motives onto someone else, as a means to avoid confronting or dealing with them directly.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, initially conceptualized projection as a defense mechanism. According to Freud, the mind has various ways to protect itself from psychological distress or anxiety, and projection is one of many methods. While Freud’s work laid the foundation for understanding projection, our understanding of the concept has evolved over time, with many modern psychologists examining its cognitive, social, and emotional aspects.

Several factors contribute to the likelihood of an individual engaging in psychological projection. These factors include personality traits, social and cultural influences, and situational factors. People who are more prone to projection often have a higher level of neuroticism or difficulty regulating their emotions. Social and cultural factors can also play a role, as people may be more likely to project certain emotions or traits onto others depending on societal norms and expectations. Situational factors, such as stress or emotional conflict, can further exacerbate the tendency to project.

Types of projection

There are various types of psychological projection, including:

  1. Complementary projection: This occurs when an individual projects their own feelings or thoughts onto someone who has a complementary role in their life, such as a partner or coworker. This type of projection can often be seen in relationships, where one person may accuse their partner of being unfaithful when, in fact, they are the ones who are struggling with feelings of infidelity.
  2. Complimentary projection: In this form of projection, an individual attributes positive qualities or traits that they themselves possess onto someone else. This may be done to reinforce a positive self-image or to maintain a sense of self-worth.
  3. Projective identification: This is a more complex form of projection in which an individual not only attributes their own emotions, thoughts, or motives onto another person but also manipulates the other person into actually exhibiting those characteristics. This can be seen in interpersonal relationships where one person tries to control or manipulate the other to confirm their own beliefs or fears.
  4. Collective projection: This occurs when a group of individuals projects their shared feelings, thoughts, or motives onto another group, often as a means of maintaining group cohesion or protecting the group’s image. This type of projection can be seen in situations of intergroup conflict, where one group might blame another for problems that actually stem from within their own group.

Negative consequences of projection

Psychological projection can have several negative consequences, both for the individual engaging in projection and for those on the receiving end. For the projector, it can prevent them from taking responsibility for their actions, feelings, or thoughts, thereby hindering their personal growth and emotional development. It can also distort their perception of reality, leading to poor decision-making and strained relationships.

For those on the receiving end, psychological projection can be confusing, hurtful, and damaging. It can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and emotional distress. Additionally, being subjected to projection can cause individuals to question their own reality and self-worth, potentially leading to feelings of self-doubt or depression.

Projection in politics

Politicians and their supporters often engage in projection as a way to deflect criticism, discredit opponents, and maintain a positive image of themselves or their party. Projection in politics can manifest in various ways, including the following:

  1. Accusing opponents of misconduct: Politicians may accuse their opponents of engaging in unethical or illegal activities that they themselves are involved in, as a way to deflect attention from their own actions and create doubt about the opposition (classic example: when then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich waged a campaign against then-President Bill Clinton for having an affair, while he himself was having an affair with a Congressional aide on his staff).
  2. Misattributing motives: Politicians might project their own motives or goals onto their opponents, suggesting that the other side is pursuing an agenda driven by selfish or malicious intent. This can be a way to delegitimize the opposition’s policy proposals or campaign messaging.
  3. Stereotyping and scapegoating: Projection can also be seen in the form of stereotyping and scapegoating minority groups or other marginalized communities. Politicians may project their own insecurities, fears, or prejudices onto these groups, blaming them for social or economic problems, as a way to rally support and distract from the real issues at hand.
  4. Groupthink and collective projection: Political parties, factions, or movements may engage in collective projection, projecting their own faults or shortcomings onto rival groups. This can help maintain group cohesion and reinforce a shared identity, but it can also contribute to political polarization and conflict.

Projection in politics can have several negative consequences, including the distortion of facts and reality, the exacerbation of political polarization, and the perpetuation of stereotypes and prejudice. It can also hinder constructive dialogue and compromise, making it more difficult for politicians and policymakers to address pressing issues and find solutions to problems.

To counteract the influence of projection in politics, it is essential for individuals to remain vigilant and critically examine the claims and accusations made by politicians and political parties. Media outlets and journalists also play a crucial role in fact-checking and holding politicians accountable for their statements and actions. Encouraging open and honest dialogue, promoting empathy and understanding, and fostering critical thinking can help mitigate the impact of projection in the political arena.

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Word salad is a term used to describe disorganized speech that can occur in various mental health conditions, including some personality disorders like Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). In the context of NPD, word salad may not be as severe or disorganized as it is in conditions like schizophrenia, but it can still be difficult to follow and understand.

Word salad in NPD is characterized by a mix of unrelated or loosely related words, phrases, or ideas, which may be used to manipulate, confuse, or maintain control in a conversation. This type of speech may be a defense mechanism employed by someone with NPD to avoid responsibility, deflect criticism, or maintain their sense of superiority.

