This American Moment: A Feminist Christian Realist Intervention 9780190901264; 0190901268

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This American Moment: A Feminist Christian Realist Intervention
 9780190901264; 0190901268

Table of contents :
Cover......Page 1
Series......Page 3
This American Moment......Page 4
Copyright......Page 5
Dedication......Page 6
Contents......Page 8
Prologue: To Act with Mercy or Complicity?......Page 10
Acknowledgments......Page 20
Introduction......Page 24
1. Love in Political Times......Page 41
2. Creatively Engaging the Political......Page 63
3. A House Divided Now on Fire......Page 85
4. The War on Women......Page 112
5. We Need to Talk About Fascism......Page 139
Notes......Page 174
Bibliography......Page 180
Index......Page 202

Citation preview

This American Moment


Oxford Studies in Gender and International Relations Series editors: J. Ann Tickner, University of Southern California, and Laura Sjoberg, University of Florida Windows of Opportunity: How Women Seize Peace Negotiations for Political Change Miriam J. Anderson Women as Foreign Policy Leaders: National Security and Gender Politics in Superpower America Sylvia Bashevkin Enlisting Masculinity: The Construction of Gender in U.S. Military Recruiting Advertising during the All-Volunteer Force Melissa T. Brown The Politics of Gender Justice at the International Criminal Court: Legacies and Legitimacy Louise Chappell Cosmopolitan Sex Workers: Women and Migration in a Global City Christine B. N. Chin Intelligent Compassion: Feminist Critical Methodology in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Catia Cecilia Confortini Complicit Sisters: Gender and Women’s Issues across North-South Divides Sara de Jong Gender and Private Security in Global Politics Maya Eichler Scandalous Economics: Gender and the Politics of Financial Crises Aida A. Hozić and Jacqui True Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping: Women, Peace, and Security in Post-Conflict States Sabrina Karim and Kyle Beardsley

Gender, Sex, and the Postnational Defense: Militarism and Peacekeeping Annica Kronsell The Beauty Trade: Youth, Gender, and Fashion Globalization Angela B. V. McCracken Rape Loot Pillage: The Political Economy of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict Sara Meger From Global to Grassroots: The European Union, Transnational Advocacy, and Combating Violence against Women Celeste Montoya Who Is Worthy of Protection? GenderBased Asylum and U.S. Immigration Politics Meghana Nayak Revisiting Gendered States: Feminist Imaginings of the State in International Relations Swati Parashar, J. Ann Tickner, and Jacqui True Gender, UN Peacebuilding, and the Politics of Space: Locating Legitimacy Laura J. Shepherd A Feminist Voyage through International Relations J. Ann Tickner The Political Economy of Violence against Women Jacqui True Queer International Relations: Sovereignty, Sexuality and the Will to Knowledge Cynthia Weber Bodies of Violence: Theorizing Embodied Subjects in International Relations Lauren B. Wilcox

This American Moment A Feminist Christian Realist Intervention

Caron E. Gentry



1 Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and certain other countries. Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America. © Oxford University Press 2018 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by license, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reproduction rights organization. Inquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above. You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Gentry, Caron E., author. Title: This American moment : a feminist Christian realist intervention / Caron E. Gentry. Description: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 2018. | Series: Oxford studies in gender and international relations | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018002963 (print) | LCCN 2018018526 (ebook) | ISBN 9780190901271 (Updf) | ISBN 9780190901288 (Epub) | ISBN 9780190901264 (hardcover : acid-free paper) Subjects: LCSH: International relations. | Feminist theory. | Christianity and international relations. | Anxiety—Social aspects—United States. | Political culture—United States. | Niebuhr, Reinhold, 1892–1971. Classification: LCC JZ1253.2 (ebook) | LCC JZ1253.2 .G47 2018 (print) | DDC 327.101—dc23 LC record available at 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed by Sheridan Books, Inc., United States of America

For Phil, who brought with him a family: Lindsay, Kieran, Christian Stephen & those whom we will welcome warmly



Prologue: To Act with Mercy or Complicity?   ix Acknowledgments  xix Introduction: Why We Need (Feminist) Christian Realism Now More than Ever   1 1. Love in Political Times   18 2. Creatively Engaging the Political   40 3. A House Divided Now on Fire   62 4. The War on Women   89 5. We Need to Talk About Fascism   116 Conclusion: Love Will Win   142 Notes  151 Bibliography  157 Index  179



I was raised in a fairly conservative Protestant denomination but within a fairly progressive and, at times, liberal family. Yet, the church I grew up in is known for its conservatism and for its “women’s problem,” which translates to a doctrinal resistance to women as ministers, classroom teachers, or song leaders for any group other than women and children, and more. Churches and affiliated universities within the denomination have apologized for racist activities and exclusions in the past and they continue to grapple with the role of women. Congregations, in my experience, tend to be predominantly of one race or another—​there is little diversity within various congregations. This denomination, like many others, has clearly had problems with power and with hierarchies. I have experienced these hierarchies, and I am sure that I have been party to them. For most of my upbringing, my life revolved around church. It was my second home. The people there were my second parents, and I found my best friends at church. We spoke the same language and had the same priorities. Until we no longer did. As I  grew up and increasingly became aware of my own privilege—​as a white, upper-​middle-​class, cis-​gendered, well-​educated woman—​I also felt more alone and alien in the church. I  recognize that I  am not alone in the church:  I am not the only “woke” Christian out there. My alienation from the church, however, has led me to think critically about my own denomination and has put me at odds with the place that taught me to believe, to hope, and to find, accept, and extend grace. My faith journey taught me to speak out against oppression, reject injustice, and hope for a better future where all people, who are beloved by the Creator, can be accepted and loved, no matter where or in whom they place their faith. And this perspective has seemingly separated me from many in my church.


There have been numerous times in my life where I have felt like a square peg in a round hole: at church, I could be outspoken and concerned with issues that my peers (and the ministers) were not. When Clayton Williams ran for Texas governor against Ann Richards in 1990, I was fairly clear, as a twelve-​year-​old, that he was not a candidate I could support. By that point I knew that I tended to support Democrats for their commitment to social justice issues, but the nail in Williams’s coffin for me was the same nail for many others—​just not for those I went to church with. During the campaign, reporters were gathered at his Midland ranch to watch cattle wrangling. The weather was poor, and Williams was told that “the reporters were getting restless” (Poole 1999). Williams “tried to make light of the situation by comparing bad weather to rape: ‘If it’s inevitable . . . just relax and enjoy it’ ” (Poole 1999). This cost Williams his twenty-​point lead over Richards, and she went on to win the governorship. I remember arguing with my friends at church that such a sentiment was outrageous, insulting, and a normalization and casualization of the violence of rape (even if I could not articulate it as such), and I could not fathom why the other girls did not see it the same way. Thus, even though Williams lost and never reentered Texas politics again, this incident was the start of my thinking deviating from my church peers and those meant to minister to me. My teenage years were tense ones—​I rejected the pressure to be the cute and compliant Texas Christian. I  confronted my youth minister on his favoritism of the cute and compliant. I was outspoken and outraged over injustices: I never had the same problems with the then-​LBG community that my peers did; I was never simply pro-​life/​pro-​choice; I was uncomfortable with the limited role women played in the church; I despised the strict gender roles. I refused to go to the university attached to my denomination, favoring an all-​women’s college in New England because I knew it would be the best place to nurture my voice. I know that this hugely disappointed another of my youth ministers. How ironic then that my first academic position was at that university affiliated with the church I grew up in. While there, I received an enormous amount of support to continue with my feminist scholarship—​most of this, thankfully, from the chair of my department and from one of the deans who later became the provost. Yet I also received some significant resistance on the campus and at the church that I was in part obligated to attend. Even though there were some political discussions and a serious commitment to social justice on campus and at this church, I was still a square peg in a round hole for many different reasons. I  was a single woman; I  was a feminist; I was an outspoken Democrat in an ultra-​conservative city; I was

[ x ] Prologue

actively committed to my career. Most of the people at the church did not know how to engage with me, and potentially, I with them. It was my eight years at this university that drove me to write this book and my previous feminist political theology, Offering Hospitality: Questioning Christian Approaches to War (2013). Frankly, I was deeply troubled by four things. First, my feminism was frequently seen as something that undermined my faith. I was often asked how I could be a feminist and a Christian (that I  also get this question from the feminist community is something that I understand more). I would explain these are not at odds: both Christianity and feminism are deeply concerned with the marginalized and the vulnerable. This is a basic sentiment that informs all of my scholarship, and it stems from my faith. Second, I  frequently heard suggestions or explicit comments that Christianity was under attack in America. To me, this is a naïve if not completely ignorant statement that is unaware of what true religious persecution is—​violence and harm that results in the loss of life and freedom. The white Christian community in the United States does not face what Coptic Christians in Egypt do. The white Christian community in the United States has never faced what the US Jewish community and Jewish communities elsewhere face—​particularly now, after Trump’s election and the dozens of bomb threats against Jewish synagogues and centers. The US white Christian community has not faced the same violence black churches have faced—​from being burned, firebombed, or invaded by a white supremacist gunman.1 Christians in America have simply not faced the fear, derision, hatred, anger, and violence that American Muslims do on a daily basis. Third, I was troubled by the militarization that I witnessed in my position as a professor in the political science department after 9/​11, where my students often espoused a belief in a war solution for the security threats that faced the United States. Militarization is actually counter to the tradition I grew up in, which had been deeply pacifist for most of its existence. These concerns coalesced into my fourth concern:  that these sentiments led my tradition, one that had been concerned with non-​violence and ministry to others, to a place comfortable with the use of power. Such privilege led them to a place of complicity. Complicity was a thread that ran throughout Offering Hospitality (2013). One of the main goals of that text was to confront and urge Christians to think about their (dis)comfort with power and the particular militarized power of American Christianity. When I began This American Moment, I actually did not think complicity was as germane to the argument of this book. As I write this prologue—​after having written the main text—​I realize that I am wrong. A critique of complicity is embedded throughout this

Prologue  [ xi ]


text. As I write this, the full ramifications of Trump’s “hard power” budget are being reckoned with. This is a budget that harms the least of us, and by this I mean those that are treated by society at large as less deserving of a good education, health care, clean water (as the travesty in Flint, Michigan, continues), and personal and communal security (such as ending the Dreamers immigration program or the assault on protestors and community members at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation). The budget shows no mercy, no love, and no commitment to ending oppressive economic hierarchies. Instead, it unforgivably perpetuates them. It does not just cut the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts; it cuts Meals on Wheels, meal programs in schools for underprivileged children, and it cuts millions from Medicare. Simultaneously, the Republicans relentlessly moved ahead to replace the Affordable Care Act, removing health-​care provisions for millions of Americans, which suggests that if poor people would stop buying iPhones they would have more to spend on health care (Willingham 2017). For someone with a chronic illness or someone facing chemotherapy, that’s comparing a grape with a side of beef. Those economic costings do not compare. Bluntly, any Christian who claims to care about the least of us and has no problems with these cuts or cannot realistically suggest a way for private donations to make up for these has seriously betrayed their Christian values. This is complicity. And all of those Republican senators, representatives, and other politicians that run so frequently as “Christians” who have failed to call these problems out have, in my estimation, some serious deficiencies to address. We should be seeing more politicians like Joseph Kennedy III and his reaction to Paul Ryan’s description of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act as an “act of mercy.” Representative Kennedy stated: With all due respect to our speaker, he and I  must have read different Scripture . . . [.]‌The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. It reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful, but by how we care for the least among us . . . . There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury. There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill. (Miller 2017)

Like Kennedy, as a Christian who deeply cares about this world and those within it, it is my duty and responsibility to call out harm. That’s what this book is doing. I would like to see the church do better.

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Thus, I hope this book has two audiences. The first audience is Christians in the United States. Some Christians may agree with me and see the same issues; some may not. I do feel compelled to address the complicity that I see within my own community, and it is a complicity that stems from a great deal of privilege. The second audience is politics and international relations (IR) scholars more broadly. As previously stated, feminists and other constituencies in IR scholar circles have also queried how I can remain a Christian or even believe in God. Those discussions are not necessarily for this book except to say that I  recognize the church, in its many denominations, doctrines, and practices, is a human institution corrupted by power hierarchies that have done incredible harm to vulnerable populations—​from colonizing territories to sexually abusing children. If it was not clear above, I have a difficult relationship with church—​it is my home but it is a home that I do not know how to enter right now. But I have faith and a relationship with God and this leads me and informs me. My faith has always been behind my interest in politics and international relations. However, I have often felt prevented from bringing my faith into my scholarship because it is not seen as relevant or valid. Writing as a feminist with a deep care and concern for power dynamics is the best way I have found for expressing my normative claims. Yet, there is a growing trend within IR to allow for spirituality to be a valid means of evaluating power dynamics. There is an increasing desire for an approach to IR that integrates personal, holistic, and spiritual perspectives. This project attempts to be an integrative approach that allows people’s moral framework to be an acknowledged ontological and epistemological framework in their scholarly discipline. Religious thinkers, like Reinhold Niebuhr, once had a place in IR. Religious voices have been replaced with approaches more dependent upon rationality and social science methodologies (Thomas 2010, 22; Ling 2014, xxii). There has been a resurgence, however, in the discussion of religion’s place in the field, which has opened the door again to religious thought. Several key pieces looked at the role of religion in international politics, including Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations (1996), which posited that the bloodiest future wars would be fought along religious fault lines. Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart’s Sacred and Secular (2004) investigated the continued influence of religion, which persisted in some areas even though this was at odds with secularization theory. Further importance has been given to studying religion with the perceived rise and dominance of ‘religious’ terrorism in the form of al Qaeda and IS (although these are such corrupted forms of Islam it is more accurate not to refer to them as

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religious). Additionally, the International Studies Association, the main IR professional conference, added the “Religion and International Relations” section in 2013. The problem, however, is that these studies often treat religion as a variable or tradition that can be studied from afar, instead of allowing the perspective of a spiritual faith inform how one thinks about the field of IR and the subjects therein (for a deeper discussion of this see Lynch 2010). The importance of religion goes beyond a way of measuring or simply describing, religious voices also help us to take stock and to take a step back from the rational actor model that dominates some circles within IR. It allows those that are willing to engage with theology—​of any stripe:  Christian, Muslim, Hindi, Jewish, etc.—​to see issues, such as security dilemmas, from a broader and deeper perspective that maximizes humanity’s commonalities and minimizes our differences (see Lynch 2010, 58–​59). It helps scholars to reflect upon our values and query whether our scholarship, in turn, reflects them. This is not to say that Christianity will hold the answer for all people—​not by any stretch of the imagination. It is, however, to suggest that we should think about and integrate our deeply held values, no matter what perspective these stem from (Lynch 2010). For some it may also be odd to write a book on the United States within IR scholarship. One of the predominant myths in IR holds that it began as a field of study after World War I at the University of Aberystwyth, Wales, with a view toward preventing war from ever happening again. Therefore, most of IR scholarship focuses on security, conflict, and war. The scholarship also tends to look at what is deemed the “third level.” The first level looks at human nature; the second level is on internal state dynamics; and the third is on the anarchic, or without an overarching governing body, international state system. Critiques of the narrowness of focus on the third level and the abstraction of international politics to state power and anarchy have broadened the notion of security within IR. However, unless one is looking at hard power (military, weapons) security concerns, or counter-​terrorism and the terrorist threat, or the hegemony of the United States, then IR scholarship does not tend to focus on the United States as a subject of study. This is problematic, especially when one is looking at identity politics in IR. Race scholars within the discipline note that IR’s beginnings actually emerge from scholarship that aimed to make colonization and colonial governance more effective and efficient (see Vitalis 2015; Anievas, Manchanda, and Shilliam 2015; Barkawi 2010). Both Tarak Barkawi (2010) and Robert Vitalis (2015) clarified that one of the preeminent IR journals, Foreign

