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Member since: Sat May 8, 2021, 09:44 PM
Number of posts: 72

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Labelling - Christo-Nationalism or Christo-Fascism?

One thing I think the right wing has excelled at for a long time is labeling their enemies. They've made certain words toxic in the minds of their base (e.g. liberal, socialist, etc). The right can then quickly string together smear after smear simply by weaving these toxic words into a sentence. Red meat for the base and an easy rhetorical tool even the dumbest GQP candidate can leverage. They're so good at this they've even made being 'anti-fascist' toxic to their base!

I think at times centrists and those to the left of center haven't replied to this effectively. We can try and educate them (ha) about who the fascists were or we can talk about Europe or Canada and how things work in other countries, but that effort is most often just a waste of time. It rolls off their backs, whilst leaving us frustrated!

In watching the behavior of the right in the past few years I personal feel it is time to put a better label on the extremism that is solidifying to the far right. I know some people have started to use the term Christo-Nationalists, but my reaction is that the term combines two things the right love - Christianity and Nationalism.

Instead, is it better to use the stronger term Christo-Fascists? Ultimately the over throw of democracy and the installation of an orange idol is a classic fascist move.

Any other labels that adequately capture what is happening on the right? I can think a of a few, but they are unprintable and not for polite company Would it be possible to be more consistent in labeling the extremist tendencies we are seeing gather steam? Thoughts anyone?

The Hippo
Posted by Hippo_The_Pointer | Sat Jun 19, 2021, 06:08 PM (2 replies)

Conservatives- Are they being out-flanked?

In my continued efforts to understand the MAGA cult, I've spent more time this week watching right-wing podcasts and TV (painful? - yes - but necessary to understand them? - I would say yes too).

One of the big themes to come out of watching is that they continually talk about the threat of communism. That is of course their standard fodder, but noticing how often they beat that drum started me thinking more about how their propaganda works and how it leaves conservative voters exposed to manipulation.

That leads me to ponder how conservatism is being 'out-flanked' by Russia and various criminal elements. For those not familiar with the phrase, 'out-flaking' is a military maneuver in which you engage your enemy face on, but then use some of your forces to sneak around the side and then attack from the side. Because the enemy is focused on the frontal assault they are caught off guard by the attack from the side (the flank). Typically in a military formation the sides are weaker than the front and hence a flanking attack can do a lot of damage with fewer forces.

Taking that idea and applying it to the conservatives - The frontal attack on which they are all focused is the threat of communism. The flanking attack is then the attack on democracy by the greedy (Putin, the oligarchs looking to launder money, tRump and his ilk who are more than happy to betray their country for a fist full of dollars).

So busy are the conservatives voters facing down the frontal assault (the battle against communism), that they haven't realized that those who would like to establish an American kleptocracy are attacking America's flanks by dismantling democracy. If those forces were to be successful, then you'd get an authoritarian leader (tRump of course has already submitted his application for that job to the Kremlin long ago) supported by domestic oligarchs. They would form an alliance with Russian or any other similarly structured countries and the America's democratic experiment would be at and end).

While the Democrats have spotted the threat, the Republican voters haven't recognized the flanking attack because the flanking attackers continue to control the right wing propaganda and are keeping the republican voters focused on the fight against communism.

Of course there is always a threat from all forms of extremism (including communism), but in the big picture, communism is yesterday's threat. As such conservatives need to wake up to the fact that the threat right now is the threat of an American kleptocracy.

If the above has some sound footing, then does that suggest that to save democracy we need to be pointing out to conservatives that they are being out flanked by those that seek to establish a kleptocracy? Much as the right has hammered the communist threat into people's minds, is it now time to rally the nation to defend democracy from the Kleptocrats? The Dems in DC are of course on this, but maybe at the grass roots level there is more that can be done to explain what a kleptocracy is, how it destroys democracy and how it leads to an authoritarian dictatorship.