Word salad almost seems like a kind of pseudoscience or paleological babble that narcissists use to hold the floor with their own agenda, such that anyone who is trying to challenge them can’t even get a word in edgewise.

Some common features of word salad in NPD include:

  1. Tangential thinking: The person may go off on tangents, bringing up unrelated topics or ideas in an attempt to distract from the main point or issue at hand.
  2. Circular reasoning: The person may engage in circular arguments, repeating the same points over and over without ever reaching a resolution or addressing the underlying problem.
  3. Evasion: The person may use vague language, refuse to answer direct questions, or change the subject to avoid taking responsibility or admitting fault.
  4. Gaslighting: The person may use word salad to make others doubt their own perceptions or understanding, in order to maintain control and avoid accountability.

It is important to note that not everyone with NPD exhibits word salad. However, when it does occur, it can be a source of frustration and confusion for those interacting with the individual. Effective communication with someone who engages in word salad may require patience, setting boundaries, and seeking support from a mental health professional.

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition characterized by (as the name implies) narcissism, including a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a lack of empathy for others, and a need for admiration. People with NPD often have an inflated sense of self-importance and believe they are special or unique in some way. They may be preoccupied with fantasies of power, success, beauty, or ideal love. However, behind their grandiose façade, they often have fragile self-esteem and are highly sensitive to criticism or rejection.

NPD is part of the Cluster B family of personality disorders. People with NPD tend to exhibit odd, sometimes bizarre behaviors that are offputting to others and tend to have serious effects on the individual’s life.

NPD diagnosis

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) outlines the following diagnostic criteria for NPD:

  1. A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, characterized by a sense of self-importance and an exaggerated sense of achievements and talents.
  2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited power, success, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  3. Belief that they are special and unique and can only be understood by other high-status people or institutions.
  4. Need for excessive admiration.
  5. Sense of entitlement, expecting to be treated in a special way or given priority.
  6. Exploitation of others for personal gain; using the tactics of emotional predators; narcissistic abuse.
  7. Lack of empathy, an inability to recognize or care about the feelings and needs of others.
  8. Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them.
  9. Arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

The symptoms of NPD may vary in intensity and presentation, but they are typically stable and longstanding. The condition may start in early adulthood and may be diagnosed only after adolescence, as it is difficult to differentiate between normal developmental narcissism and pathological narcissism in childhood.

NPD: Lack of empathy

People with NPD may have difficulty in maintaining close relationships because of their lack of empathy and preoccupation with themselves. They may feel entitled to special treatment and have unrealistic expectations of others. They may exploit others for personal gain and may become angry or hostile when their expectations are not met. Additionally, they may struggle with criticism or rejection and may react with rage or humiliation.

NPD is often co-occurring with other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. It may also be comorbid with other personality disorders, particularly Borderline Personality Disorder, as individuals with BPD may exhibit traits of NPD, such as a need for attention and admiration.

Treatment for NPD often involves psychotherapy, particularly psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapies, which aim to explore the underlying psychological factors contributing to the disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may also be effective in addressing maladaptive beliefs and behaviors associated with NPD. However, individuals with NPD may be resistant to therapy, as they may not recognize the need for treatment or may be unwilling to acknowledge their role in the dysfunction.

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Propaganda is a form of communication that aims to influence people’s beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors towards a particular cause, idea, or ideology. It involves the use of persuasive techniques to shape public opinion and to create a favorable image of a person, group, or organization, while discrediting or demonizing its opponents.

Propaganda can take many different forms, including posters, speeches, films, radio broadcasts, social media posts, and news articles. It can be used for political, social, religious, or commercial purposes, and it is often associated with authoritarian regimes or totalitarian societies.

One of the key characteristics of propaganda is its use of emotional appeals, rather than rational arguments, to sway people’s opinions. Propagandists often appeal to people’s fears, hopes, or prejudices, and use catchy slogans, symbols, or images to make their message more memorable and persuasive. They may also use repetition, exaggeration, or distortion of facts to reinforce their message and to create a sense of urgency or crisis.

Disinformation at scale

Another key feature of propaganda is its use of selective or biased information to support its claims and to discredit opposing views. Propagandists may use half-truths, rumors, lies, or Big Lies to create a false or misleading picture of the situation, and to manipulate people’s perceptions of reality. They may also use censorship or propaganda techniques such as suppression of dissent, demonization of opponents, or use of fear to create a chilling climate of fear and intimidation.

Propaganda can also be used to create a sense of unity or identity among a group of people, by emphasizing their shared values, beliefs, or interests, and by portraying outsiders or enemies as a threat to their well-being. Propaganda can thus be used to mobilize people for a common cause, such as a war or a political campaign, or to reinforce existing social norms and values.