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Affairs, actually began as the Journal of Race Development. Additionally, most of my academic career has focused on women and terrorism with a wider look at gender and security, often identified as sitting within feminist security studies. Within mainstream IR, if we are looking at issues related to rape and women, domestic violence and women, or terrorism and women, the literature tends to look beyond the West and at issues within developing countries (see Gentry 2015b; Gentry 2017). Some of the literature goes even further still to reveal Western bias against “Muslim-​ majority” states,2 linking women’s insecurity in these states with regional insecurity (see Hudson et al. 2012). In fact, the literature tends to deny or dismiss that there is a problem with violence against women in the West, particularly the United States. For instance, Hudson and her co-​authors (2012, 172)  imply that the only problem the United States has with domestic violence happens within the African American community in the South. This is a gross misrepresentation of the problem with domestic violence in the United States (see Gentry 2015b). Others argue that rape in the United States has been largely brought under control and that rape was never much of an issue on university and college campuses to begin with (Pinker 2011, 282–​285). Instead, these texts tell us that the problem with women’s rights and security are almost entirely non-​Western and intersect substantially with race (see Richter-​Montpetit 2007, 2014). Women are used as ‘standard bearers’ to demonstrate just how progressive the West and the United States are/​were and how atavistic and backward non-​Western states and regions are/​were. This was in force during the colonial period (see McClintock 2013; Chakrabarty 2009) when colonizing powers forced standards of women’s progress on the colonized, even if these measures were not in place back in the colonizer’s home territory. One need only to think of how the “plight” of Afghan women were in part used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 by the United States and allies (see Shepherd 2006). These comparisons continue today: as Cynthia Weber (2015, ­chapter 5) argues the rights of LGBTQI people are used to mark a difference between the progressive West and the non-​progressive non-​West. The West claims that LGBTQI rights are settled and normed in the West (and they clearly are not) and then uses these norms and rights to weigh the (lack of) progress in the developing world. These rights are instrumentalized, and the people who are affected by these rights (or lack thereof) become pawns in the game of power between Western “donor” countries and developing counties in need of aid. The critique of IR as biased in favor of a Western, masculinist epistemology is not a new critique but the bias continues in force all the same. Therefore, my interest in it is part of the basis for this book: to demonstrate

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that racism and misogyny are very much alive in the United States and not only the purview of those deemed, through a neo-​Orientalist and racist lens, to be less progressive, less democratic, and less moral (for how morality and legitimacy work along race and gender lines, see Richter-​Montpetit 2007 and Barkawi and Laffey 2002, 2006). Race, postcolonial, and feminist security studies within IR aims to dismantle the raced and gendered abstractions (such as the focus on the third level) and the gendered power hierarchies, such as those that prioritize hard security over everyday security (which is defined as “the recurring violence that happens in quotidian life” [Innes and Steele 2018, tbd]). Thus, I want to seriously investigate the continued insecurities of black people and women in the United States as inextricably linked to anxiety politics. At this point I should also acknowledge that blacks and women are not the only insecure population in the United States. LGBTQI rights are very much unsettled still (see Gentry 2017); Hispanics, especially if they are seen as “illegals,” are vulnerable, and some live in areas that have experienced greater harm due to some of the political debates over health care and reproductive rights, as explored in c­ hapter 4. And Muslims, and the wrongful association of Muslims and Islam with terrorism (as will be picked up on in c­ hapter 5) are particularly susceptible to abuse and violence. Thus, the insecurity of vulnerable populations, or “the least of us,” is the concern of this book, and it goes back to refusing to see American (white) Christians as persecuted or vulnerable. The most vulnerable in the United States are “the least of us” because they have been treated with less respect, less attention, and less care by the government and society at large, and this is very much due to international hierarchical structures that privilege or subordinate people because of race and gender (and more). Where I once believed the United States was on the right path to fixing these egregious harms, I no longer can look at my home and say that it is. Since the 2016 election of Trump (it is now almost two years later), I  have watched the news with horror, grief, and anger. In this current moment, the countries of the world are drawing back into their corners. Instead of seeing international actors continue to cooperate (even if they did so reluctantly) and work toward the security, rights, and public good for the world as a whole, we are instead witnessing unions break up, ultra-​ nationalism rise, cosmopolitanism falter, and security become more precarious. Populist movements have a strong foothold across the planet—​from the United States, India, Turkey, to the United Kingdom. These particular movements have all led to illiberal policies and have allowed physical and structural harms to be perpetuated. Where just a

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few short years ago we were applauding the emergence of “feminist foreign policy,” in which the Swedish government links gender equality, human rights, and women’s security with “peace, security, and sustainable development” (Ministry for Foreign Affairs 2015), we are now reading news reports of the EU directing member countries deciding to spend more of their budgets on the military because the American contribution to NATO is no longer certain (Kanter 2016). The idea for a book on anxiety politics in the United States was surprisingly timely. I began to write this book in June 2016 and had no way of knowing it would take shape alongside some of the most surprising and important political outcomes of the post–​Cold War period. I could not have predicted that I would be writing about anxiety politics when Britain voted to leave the European Union at the end of June 2016. Nor could I predict writing a chapter on Black Lives Matter as another shocking use of police violence came to light (the shooting of unarmed Terence Crutcher in Tulsa), although it was not outside of the realm of the conceivable. Nor could I imagine the hope I felt about America turning a corner on women’s issues being crushed as I started ­chapter 4 on 7 November 2016. Chapter 5 was once meant to focus on the racism and misogyny embedded in US foreign policy toward the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan after 9/​11. Instead, I found myself writing the unthinkable—​the rise of fascism in the United States—​in January 2017 around the time of Trump’s inauguration. I have tried to make the confluence of timeline and writing clear in each chapter—​even as I have gone back and made updates and changes as events have unfolded. I hope this brings a way of reflecting on the upheaval of the past year alongside the thinking I have done for several years on anxiety, politics, and intersectional politics in the United States. I would like to add that I recognize my ability to write this book and to have it published is also enabled by privilege and this is something that is never far from my mind.

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This book would have not been written without the encouragement and support of so many people. For some, their support was indirectly related to this book but completely necessary to my career. My time at Mount Holyoke College from 1995 to 1999 continues to influence and shape my life in unexpected and truly delightful ways. My professors there were invested in me—​not just my academic success—​but in developing me as a person who thinks in terms of community and relationality. Twenty years later, Kavita Khory continues to be a champion. And some of these thoughts were surely sprouted in my ethics class with Regina Mooney. The prologue may give the impression that my time in Abilene was akin to being lost in a desert, yet there were many who fortified me along the way. I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude to Mel Hailey and David Dillman for their mentoring and constant support. Fred Aquino and Mark Hamilton made the Graduate School of Theology a refuge. When I  was wandering, my small group gave me a place to stop:  thank you to the Riggs, Wiggens, Pybi, Stewarts, Flamings, and Lavenders. And to my precious friends: thank you. St. Andrews as a community and university continues to amaze me. From wonderful students and to tireless colleagues, my academic home continues to be St Andrews. If motivation could be bottled and sold, my writing accountability group would be very well off. I am very appreciative of and thankful for the support of Laura Sjoberg and Ann Tickner in including this book in their excellent series at Oxford. I am also indebted to Angela Chnapko for her encouragement and editorial acumen. And finally to my family. To my parents, who read and discussed everything (more than they probably wanted to) all of my life. My brother, sister-​in-​law, and sister who demonstrate what it means to be family


every day. For Phil, who may not have known what it meant to marry an academic—​but does now! All of my love to you. Thank you for the gifts that are your children and grandchildren. For the next generation, I wish I could say we’ve made it easier for you, but I hope that recognizing that the light overcomes darkness will ease the burden and quell the anxieties of life. Ela, Lily, Ashlyn, Isabella, John, Christian, and Ella: lead the way with love, compassion, and hope.

[ xx ] Acknowledgments

This American Moment


Introduction Why We Need (Feminist) Christian Realism Now More than Ever


ovember 4, 2008, was seen by many as signaling a sea change in US history. The night Barack Obama was elected as the first black president was momentous, and the people who voted for him were hopeful. Perhaps we were not all so hopeful as to think the United States was post-​ race or that American society was finally one that did not judge people on skin color. Maybe, just maybe, America was getting somewhere on race. Eight years have passed, and it is safe to say that not only could President Obama not be all things to all people, but there were also people who simply refused to respect him as their president. The cultural politics of race have led to a backlash against all things that seem at odds with what some call an “American way of life.” Unfortunately, this “American way of life” speaks to white patriarchal politics, and in reality any concept of an “American way of life” is dependent upon anxiety regarding perceived threats to the institutions that make up this sociopolitical hierarchy. I term this “anxiety politics.” The anxiety politics in the United States, driven by raced and gendered discursive structures, is what this book will attempt to address. Hindsight is 20/​20, and so I write not regretfully or to chastise: I, too, saw the election of President Obama as a significant moment in American history. Lamentably, we should have known we were naïve. I should have known that I was naïve. At the time of Obama’s campaign and election I lived in a highly conservative city in Texas. I knew there was no way that


Texas nor my city were going to vote Democrat. But I knew that I wanted people to know I was voting Democrat and that I was voting for Obama, so I put an Obama/​Biden yard sign up. For whatever reason, I did not put up my yard sign until mid-​October. At this point, one other house on my block of about 20 houses had a yard sign out (it was for McCain/​Palin, as to be expected). Even though I was out of town the week before Halloween, I left my yard sign out. I wondered if it would get taken, or if my house would be egged. I was relieved when I drove up my street that my yard sign was there, and my house was untouched. My neighborhood, however, was not untouched. Every single house, every single one, had a yard sign out. All but two were for McCain/​Palin; my house and another neighbor had an Obama/​Biden sign out. It is impossible to know if my small attempt at raising awareness politicized my entire street, but I am not sure what else would galvanize my rather apolitical neighbors into action (in the previous five years that I lived on that street, hardly anyone had ever really put out yard signs). For a long time, I thought the reaction was to me being a blue (Democratic) dot in a sea of red (Republicans). I do not think it is this simple anymore. By the 2010 mid-​term elections I was so tired of Obama being called a Muslim or non-​American that I told my students that anyone who denies the birther debate is about racism is fooling themselves. To appropriate Bill Clinton’s famous line, “It’s about race, stupid.” I am not saying that my neighborhood, my city, nor the State of Texas were racist when the majority of them voted Republican. I do believe, however, the narratives about Obama’s inability to be president or to govern effectively mask an underlying resistance to him based partly in anxieties about protecting the raced structures that the United States has been built upon. It is then why I watch with immense grief but not shock the video of the young black woman being verbally and physically assaulted as she was escorted from a Donald Trump rally in February 2016 (King 2016). This was not the first nor the last video of people—​let me be specific, of black individuals—​being assaulted or harassed at a Trump event. The hatred shown in these videos, particularly of this young woman being so dehumanized, reminds me—​as it should everyone—​of six-​year-​old Ruby Bridges being taunted and shouted at as she was escorted into school in New Orleans in 1960. All at once it seemed as nothing had changed. No corner has been turned. No break with the past has been achieved because we have never dealt with the racial foundations of the United States. The first black president was never going to have it easy (and neither will the first woman president, LGBTQI president, Latino president, Native American president, nor Muslim president). Yet no one would necessarily

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have predicted that overwhelming racism would plague Obama’s presidency:  the birther debate; being accused of lying during an address to Congress; having his court nominations held up. The list could go on. Nor would anyone have predicted, with the exception of a Simpsons episode from 2000, that Trump would be president. Or have garnered more media attention than either of the Democrat candidates had before the party conventions in the summer of 2016. Yet, we should have. Donald Trump’s ascendency to the Republican nomination for president in 2016 all too easily helps me make the central claim of this book: American politics and social life are beholden to anxiety over changes that threaten the particular raced and gendered order that America and American life are built upon. As c­ hapters 3 and 4 will clarify, race and gender are social constructions that result in both material and discursive hierarchies. The United States is a country built upon an international racial structure: “The western colonial projects coincided and intersected with the rise of ‘scientific’ racism and the systematic racialization of Others in the colonies” (Richter-​Montpetit 2007, 46). Racialized activity, such as “conquest, imperialism, colonialism, white settlement, land rights, race and racism, slavery, jim crow . . .,” have all prevented raced and gendered persons from making political, social, and economic progress (Mills 1997, 3–​4). Eduardo Bonilla-​ Silva (1997, 469) explains that processes of racialization are always embedded in other structurations, they acquire autonomy and have “pertinent effects” in the social system. This implies that the phenomena which is coded as racism and is regarded as a free-​floating ideology in fact has a structural foundation.

Racism, which “as a set of ideas and beliefs,” is an ideology that “crystalizes racial notions and stereotypes. [It] provides the rationalizations for social, political, and economic interactions between the races” (Bonilla-​Silva 1997, 466, 474). Furthermore, “racism interacts with class and gender structurations in society” (Bonilla-​Silva 2001, 45). Therefore, gender bias and idealizations of what men and women should and thereby should not contribute to society are also at play in idealizations of American life. Racism and misogyny had direct and dire implications on the 2016 election. Trump played and continues to play on anxiety and fear, catering to the lowest common denominator of human personhood. He proves that Reinhold Niebuhr (and others) were right when they wrote that weak and vulnerable humans fear harm and mortality acutely. According to some, human vulnerability is the basis for anxiety (see Levinas 2006; Butler


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2006; Gentry 2013).1 Trump built his campaign on the worst in us. He built it not just on anxious vulnerability but on the fears that feed anxious vulnerability. He ran on the following untruths: that America can no longer be great because we have given in to blacks/​Latinos/​women/​liberals. He won the nomination and the presidency on racism and misogyny. With every racist or misogynist comment the media predicted Trump’s downfall during the campaign:  Surely his supporters will abandon him now? Or now? This question was quieter, maybe even tinged with humor, when he made his initial comments that Mexican immigrants were rapists; it grew louder when he said Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever”; louder still when he brought up the size of his penis at a Republican debate. So questions now should be deafening when there seems to be a significant relationship between Trump and Russia. Slate tried to predict the weakening of his support with the “Trump Apocalypse Watch.” For Slate, Trump’s foot-​in-​mouth tendencies, the horrors of his syntax, and the uninformed qualities of his debating and interviewing strategies meant he could not win the Republican nomination nor the presidency. Yet, each time that the press or Slate more specifically predicted his downfall, he surged ahead to the Republican nomination—​although there was some resistance to him in the Republican party because of his racism, misogyny, and ignorance of foreign affairs that resistance seemed to dissipate once the Republicans won control of Congress. The question is still being asked: Will the Republicans finally decide on impeachment hearings with the investigation into the Russia’s role in the election? Or surely, now that he is on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea? How then did he become president, and how has he stayed in office? In his psychological profile on Trump, Dan McAdams (2016) clarifies that Trump “appeals to an ancient fear of contagion, which analogizes out-​ groups to parasites, poisons, and other impurities.” While McAdams goes on to link the fear of contagion with disgust—​particularly disgust of those deemed to be different, such as women or those seen as a threat to “white” America—​these sentiments can also be linked to anxiety. Anxiety is an important emotion to understand because it is not quite like other emotions. While all emotions are relational—​because for an individual’s emotions to be known they have to be shared with others—​unmanaged anxiety leads to social and political scapegoating (see Gentry 2015a). Some researchers on emotion divide emotions into “basic” and “complex” categories (see Power and Tarsia 2007). Basic emotions, such as anger, disgust, anxiety, happiness, and sadness are the more immediate emotions a person may feel, but from these complex emotions follow (Power and Tarsia 2007, 20). For instance, the more complex emotion of

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fear stems from anxiety (Power and Tarsia 2007, 20). Other studies have reversed anxiety and fear, believing fear is a basic emotion from which the more complex emotion of anxiety forms, relating both to nervousness, tension, and worry (see Power and Tarsia 2007, 21–​2). Additionally, anxiety is different from fear in that fear is often centered on an immediate and known object, whereas anxiety is more indeterminate (see Kerr 1998, 48; Bowen 1993, 361–​2; Eklundh, Guittet, and Zevnik 2017, 7; Power and Tarsia 2007; Ahmed 2006; Massumi 2005). I once explained this difference between fear and anxiety using the example of spiders: a person may experience short-​lived fear of the spider that suddenly appears on their shoulder versus an arachnophobe (like me) who harbors an unspecified anxiety about all spiders. This makes anxiety less about me and a specific spider and more about the appearance of any spider at any point in the future. Getting back to politics, the political violence many have termed “terrorism” inspires terror or fear because of the anxiety of it: we do not know when the next attack will happen nor where it will happen. This unknowingness may result in the “overestimation of risk,” “a sense of uncertainty, [and a] lack of control” (Huddy et al. 2005, 593, 595). When individuals in relationship with one another, whether this system is a family, organization, or state, encounter constant anxiety, or chronic anxiety, the response is to turn inward in a desire for “oneness”—​or efforts to think and act alike (Kerr 1988, 50; Bowen 1993, 177–​9; Ahmed 2006, 71). Such unity, however, is unstable because the anxious group becomes increasingly less tolerant of difference (Kerr 1988, 50; Bowen 1993, 178). This leads to the creation of a scapegoat as a repository for all negative events (Kerr 1998; see Bowen 1993, 443). A scapegoat is derived from how “anxiety and fear create the effect of borders” (Ahmed 2006, 76) leading to articulation of a self/​collective to be protected from an other. Othering happens when humans allow the differences seen in other people—​whether it is gender, class, race/​ethnicity, religion, etc.—​to constitute an absolute, dehumanizing difference between the self and Other (see Bronfen 1992, 182; Volf 1996, 77). Anxiety thus creates in-​and out-​groups.2 And Trump, with his “Make American Great Again” slogan and Islamophobic, misogynist, and racist discourse, is reifying in-​and out-​groups dependent upon race, gender, and class that have plagued American politics since 1776. (And this is too neat, as scapegoating politics based upon difference have existed since before the inception of the United States.) Trump’s speeches, no matter how decried by the press, his opponents, or political scholars, have some sort of resonance with his core audience. Such resonance is best explored through the relationship between how power structures and hierarchies, such as race and misogyny, are created,