Granted some GOP voters don't care (in fact some support it), but I think around the edges there are some who would wake up to the threat and join the fight against the kleptocracy. How many would switch and fight against the kleptocrats? Well that depends on how well the message is crafted and communicated.

Thoughts anyone?

Just more ramblings of - The Hippo.

Posted by Hippo_The_Pointer | Sat Jun 12, 2021, 05:59 PM (19 replies)

Changing the mind of an anti-vaxer - A small success

Over the past weeks I've been trying to learn more about how cults work and how to help someone who has been swept up in the propaganda. On that front I thought I'd share a small success I had this week. To give you the context - I have a relative who has been continually sending me anti-vax videos from quite a wide variety of sources.

I invested quite a bit of time watching a bunch of them and analyzing. In doing so I noticed a pattern.

1) The opening images in the video or the text description of the video includes language that is frightening or dramatic (something to catch your attention and feed preconceived fears)

2) The video contained at least one person who claimed to be an "expert". However the said expert then kept saying that their ideas were supported by "peer reviewed materials in respected journals" without actually providing any references to said journals or research.

3) They then claimed they then had additional access to information no one else had (a scoop of some sorts)

4) They then gave a promise that this new information would be made public soon (without saying when, where or through whom)

5) The speaker then claimed that 'lots of other experts' agree with them (again without saying who)

6) The interviews were carried out by hosts who have known right-wing tendencies all of who support their podcast, show or videos by selling something (e.g. their own products or advertising space). Similarly the so called 'experts' had websites in which they themselves were trying to sell something (books or speeches).

No one video had all of those elements, rather they were common themes across the different videos. I pointed out these patterns to my anti-vaxxer and for the past week, no more videos or links have been sent my way. Also the anti-vaxxer hasn't been spending hours on YouTube this week. Coincidentally the anti-vaxxer seemed to be a better mood all week Coincidence maybe, but I do wonder if pointing out the patterns has in part swayed the person's opinion? I will continue to observe the situation

Thought I'd share the observations I made in case anyone else finds it useful - The Hippo
Posted by Hippo_The_Pointer | Sat Jun 12, 2021, 04:53 PM (5 replies)

Leaving a cult

Over the past week I've spent some time watching videos of people who have left cults or the more extreme cult-like forms of religion. There are many such videos on YouTube and I thought I'd watch in an effort to understand the thought processes that make someone come to their senses and get out. Based on the 20 or more videos I watched this week (a small but hopefully representative set), here are some observations:

1) It took time. Of the ones I watched no on had a sudden epiphany and left, instead they had slowly growing doubts or concerns that built up over time (often 2 or more years)

2) They came to the conclusion they should leave on their own - So far I haven't come across a video in which the person leaving the cult got into an argument with an 'outsider' who convinced them to leave. Similarly I haven't found any so far where a family staged an 'intervention' to get some one out. Instead, inner doubts and questions built up within and the person started to do their own independent research that opened their eyes up to the outside world. I would guess some people have left after a well timed and expressed intervention, but so far I haven't found any such videos in my watch list.

3) The ages are mixed. There are many of younger people who left a cult that their parents had indicted them into, but somewhat surprisingly there are also quite a number of middle aged people who started to become disillusioned.

4) There were a number of common themes in the underlying rationale. One big one was how the cult approached LGBTQ rights. Some of the people leaving were closet LGBTQ themselves before they left. Others had LGBTQ family or friends who were marginalized, ostracized or otherwise mistreated by the cult. The other big one was that the person started to see the cult as hypocritical. They started to recognize that the words espoused by the cult leaders didn't match their actions.

5) I should also add that in the video's I watched, even through the people featured were at one time deeply embedded in their cult, they did not come across as stupid in their videos. In fact many of them seemed really intelligent (that is relative to me, which may not be saying too much . Rather than being stupid, they got swept up by the propaganda. Because cults isolate their members from the outside, those people then didn't recognize to begin with that they were even in a cult.