However, propaganda can also have negative consequences, such as creating divisions, fostering hatred, or suppressing dissent. It can lead to the dehumanization of other groups or individuals, and to the justification of violence or discrimination. Propaganda can also undermine democracy by limiting people’s access to accurate information and by creating a distorted view of reality.

To resist propaganda, it is important to be critical of the messages we receive, to question the sources and motives of the information, and to seek out alternative perspectives and sources of information. We should also be aware of our own biases and prejudices, and strive to be open-minded and tolerant of different opinions and viewpoints.

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McCarthyism refers to the anti-communist political repression and paranoia that swept the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, particularly during the tenure of Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin. It was a period of intense fear and suspicion of communism during the Cold War that manifested in government investigations, trials, and blacklisting of individuals suspected of being communists or communist sympathizers. The era was marked by a pervasive fear of subversion and betrayal, as many Americans believed that communists were working to infiltrate and undermine American institutions.

The roots of McCarthyism can be traced back to the early 20th century, when communism was viewed as a major threat to Western democracy. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the rise of the Soviet Union fueled anti-communist sentiment in the United States, which intensified during the Red Scare of the 1920s. However, it was not until after World War II that anti-communist fervor reached its peak.

National anti-communist paranoia

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9835, which established a loyalty program for federal employees. The program required all federal employees to undergo a background check and sign a loyalty oath, swearing that they were not members of the Communist Party or affiliated with any other subversive organization. The program was intended to weed out any suspected communists from the federal government, but it soon became the basis for a broader campaign of anti-communist witch-hunts.

In 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy rose to national prominence with his claims of widespread communist infiltration in the federal government. In a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, McCarthy claimed to have a list of 205 known communists in the State Department. He provided no evidence to support his claim, but the speech propelled him to the national spotlight and began a period of intense media fascination with the Senator’s provocative claims.

Over the next several years, McCarthy became the face of the anti-communist crusade. He chaired the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and conducted public hearings and investigations into suspected communist activity. Many of his targets were innocent, and his tactics often included intimidation, character assassination, and guilt by association.

Army-McCarthy hearings

McCarthy’s tactics eventually led to his downfall. Between April and June of 1954, he conducted televised hearings to investigate alleged communist influence in the Army. The hearings were a disaster for McCarthy, as he made unfounded accusations and engaged in verbal attacks on witnesses. As the hearings progressed, McCarthy’s behavior became increasingly erratic and confrontational. He bullied and intimidated Army officials and witnesses, often interrupting them and accusing them of lying. His behavior turned public opinion against him, and the hearings marked the beginning of his decline.

The turning point of the hearings came when Army counsel Joseph Welch famously confronted McCarthy after he had attacked a young lawyer in Welch’s law firm:

“Senator, you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Joseph N. Welch, Army chief counsel

The exchange was a defining moment in the hearings, and it marked the beginning of the end for McCarthy’s political career after millions of Americans witnessed his aggressive demagoguery. In fact it went on to become one of the most famous moments in the history of congressional hearings, and is often cited as an example of the power of a well-timed and well-delivered rhetorical response.

The hearings ultimately failed to uncover any evidence of communist infiltration in the Army, but they did expose McCarthy’s reckless and abusive tactics and damaged his reputation. They also demonstrated the power of televised hearings in shaping public opinion and holding government officials accountable.

Historical influence of McCarthyism

McCarthyism had far-reaching consequences for American society. Thousands of people were investigated, blacklisted, and lost their jobs or were denied employment on suspicion of being communist sympathizers. The entertainment industry was particularly hard hit, with many actors, writers, and directors being blacklisted for their political beliefs. The unfounded smears against Hollywood contributed to a negative sentiment on the right-wing that continues even to this day.

The era of McCarthyism also had a chilling effect on free speech and political dissent. Many people were afraid to express their opinions or engage in political activism, for fear of being labeled a communist or communist sympathizer. The era demonstrated the dangers of political repression and the importance of protecting civil liberties and freedom of expression.

McCarthyism was a dark period in American history that was characterized by political repression, paranoia, and fear of communism. It was fueled by the perceived threat of subversion and betrayal, and it led to the persecution of innocent people, the erosion of civil liberties, and a chilling climate of fear and suspicion. The legacy of McCarthyism serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of political repression and the importance of protecting free speech and civil liberties in a democracy.

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authoritarians gather for a witch hunt

Many people around the world were shocked in the aftermath of World War II. How could “polite” society break down so utterly, so swiftly, and so zealously? Why did authoritarian personality traits come to dominate human affairs, seemingly out of nowhere? How thin is this veneer of civilization, really?