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supported, and reified via discourse. Poststructural or Foucauldian discourse analysis aims to demonstrate the relationship between discourse and material power structures. Within this understanding, rules, systems and procedures comprise a discrete realm of discursive practices—​ the order of discourse—​a conceptual terrain in which knowledge is formed and produced. (Hook 2001, 2)

As such, language generat[es] structures that are always charged with relations of domination, and temporarily fixed within historically contingent sets of meanings (discourses), the settling of which is the outcome of a political struggle. Discourse is the primary site for the exercise, not of consensual reasoning, but of power. (Epstein 2013, 502)

The structures that language establishes also temper “the condition of possibility for acting in” (Epstein 2013, 506), meaning that discourse mediates the ability of a subject to act or be perceived in a particular way. Thus, the construction of race and misogyny as “natural” or “inherent” in human nature justifies actual realities—​of raced and gendered laws, policies, and economic conditions—​that are then supported by racism (as the aforementioned ideology) or misogynistic patriarchy. Therefore, when Trump makes a racist or misogynist statement, he is not rejected: this is because racism and misogyny are still all too prevalent in American politics and society. I draw upon Sara Ahmed’s (2006) use of discourse analysis to demonstrate the articulation of emotions between humans. To explain, we can think of human emotion as stemming from affect (Hutchison 2013). Affect is defined as an “ ‘indeterminate’ stat[e]‌of mood that remain[s] outside of discourse” (Solomon 2012, 918) that is sometimes identified with “influence” and “sensation” (Åhäll and Gregory 2013, 118). Affect resides in the body, and some bodies experience affect (and thereby emotions) differently (see Ahmed 2006, ­chapter 3). Emotions are social, as we are taught how to express and how to articulate what we are feeling via a relational process (see Fierke 2004, 480; Edkins 2004). Affect becomes a “discursive reality” when people articulate it via “recognizable emotional signifiers” (Solomon 2012, 909, see also 918). We come to know what we are feeling as we attach words to affect—​even if those words cannot fully capture the full reality of what we are feeling. Yet, however fallible these words are, they are what we have. Thus, we can identify emotion in the way that a person chooses to express themselves—​a

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person does not have to say, “I am angry” to convey anger. Instead, we can infer anger from the way a sentiment is expressed. Similarly, we can identify anxiety by looking for the sentiment of fear of future events, indeterminacy, and amorphousness. We can identify anxiety as a precursor to scapegoating—​looking for where the self and the self-​same community are articulated in opposition to the other (see Gentry 2015a). We can see reactive defensiveness as a response to anxiety in the propensity to blame the Other or the scapegoat for all of the bad and the failure to hold the self accountable. As Ahmed (2006) argues, objects—​such as people, institutions, and activities—​ become stuck with emotion, and as these emotion-​ laden objects circulate among some people and not others, they become stuck or related to seemingly unrelated things. The reactive need to protect white supremacy from black bodies has allowed anxiety and criminality to be stuck to black bodies. Therefore, c­ hapter 3 will look at the discourses that refute the necessity of Black Lives Matter and that affirm a white supremacist system. The belief that white men are being harmed by laws that seek gender and race equality—​laws that get saturated with fears over feminism and economic uncertainty—​are evidence of anxiety about men’s own continued prosperity and hierarchical privilege. Chapter 4 will investigate text that supports not just men’s rights but how these seek to perpetuate material vulnerabilities that harm women in America. In turn, c­ hapter 5 will look at Trump and his followers’ own discourses for anxiety over the threat of the Muslim-​Other to American esteem and prosperity. America has allowed anxiety over difference and about decline to drive its political agenda. Anxiety defines this American moment. We need Christian realism now more than ever. Yet, we also need a Christian realism that works better with these times. Anxiety is central to Reinhold Niebuhr’s Christian realism. As one of the most prominent and prolific Christian realists, Niebuhr advised multiple American presidents. His writings and sermons were esteemed by political insiders and scholars inside and outside of the United States (see Miller 2013). His prolific scholarship is deeply nuanced and highly attenuated. It is hard to find myself critical of him. When I read his work, I read it with no small amount of awe. I am particularly struck with how well Niebuhr understood humans’ anxious inclinations. Humans have the capacity to be self-​transcendent—​to think outside of ourselves and to think toward the infinite—​yet, humans are limited because we are finite creatures that cannot fully access the infinite and the divine. This does not stop us, however, from wanting full access and from seeking power as a way of mitigating


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the vulnerability wrought from being finite, harmable, limited. This causes us anxiety. Responses to anxiety do not just include grouping together for sameness but also include trying to intercept or stop what causes anxiety. For Niebuhr, this means humans become prideful; we deny that we are harmable; we deny our physical, emotional, and intellectual limitations; we deny that we are not in charge. Pride leads to misuses of power and to injustice (these are all central elements to The Nature and Destiny of Men [1964], Niebuhr’s published Gifford Lectures that I will address in more depth in c­ hapter 1). Niebuhr describes this move to power and injustice as ultimately destructive. Yet, Niebuhr also believes humans and humanity have a choice in how individuals—​and to a limited extent, society—​can respond to anxiety. Humans also possess the possibility to be creative. What creativity looks like is where Niebuhr and I diverge. But for now, that humans have a choice to be creative is important. Both Niebuhr and I, among other theologians from Aquinas to Dorothy Sayers (1941), believe creativity is a reflection of the Divine in all of humanity. To be creative, as will be argued in c­ hapter 2, is to live within the imago dei—​or the image of God. It is to love God as the Creator God and to love His Creation and Creatures within it. Most theology on creation focuses on Genesis 1—​the story of when God created the world and the creatures in it. The theology of creation, and thus imagination and creativity, focuses on God’s inherent nature, the iterative process of creativity, and humanity’s ability to participate in creativity, albeit in a limited way (Sayers 1941; Begbie 1991; Hart 2003; Miner 2004; Webster 2013; McFarland 2014). Together, these points illuminate that creativity is relational and productive. Where most theology on creativity seems limited to the arts, this book argues that the relations within global politics are themselves a creative process, and they should be engaged in with positivity and hope. To do so, however, two elements must be explored: first, how faith and spirituality can come to matter in IR scholarship, and second, the nature of God as Creator and the creation process must be understood within Christianity. As noted in the prologue, faith-​based perspectives have been sidelined in many social sciences in favor of rationality and objectivity. Yet, for many, the faith-​informed perspective remains and is forced to adapt to different normative perspectives. There is a growing movement in IR to bring a Christian episteme back into consideration (see the special issue of the Journal of International Relations and Development TBD). It is not alone. L. H. M. Ling (2014) takes a Daoist perspective to reconfigure the power dynamic within IR, arguing that spirituality brings a different way of thinking

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and reasoning to the discipline. Surely many IR scholars are informed by ontologies and epistemologies that have been deemed “private” and therefore not applicable to their research. Arguably, does that not then make scholars slightly schizophrenic—​to think and act in one part of their life in a way that must remain separate from another important part of their life? IR deals with incredibly weighty topics—​MAD, state security, climate change, human rights, structural violence, sexual violence, terrorism, and peacemaking—​why wouldn’t these privately held normative epistemes actively play a part in research? This book does not argue that Christianity has the “right” or “only” perspective; it argues, instead, that it offers another way of navigating and disassembling the power structures that do harm. Therefore, this book looks to examine how the dynamic and relational nature of God enables such a disassembling. While God is transcendent and ultimately unknowable, there are elements that Christianity attributes to the triune God of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. The Trinity speaks to a relational God that created the world out of love and is still actively involved in it (Miner 2004, 6). For instance, the first chapter of John makes the loving relationship between God and His Son, here identified as the Word, intrinsic to the creation of the world: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1: 1–​5)

Ian McFarland (2014, 22–​3) argues that in this passage John is “interpreting” the first chapter of Genesis to be more inclusive of Jesus Christ. God not only created the world, but God so loved it that God sent the Word to live as a human as way of redeeming humankind. God desires a relationship with creation and is intimately involved in it. While some have suggested the deist or clockmaker model—​that God created the world and then “walked” away—​many theologians who work on creativity would argue such a model fails to account for how Scripture reveals a loving, actively engaged Trinity (McFarland 2014, 20). Instead, it is important to understand that the act of creating the world was not just one act (or seven days of activity if one is to take Genesis literally), but it is a constant activity. Creation is not yet fully realized; the world and its inhabitants (as creatures of God) are constantly in process (McFarland 2014, 42, 58). This also speaks to God’s triune relationality: God’s productivity is an “active generation, as the love that is God takes the concrete


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form of producing and sustaining the other” part of the Trinity (McFarland 2014, 42). The creativity demonstrated by God is iterative (and one might say divergent). Because creation is ongoing and iterative, this is where humans can enter into the creative dynamic. Although God created the world “from nothing”—​creatio ex nihilio—​ and human creativity cannot create something “from nothing,” human creativity “continues” the work of God (Miner 2004, 9–​11). While much of the theological work on creativity looks at the artistic process and visual, literary, and/​or musical arts (see Sayers 1941; Begbie 1991; Hart 2003), human creativity should be understood to include all labor that engages and perpetuates the work of the creator God. For Dorothy Sayers, the detective novelist and theologian, when a person creates (for her, writes), they are engaging with the Trinity. She writes that the “Creative Idea” is “timeless”—​the artist sees both the beginning and end at once—​and thus works in the “image of the Father.” To make this idea come to fruition, it takes energy, “sweat and passion,” and thus, emulates “the Word.” Finally, the “meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul . . . is the image of the indwelling Spirit” (Sayers 1941, 28). Therefore, humanity participates and works within the image of the triune God when it creates. In a theologically grounded conceptualization of creativity, people engage in the creative process every day, all the time, and most often this is simply by being a creature of God. There is perseverance—​as those creating labor to make things “right,” capturing the perfection that exists in their imagination, or of those who have a creative vision to make their life and their world better. Creativity is persistence through an iterative process; the constant reassessment inherent to creative productivity leads to substantial changes or shifts. This is why creativity is so important to international affairs—​policymakers, government officials, academics, and pundits cannot continue to go back to the same answers. Creativity is witnessed when a different approach is taken—​it is just not often recognized as creativity. But it should be. Even if I disagree now with Niebuhr’s solutions, it was creative thinking for that particular time and in that particular epistemology. Christian realism’s future lies in continuing to think divergently—​ in persistent creativity to make things better (and better still) (and still better). Therefore, this is where feminist Christian realism diverges from Niebuhr’s Christian realism. Before Niebuhr wrote on anxiety and power in The Nature and Destiny of Man (1941 and 1942/​1964), he wrote his seminal text: Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932a). As will be further developed

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in c­ hapter  1, the overarching argument of Moral Man is to tease out the tensions that exist between individual behavior, where moral values such as love can constrain behavior, and social ills, where love as a moral value is weakened and cannot operate. Niebuhr argues that the ideal of love should be aspired to but because human nature falls short, the ideal of love should not be relied upon to be an ordering principle for society, and it has little or no place within politics. Instead justice is more reliable. Feminist Christian realism differs. Feminist Christian realism differs by first looking at the discursive hierarchical structures in social and political life, and therefore in IR, here of race and gender. But it is open to looking at sexuality (heternormativity), class, and/​or other identifiers. As deliberated upon in ­chapter  1, feminist Christian realism addresses human power structures that Niebuhr choses to elide. Second, the law of love should not be seen as an impossibility, and it must not have such a constrained role. Without it, there is no empathy or compassion. Without it we are less able to see the structuring forces of race and gender for what they are. Jean Bethke Elshtain seems to be the ideal scholar to turn to in articulating feminist Christian realism, even with her lifelong commitment to Just War thinking and despite her later neo-​conservative politics. The work that best speaks to a feminist Christian realism, in my mind, is perhaps her shortest and least well-​known publications, Who Are We? Critical Reflections and Hopeful Possibilities (2000). In it, she engages with one of her most prominent latter themes: the worth and dignity of all people that is dependent upon their creatureliness. While Elshtain never declares love or agape more specifically as the heart of her argument, she ends the slim volume with this rather passionate passage: Read the signs of the time. Love the world enough to want to know it. Know the world enough to love it. Despite it all—​the troubles, the pain, the frustration, the dangers of self-​pride or excessive self-​abnegation—​through it all trust, hope, and, for Christians, the greatest of all: love. Let us add thankfulness, gratitude to this list. One of our grandsons . . . said to me when he was just barely two and I was swinging him the backyard on a sunny, crisp day . . . . “Everything is everywhere.” This said as he looked at me after having gazed for a time at the sun, the rustling leaves, the expanse of yard, a cat frolicking nearby: everything is everywhere. It is in the childlike awe and wonder, in words as beautiful to me as any I have ever heard, that is the warp and woof of hope and love. Delight and wonder are part and parcel of hope and trust; for without hope and trust our hearts are locked away as Augustine would say. (2000, 168–​9)


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From this passage it is clear that love informs how Christians are meant to be “in the world” (John 17:  14–​15). Love may not then be the stated organizing concept, but it is imbedded within the one she uses: imago dei. Creativity, therefore, informs the transformation I am seeking for Christian realism, and a love-​informed creativity is the appropriate answer to anxiety. The decision and the act of creativity is the central point of this book that seeks to critically reflect on this moment in American history. As such, to act in a creative manner hopes for transformation, but it is not actually about the transformation itself. Transformation and change cannot be guaranteed. Creative acts may fail resoundingly, but the decision to act creatively is imperative because it means we have chosen to not act destructively. American anxiety has long manifested around protecting raced and gendered structures, and this now impacts our internal security and how the United States is currently operating internationally. It seeks to shed light on how American anxiety has been destructive and harmful. Like Christian realism, feminist Christian realism takes power and the desire to acquire power as a given (if not constructed) reality in global politics. Yet, feminist Christian realism seeks different answers than Niebuhr, in part because it asks different questions. Niebuhr’s questions and the dilemmas he deliberated were driven by his historical context—​World War I and World War II, the Great Depression, the rise of Soviet Communism and the Cold War—​and his epistemology reflected mainstream and traditional IR of that time. Security was limited in scope and definition to what happened between states—​not necessarily what happened within them. Therefore, Niebuhr (1962) resolved the anxious tendency to seek power through justice and the international balance of power, reluctantly accepting that nuclear weapons achieved this in the Cold War (see also Williams 1986). In a democracy, this is the check-​and-​balance system between the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches. Feminist Christian realism, like Christian realism, is concerned with the use of power and the human inclination toward destruction when faced with anxiety. Feminist Christian realism is also concerned with security:  not just international state-​based security, but individual, interpersonal, and societal security. It wishes to see communities flourish, and flourishing is prompted via love-​driven creativity. Most importantly, feminist Christian realism attempts to confront the hierarchical structures that America is built upon in ways that Niebuhr’s Christian realism was perhaps not equipped to do. Thus, the questions it asks and the answers it seeks have to do with how anxiety at the interpersonal level impacts domestic politics and subsequently transverses international politics.

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Feminist Christian realism revisits two key moments in Niebuhr’s thinking, as alluded to above, approaching them within the spirit of an “moment of antagonism.” Jenny Edkins (1999, 5) explains: Social order is characterized by antagonism that bring to light both the contingency of the institutionalized frameworks of society within which everyday social practice takes place and the existence of other possible resolutions. In the “moment of antagonism,” what happens is that “the undecidable nature of the alternatives and their resolution through power relations becomes fully visible.”