The reason I share the above is because I know I'm not alone in looking for ways to help a MAGA recover some sanity. What the videos I watched implied to me is that it takes time.

I also think that slowly, gently and subtly pointing out the hypocrisy maybe one way forward. Maybe that won't help for the hard core, but for those who are in the cult, but already having doubts or who are only marginal members, then using memes or other devices to gently point out the hypocrisy may be in part a solution. There are of course many different examples of the MAGA and Christo-fascist hypocrisy. I plan on looking at how best to communicate that hypocrisy for this week's video viewings.

For those who have a friend, colleague or family member who left a cult (even the MAGA cult) any other experiences that might help others who are trying to restore some sanity to their loved ones?

The Hippo
Posted by Hippo_The_Pointer | Sat Jun 5, 2021, 05:52 PM (16 replies)

Star Trek alert - Perhaps we got this wrong - May be it's not Q-anon instead it's Q (a-non)?

Star Trek alert - For the trekies out there I've been wondering if Qanon is really just Q (as in Q continuum). Q has the power to travel through time and he has made it clear that his personal mission is to simply to mess with our heads Well mission accomplished - some people's heads have been thoroughly messed with!

Going down that same road, perhaps instead of being Q-anon. The "anon" part is really a gender declaration thing. As in (a-non) I envisage a lot of the right wingers being pretty upset is they realized the "a-non" part did not mean anonymous, but instead meant that Q is of a non-binary gender - Excuse me for having one of my Star-Trek moments The Hippo
Posted by Hippo_The_Pointer | Sun May 30, 2021, 10:54 PM (6 replies)

The BITE Model of cult mind control

Over the past few weeks I've been trying to learn more about how cults form, what keeps people locked in and how to help someone out of a cult. I still have much to learn, but I thought I'd share the following model with the community in DU. It outlines how cult leaders maintain their grip on people.


There are some familiar sounding elements listed in the BITE model. Between the GQP, Fox news, right-wing AM radio and the evangelical church you can see how the elements come together and keep people locked in.

Just passing along so that others who are perhaps trying to help a friend, family member or colleague break free from the every increasing craziness of the GQP might find some of the materials on the website useful. I think understanding the mechanisms of a cult is a good background information to have when dealing with GQP cultists. Hope some of you find it useful.

The Hippo
Posted by Hippo_The_Pointer | Fri May 28, 2021, 10:30 PM (4 replies)

Bannon and the 'Spears of Fear'

In an effort to understand the mechanisms through which the 'tRump base is maintained I've just spent an hour watching Bannon's war-room show. In watching it is interesting to see how he (and his guests) use rhetorical devises to keep the listeners engaged.

One of those devices is what I call "jabbing with the spears of fear”. It's a technique in which you make brief mention of something that you know your target audience fears. The fear can be the focus of discussion, or it can just be brief interjections into the discussion about a different topic (Arizona's audit was this morning's focus). In today's show Bannon was using the spears as quick jabs rather than the focus of discussion. He or the others on the show used the device at least 15 times in the hour I watched.

There are many such "spears of fear" that can be used to prod the MAGA's. Here are some of the common "spears of fear" that help keep MAGA's loyal.

Death panels
Chinese communist government
Sharia law
Government take-over
Immigrants taking over
Crime waves
Taking your guns away
War on Christmas (and the implied destruction of American heritage)
Common core curriculum

I suspect that these "spears of fear" are the "electric fence" that helps keep the MAGA pinned in. In part I've come to that conclusion because Democrats and Republicans react differently to this set of spears.

Democratic response - Calm down everyone let's talk about the real issues that affect people's lives

Republican response - Yikes, ALARM - Run for the hills!

In watching (not just Bannon, but others on the right), it appears that these spears of fear can be used to form an electric fence around the bubble and help keep people pinned in.

