"There are some ideas so stupid only an intellectual could believe in them..." -- George Orwell.
If you can watch this without throwing up, Congratulations: you have a stronger gut than I do.
I'm just going to quickly dispose of most of this bullshit by saying that religion has always been the biggest scam ever perpetrated on human beings. I will follow this up by saying that people who earn their livings studying and reporting on religion are no better than the people who make their livings running and selling religion.
You are not studying/selling anything really useful. In fact, religion is a relic of the days when primitive, ignorant Mankind lived in a world he did not understand and attributed to spirits and magic that which defied his limited intellect. Along came a caste of people who figured out there was good money in taking advantage of confused people, and voila!, religion was born. It is little more than the codification and ritualization of other people's moron, with the added benefit that the idiots will provide you with grain, a home, money, respect, power, and you don't have to do shit for it, except maybe regurgitate something written in a book or on a temple wall.
Since Religion is bullshit, anything that springs from that source is, likewise, bullshit.
Let's assume that Reza Aslan is correct and that the Trump ascendancy is a religious cult for Evangelical Douchebags.
If this is true, then all Evangelical Douchebags , one assumes, would have hopped on the bandwagon. However, many didn't: Trump got 81% of the White Evangelical vote, what happened to the rest? Many on the left are Evangelicals, too, and they didn't vote for Trump. I mean, if we're all supposed to be slaves to our religion, then why didn't everyone vote the same way, supposedly the way God wanted them to?
Aslan trots out the tired accusations of Racism and "White Privilege" to explain what is otherwise a logical fallacy, much like the Pope trots out the doctrine of "Free Will" to absolve God by shifting blame to Man.
So, his theory fails on it's first logical test: if religion is monolithic, then every Evangelical, even the Black Evangelicals, should have voted the same way the White ones did. The failure of this logic cannot be attributed to the fact that his argument is complete crap -- because that would ruin the narrative -- so it HAS to be racism and issues of political advantage which explain it.
And this is where you begin to see the douchebaggery of the professional bullshit artist in action:
If stupid notions of religion cannot help me make the case I want to make -- that you're all racists -- then let me jump into the realm of stupid notions of secularism, instead.
I guess God had no answer for that one, eh? Straddling fences makes for strained arguments.
I'll bet Mr. Aslan has never made a similar argument about Osama bin Laden or the Mufti of Jerusalem.
Th second failure of logic is an easy one to spot. In making his case that Trump is all about racism and religion, Mr. Aslan (conveniently) neglects the rest of the coalition that underlies the Trump Phenomenon. These would be Free Marketeers. Gun Owners. The economically depressed and disenfranchised. The Anti-Abortionists (who are not always religiously motivated). People who wonder whatever happened to the Rule of Law. Those who remember a better America. People who got sick and tired of being ignored by their own government.
Sure, some of them overlap into his paradigm of White/Evangelical Christian, but they can't all do so.
Aslan, even in the attempt to make the case that Trump is the result of a monolithic voting bloc, neglects his own statistic: that 67% of Black Evangelicals voted for Hillary. This means 33% DID NOT. When was the last time, if ever, a Republican, even Reagan, got 33% of the Black vote? Why is the Black Vote which is routinely 90% democrat not treated in the same fashion?
Because then you can't make the case for racism, Silly!
Mr. Aslan has probably never spoken to any of these Trump voters (they don't travel in his closed social circles of academics, authors of religious bullshit and media figures), so he doesn't bother to find out WHY they voted the way they did. He neglects the rusting factories. The inhuman and unfair system of taxation. The destruction of the rural areas of this country in favor of the coastal, urban areas. The deliberate assault, step-by-step, against Whites, particularly White males, on the political, economic, social and legal fronts.
Diversity Training and Affirmative Action, for examples, are nothing BUT an open assault upon White Males.
Which makes his argument even more ridiculous: in attempting to pigeonhole Trump into a specific "identity cult", he ignores all the other "identity cults". This is something that all Lefties seemed to have missed in their panicked thought process of "How the fuck did this happen?"
The Left has engaged in identity politics for decades; it has pitted people against one another on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference, economic status, education, location, profession and all manner of categories for 40 years, and denigrated one specific identity exclusively. It is now completely shocked -- SHOCKED -- that the one identity it has shit all over for decades suddenly discovered they had an identity, too, and used it to electoral advantage.
It's almost as if the Left, collectively, doesn't understand that they've been shot with their own guns. And if they do understand it, then they have to figure out a way to explain this failure of Hillary away that doesn't put the blame where it clearly belongs -- in their own laps -- while engaging in that other time-honored leftist tradition of never telling the truth. Even to themselves.