In other words, the moment of antagonism happens when a person is placed in a deciding moment that can either result in the continuance of the hierarchical status-​quo (of racism or misogyny for instance) or they can be “political” and work to disrupt the structures. First, feminist Christian realism revisits Moral Man (1932a) and the notion that love cannot work politically and insists that love, care, and empathy must work politically but not as an enforced ordering principle. Instead, this book asks Christians, or any person who cares passionately about others, to think compassionately and within the framework of agape. To focus upon the framework of agape is important, not just because it is central to Christianity but because it is ultimately unselfish, and it wants what is best for the other person. This is love made powerless. It is love that allows people to be free and is not an injunction on or against their behavior. We love them because all people are creatures of God. Not because they act in or look a certain way but because God created each of them—​in His own image. Second, feminist Christian realism then brings the centrality of love and the location of security at the interpersonal level to bear on Niebuhr’s responses to the politics of anxiety as most concisely articulated in The Nature and Destiny of Man. Because Niebuhr is dubious toward the realization of the ideal of love in his political solutions, his response to anxiety, while creative for his time, is not as creative as it can be. Conceptualizing Niebuhr’s “moment of anxiety” as a “moment of antagonism” we can either respond destructively (working within power hierarchies, therefore continuing a raced or gendered hierarchy), or we can be creative in disrupting this trend. Thus, chapter two will pose different creative responses to political and security dilemmas. They range from empathy and tolerance to the hospitality that I have written about previously (Gentry 2013). In times of anxiety it is difficult for a person to draw upon their emotional and intellectual resources and mature resolve to combat anxiety. In a time


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where terrorism is (overly hyped) as the largest security threat, and when domestic policies in democracies and autocracies alike are less tolerant of different people, a different response to anxiety politics is necessary. The ordering of the book aims to demonstrate the centrality of love and anxiety to Christian realism before introducing the centrality of creativity to feminist Christian realism. It will look at three anxiety driven current events to solidify this new notion of creativity: first, the Black Lives Matter campaign as the latest disruption of the raced structures that define America and the anxious reactions that seek to protect and maintain race structures; second, the particular economic, bodily, and reproductive health vulnerabilities that women face that have amalgamated into America’s War on Women as an anxious reaction to maintain patriarchy; and, finally, how racism and misogyny unwittingly and rather unexpectedly led to the election of Trump and opened the door to fascism in the United States and reveals how Trump and his baseline are subject to their own anxieties. Chapter 1, “Love in Political Times,” will begin by delineating the continued relevance and necessity of Christian realism in political theology. Of particular importance is how it understands the fallible nature of humans, their propensity to seek power, and how justice serves to contain (human) power. The chapter, however, will also explore in depth the two pivotal moments within Niebuhr’s own theology that has prevented Christian realism from being taken further. The first is when Niebuhr abandons love as an ordering principle. The second is when Niebuhr articulated the “moment of anxiety” as owed to humans’ recognition of their mutual vulnerability. Anxiety is an important theme and one that I argue is an active, protective response to preserve the structures that America and American politics are built upon: particularly the raced structure that police brutality exists within, the sexism of the War on Women, and the racialized religious anxieties of Islamophobia in Trump’s policies in the first month of his presidency. Yet, Christian realism as it is currently articulated cannot fully address a solution to these issues because it is limited by an outdated epistemology that fails to fully grapple with power structures, as well as the role of emotions in international politics. Thus, the final section of this chapter will clarify the importance of emotions to social and political life and how the relationality of love must be allowed to function beyond the particular. A creative response to injustice enables this feminist critique of Christian realism by taking it in a new direction—​one that recognizes not just the ability of love to operate in political contexts but the absolute need for it to do so. Creativity has been reduced to an egotistical proposition, glorifying human ingenuity and genius. It tends to focus on the people who are well

[ 14 ]  This American Moment

recognized and therefore set apart from the rest of population for their contributions to society, whether this is the written or spoken word, music, visual arts, or inventions. Chapter  2, “Creatively Engaging the Political,” problematizes this approach through Niebuhr—​it appears self-​focused and self-​regarding. Not only does it deny that giftedness is a gift from the Creator-​God but also that it is nurtured relationally, within a broad context of human development. There is an alternative perspective on creativity, one that is not located within human ingenuity per se. The gift of creativity comes from our relationship with the Creator. From this starting point, Christians are called to care deeply and passionately for God’s creation and His creatures—​it is a creative relationality. This chapter connects creativity to imago dei and how our relationship with God necessitates a right relationship with all things—​humanity and creation. As Elshtain (2000, 128)  declares, the communion call for responsibility and sociality necessitates that Christians “name things,” such as injustice, “accurately and appropriately.” This conceptualization of creative relationality is enabled by feminism’s desire to expose power structures, such as sexism and racism. The use of feminism does not seek to erase the importance of Niebuhr; instead, creativity is persistence through an iterative process. It is the working out of divergent thinking, leading to a substantial change. A substantial change is needed in order to address the three anxiety-​ riddled contexts under study. Each of the three empirical chapters will explore a particular problem that defines the current political landscape in America. They will do so by looking for the operation of anxiety in related discourse. To demonstrate the role anxiety and the reactive response to it play in these political crises, discourses surrounding these crisis points will be analyzed for anxiety and reactivity. Chapter 3, “A House Divided Now on Fire,” examines the prevalence of police brutality, particularly against the black population in the United States, and how it is enabled through the narrative of “black criminality.” The violence against black people in the United States, as particularly witnessed in the shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and of John Crawford III in Ohio, is indicative of the anxiety over the changing social order from white patriarchal to a more diversified locus of power. Therefore, it conducts a discourse analysis of texts, such as the Blue Lives Matter website, that reactively and defensively support the law enforcement community and refute the narrative of Black Lives Matter. The discourse analysis reveals a level of anxiety that allows those within the police community to scapegoat the Black Lives Matter movement, further revealing the need of this particular community to maintain hegemonic


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race relations thereby failing to recognize the vulnerability of black people in the United States. Chapter 4, “The War on Women,” specifically looks at how the War on Women is manifested in multiple vulnerabilities for women, namely economic, bodily, and reproductive health. The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate that the legal restrictions placed on women’s bodies and lives serve to police and limit women’s citizenship and contribution to America’s polis. A  need to control women is an anxious response to women’s continued independence, seen as a threat to patriarchal structures. As such, the chapter turns to the language used by the National Coalition for Men, the Red Pill forum on Reddit, and Breitbart to describe women’s positions in US and international society, demonstrating the sexual objectification and violently paternalistic attitude toward women that helped promote the Trump campaign. Chapter 5, “We Need to Talk About Fascism,” stresses how the racist and misogynist anxiety politics outlined in the previous two chapters allowed for a fascist movement to not just take root in the American electorate but to also find a foothold in the highest office in the United States. Relying upon previous work on what fascism is, however tenuously defined, and the steps fascist movements often follow as they take power, the chapter compares this literature with the rise of “alt-​right” politics and its relationship with Donald Trump. It clearly identifies how the events since November 8 could be construed as mirroring other fascist movements in history. This is made possible over the conflation of economic and political anxiety over the Obama administration’s policies, such as the Affordable Care Act, with Obama’s race, bringing out the worst in American politics. It demonstrates Trump and his advisors’ own anxieties about terrorism and how that allowed the original “Muslim Ban” to come into effect. Thus, each chapter will continue by demonstrating how these crises are reflective of anxiety—​over the continued fear of the Other that blacks represent; over the continued independence and autonomy of women; and over the racialized fear of the Muslim Other and the perceived threat they present to the West, particularly to America. These are anxiety-​driven fears. As such, those who feel the threat from the Other—​be it a gendered or raced Other and how these coalesce into the Islamophobia implicit in Trump’s early policies—​seek to recenter American politics and an “American” way of life. This American way of life, however, is a myth dependent upon masculinist, heteronormative, raced understandings of what a proper way of life should be and how it should be lived. America is in crisis. Perhaps this only became clear me to when I left the United States to live and work in the United Kingdom. Perhaps the most

[ 16 ]  This American Moment

immediate crisis simply coincided with when I  left in 2011. But I  am an insider living and watching from the outside, hearing about yet another mass shooting, or another move to curtail women’s reproductive rights, or another horrific shooting of a black teenager by the very people who should be protecting him or her, or the militarized police violence against Native Americans protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. This is compounded by seemingly random shootings (such as the biker shootout in Waco in May 2015) and the planned ones, such as the attack on the LGBTQI community in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, or police violence during routine traffic stops, or the rape crisis on America’s college campuses. These are all related to the chapter themes but also to each other. America is an anxious society, and anxious social groups seek scapegoats to carry the blame for shifting norms and challenges to identity. Blacks, women, and Muslims all serve as scapegoats to resolve this anxiety. Ultimately this book will offer creative ways to move past this anxiety, scapegoating, and destructive tendencies. The book serves as an intervention: to ask the powerful to recognize their privilege and that the need to control others is a move rooted in anxiety. If “be not afraid” (indicative of anxiety) is the most repeated command in the New Testament, then how does living within the imago dei, living out a creativity borne out of love, free us from this fear and anxiety?


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Love in Political Times


he crux of my dilemma with Niebuhr is how he, at times, exhibits a lack of care due to his cautious pragmatism that results in him not paying enough attention to power structures and to the powerfulness of the law of love. For instance, when considering the expansion of the Soviet Union in the Cold War and the worry that Communism and socialism were poised to take over more European states, Niebuhr (1962, 157) was prepared to sacrifice the “peripheral” Third World to Communism in order to concentrate resources on Western Europe. This is an excellent illustration of how the balance of power politics erased notions of Western privilege and imperialism, leading to further harm against the vulnerable developing world. He became invested in the abstraction of IR—​that states are the primary actor—​and failed to see the people inside of the states (see Tickner 1992, 42). Thus, while Niebuhr weighs the “second-​level”—​the internal politics of the state and whether these are liberal democracies or Communist—​he does so because he is more concerned with the broader territorial integrity of Western liberal democracies than with those on the periphery of the West and, most importantly, the people within Western liberal democracies. This is deeply disconcerting. Race scholars in IR would argue that such an approach typifies the racial structure of IR and global politics. Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laffey (2002, 344) sardonically note: Given that for the past several centuries [Great Powers] have been overwhelmingly located in the West, analyses of world politics . . . are rightly Eurocentric. That is just the way the world is.

Such structuring that falls along raced lines established during colonization and the slave trade leads to the theorizations that these places in the world and the people within them are less important. This is what the pragmatism of Niebuhr seems to elide, even though he (tentatively) supported racial equality in the United States. For instance, while Niebuhr’s writings are focused upon how “human nature” leads to historical and social injustice and inequalities, Niebuhr does not always clarify how we are meant to address these. Even though no “intelligent society [can] accept inequalities . . . between classes or races” (Niebuhr 2012, 148), he omits just what can be done about racial inequalities as they are “age[s]‌-​old” and group conflict is “inevitable and perennial” (Niebuhr 2015, loc. 10041 and 2015, loc. 10402). Therefore, his argument about the periphery can be rather crudely compared with one of the justifications for the Iraq War, believing the war in Iraq would be a magnet to lure “terrorists” away from the United States. This quite literally means the safety and security of people in the United States outweighed the safety and security of those in Iraq. Similar thinking is behind the US rejection of Syrian refugees because those who refuse Syrian refugees equate Syrian identity with terrorism (owing to the neo-​ Orientalist bias that will be discussed further in c­ hapter 5). The refusal to take Syrian refugees by particular states in the United States illustrates the difference between resolving anxiety over terrorism in a destructive (i.e., rejection) rather than a creative (i.e., empathetic and hospitable) way. The purpose of this chapter is to argue that love and the other emotions and activities it is related to—​ creativity, empathy, compassion, and hospitality—​should not be marginalized in both domestic and global politics. Reinhold Niebuhr took love—​both the “law of love,” which is synonymous with agape, and the “ideal of love,” or the motive to act with love—​very seriously but for a variety of reasons. As will be explored in this chapter, he determined that love as the “possible impossibility” was not able to fully function in the political realm (Niebuhr 2012, 117). I believe this is owed to Niebuhr’s own epistemology, shaped by the political challenges of his time but also by his tension with post-​Enlightenment rationality. The eighty-​ five years that separate this book from Niebuhr’s Moral Man (1932a) and nearly seventy-​five years between this and Nature and Destiny (1941 and 1942/​1964) have brought many epistemological and ontological challenges to the field of IR. One of these challenges includes the poststructural/​feminist “emotional turn” in IR, in which the study of emotion in ethical and political theory has emerged in force. This turn helps me argue that love, as an emotion and onus for political activity, deserves more consideration and this, in turn, is instrumental in the establishment of feminist Christian realism in IR.

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A current debate in social psychology over the role of empathy to morality and political activity helps to illustrate the tension between emotion and political judgment. Yale social psychologist Paul Bloom has published on the dangers of empathy. According to Bloom (2016), empathy is dangerous and one of the largest social ills of our time: “Empathy, from a moral standpoint, is a bad thing. It makes the world worse.” He defines empathy as “putting yourself in the shoes of another person—​feeling their pain” (Bloom 2016). While this response “might make you seem like a good person, ’cause it might make you likely to care for them and more likely to help them,” he explains that “empathy blinds you to the long term consequences of your actions. It’s because of a baby stuck in a well that we do nothing about global warming” (Bloom 2016). In Bloom’s opinion, empathy must be tempered by reason and logic, otherwise it dooms us to failure and to an inability to act—​emotions such as empathy become a straitjacket and harm more than they help. Beyond the illogic of contrasting “Baby Jessica” falling into an abandoned well on a ranch outside of Midland, Texas, in 1987 with the effects of climate change (with which the world is just now, thirty years later, beginning to fully grasp), Bloom’s conceptualization of empathy is not quite as simplistic as he makes it out to be. While “putting yourself in the shoes of another” is a colloquialism for agape, the interior logic of Bloom’s argument is gendered and, in fact, not empathy at all. In an earlier response to Bloom, Cummins and Cummins (2013) argue in Psychology Today that Bloom limits empathy to the private sphere and is too heavily theoretical. This is similar to the argument I  make about Niebuhr. The division of the public/​private dates back to the Greek patriarchy and is deeply gendered: the private is feminine, without political voice and agency; the public is masculine, where all political agency resides (see Pateman 1980; Elshtain 1981). Feminists have long argued that this binary must be undone—​the private is political after all—​and one such way of doing this is to better incorporate emotion and experience into political affairs (Sylvester 1994, 2012). In fact, this abstracted thinking limits Bloom’s thinking on the functioning of empathy: To Bloom, empathy belongs only to the realm of the personal—​how, for example, we treat our family and friends. But it has no role to play in moral judgment. Morality from this perspective isn’t about the creature in front of you, it is about society as a whole. That is what morality looks like from a high-​ altitude bombing perspective.

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We can certainly see all mankind as our family. The problem is that we don’t. Volumes of psychological research show that we show more empathy towards those who are like us than those who are not. The answer is not to scrub out empathy. The answer is to expand our empathy to include those who are not like us. That is what drove so many white Americans to argue for the abolition of slavery, the end of Jim Crow laws, and the institution of civil rights. (Cummins and Cummins 2013)

Bloom’s epistemological framework means that his understanding of empathy is limited: it is not just gendered to prioritize masculine values of political rationale over feminine emotions but also highly utilitarian as well. Bloom relates a utilitarian notion of what empathy is in two different ways. In the first instance, Bloom argues that empathy for victims leads to a desire to support and seek vengeance for the victims (Bloom 2015). In the second instance, people’s sensitivities for sociopolitical causes, such as world hunger, animal protection, or environmental degradation, creates too much competition—​when people give money to a wide array of causes this weakens the effect of their monetary gift. Because money and resources are limited, when those resources are spread among the different causes, without strategy and intention, the resources are ineffectually spread too thinly (Bloom 2016). Thus, empathy is not a helpful emotion when considered politically. This, too, is masculinist thinking. Instead, empathy or love, compassion, and creativity can neither be utilitarian nor instrumentalized. Taking the basic definition of empathy as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of others” (Google Dictionary 2016), this study sees it as intrinsically connected to love. For instance, bell hooks (2016) finds that because of our masculinist values, Americans have been taught to minimize the importance of love. Like Christian theological conceptions of agape, she argues for a different vision of love, one in which love becomes a doing—​a verb. The concept of love according to hooks is relational and caring and therefore seeks to dismantle power dynamics. This ties love to empathy and is therefore related to Christine Sylvester’s work in IR on empathy and cooperation. Sylvester never explicitly addresses love, but her “empathetic cooperation” can be related to agape because both act out of concern for the other and to minimize power dynamics. Sylvester (1994, 317)  urged IR from a feminist perspective to be more empathetic or attuned to the process of positional slippage that occurs when one listens seriously to the concerns, fears, and agendas of those unaccustomed to heeding when building

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social theory, taking on board rather than dismissing, finding in the concerns of others borderlands of one’s own concerns and fears.