Anyone got any other "spears of fear" that the right uses to scare their fearful base? I'm collating the list in order to perhaps identify remedies to these rhetorical devises that can have such a negative affect on people's lives. Thanks - The Hippo
Posted by Hippo_The_Pointer | Mon May 24, 2021, 01:44 PM (5 replies)

Any Ex-vangelicals?

I'm wondering if anyone in DU self identifies as an Ex-vangelical or if anyone in DU has close contact with anyone who is Ex-vangelical (family, friends, colleagues, etc). I am seeing a small but growing community of Ex-vangelicals who have left far right churches and are returning to more moderate churches or perspectives. Given how far to the right some churches have moved (even more so since 6th Jan), some appear to be less churches than they are political movements. As such I'm interested in learning more about the triggers and mechanisms that lead people to leave these far right churches and find alternate ways to worship or live. Understanding those seeds, triggers and mechanisms may be useful in helping people make better choices about what churches to attend - Any insights would be much appreciated - The Hippo
Posted by Hippo_The_Pointer | Sat May 22, 2021, 06:58 PM (63 replies)

Republican support and the role of declining church attendance

I had originally put the following in as a reply to someone else, but someone replied to my reply suggesting this would make a good original thread so here goes

Context - I'm trying to get a deeper understanding of the thought process within the Republican base. Granted that's a complex topic, but I'm trying to tease out of the tangles some insights that may help in developing improved engagement and communications strategies aimed at getting moderate Republicans to rethink if they want to continue to support a party that continues it's rightward march. In order to do that I'm trying to understand the thought process of the more moderate Republican voters and the context in which they live in.

One strand I've been looking into is a theory that is somewhat off the beaten track: The theory that the problem lies in the decline in Christianity and how different churches have responded to that.

Likely many DUers are aware that Christianity in the USA has been in decline for many years. The so called high-church (the well established traditional Christian denominations with highly structured liturgy) have seen significant decline in attendance since the 1980's. In response they have softened their doctrine in an attempt to make things more palatable to a broader audience (e.g. become more amenable to liberal social thinking - ordaining women, acceptance of gay marriage, etc). Presumably the hope was that that would stop the decline. It has not and attendance levels have continually dropped for the past 20 years.

The other main form of Christian church in the US is the evangelicals. They typically have less structure and only informal leadership at the national level. These churches are the ones that grew as the baby boomers entered their adult life in the 1970's on-wards. In the face of declining Christian numbers, the evangelicals have done the opposite of the high-church. Instead of softening their doctrine they have hardened things by clinging to the more 'traditional' values. No wedding cakes for you gay couples is a classic example.

It appears that the hardening may have worked - In the past 20 years the evangelicals have managed to keep their attendance numbers roughly stable. In part that has been done by attracting traditionalists away from high-church and into the evangelical church.

The problem is that the hardening sees the evangelicals decoupling from where mainstream society is moving. That growing gap has opened the door for the "longing for the past" syndrome that is the underpinning of the MAGA movement.

Recognizing 'the hardening' as a business opportunity the likes of Murdoch and Sinclair have been more than happy to feed it and sustain it. From there the GOP then see it as a voting block they can dominate. Foreign nations looking for influence are then more than happy to fund the GOP in the hope of gaining advantage should a republican president be elected.

Those external parties are then creating a bubble around the evangelical church. Every one watches the same news, listens to the same radio and socializes with each other. Those inside the bubble become increasingly cut off from the outside. From there craziness becomes more acceptable - As long as you hate the liberals you are a part of the team and even if you are a bit crazy at least you are not an 'outsider' (i.e. a liberal). From there we are nearly in cult territory or perhaps already in there.

To burst a bubble my feeling is that the bubble needs to be deeply understood and I'm making my own humble (and maybe misguided) little effort to do that Any thoughts on the role declining church attendance may be having on US society?

The thoughts of a rambling Hippo - The Hippo
Posted by Hippo_The_Pointer | Sat May 22, 2021, 04:25 PM (32 replies)
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