So, it appears as if Mr. Aslan is talking out of his Aslan. And then he leaves the secular realm once again, and leaps right back into religion.
Trumpism is a result of "The Prosperity Gospel". He describes this as lacking in substance and being high on selfish materialism (wait: people who want free college, free medicine, free phones, and free everything aren't selfishly materialistic?), basically something which really just tells people what they want to hear and which reinforces and justifies their own selfishness and banality. It's a fad; a fashion. Not real religion.
Weak sauce, Dude. Really.
By this formulation, then, Radical Islam is just a flashy, shiny object to lead people astray. It's flavor-of-the-month, trendy nonsense designed to sell books and appeal to retards?
It would appear that to Mr. Aslan, everyone is stupid (he may have a point, but not in the way he thinks) and is incapable of seeing that their TRUE interests lay in something that doesn't have Trump in it. That 63 million people disagree -- 63 million doofuses, in his estimation -- is just another sign of their inherent racist tendencies.
And even THIS he tries to rationalize by again leaping back into Secularism.
Sixty three million fucktards pulled the lever for Donald J. Trump because he promised them "power". He obviously infers this "power" is Racism. This is another problem with a "religious scholar" speaking on the subject of politics; if Aslan was out of his depth before he even began, he just sunk to the bottom of the pond with this one.
In true leftard fashion, Aslan sees "power" in terms of identity. When Trump says he will return Power to the People (when the Left uses this phrase, it turns out to mean the direct opposite) it means he's committed to taking power from the elected and entrenched but unresponsive, the bureaucrat, the judge, the unelected Political Appointee, and returning it to the CITIZEN.
Where it was originally invested in the Constitution. A document that originated in a principle that Rights are a grant FROM GOD, and that government exists to protect those rights, not run roughshod all over them. Especially not on the basis of race, gender and who wants to screw a cocker spaniel.
It's almost as if this guy doesn't know what he's talking about.
Having made a half-assed case that Trump is all about White Evangelical Supremacy and the dire threat this poses to everyone else -- I mean, just think of the billions that have already died, according to the media -- he goes on a tangent and starts talking about "The Johnson Amendment", which refers to a tax-exempt status given to religious institutions, provided they engage in no overt political activity. According to Aslan, if Trump goes through with his pledge to remove the Johnson Amendment, then the Evangelical Churches will become powerhouses of political activity, and the carnage will be great.
Of course, Aslan, because he's engaged in an exercise to paint those who disagree with his as fucking racists, once again conveniently ignores something that is obvious; the amount of political activity that comes out of Black Churches, and it's ability to mobilize voters.
Now, it's only right, according to people like Aslan, that Black Churches and Mosques -- which are never called out on this kind of thing -- should escape the consequences of the vicious Johnson Amendment because racism/colonialism/oppression/not-white people. By this formulation anything that hurts white Christians is simply a defense against White Christian Racism, and not, in itself, a form of reverse Racism. See, only non-Whites get to use the Racist-in-the-name-of-Non-Racism dodge. This they call "Justice". That it is a PRIVILEGE denied to others escapes his attention.
Because Aslan doesn't really have an argument or a point -- any argument or point -- to make: he's just engaging in a slur.
Over all of this, Aslan is puzzled by the seeming hypocrisy of people who once believed morality was everything and who now seem to have abandoned it. Pretending not recognize what has happened is just too rich, and again, is part and parcel of the Left's efforts to avoid telling inconvenient truths (sorry, Al Gore) about itself.
It is often said (and it is entirely true) that Liberalism is a movement of the well-intentioned, but ill-informed, led by the well-informed, but ill-intentioned. This sub-thread is glaringly, obviously, running through the collective conniption fit being suffered by the left right now.
Those who ARE well-informed know damned well why Trump won: primarily, this is because they ran a terrible candidate that was thoroughly unlikable and a criminal, because the Left got greedy and abandoned it's former strategy of incrementalism and went full Anti-American Socialist during the Obama Years and because it understands that it got beaten by it's own rules.
The Left shits all over morality. It does not respect moral people. It considers moral people to be suckers, all too easily cowed by accusations of hypocrisy and smears of bigotry, while it engages in hypocrisy all day long and shrugs off accusations made against it like a duck sheds water.