One can see the influence of this thinking on Sylvester’s (2012, 3–​4) later work on war and experience, which views war from the perspective of those that experience its harms, destruction, sights, and smells, demonstrating how “war is a politics of injury.” As mentioned above, the definition for agape and empathy are nearly the same. As will be explored below, Christians are enabled to love in abundance because they are loved abundantly by their Creator. Bloom’s epistemological, if not ontological, framework means he views empathy as a finite concept that must be weighed and measured—​and this measurement is reflective of masculine political and utilitarian epistemology. Bloom lifts empathy out of any sort of loving context and analytically “dry docks” it. Yet, empathy cannot be removed from love in a Christian context. As Christians we are called to agape, and agape is not limited to the proximate or by rationalizations. Empathy must have “heart” and “heart” can make political changes. “Heart” can be understood as a calling, and a calling is not just a need, but a directive to be relational and invested in the hurt of the world as we see it—​activities that feminist theologians (see Elshtain 2000; Adams 2006), among others, have long argued for (Hauerwas and Coles 2008; Moltmann 2015). This is a project that feminists in IR have already embraced: in feeling someone else’s pain, we are able to support and show solidarity to the other (Sjoberg 2006, 48–​9). Empathy also allows one to negotiate power dynamics as it does not seek to erase differences nor act defensively—​instead it allows for respectful negotiation (Sylvester 2002 as cited in Sjoberg 2006, 49). It is important to recognize that Bloom’s masculinist limitations have found a place in a highly anxious time. In a time of anxiety, when the natural response is to close in and care about those most proximate to us (see Kerr 1988; see also Gentry 2015a), Bloom’s line of argument is seductive and something witnessed not just in Trump’s campaign but also in the recent 23 June 2016 EU referendum vote in Britain: the successful “Brexit” campaign was driven by the fear of (poorer, needier) immigrants flooding the United Kingdom for benefits and in the rejection of migrants/​refugees fleeing the conflict zones of northern Africa and Syria (Frum 2016). These three political “events,” Trump, Brexit, and the refugee crisis, all have a failure of empathy at their core: racism, misogyny, and xenophobia are all dependent upon and driven by the structures that perpetuate harm and oppression.

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In many ways, Bloom and others who agree are making an argument that seeks to separate emotion from rationality. This encompasses the same debate the Niebuhr was engaging, particularly in Moral Man (1932a), but he also continues to discern the role of love in political affairs in Nature and Destiny (1941 and 1942/​1964). In many ways, after Niebuhr establishes that love is intrinsic to Christianity, and as he moves love out into the public sphere, he begins to instrumentalize it. This to me is a highly Western, post-​Enlightenment binary that constructs rationality and emotion as mutually exclusive and where Western (political) thought has led us to see emotions as leading humanity down an empty garden path. Yet there are those who believe emotions are inherent and necessary to reasoning. Decision making is made better and stronger by the incorporation of emotions, and as Martha Nussbaum (2001) argues, this is necessary for communal and human flourishing. The rest of this chapter will therefore explore a similar tension that exists in Niebuhr’s work:  where he acknowledges the importance of emotions, particularly love, anxiety, and subsequently, pride. But he also minimizes the importance of love in politics in favor of justice and equality. Thus, the chapter will end by exploring Niebuhr’s masculinist epistemological limitations when it came to understanding the construction and maintenance of international power politics—​specifically, how this does not go far enough in addressing the discursive structures that shape international and domestic politics. While addressing these structures is the first example of how feminist Christian realism deviates from Niebuhr’s, I first need to explain why Christian realism is compelling enough to warrant a reworking of it via a feminist theological application of creativity.


Because humans have the capacity to wonder about the divine and to think transcendentally, this means they feel acutely the restrictions of their body and their finitude. This results in anxiety, according to Niebuhr, leading toward the human inclination to cling to power. Therefore, as much as I  would like to be in a world where force and violence are not necessary features, this is not a possibility. Force, violence, and coercion are endemic features in this world. As such, Christian realism promotes balancing power as a way of arriving at justice. Reinhold Niebuhr’s theology on the continued reliance on power by humans continues to be compelling for several reasons: it recognizes how fallible humans cling to power, it is deeply committed to justice, and it recognizes the problem of nationalism.

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Humans are fallible creatures (further implications of this creatureliness will be explored later), which prevents them from grasping full knowl­ edge and the entirety of the will of God (Niebuhr 1964, 168). While God gave humans agency and freedom, humans must recognize their limitations (Lovin 1995, 123) because sin, idolatry, and injustice are a result of humanity’s inclination to overstep its boundaries (Niebuhr 1964, 164–​5). Niebuhr argues the “real evil in the human situation” is man’s [sic] unwillingness to recognize and acknowledge the weakness, finiteness and dependence of his position, in his inclination to grasp after a power and security which transcend the possibilities of human existence. (Niebuhr 1964, 137)

Evil happens when “the fragment seeks by its own wisdom to comprehend the whole or attempts by its own power to realize it” (Niebuhr 1964, 168). For Niebuhr this demonstrates a paradox between relying upon God in times of trouble and humans’ fundamental anxiety-​driven instinct to create their own security, even if this leads to their own destruction: “The most obvious meaning of history is that every nation, culture, and civilization brings destruction upon itself by exceeding the bounds of creatureliness which God has set upon all human enterprises” (Niebuhr 1964, 140; see also Gentry 2013, 67–​70). This vulnerability regarding security feeds anxiety, which leads either to creativity or sin (Niebuhr 1964, 168, 174, 185). According to Niebuhr, anxiety-​ridden people turn to power and to pride (Niebuhr 1964, 178). Power mitigates feelings of insecurity, even if power cannot guarantee absolute security and even if it problematically pits people against each other (Niebuhr 1964, 174). When power is concentrated, it will “generat[e]‌ injustices” (Niebuhr 1962, 156). Thus, Niebuhr reiterates the importance of justice to Christian realism. Justice is arrived at through the balance of power; this could be the inherent checks and balances within a democracy or the balance of states’ capabilities in the international system (Niebuhr 1962, 156, 158; 1942/​1964, 174; Lovin 2007, 57–​8). Niebuhr’s writings are filled with paradoxes and nuance. Perhaps the largest paradox that Niebuhr identifies is the problem of how justice can quickly lead to injustices—​where the use of power to redress a misuse of power (justice) slides quickly into tyranny or other forms of abuse of power (injustice) (Niebuhr 2008; see also Niebuhr 2012, 163). Such a warning is of particular relevance to where the United States is today. In The Nature and Destiny of Man, Niebuhr is predominantly wary of nationalism. While he is picking apart a specific version of nationalism (a historic

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form of Messianism), Niebuhr’s criticism can be read more widely as a rejection and criticism of any form of “nationalistic idolatry” (1964, 41). Niebuhr uses both the parable of the Good Samaritan and Paul’s widening of the Gospel message beyond the Jewish community as a way of arguing that faith and communities of faith are not limited to a particular locale or population. Yet, as previously argued (Gentry 2013), there are now (or still remain) communities of faith within the United States whose identities are inextricably bound up with their US citizenship. This excessive self-​regard could potentially explain how some Evangelicals and some Republican politicians whose public life is dependent upon a Christian image continue to support Trump (see Worthen 2017). Yet, this tension between American Christianity and American nationalism is not new. Niebuhr warned against it in The Irony of American History, first published in 1952, almost a decade after Nature and Destiny. In it he warns of American hubris in which American idealism, rooted so heavily in democratic practices, becomes American pride and a form of power. The only way to dampen America’s ego is to recognize it: Our moral perils are not those of conscious malice or the explicit lust for power. They are the perils which can be understood only if we realize the ironic tendency of virtues to turn into vices when too complacently relied upon; and of power to become vexatious if the wisdom which directs it is trusted too confidently. The ironic elements in American history can be overcome, in short, only if American idealism comes to terms with the limits of all human striving, the fragmentariness of all human wisdom, the precariousness of all historic configurations of power, and the mixture of good and evil in all human virtue. (Niebuhr 2008, 133)

Niebuhr provides a prescient and prophetic warning to not let the belief in our system as the right system cloud our judgment. He urges Americans to be self-​critical. While he relates this to how America (and Americans) operate in the world, it also has application to our internal politics as well. Christian realism offers us a great deal, and it exhorts one to think critically about self and country. It reminds us that all individuals are creatures of God and thus we should place our Creator at the center of our politics, not our political system. In this Niebuhr is clear: we must not forget we are all creatures of God. Therefore, humility—​acceptance of our weakness and acceptance of our common humanity—​should ground our politics. Furthermore, our Creator asks us to love and to love abundantly and reminds us to not be fearful. Yet, as I will discuss further below, our creatureliness is a contributing factor in our propensity to be anxious. Even

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though there are limits to our freedom and our reasoning, “there is still a yearning after the ultimate” (Niebuhr 2015, loc. 13245). Humans are limited in their knowledge (they are not all knowing), and our attempts at absolute freedom fall short. Niebuhr (2015, loc. 13369)  argues that the Self, as a creature, is always “conscious of its finiteness, and equally conscious of its pretension in not admitting its finiteness.” Thus, anxiety surfaces because humans are “both free and bound, both limited and limitless . . . Anxiety . . . is the inevitable spiritual state of man [sic], standing in the paradoxical situation of freedom and finiteness” (Niebuhr 1964, 182). While we have a choice in how we will respond to the conditions of our creatureliness (with anxiety or destruction), Niebuhr argues that by and large humans give into destructive tendencies. When we forget we are fallible, weak creatures of God living alongside other creatures of God, we give in to anxiety in a destructive way:  pride, nationalism, arrogance. Therefore, I see self-​pride in the United States working through racist and misogynistic politics, which is why this book examines those in depth in ­chapters 3, 4, and 5. Yet Niebuhr seems to minimize how we receive and pass on the abundance of our Creator’s abundant love, particularly when Niebuhr begins to work through how love functions in political situations. Thus, this next section will revisit the two key moments in Niebuhr’s writings, the abandonment of love in politics and anxiety with a specific focus on how we can see the moment of anxiety as an antagonistic moment.

Absenting Love

Christians are required to love without expectation and without self-​ interest; it is a love for the Other known as agape. Agape is profoundly disinterested in the Self. It is a purely selfless, obedient, unconditional love given because Christians have been commanded to love God, their neighbors, and then themselves (Jackson 2003, 2; see Ramsey 1954). Agape is concerned with the needs and “well-​being of the other,” which requires an element of “self-​sacrifice for the sake of the other” (Jackson 2003, 10). Like the importance of Christ’s sacrifice, love “is the willingness to let the self be destroyed” (Niebuhr, H.  Richard 1956, 35). Respect for difference and acquiescence to disinterestedness is integral to agape. The person engaged in the act of loving cannot desire an outcome based upon his or her wants, needs, or claims because a Christian “seeks not his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:24 [NIV]; see also Ramsey 1954, 92; Gentry 2013).

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Reinhold Niebuhr would not disagree with how love is defined within the Christian context. In fact, his conceptualization of the “law of love” is very much rooted in agape. Love is an “impossible possibility” as “finite” humans cannot fulfill the demands of love that Jesus articulated (Niebuhr 2012, 117–​9). However, the “impossible command is admitted to be a necessity, even though a dangerous one” (Niebuhr 2012, 117). Therefore, as a theologian addressing political dilemmas he had difficulty with translating love from the private to the public sphere. Thus, when Niebuhr wrote about love in Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932a), he grappled with the question of love and how all religions hold love at their center (see also Gentry 2016). Even though Niebuhr’s own contemporaries were writing that love had a place in politics (see Ramsey 1954; Niebuhr, H.  Richard 1932), Niebuhr argued in Moral Man that it could not, after exploring both the contemporaneous social scientific move toward rationality for governing social and political behavior as well as religious imperatives for shaping political life. Niebuhr felt the power of rationality was overestimated by the then-​ current social scientists who thought rational behavior would lead to a more benevolent society (and this sentiment has not lost much momentum [see, for instance, Pinker 2011]). Even though religion checks an individual’s selfish impulse, religion is unduly “occupied with the absolute from the perspective of the individual” (Niebuhr 1932a, 60). This love-​ focused particular cannot be adequately operationalized to work in society at large (Niebuhr 1932a, 60). Indeed, every time religion has applied love to a social problem “it always gives birth to some kind of millennial hope” (Niebuhr 1932a, 61). For Niebuhr, this hope is clearly far too idealistic and naïve. It cannot work in part because love is dependent upon proximity. Solutions based upon love and hope weaken as they move into the secular world, thereby disappointing all involved (Niebuhr 1932a, 62, 73–​4). Love weakens because it cannot be relied upon as it may not be valued equally due to the plurality of morals, norms, and political persuasions (See Niebuhr 1932a; Thompson 1975; Lovin 1995, 25–​6). Additionally, the ideal of love requires that life is met with life—​ sacrifice—​and humans are unwilling or unable to follow in the rarified footprint of Christ (Niebuhr 2012, 117–​29). However, love cannot “be relegated simply to the world of transcendence” (Niebuhr 2012, 147). Love is intrinsic to political life: “the prophetic tradition of Christianity must insist on the relevance of the ideal of love to the moral experience of mankind on every conceivable level” (Niebuhr 2012, 104). Furthermore, the ideal of love is found in “every moral aspiration and achievement” (Niebuhr 2012, 105). Therefore, there are two approximations for this in public life: justice and

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equality. Justice, in which the “law of love is involved” (Niebuhr 2012, 140; see also 1932a, 57), offers a better alternative as it balances the competing morals, norms, and persuasions (Thompson 1975, 286; Lovin 1995, 26, 70–​1). “The ideal of equality” can help to address the perennial problems of class and race—​and even gender (see Niebuhr 2012, 147, 153–​4). Even when the law/​ideal of love cannot be fully met, equality mitigates the distance between finite human life and the transcendent. For instance: Since the law of love demands that all life be affirmed the principle that all conflicting claims of life be equally affirmed is a logical approximation of the law of love in a word in which conflict is inevitable. (Niebuhr 2012, 148)

Niebuhr’s treatment of love continues to be somewhat paradoxical:  the ideal of love is a requirement in relationships, but it is also an impossibility. In the end, other solutions, justice and/​or equality, operate better. Niebuhr continues to explore this tension in Nature and Destiny, where he determines that the only way that love can work more effectively is if it a “suffering” love and not a triumphant “love” (Niebuhr 1964, 49). He relates this to both the fallibility of humanity and the infallibility of Christ. First, as discussed above, humans are imperfect and will remain imperfect (Niebuhr 1964, 68). Yet, secondly, Christ is perfect, and it is his suffering on the Cross that reveals that and stands in contrast to human imperfection: Christ as the norm of human nature defines the final perfection of man in history. This perfection is not so much a sum total of various virtues or an absence of transgression of various laws; it is the perfection of sacrificial love. The same Cross which symbolizes the love of God and reveals the divine perfection to be not incompatible with a suffering involvement in historical tragedy, also indicates that the perfection of man is not attainable in history. (Niebuhr 1964, 68)

This form of suffering love, “sacrificial love,” transcends history, but while it is “an act in history . . . it cannot justify itself in history” (Niebuhr 1964, 68). In other words, Jesus’s sacrifice on the Cross was an act of sacrificial love, yet it cannot justify history because it is not the type of act valued between humans. Instead, Niebuhr (1964, 69)  sees mutual, self-​other affirming love—​agapic love—​as the “highest good” in history: “only in mutual love . . . are the social demands of historical existence satisfied.” In this Niebuhr (1964, 69)  returns to his tension with rationalist thought:  “The sacrifice of the self for others is therefore a violation of natural standards of morals, as limited by historical existence.” He continues “the sacrifice of

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the interests of the self for others is psychologically impossible when life is conceived only in terms of nature-​history” (Niebuhr 1964, 69). Therefore, sacrificial love is more representative of “eternity,” and humans are limited in practicing agapic love because we fear it will not be reciprocated. It is difficult to even achieve mutual, Self-​Other love, as mutual love cannot be achieved if the Self’s “actions are dominated by the fear that they may not be reciprocated. Mutuality is not a possible achievement if it is made the intention and goal of any action” (Niebuhr 1964, 69). Indeed, love is simply too weak and makes the person who loves too vulnerable to operate politically. Niebuhr (1964, 72) references 1 Corinthians 13:5—​love “is not self-​seeking”—​arguing that a selfless love is not able to maintain itself in historical society. Not only may it fall victim to excessive forms of the self-​assertion of others; but even the most perfectly balanced system of justice in history is a balance of competing wills and interests, and must therefore worst anyone who does not participate in the balance.