The authoritarian personality is characterized by excessive strictness and a propensity to exhibit oppressive behavior towards perceived subordinates. On the flip side, they treat authority figures with mindless obedience and unquestioning compliance. They also have an aversion to difference, ambiguity, complexity, and diversity.

How did they get this way? Are people born with authoritarian personalities, or is the authoritarian “made” predominately by circumstance?

Authoritarian personality studies

A braintrust of scholars, public servants, authors, psychologists, and others have been analyzing these questions ever since. Some of the most prominent thinkers on the subject of authoritarianism were either themselves affected by the Nazi regime, or lived through the war in some capacity. Other more recent contributions have built on those original foundations, refining and extending them as more new history continues to unfold with right-wing behavior to observe.

Continue reading Essential thinkers on authoritarian personality theory
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These days the GOP is just 3 cults in a trenchcoat — nevertheless, it’s helpful to understand some of the ideologies and extremist beliefs that folks on the right engage with. Understanding the psychology can help us make predictions about actions, reactions, and other developments in the political landscape.

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Political psychology is an interdisciplinary field that examines the psychological processes underlying political behavior, attitudes, and decision-making. It seeks to understand how people’s beliefs, emotions, and motivations influence their political preferences, and how these preferences shape their behavior within the political system.

Political psychology draws on theories and methods from psychology, political science, sociology, and other social sciences to study topics such as political ideology, voting behavior, political attitudes, public opinion, intergroup relations, political leadership, and conflict resolution.

The field also examines how political events and institutions affect individuals’ psychological well-being and how psychological factors contribute to the formation of political identity and collective action. Political psychology has practical applications in areas such as political communication, campaign strategy, policymaking, and international relations.

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republican vs. democrat cage match boxing ring

Buckle up, we’re in for a wild ride. Many of the serious scholars of political history and authoritarian regimes are sounding the alarm bells that, although it is a very very good thing that we got the Trump crime family out of the Oval Office, it is still a very very bad thing for America to have so rapidly tilted towards authoritarianism. How did we get here?! How has hyper partisanship escalated to the point of an attempted coup by 126 sitting Republican House Representatives? How has political polarization gotten this bad?

These are some of the resources that have helped me continue grappling with that question, and with the rapidly shifting landscape of information warfare. How can we understand this era of polarization, this age of tribalism? This outline is a work in progress, and I’m planning to keep adding to this list as the tape keeps rolling.

Right-Wing Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism is both a personality type and a form of government — it operates at both the interpersonal and the societal level. The words authoritarian and fascist are often used interchangeably, but fascism is a more specific type of authoritarianism, and far more historically recent.

America has had flavors of authoritarianism since its founding, and when fascism came along the right-wing authoritarians ate it up — and deeply wanted the United States to be a part of it. Only after they became social pariahs did they change position to support American involvement in World War II — and some persisted even after the attack of Pearl Harbor.

Scholars of authoritarianism

  • Hannah Arendt — The Origins of Totalitarianism
  • Bob Altemeyer — The Authoritarians
  • Derrida — the logic of the unconscious; performativity in the act of lying
  • ketman — Ketman is the psychological concept of concealing one’s true aims, akin to doublethink in Orwell’s 1984, that served as a central theme to Polish dissident CzesΕ‚aw MiΕ‚osz‘s book The Captive Mind about intellectual life under totalitarianism during the Communist post-WWII occupation.
  • Erich Fromm — coined the term “malignant narcissism” to describe the psychological character of the Nazis. He also wrote extensively about the mindset of the authoritarian follower in his seminal work, Escape from Freedom.
  • Eric Hoffer — his book The True Believers explores the mind of the authoritarian follower, and the appeal of losing oneself in a totalist movement
  • Fascism — elevation of the id as the source of truth; enthusiasm for political violence
  • Tyrants
  • John Dean — 3 types of authoritarian personality:
    • social dominators
    • authoritarian followers
    • double highs — social dominators who can “switch” to become followers in certain circumstances
  • Loyalty; hero worship
    • Freud = deeply distrustful of hero worship and worried that it indulged people’s needs for vertical authority. He found the archetype of the authoritarian primal father very troubling.
  • Ayn Rand
    • The Fountainhead (1943)
    • Atlas Shrugged (1957)
    • Objectivism
  • Greatness Thinking; heroic individualism
  • Nietszche — will to power; the Uberman
  • Richard Hofstadter — The Paranoid Style
  • Lakoff — moral framing; strict father morality
  • Neil Postman — Entertaining Ourselves to Death
  • Anti-Intellectualism
  • Can be disguised as hyper-rationalism (Communism)
  • More authoritarianism books
Continue reading Hyper Partisanship: How to understand American politics today
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