This is because the Left is interested in one thing, and one thing only, which is the accumulation and concentration of power, which it will use for it's own benefit, and anything that needs to be done to acquire it is fair game for a try. This is why democrats can get wealthy while claiming to be champions of "The Poor"; it's why democrats can engage in overt racism, sexism, homophobia, lie, steal, cheat, and not get called on it by their own, who recognize hypocrisy as the price they are willing to let people they hate pay so they can get what they want.
After decades of clinging to it's morality and getting pasted for it, the Right decided to play by the same rules. It abandoned the traditional Republican candidate, the church-going, color-inside-the-lines, stand-on-established-principles, stand-on-moral-authority loser and plunked for someone who plays just as dirty, but for their side. The democrats got out-democrat-ed. What's worse, after going through all the trouble of rigging the election in favor of their chosen criminal -- screwing Bernie Sanders, engaging in vote fraud, unleashing the democratic operatives with bylines (I mean, "journalists"), playing dirty, October Surprise tricks with pussy grabbing tapes, and working behind the scenes to deligitimize Trump should he win with a ready-to-go fake "Russian Collusion" strategy, they still lost....and continue to lose.
But they can't tell the truth, because if they did, even the ill-informed might come to the conclusion that the people they follow are ill-intentioned.
So, the "narrative" persists: we didn't lose because Hillary was the worst candidate since Genghis Khan; we didn't lose because we prematurely took a victory lap and forgot to campaign in Wisconsin; we didn't lose because a critical mass of the people rejected our vision; we didn't lose because we are venal, evil, dishonest, unscrupulous, amoral, unprincipled assholes who revealed our true colors during the previous administration.
Oh, heck no!
We're the victims of religious bigots. Look: here's a religious guy to prove it!
Because the left is all about victimology, too. Because no Lefty is ever responsible...for anything. Its why people want to be Lefties: they abhor personal responsibility and the political Left provides them a means to do so. Under a leftist regime, you don't even have a responsibility to feed yourself, after all. The Government Food Fairy will feed you. Magically.
Why not? Reza Aslan could tell you all about Manna from Heaven, no doubt.
Unfortunately, he can't tell you about much of anything else. Because he doesn't wish to. He isn't getting paid to be truthful, he's getting paid to figure out a way to smear millions of people and hide behind religion while he does it.
One need only look at the true record of the Left, and not only in America, to see that charges of racism, bigotry, sexism, religious hated, are almost-exclusively the purview of the political left, whether we're talking Hitler's Holocaust, Stalin's Purges and Famine, Mao's Red Guard which looks an awful lot like what happens on American campuses these days, the American Progressives Eugenics Experiments, The Ku Klux Klan, Black Panthers, Radical Feminazis who call for the extermination of the male half of the race, ANTIFA. Even the so-called "Alt-Right" are lefties; they're National SOCIALISTS. The only difference between them and ANTIFA is that while ANTIFA stands for a more international brand of Socialism, these guys only want Socialism for people who look like them.
I will agree with Mr. Aslan on one thing; there is a cult, for sure. A Cult of Personality that surrounds Trump, and if he finds this offensive, I don't recall hearing a peep out of him when the same thing was erected around Obama, who we were told was a "Lightworker", who would "heal the racial divide", cause the Oceans to stop rising, usher in a New Age of Brotherhood, and who was the Smartest Man who ever lived.
All we got was a dumbass who was only ever really good at reading speeches someone stuffed into his teleprompter. Most likely, they were written by white males, too. Obama was all marketing and no substance, and this is reflected in his record of (lack of) accomplishments and the fact that after the debacle of ObamaCare, Harry Reid never let a damned thing that originated in the Obama White House come to the Senate Floor for a vote...for the next 7 years. Hence all the "I have a phone and a pen" bullshit, because he for damned sure never had THE VOTES. Obama, far from being a "racial healer" took cover behind racism and was quick to call his critics racists at the drop of a hat.
And it's not like this would be the first time such a Cult of Personality grew up around a leader; Mr. Aslan and people like him just don't like this one.
Otherwise, they were just dandy with the other Cults that surrounded Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Mandela, Peron, and in this country, anyone named "Kennedy", "Obama", "Cuomo" or "Clinton", where style always overrode substance. They don't like Trump's style: it does not have the flair of Camelot, no cute story about growing up in a town called Hope, no fascinating mixed-race heritage (oh, how they obsessed over that, but that was totally unracist, for sure, and anyone not us who noticed was definitely a racist!).
So, really, Mr. Aslan, if you have to go to such extraordinary lengths to sell a steaming pile, you should probably be ashamed of yourself.
UPDATE: Fixed spelling/grammar boo-boos./