Niebuhr is completely trapped by his own epistemology and, indeed, his own theology. First, I  have argued previously that the act of hospitality is a way of loving without expectation or in need of reciprocation (Gentry 2013). The problem here lies in the way that Niebuhr conceives of this mutual love in political situations as transactional and that a person practicing agapic love always seeks a return on the love they give. This is troubling as it negates the abundance of love that Christians (and all humans) receive from their Creator-​God. Even though mutual love implies a transaction, it is only transactional in that it takes place between people. But it is not an economic transaction that can be weighed and figured on an Excel spreadsheet, looking for losses and profits. Love is meant to be freely given and giving it freely enables creativity, empathy, and hospitality. Second, while humans cling to power and assert their own interests above the others, it does not mean Christians simply give into this. Even Niebuhr argues that although all people “violate the law of love in some way or other” this does not “obscure . . . our [individual] conscience” (Niebuhr 2015, loc. 10419). Yet, Niebuhr does believe in the inevitability of human failure. For Niebuhr the contrast between Christ and humans is so great that for a human to even attempt to emulate Christ will end in tragedy: “It is impossible to symbolize the divine goodness in history in any other way than by complete powerlessness, or rather by a consistent refusal to use power in the rivalries of history” (Niebuhr 1964, 72). This totalizing binary returns his readers to the famous letters Reinhold exchanged with

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his pacifist brother, (H.) Richard, in The Christian Century in 1932. In these letters Reinhold (1932b) admits that Richard (1932) has a better grasp of the gospels in his commitment to pacifism but that he, Reinhold, has a better grasp of human’s inclination to power. Yet, this binary of all or nothing does not necessarily have to hold:  first, power and security are not limited to Niebuhr’s conceptualization of them any longer (as will be argued at the end of this chapter); second, Niebuhr transforms love from an emotion into operationalized activity. While emotions do lead to action, perhaps there should be more focus on the emotion as a driving force—​an onus of activity—​instead of the operation of it.

Destructive/​C reative Creaturely Anxiety

Niebuhr’s foreshortening of the ability of the ideal of love to operate politically then informs how Niebuhr deals with the problem of anxiety in the public sphere. According to Niebuhr, anxiety is an outcome of human limitations in this created world (Niebuhr 1964, 168, 174, 185). Unlike the theologians who will be explored in ­chapter 2, when Niebuhr engages with God as creator, the world as creation, and humans as creatures, he tends to focus on the limitations of humans as creatures and not necessarily on the potential. This in turn informs Niebuhr’s focus on humanity’s inclination to pride and destructive tendencies rather than on humans immense and fantastic creative promise. In Volume 1 of Nature and Destiny (1964) Niebuhr spends some time delving into the importance of creation and of humanity’s role within it. God, in part, reveals Himself to humans through Creation (Niebuhr 1964, 131–​3). God made the world—​He transcends it—​and He made it good (Niebuhr 1964, 133–​4). As God’s creatures living in His creation, humans are also good. Yet, to reiterate, the situation for humans is incomplete, unfulfilled. For whatever reason, there are what Marilyn McCord Adams (2006) terms, “mismatches” between human needs and the earth’s ability to satisfy these needs. These lead, in her estimation, to injustice and destruction. Niebuhr articulates “mismatches” differently—​our recognition that we are finite makes us anxious, leading us to ignore “Jesus’ injunction, ‘Therefore I say to you do not be anxious’ ” (Niebuhr 1964, 168). Our own creatureliness is paradoxical—​we are creatures of God always separated from our Creator. The only way to overcome the separation is to do what we fear the most: submit wholly to God’s will (imago dei) and live in faith that full reconciliation with God will not take place in this temporal existence (Niebuhr 1964, 170).

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Yet, we humans cannot seem to help ourselves (Niebuhr 1964, 168). The baseness of human creatureliness is revealed when humans fail to “recognize and acknowledge the weakness, finiteness, and dependence of [their] position, in [their] inclination to grasp after a power and security which transcend the possibilities of human existence” (Niebuhr 1964, 137). Bad/​ evil/​injustice happens when humans fail to rest comfortably as creatures—​ when they attempt to “establish a security to which [humans have] no right” (Niebuhr 1964, 139). Such prideful activity can “bring destruction” on humans, their nations, and their civilizations because humans reach beyond their creaturely limits (Niebuhr 1964, 140). While Niebuhr relies upon a fairly universal understanding of “human”/​ “human nature,” humans have vastly different life experiences. All humans have to navigate power structures every day, and they can either comply or disrupt these structures. Yet, different cultures, societies, and experiences teach individuals to deal with emotions and circumstances in a variety of ways. Not all of us feel anxiety about particular events or the threat of particular institutions and structures; I think this is driven by sociocultural and political differences, and ultimately, indicative of privilege or subordination. Therefore, in visiting the moment of anxiety as a moment of antagonism means that I  do not visit anxiety as a “diagnosis” of an emotion, nor (rather importantly) is it meant to lead to a replicable study of “human behavior” or contribute to behavioral science. It is meant to be a theologically or theoretically informed intervention, as a response to the moment of antagonism that speaks to the persistent problematic attitudes and structures that have brought us to a crisis in American history. Ultimately, human nature can be seen as an abstraction, and it is one that raced/​gendered structures have also hidden behind. Krishna (2001, 403) adds that abstraction [is] an inescapable analytical device that makes knowledge practices possible in the first place . . . , [yet] abstraction is never innocent of power: the precise strategies and methods of abstraction in each instance decide what aspects . . . are brought into sharp focus and what aspects are, literally, left out of the picture. (Krishna 2001, 403)

Race is one such abstraction, just as gender is an abstraction. IR and, in tandem, American politics have depended upon “racial aphasia,” or the “calculated forgetting, an obstruction of discourse, language, and speech” (Thompson 2014, 45), in which global and political order became dependent upon the division of the world and power between whites and people of

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color (Anievas, Manchanda, and Shilliam 2014, 2–​4). While I think Niebuhr does recognize power hierarchies, he does not do enough to recognize the generative power of identity relations. For instance, in his journal writings from the 1940s through the 1950s, allowing that these are private thoughts that are perhaps not yet fully formed, Niebuhr at once recognizes the treatment of blacks in the United States as sinful and unjust and simultaneously sees prejudice as inevitable due to human pride (Niebuhr 2015, loc. 10033-​10049). In a later entry, he argues that love can speak into the prejudice but Christians must recognize “racial loyalty and prejudice” as “a general human shortcoming” (Niebuhr 2015, loc. 10410). In his abstraction of human nature, Niebuhr believes that even the Gospel and the “law of love” cannot, in the long term, overcome the human pride that leads to the creation of in/​out groups. This leads Niebuhr to turn this understanding back on black folk. It is up to them to recognize that “race prejudice is a deeper disease” (Niebuhr 2015, loc. 10065) that goes beyond American white supremacy and relates this naivety to the depths of human nature: If we imagine that race pride is only a vestigial remnant of barbarism . . . [then] we do not understand it as a perennial corruption of man’s collective life. (Niebuhr 2015, loc. 10073)

Therefore, even in the 1956 entry that is aimed at a (white) Christian audience, he preaches both prudence and sympathy toward “anxious” parents facing desegregation. A two-​fold issue then arises: an exoneration of white people as they are just being forced to combat an essentialist part of human nature that then demands an understanding from the oppressed. In this, Niebuhr is unable to grapple fully with the human structures that are at the heart of racial prejudice. Because Niebuhr sees race prejudice as inevitable (and “ages-​old” [Niebuhr 2015, loc. 10419]) and not a result of discursive human structures, he then limits his concern to the breach between humanity and God. While this is to be expected from a theologian, it also demonstrates his failure to recognize that humanity can address the institutions and structures that are human made. This is particularly important: race pride/​prejudice is not inevitable, it is a discursive construction, and it is therefore a construction that can be undone. Feminist Christian realism explicitly recognizes that race (and gender) are discursive constructions that result in material hierarchies that privilege the few and oppress the many. Indeed, Niebuhr’s own writings do not seem to fully grasp that race

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is a complex of social meanings under constant reconstruction through processes in which the selection of biologically based characteristics is highly social and historical. (Thompson 2014, 46)

Even though Niebuhr does see all humans as equal and all divisions, such as race, as man made, there is a sense of resolution to “human nature” that is discomforting. Indeed, Niebuhr could have taken his thinking further—​ if race, racism, and racial structures are human made then these can be unmade (even if this means unmaking them over and over again). In the psychological literature on how anxiety as an emotion functions, it is clear that anxiety is such a powerful emotion that it blocks access to other emotions and creates physiological reactions that inhibit reasoning. The force of anxiety can be seen in Niebuhr’s descriptions of human political behavior: when humans become blinded by their weakness, they give in to anxiety and all of the problems that anxiety brings: scapegoating, fear-​ based politics, and/​or the over-​projection of individual, social, and state power. Yet anxiety can also be read into Niebuhr’s reasoning. If anxiety inhibits the functioning of other emotions, Niebuhr’s acquiescence to the power of anxiety inhibits him from seeing the power of love as an emotion that can be a force for good in politics. In the section above, there are passages from Niebuhr in which he alludes to the knowledge that love can do something—​but only if it expects to be defeated. Therefore, he is incredibly pessimistic about love as a doing:  essentially, those who act with love must expect defeat or martyrdom. While we fear death, there are those who know their activities in the world might lead to death. Many modern heroes were assassinated: Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, for example—​yet many modern heroes have lived, such as Václav Havel, the Tiananmen Square “Tank Man,” Rosa Parks, and Nelson Mandela. It is important to always be mindful of limitations as creatures of God—​ we are not all-​knowing; we cannot heal the world; we are not the most righteous nor the purest. But we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Such a sentiment is downplayed in Niebuhr’s writings, particularly in Nature and Destiny. In the past I have defended Niebuhr against claims that he is a pessimist, but re-​reading these texts looking for creatureliness/​ creativity/​creation has made me reevaluate my position. Niebuhr is pessimistic about the human condition. And I want to ask questions I do not have answers for: Was it part of his disillusionment with Marxism? Was it an outcome of the wars and the Holocaust? Was it in despair over the threat of nuclear destruction? The answer that love cannot hope to effectively inform political decisions or create political change is in part owed to this pessimism.

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Thus herein lies the crux of the matter: Niebuhr’s own pessimism about love leads to this moment where Niebuhr sees power as a way of resolving anxiety and insecurity. As discussed above, vulnerability over human weakness and finitude feeds our anxiety, which we mitigate through self-​ pride and claiming and constructing power that is not ours to claim (Niebuhr 1964, 168, 174, 178, 185). Humans are naïve enough to think feeling powerful means we are secure—​and secure against a particular threat, typically another human group (Niebuhr 1964, 174). The concentration of power will “generat[e]‌injustices” (Niebuhr 1962, 156). Paradoxically, Niebuhr thus advocates for a justice derived from a balance of power, either in balance of weaponry and military might (in the “balance of terror”) or the checks and balances of a democracy (Niebuhr 1962, 156, 158; Niebuhr 1964, 174; Niebuhr 2012, 149, 163; Lovin 2007, 57–​8). While it is logical to think that only power met by power will eliminate or temper one sides’ misuse of power, it is somewhat antithetical that Niebuhr does advocate for the acquisition of power (even if there is some reluctance on his part) and this pat answer somewhat minimizes what happens if there is a power clash. Feminist Christian realism instead asks one to think differently about the moment of anxiety as a moment of decision making, of questioning what seem like “natural,” “easy,” or “expected” answers. Niebuhr falls to readily onto “human nature” and his view that human nature will always fall on the side of sin and pride; therefore, it is not easily overcome. Feminist Christian realism treats Niebuhr’s contemplations on human nature and therefore on the moment of anxiety as reflections, ones that need to problematized in multiple ways. First, there is a problem in falling back on “human nature” as it universalizes humanity, failing to recognize the plurality of culture and society. Material life, subjectivity, and all that is encompassed in political agency, social position, familial expectations are wrought from the various discursive structures of power, race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. Therefore, we might be able to return to some starting point of “human nature,” but this necessitates abstractions, and as highlighted previously, abstractions only get one so far. It is more useful and instructive to think about the “moment of anxiety” as a “moment of antagonism.” The moment of antagonism is a moment of decision making: a moment of recognition when one can either comply with (and thereby reify) the dominant structure or where one can make the decision “political.” In order to make something political there has to be a recognition or a glimpse of how a dominant “social order” determines “what counts as politics and [how it] defines other areas of social as not

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politics” (Edkins 1999, 2). Power is determined by and determines “a certain type of social division and articulation, as well as a certain type of representation . . . concerning the legitimacy of the social order” (Edkins 1999, 3). Therefore, every decision has a moment of “undecidability”:  “The political comprises in this sense an interminable process of decisioning, of traversing the undecidable . . . ” (Edkins 1999, 5). This is the moment of antagonism and [s]‌ocial order is characterized by antagonisms that bring to light both the contingency of the institutionalized frameworks of society within which everyday social practice takes place and the existence of other possible resolutions. In the “moment of antagonism,” what happens is that “the undecidable nature of the alternatives and their resolution through power relations becomes fully visible.” (Edkins 1999, 5)

Seeing the moment of anxiety as a moment of antagonism allows us to see how choosing to be creative is political and disruptive to the hierarchical system. When we are anxious, humans have a choice to be destructive:  we can be inclined to follow what has been the dominant path of politics—​one that maintains order and structures that harm and marginalize. Alternatively, humans have the choice to be creative and to recognize what should be political and thereby questioned: in this case, the harming of others (e.g., the killing of black people with impunity, the control of women, the fear of outsiders). Niebuhr’s answer to anxiety—​power—​aligns him with the particular epistemological and ontological understanding of international politics at that time. For instance, with great reluctance Niebuhr (1962) advocates for a deterrence-​based nuclear weapons policy. During the Cold War, he was comfortable with protecting Europe at the cost of cutting off or reducing support to developing countries on the edges of the sphere of influence (Niebuhr 1962), as mentioned previously. Policy recommendations such as these align him with the more classical realism and later neo-​realism that dominated US Cold War policy and academia (see Gentry 2013, 66, about the dynamic relationship between Christian realism, classical realism, and neo-​realism).1 Precisely because Niebuhr is beholden to a particular security epistemology, he cannot help but abandon love and resolve issues with justice achieved via power. Therefore, Niebuhr makes several compromises that expose, sixty years on, Christian realism to a feminist critique.

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Problematic Epistemologies

Within mainstream IR, what is meant by security and how it is defined has been queried and problematized for close to three decades, starting with the constructivist turn and the addition of poststructuralism, feminism, and postcolonialism. Yet when it comes to Christian realism, the ontology of the state system and the epistemology of security have remained unchallenged. Even if Christian realism aligns more closely with classical realism (with its focus on human behavior), current Christian realists, such as Robin Lovin (1995, 2007, 2008), Andrew Bacevich (2008a, 2008b), and Nigel Biggar (2013) apply Christian realism to current dilemmas. But these Christian realists are still bound by state-​centric thinking and military security as the only form of security (Gentry 2016, 5–​6). Therefore, if Christian realism has a place at all in progressive IR scholarship, it is not immediately apparent. This tradition, however, has more to offer and by problematizing Niebuhr’s masculinist thinking, particularly when it comes to the emotions of love and anxiety. Only by seeing how dichotomized his thinking was can we begin to establish how feminist Christian realism offers a new path forward. Feminists have long argued that the dependency on hard military security is gendered as it prioritizes a particular epistemic position. This position is masculinized:  where power, rationality, and aggression are seen as intrinsically necessary to maintaining the stability of the international system (Tickner 1992; Sjoberg 2013). Feminism and postcolonialism attempted to break down the abstractions witnessed in realist and neo-​ realist assumptions (Krishna 2001; Enloe 2000; Sylvester 1999; Tickner 1992). Niebuhr’s security thinking is borne out of a particular ontology and epistemology that dominated political and international thought during the Cold War; it assumes a state-​centric ontology: there are states, and they are all that IR sees (see Tickner 1992, 42). It accepts that the system is anarchic. Therefore, it adopts a particular epistemology of security: might makes right. Niebuhr may have resisted this, yet he still arrived at the conclusion of the “balance of terror” (Niebuhr 1962, 155), and he still saw the necessity of containment and coercive war (Niebuhr 1962). Within feminist IR scholarship security is neither reflected in the prioritization of the state system nor in the primacy of military power. Instead, security is a thicker concept than that:  individual lives, economic structures, social structures, and relationships all comprise security (Sjoberg 2013; Wibben 2011). Thus, discussion that centers solely upon the state and the international system is an abstraction of the reality of daily lives (Sylvester 1999). And this sort of discussion fails to be accountable

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to the ways in which the state system was borne out of an imperial colonialism that depended upon discounting the lives of women and people of color (see Chakrabarty 2009; McClintock 2013). The feminist injunction “the personal is political” was expanded upon by Cynthia Enloe (1989) to the “personal is political is international”—​taking this seriously is the first step in de-​abstracting security. Enloe (2010), for instance, does this by looking at how military and war structures impact and are impacted by the lives of individuals, most recently by looking at how eight women—​ four American and four Iraqi—​encountered the Iraq War. Enloe’s approach is easily related to the “everyday” security discussion—​where the lives of everyday individuals, living both in conflict zones and presumed zones of peace—​live with the implications of security decisions and policies every day. Even more important to this discussion, however, is the inclusion of emotions into security discussions. It took until the year 2000 for IR scholars to begin incorporating emotion into the discussion of security (Crawford 2000). Yet, Neta Crawford (2000) convincingly detailed how emotions are implicated in the study of IR and in policymaking; thus she exhorts the IR community to be cognizant of how emotions are instrumental. Whereas the main focus of the study of emotions in IR is how the emotions are the limited articulation of bodily-​felt affect, emotions are fundamentally relational as emotions construct and sustain communities (Ahmed 2006), in both positive (Fierke 2004) and negative ways (Solomon 2012; Gentry 2015a). Thus, emotions play into and help construct previously known narratives and structures, including self/​Other identity and conceptualizations of security (Edkins 2004; Hutchison 2013). These structures are implicated in the reasons why Niebuhr both acknowledges the role of emotions in politics but also works to minimize them. Niebuhr is beholden to a particular masculinist epistemology that shapes not just how he sees security but the value of emotions in political life. Both love and anxiety play off of each other in his writings. When Niebuhr deliberates how love would function publically, he does this, first, in an instrumental way: that humans either build a “loving” policy or enforce a “loving” way upon other people. This is not love; love cannot be enacted within a policy or enforced. Love is a way of being and a disposition that informs a way of interacting. Second, when Niebuhr constrains love to the private in favor of justice or equality, he subjugates emotion to masculine priorities. Even if Niebuhr (2015, loc. 13228) rejects “rationality” for “subordinating the passions,” he fails to recognize that justice is a highly masculinized way of being where emotions are downplayed—​if not completely removed from public thinking and ethics (see Pateman 1980).

