Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Culture Wars Turn on Two Things: Race and Religion

I knew this about the Bible, but to read it is creepy...
What is revealed in the graphic to the left is why gender is not a defining aspect of the culture wars: It's subsumed by religion. Why pay women the same as men when women are so unclean?

There is indeed a divide in America, and it's driven largely by matters of race and religion. We could get all tweaky and say there's so much more to it -- I admit that money seems to play a big role -- but often what on the surface is a separate issue ends up coming back down to race or religion.

At least race and religion define enough of the cultural divide that it's a great template.

Consider this: From what I can find, only 10 percent of Republicans self-describe themselves as atheist, with a further 6 percent of atheists leaning Republican. That leaves 84 percent of atheists either independent or Democratic (mostly Democratic). Why is that?

Why do 65 percent of Mormons self-identify as Republicans? Why do all niche religions -- Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Unitarian, even Jewish -- primarily self-identify as Democrats? The only exception is the Jehovah's Witnesses, which are vastly Republican. Christians lean slightly in favor of Republicans, especially evangelicals, but black Christians (78 percent) and Catholics (48 percent) lean Democratic. Why?

The simple answer is that Republicans tend to be white Christians or vice versa. Secularists or humanists don't find much in the Republican creed to inspire them. For example, secularists tend to lean on science for much of their world view, while white Christians tend to deny science as an a priori view. Why? I like the graphic to the right as an explanation.

Here I'd like to provide some examples of how a 2,000-year-old religion could fuel the cultural divide. Here's Amanda Marcotte pointing out the contradiction in Pope Francis' stand on family size. For once, a pope comes out against breeding "like rabbits" but can't go the extra mile and embrace contraception. (I wrote off Pope John Paul II when I caught him preaching in favor of large families in Mozambique.) Marcotte also demonstrated in another article that it was the Catholic Church that has almost single-handedly prevented a badly needed Planned Parenthood from being built in New Orleans. I'm not surprised.

Race is not a hard deliminator to prove. People of color flock to the Democratic fold for reasons that don't even have to be listed here. When Lindsey Graham famously said, "The demographics race we're losing badly. We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term," he wasn't just whistling Dixie. Er, maybe he was.

Lastly, I find that money fits in nicely with the race-and-religion paradigm. For example, parse this for me:
Be personally responsible to others as you would be personally responsible to yourself.
Sounds like a mantra for a Golden Rule for the "I got mine, fuck you" religious set, which by the way is profoundly libertarian in make-up, which group self-identifies as Republican. In regards to race, this personal-responsibility notion has, since Reagan, been aimed squarely at black "welfare queens" in their Cadillacs -- today's Obama phone owners and the horrid poor who've "even got flat-screen TVs and refrigerators!" -- and is, yes, generally a GOP stance.

Money plays out in weird ways. We know that working-class white Christians tend to vote for Republicans and are wedded to the notion that raising taxes on the rich works exactly counter to their own best interests, a position that is as crazy as it is ignorant. But there you go. What poor and working-class whites need are fewer services and less infrastructure and education spending. Vote Republican and you'll get what your crazy, duped self deserves. Only one obvious reason for this weird disconnect: Working-class whites are afraid the extra tax bucks will go to poor people of color.

A final thought: There are, at last count, 571 American billionaires. How many are black? There is one: Oprah Winfrey. Effin' weird, huh?

Raging liberal? She says no, and there's little beyond
her endorsement of Obama to prove it one way or another.

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