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Therefore, feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s (2001) querying of “rationality” via the importance of emotion to ethical decision making is relevant here. In Upheavals of Thought (2001), Nussbaum highlights how emotions were demoted in favor of rationality and logic and how this demotion was owed to the masculine/​feminine binary. Rationality, logic, and stoicism were prioritized in the masculine public sphere of government and commerce. The private sphere was thought to be the complete opposite: not only were emotions curtailed to it, but it was also the site of rudimentary intelligence and logic. Thus, the masculinized public and its prioritized attributes—​ and the feminized private with its lesser qualities—​exist in a gendered binary: what was masculine, including rationality, could not be feminine and vice-​versa (Elshtain 1987). In this bifurcated way of thinking, “emotions are ‘non-​reasoning’ movements, unthinking energies that simply push the person around” (Nussbaum 2001, 24). Emotions are animalistic, originating from the body (as opposed to the mind), which implies they are “unintelligent rather that intelligent” (Nussbaum 2001, 25). Nussbaum therefore challenges long-​standing and “grossly inadequate” (2001, 25)  masculine norms and constructs. As a redeeming alternative, she argues that “emotions are forms of judgment” (Nussbaum 2001, 22, see also 19, 74–​5) and a “ri[ch] cognitive phenomena” (Nussbaum 2001, 94). Thus, in a normative sense [emotions] are profoundly rational: for they are ways of taking in important news of the world. The suggestion that we might rid ourselves of emotions or cease to be prompted by them . . . suggest[s]‌that we should radically reorganize the sense of self that most of us have and the sort of practical rationality that helps most of us . . . to carry on our transactions with a world that helps or harms us. (2001, 109)

To divide emotion from rational behavior is therefore incongruous. Indeed, Nussbaum believes emotions are necessary to ethical behavior and in the flourishing of communities (eudaimonia). Grasping how emotions impact action is ultimately an ethical proposition (Nussbaum 2001, 135). Because “most of the time emotions link us to items that we regard as important for our well being” they have a particular impact on notions of personal security (Nussbaum 2001, 43). As humans are “ethical and social/​political creature[s]‌, emotions themselves are ethical and social/​political” (Nussbaum 2001, 149). Such a sentiment refutes Niebuhr’s belief that love functions politically in a limited way. Nussbaum’s main argument is that taking account of emotions in

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people’s cognition and evaluations is an ethical proposition concerned with eudaimonia, or a person’s own flourishing (Nussbaum 2001, 22). Eudaimonistic thinking requires an epistemological evaluation of the emotions after security has been threatened or weakened. Assuming that the person doing the thinking not only values their personal and communal security but also values the intrinsic value of all humans, this should require the person to take a step back and consider how best to provide for or contribute to flourishing. In returning emotions to decision making and security making, love becomes central to feminist Christian realism in a way that goes beyond Niebuhr’s own writings. It is not a love that Niebuhr would have described in political situations. Like Niebuhr, the law of love informs how individuals decide which policies or responses they are comfortable with. Yet it refuses to become a tool for the use of power; therefore, it is not a love that is forced upon a community or a love that is operationalized. It is love that helps one view a situation, create perspective, and make informed choices. It accepts that love may not always work, but feminist Christian realists also know that justice and equality fall short (sometimes too far short), and it is love that can redeem them. Finally, it is a deeply held relational love, and as such it helps an individual choose creative solutions. Therefore, this is where feminist Christian realism diverges. Stanley Hauerwas’s injunction to divest Christian realism from its dependency on the politics of death, in which states maintain their sovereignty through the threat of violence, should be taken seriously (see Hauerwas and Coles 2008, 6–​7). Where Hauerwas is a pacifist and of a stripe that encourages Christians to remove themselves from politics and government (1983), feminist Christian realism approaches such divestment differently by continuing to see the necessity of power in international politics in creating balances of power. Yet, more importantly, it asks for a different conceptualization of security—​a security beyond state power and military might—​ and from this that the powerful recognize their power and begin the process of dismantling power structures and diffusing power. The powerful made powerless is of primary importance. This different notion of security would take the flourishing of communities as a starting point, and it would use creativity to get there. Thus, the next chapter will further establish the relationship between love and creativity and articulate love’s role in domestic and international politics.

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Creatively Engaging the Political


have a very good friend who has a panic attack whenever she is asked to be “creative.” As a highly driven and highly accomplished person who feels she possesses not one iota of artistic talent, being asked to be creative is like being asked to produce a masterpiece against which her life’s achievements will be balanced. In my estimation, she is far more creative than she gives herself credit for, primarily because “creative” and “creativity” have been limited to convey aesthetic artistry and endeavors rather than other types of flexible and iterative projects. Thus, this chapter will set out to dismantle these limited notions of creativity, first by addressing what general assumptions about creativity are before turning to a theologically grounded approach to creativity. All of this is necessary in order to understand how a love-​informed creativity can be used in the public sphere to address domestic and international political dilemmas. Returning to my friend, I see her creativity emerge when she studies theological texts and arrives at a new approach to politics and justice. I witness her creativity when she balances work done at home with work done at her institution. Or, alternatively, I observe my partner being creative when he tries to explain concepts to his students in ways they will grasp and can apply to their lives. I  watch it in our grandson as he, as an independent four-​year-​old, weighs up the options he has been given, making choices about decision and consequence. If we think about creativity like this—​as a way of navigating our world, lives, and social dynamics—​then creativity is something that we all possess. There is also another dynamic at play in creativity that is intrinsic to feminist Christian realism: relationality. When my friend works for justice or balances her academic work with her family life, both of these endeavors are relational:  she is making her Christian

beliefs of working for justice a reality for a particular community or polis; she is working as a wife and mother to fulfill her desires as an individual with her familial ones. When teachers teach and pupils learn, this is not an isolated, individual enterprise—​it is relational. At its heart, then, creativity is relational. Creativity as relational is inherently theological. If, as John Webster (2013, 17) explains, theology is always focused upon God as the source of inspiration and understanding, then creativity as defined in this chapter is theological. The relational quality of human creativity is owed to being creatures of the Creator. Delving more deeply into the identity and nature of God reveals that the Triune God is a dynamic relationship between the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son, Christ.1 Further explorations of Genesis 1, in which God created the earth, reveals a deeper meaning of the creation—​of a desire on the part of the Trinity to be in relationship with humanity. And when Christians live the life that God expects of us, it is a relational existence as we are called to be in communion with the Creator and with other humans. God does not let us pick which humans we would rather be in relationship with. It is far more simple and far harder than that: we are called to be in a relationship with all of creation and with all of humanity—​regardless of race, class, gender, sexuality, or religious beliefs. Christians are called to care. And this extremity of love requires creativity. This chapter, therefore, looks at a particular application of creativity—​ of creative solutions to intense political dilemmas and where injustice has become the norm and where personal and social identities clash. It will argue that a theologically grounded conceptualization of creativity is not focused on individual achievements or greatness: instead it is deeply relational. As evidenced in the Trinity’s relationship and in Genesis between Adam and Eve, it is iterative, and it is love focused.


Google “creative individuals,” and Google may auto-​suggest the “most creative individuals in the world” as it did for me. The first page of the search returned sites announcing the top ten creative leaders in business, the top five or top ten habits of creative individuals, and the top thirteen individuals who made the world a more creative place in 2012. At least these were my returns. Dig deeper into these search results, and you may learn as I did that creative individuals happen to be majority male, white, and Western. I will not argue that they are not creative but that perhaps we

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are limited in our idea of what creativity is by the priorities and values society has instilled within us. Of the thirteen most creative people in 2012, only three women “made the world a creative place;” making assumptions about race or ethnicity based on images and names of the others (imperfect I  know). Three were of color; none seemed to be from outside of the West as the project descriptions seem US centered (Iezzi 2012). In one of the “habits” articles, we are reminded that creative people resemble “Einstein, Picasso, and Steve Jobs” (Winfrey 2016). Yet, the habits that were determined to belong to creative people were compiled by surveying “500 accomplished people.” Not knowing how accomplishment is defined, this is problematic. Is it by wealth—​in which the “One Percent” (the popular term to reference the 1 percent of the US population that “tak[es] in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year” [Stiglitz  2011]) are 83  percent white, 11 percent Asian, and 3 percent black (Dewan and Gebeloff 2012)? Is it by education? While women of all ethnicities earn higher degrees at a larger percentage than men, white men are still earning degrees at a higher rate than racial minorities (National Center for Education Statistics 2012). Or is it by business leadership? Fortune 100 CEOs are 94 percent white and 92  percent male; they attended Ivy League schools for their undergraduate degrees and went to Harvard, Cornell, or Wharton for their graduate degrees in either business, law, or economics (N2Growth 2012). And the four habits were surprisingly milquetoast: (1) think inside the box (or learn to deal with restrictions); (2) accept chance; (3) do not be afraid of Plan B; and (4) spend time in nature (Winfrey 2016). One of the leading experts on creativity, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Nancy Andreasen (2014, 8), is “an unashamed advocate” of what she calls “Big C” creativity. Big C creativity captures much of what was discussed above; it “focuses on people whose widely recognized creativity sets them apart from the general population,” such as “writers, visual artists, musicians, inventors, business innovators, [and] scientists” (Andreasen 2014, 8). These are people who have been in a constant process of creativity—​which is dynamic and iterative as the Big C creator keeps chipping away at a vision or a problem until it is solved. While Andreasen (2014, 8)  acknowledges that studying Big C creativity is subjective—​as “What does it mean  .  .  .  to have created something?”—​she believes that this approach is far more interesting and revealing about human nature than studying “Little c” creativity, defined as “the ability to come up with many responses to carefully selected questions or probes” (Andreasen 2014, 7). Yet, I would still problematize Big C creativity for failing to acknowledge the structures and biases that are in place in the world. Because

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it is these structures and biases that enable us to recognize some people’s achievements and creativity and to ignore, gloss over, or dismiss these qualities in others. My point is this: creativity has been reduced to a human-​owned retelling of our own brilliance. It is focused on material gain and material fortune. It is post-​Enlightenment, as the measurements of creativity are particularly individualist—​to be creative, one does not need others. One needs to have some innate genius that is recognized and celebrated. And the way that we see these accomplishments are particularly biased: they celebrate successes that have not been equally obtainable by all people for most of history. For instance, a former colleague once said to me that women and people from outside of the West must be less able (less intelligent, less capable) because rarely do you see them on lists of geniuses and scientists. How insulting. How prejudiced. How did this person not understand the historical and continued exclusion of women and minorities from education and other forms of advancement? His comments blatantly ignore the gendered and raced structure of the international system to prioritize Western, white states with masculine values over states that have been racialized and how such a structure has been built upon and replicates a bias against people of color and women (see Elshtain 1981, 1987; Mills 1997; Krishna 2001; Sjoberg 2013). Niebuhr, too, would be critical of this focus upon individuals (and particular individuals at that) and the centrality of creativity and its discursive linkage with achievement and success. This linkage appears particularly and problematically self-​focused and self-​regarding. It not only denies that giftedness or creativity is a gift but also that it is nurtured relationally, within a broad context of human development (or, not nurtured and even prohibited due to the long lineage of structural violence that has denied advancement to people because of race, gender, class, and geographical biases).2 Thus, Andreasen’s approach is rather egotistic, and it values people differently—​for what they produce and the worth of what they produce, both of which are subjectively measured—​and it fails to value or ascertain the creativity in all people.

The Relational Genesis of Creativity

When I  first learned about Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, I  was shown the iconic image of God giving life to Adam:  where Michelangelo captured a moment of tension as God reaches out, arm taut, finger extended, stretching to meet Adam’s weak, limp, yet also outstretched finger.

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For the viewer the tension is never resolved—​we all continue to stare expectantly at the negative space between the two fingers. What are we waiting for? We are waiting for the creative spark, the gift of life, from the Creator to Their creature. We are waiting for the gift of creation—​not just the creation of the Self—​but for the gift of creativity that is borne of our relationship with the Creator. Most theology on creation focuses on the creation story as conveyed in Genesis 1—​the story of when God created the world and the creatures in it, including the story told in the fresco of Adam and God from the Sistine Chapel. The theology of creation focuses upon God’s inherent nature, the iterative process of creativity, and humanity’s ability to participate in creativity—​albeit in a limited way (see also Webster 2013, 157). Together, these points illuminate that creativity is relational and productive. As discussed in the introduction, God’s transcendence and distance from humanity makes full human knowledge of God unknown. However, over time, certain elements have been attributed to the Trinity. The most important one deals with the complexity of the Trinitarian identity. As a singular God that is nonetheless made up of three persons—​God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—​God is ultimately relational. Stemming from the Trinity’s inner relationship, the triune God wishes a relationship with Creation and with Creatures. Again, as pointed to in the introduction, John 1: 1-​5 captures both the relationship of the Trinity (as “the Word” stands for God the Son, or Christ), the creation of the world, and the identification of creation as “good” by God: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1: 1–​5)

The emphasis placed on the Word or Christ in this passage is particularly important because Creation was so good (not a moral goodness but a metaphysical one because it emanates from God’s own nature [Webster 2013,  161]) that God sent the Son to live with humans, as a human, as a means of offering yet another way to know God (see McFarland 2014, 22–​3). The sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is the ultimate event in a line of events3 of God reaching out to humanity, seeking a relationship with them. John 1:1–​5 is another way of telling the Creation story that is in Genesis 1, where God created the world in seven days. While many take the Creation story literally and others draw symbolic truths from it, the importance of

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Genesis here is how it ultimately reveals that God’s creativity is driven by a fundamental desire to be in a relationship. Ian McFarland argues that God’s creativity continues precisely because of the Trinity’s relational nature. The love between the three persons of the Trinity is generative and sustaining one-​ for-​ the-​ other (McFarland 2014, 42). Returning to the Sistine Chapel and the moment of Adam’s creation, this painted moment focuses on the relationship between the Trinity and humanity. Creativity is intrinsic to the Trinity’s inner relationship, and therefore it is intrinsic to God’s relationship with us. Such a belief therefore belies an understanding of God as having created and then “walked” away. Instead, Scripture reveals a loving and actively engaged Creator who is still constantly in the process of creating (McFarland 2014, 20). Before getting to the importance of iteration in creativity, exploring the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo and the anxiety this sparks in humans is key. God created the world “from nothing” (creatio ex nihilio), but we cannot create from nothing: we must form our creations from other material elements (Miner 2004, 9–​11). This reveals to humanity the inequality of the relationship between God the Creator and creaturely humans. According to John Webster (2013) this sparks no small amount of anxiety in humans. For instance, while it is popular among some ministers to speak of our “friendship” with God, friendship “is lost to us” because we ultimately need reconciliation with God, which is achieved through the death and resurrection of Christ (Webster 2013, 159). When humans accept Christ as Savior, we are “ ‘renewed in knowledge’ (Col. 3:10), including knowledge of creator and creature” (Webster 2013, 159). While being renewed in knowledge helps to eliminate some of the anxiety, the relationship is still one of inequality. Because God is so vast and powerful, the Creator can create out of nothing, whereas humans conceive and produce from matter and materiality. Humanity’s ability to participate in creativity is the result of a “creative benevolence” on the part of God: By the work of divine love, finite things come to share in the universal good of being, but only in a finite manner, and only as they stand in relation to the creator God, the source of being. This relation constitutes creatures. (Webster 2013, 164)

Further compounding the power dynamic between Creator and creature is that a God that can create out of nothing thereby requires nothing to sustain itself. Most relationships are ones of give and take—​both sides receive and give mutually. In the dynamic between God and humans, God is already

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perfect and fully realized and so needs nothing from us. Nonetheless, through grace and love, God grants humanity a way to participate with Him: But creative divine volition is not caprice but purpose, direction of entire capacity to another’s good; and it is purposive love, most of all because this other does not antecede the gift of its own being but receives the gift of life from God. Love gives life, and love gives life (emphasis true to text). (Webster 2013, 168)

Instead of leaving humanity to wallow in its inadequacy and inequity, love-​ driving creativity gives humanity an alternative way of being. Because we have not been fully reconciled with God, Creation is not yet fully realized. Therefore, the world and its inhabitants (as creatures of God) are constantly in process (McFarland 2014, 42, 58). Both theological and (secular) psychological understandings of creativity believe this is an iterative process. Because creation is ongoing and irrepressible, this is where humans enter into the creative dynamic. As Dorothy Sayers explains, when a person creates, they are engaging with the Trinity. When a person first comes up with their “creative idea,” this idea is “timeless” as she or he can immediately see both the beginning and the end. This, of course, echoes Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created.” Thus, when a person imagines and begins work on a creative idea, they are working in the “image of the Father.” As before, endeavoring to realize an idea’s potential takes energy, “sweat, and passion,” and thus, emulates Christ being made human and the suffering (“passion”) of Christ on the Cross. The embedded meaning of a work and any emotional response to it is “in [its] lively soul,” which speaks to the “indwelling [of the] Spirit” (Sayers 1941, 28). Therefore, humanity participates and works within the image of the triune God when it creates and creates for the commonweal. Humans will often get it wrong—​either their ideological position or method is misguided. As fallible humans, more than likely we will get it wrong. Yet, this is where the notion of iteration is important—​we must keep trying. Even though our creativity is still separate from God, human creativity “continues” the work of God because it emanates from God’s goodness and serves God’s purpose (Miner 2004, 9). While much of the theological work on creativity looks at the artistic process and visual, literary, and/​or musical arts (see Sayers 1941; Begbie 1991; Hart 2003), human creativity should be understood to include all labor that engages and perpetuates the work of the Creator God. And to be clear: I will not limit creativity to those who explicitly endeavor as Christians, I believe all people, as creatures of God, can engage in creative acts that are meant to do good for the larger benefit of humanity. A theological conceptualization of creativity refuses

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to differentiate between “Big C” and “little c” creativity because we are all creatures of God, hopefully engaging in the promise of making the world better. This requires dedication and hard work; it is iterative and dynamic. It is a passion and, therefore, a suffering. The creative process does exist politically—​it leads to different choices. Hypothetically, revolutionaries are creative—​they have a different vision for political life that is free from tyranny and injustice. Some of their ideas may be driven by a desire for the common good—​and why would one dare suggest that there isn’t love in that choice? Feminist Christian realism continues to focus on justice and power as Christian realism does, but it also argues that love, creativity, and relationality matters just as much.

Creativity is Imago Dei

As one of the leading female scholars in IR, Jean Bethke Elshtain garnered admiration for her feminist and theological expositions on public life and international relations. Most of her theological work focused on Augustine, the Just War tradition, and sovereignty, but the work that best speaks to a feminist Christian realism is Who Are We? Critical Reflections and Hopeful Possibilities (2000). This work engages with one of Elshtain’s most prominent latter themes: the worth and dignity of all people that are dependent upon being creatures of God. The crux of her argument is love and the relationality that love demands of individuals. Returning to the passage from Who Are We? discussed in this book’s introduction, it is clear that love is central to Elshtain’s reasoning: Read the signs of the time. Love the world enough to want to know it. Know the world enough to love it. Despite it all—​the troubles, the pain, the frustration, the dangers of self-​pride or excessive self-​abnegation—​through it all trust, hope, and, for Christians, the greatest of all: love. Let us add thankfulness, gratitude to this list. . . .Delight and wonder are part and parcel of hope and trust; for without hope and trust our hearts are locked away as Augustine would say. (2000, 168–​9)

This passage engages a key sentiment for many political theologians (see for instance Hauerwas 1983; Hauerwas 2002): Christians are meant to be “in the world” but not “of the world” (John 17:  14–​5). This makes demands of Christians: to stay far enough removed from the “world” so as not to be corrupted but to also stay intimately and, as Elshtain extols, lovingly involved. This is not an easy balancing point to land on, and it

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is exactly the balancing point that Niebuhr stumbles on in both Moral Man and Nature and Destiny. How do Christians love without becoming jaded? How do Christians love and care without coming to harm? While Niebuhr may be able to separate a loving engagement with the world from politics that is not somehow mitigated, this does not seem to be a realistic or holistic choice for a Christian:  to paraphrase Elshtain, it seems to “lock our hearts away.” This is because of what is required of Christians living within the imago dei, which, for Elshtain, carries decisively political implications. Elshtain begins the volume with the Adamist account of Creation in Genesis 1:27, “male and female created He them.” This is opposed to the account of Creation where Adam is created first, and then Eve is created from Adam’s ribs. Her emphasis on the Adamist account is deliberate because it is important that Adam and Eve were created simultaneously by God. First it assumes some level of equality between them, particularly as Eve has been singled out in a patriarchal system for being less worthy than Adam and the first to sin by taking the forbidden fruit at the urging of the serpent. (Such a perspective, of course, ignores that Adam could have refused the fruit, but he did not.) Second, the Adamist account illustrates the relationality of Creation: “We are human insofar as we are in relationship and for the other” (Elshtain 2000, 34). Yet before we can truly engage in our human relationships, we must be in relationship with God, which comes from living within the imago dei (Elshtain 2000, 18–​9). Elshtain argues that there is freedom in the imago dei, but it is freedom that is at odds with individualist conception of freedom. It is not a freedom to do whatever we want without any repercussions. Nor is it a freedom to do whatever we want and expect to fully receive grace. Instead, this freedom means that Christians understand their human limitations as fallible, limited creatures. Furthermore, it means that being in relationship with God recognizes the boundaries and requirements the Creator has established for them (Elshtain 2000, 19). A  Christian’s relationship with God then informs his or her relationship with Others—​this is communion, and in community there is that bounded freedom: “Being free means ‘being free for the other,’ because the other has bound me to [them]” (Elshtain 2000, 15). From this starting point, Christians care deeply and passionately for God’s creation and His creatures—​it is a creative relationality. Thus, her conclusion quoted above makes sense. Hope and expectation are communal activities (Elshtain 2000, 25, 127). The communion call for responsibility, sociality, and relationality necessitates that Christians “name things,” such as injustice, bias, and violence, “accurately and appropriately”

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(Elshtain 2000, 128). It is from creativity that Christians speak out against the “horrors” witnessed in the world. In another feminist theology, horrors are defined as evils the participation in (the doing or suffering of) which constitutes prima facie reason to doubt whether the participant’s life could (given their inclusion in it) have positive meaning for him/​her on the whole. (Adams 2006, 32)

Horrors themselves are often delineated as distinctly political events: for example, the racism and sexism that will be explored in later chapters of this book (Adams 2006, 39). Humans are “radically vulnerable to horrors” because humans were created as “embodied persons, personal animals, [and] enmattered spirits” in a world that is not fully equipped to meet our needs (Adams 2006, 37). Why God would create the world in such a way is something that Marilyn McCord Adams refuses to engage in, but instead she returns multiple times to the relational quality of human life. Humans are “social animals” (Adams 2006, 37, 66, 159, 195, 228), but they are corruptible and create and participate in power-​laden, problematic institutions (203, 228) that exist, in large part, because of the scarcity of the material world to meet the needs of human being(s) (32–​8, 66). The fallible tendency of humans to align with power mirrors Niebuhr’s thinking in both of the texts discussed in ­chapter 1, particularly in his resolution that love cannot work politically because of the anxiety present in the human condition. Adams, however, has a different approach:  it is an approach that recognizes the centrality of love and relationality within Christianity. Because God loves His creation (Adams 2006, 39, 45, 49, 191, 216, 219, 226) and is attendant to it by sending Christ to participate in, move against (72), and suffer from said horrors (35, 45, 51–​2, 71, 108, 189), this requires us to be equally attendant to and aware of these horrors. Thus, Elshtain and Adams both make it plain that Christianity’s collective responsibility to creation means Christians draw attention to the horrors and injustices therein. Therefore, I return to feminist Christian realism’s call for a different epistemological framework for security. Love cannot be ignored, dismissed, or downplayed within domestic or international politics. Instead, it must be recognized that the current security framework is exclusionary and hierarchical (see Sjoberg 2013; Gentry 2013), as argued in the previous chapter. Therefore, this chapter focuses on the second way that feminist Christian realism differs from Niebuhr’s: in order to face some of the most pressing issues of our times, love and love-​informed creativity must be allowed to lead.

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When one thinks creatively about security one does not have to be fearful that love cannot be sustained globally. In Moral Man Neibuhr instrumentalizes love and turns it into an ordering principle. Niebuhr (1932, 60–​1) implicates love in some form of policymaking. This limits love more to a “mandate” than to an emotion that leads to wider ethical behav­ ior. Thus, Niebuhr (1932, 61) is indeed correct: people cannot be forced to love and act with love, and if love is (en)forced upon people it is doomed to failure. I present an alternative vision: the ideal of love, like other emotions, should be better recognized as an acting force within domestic and global politics that guides and informs individuals and the actions they take—​ and the actions they wish their governments to take. Love only orders life in the sense that it leads to a personal desire to care for and do what is best for the Other. Christians love not because their government tells them to or because they wish to see a “Christian” government (whatever that means), they love because they have chosen to live within the imago dei, and it is what the Creator has asked of them. The problem with love, however, is that it invites vulnerability. It invites that very notion of sacrificial love—​life for life—​which Niebuhr denied the working of in human life. When one loves for the Other, the needs of the Other are placed above one’s own. This is a very scary proposition within IR, which prioritizes invulnerability via military and economic capability (Gentry 2013, 50–​5; Gentry 2016). States view vulnerability as a curse—​it is something that weakens instead of strengthens. Vulnerability provokes an anxious response, one that refuses any activity that might further exacerbate any vulnerability. This conceivably leads politicians and citizens alike to deny and abnegate any sense of responsibility for the weak and the marginalized. For instance, it is a fear of terrorism that keeps much of Europe and the United States from welcoming Syrian refugees into their sovereign territory. This is disheartening and deeply problematic. Yet governments and states can act differently and they can, as will be explored below, act with love-​informed creative solutions, such as hospitality. Feminists see vulnerability as both important and problematic, which leads them to a different response to perceived vulnerabilities. Feminists are cynical toward vulnerability. Their prioritization of women’s experiences mean that feminists see women’s lives as typically ones of dependency and thus vulnerability (Coakley 2002, 33). Women, along with other raced, classed, and gendered individuals, have been marginalized in sociopolitical and economic affairs, making vulnerability a greater burden for them to

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bear (Hampson 1990; Yuval-​Davis 1997; Coakley 2002). In the context of the historical church, women’s obligation is borne of both their historical and current submissive vulnerability (Hampson 1990). In a larger context, women’s lives are more precarious in terms of everyday violences (Pain 2014) and typically within war. Vulnerability can be approached in two, interrelated ways. The first links the concept of vulnerability to its derivation from the Latin word vulnus (“wound”) and to the capacity to suffer that is inherent in human embodiment. To be vulnerable is to be fragile, to be susceptible to wounding and to suffering; this susceptibility is an ontological condition of our humanity. (Mackenzie, Rogers, and Dodds 2014, 4)

The second approach also emphasizes the fundamentally social or relational character of vulnerability, but rather than understanding vulnerability as ontological it focuses on the contingent susceptibility of particular person or groups to specific kinds of harm or threats by others. (Mackenzie, Rogers, and Dodds 2014, 6)

Thus, feminism’s intersectional exposure of marginalizing power structures aligns more closely with this second approach, particularly how it “stresses the ways that inequalities of power, dependency, capacity, or need render some agents vulnerable to harm or exploitation by others” (Mackenzie, Rogers, and Dodds 2014, 6). Yet, if the powerful could accept that their lives are also vulnerable, then these power dynamics would dissipate (Coakley 2002, 35). The more humans recognize their responsibility to others, the more their responsibility grows. Vulnerability is relational—​it is a mutual understanding of the anxiety felt when a Self encounters an Other. Because of the mutuality of vulnerability, the Self and the Other must recognize and respect that the felt vulnerability is because of the existence of an-​other Self (see Levinas 2006, 28, 64). Mutuality and a forced relationship (as that is what this encounter now entails) are not easy—​there is nothing easy about encountering vulnerability. Perhaps this mutuality is what Niebuhr fails to fully grapple with. In denying love as having a place in the public sphere, he denies the mutuality of vulnerability and only focuses on the Self’s vulnerability. In this ironic Self-​regard, the Self becomes primary. While much of Niebuhr’s work would acknowledge this dilemma, it is a dilemma that he all too readily acquiesces to. Instead, it is imperative that the Self, particularly if the Self is the one with power, recognizes just how

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powerful their presence is. Power has the ability to silence and make absent any force with less power. And in feminist Christian realism, the powerful Self must silence itself and listen.

Creativity in a Broken World

If we treat love as a dispositional attitude toward the Other, then the responses to anxiety look different. Agape embraces strangers, neighbors, and enemies alike, bringing them into community via the Self’s relationship (Gentry 2013). Presuming we are going to opt for the creative rather than destructive choice, then a love-​informed creativity will look different from a creativity where love is relegated to the private sphere. Agapic love is closely related to empathy, or feeling what the other is feeling, and empathy is cited as informing what causes individuals care about (Bloom 2016). In spite of the negative attention paid to empathy as explored at the beginning of c­ hapter 1, I argue in defense of empathy as it is linked to tolerance, cooperation, and care (Schwartz 2002). Creativity can recognize and form other responses, and the aim of feminist Christian realism is to creatively engage whenever the chance arises. This could be an aesthetic response. The theology on human creativity tends to focus on the arts, music (Hart 2003; Begbie 1991), and literature (Sayers 1941), and these are all important to developing a sense of what creativity is and what responses it can evoke. In order for an aesthetic method to make an impact, it must in some way disrupt the current mode of thinking and doing. It needs to make a population view a situation differently (see Rancière 2013 for more on aesthetic disruption). Feminist Christian realism looks for an aesthetic event, moment, or project to invoke an empathetic response. There are several “successful” examples of this that I wish to explore here—​mainly the work of Christo and the creation and mission of the West-​Eastern Divan Orchestra and some unfortunate failures that lead into the discussion of the Syrian refugee crisis. Some might easily dismiss the artist Christo, who worked closely with his late wife Jeanne-​Claude, as creating vibrant, space-​changing, yet unpolitical (or apolitical) art. They are best known for their use of fabric that forces the viewer to encounter their physical surroundings in a different way. Some of their installations include floating hot pink polypropylene fabric around the islands in Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami (entitled Surrounded Islands) or The Gates, where they hung 7,503 “gates” of saffron fabric that formed a winding path through the bare trees of a wintry Central Park. Some of Christo’s best-​known work involves the wrapping of landmarks in

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fabric, including the Pont Neuf in Paris, trees in Reihen, Switzerland, and the coastline near Sydney, Australia. Again, these seem hardly political and without a broader message. Yet, one of the most iconic Christo wrappings is of the Reichstag building in Berlin in 1995. It took Christo over twenty years to plan and gain permission to wrap this building. Choosing the Reichstag was purposeful, and when finally wrapped, it was a transformative event for the German nation. The Reichstag building is located in Berlin and was built at the end of the 1800s for the Imperial Diet, or what served as parliament for Germany. It survived World War I and a fire in 1933, an event that was used by the Nazis to tighten security throughout Germany and weed out Communists. Under the Nazis, the Reichstag building was virtually abandoned, and the fire damage went unrepaired. It was further damaged during air raids. When Berlin was liberated by the Soviet Army, the Soviets flew their flag over the Reichstag. During the Cold War, the Reichstag building was located in West Berlin, but very close to the Berlin Wall. While abandoned, it was still a site of emotional importance—​it was here that protests were held and important speeches made. There were futile attempts at restoring the building during the Cold War; however, some of the attempts did more damage than good. Yet, importantly, after the Cold War, the official German reunification ceremony on October 3, 1990, happened here, and the reunified parliament was symbolically held in the building the next day. Thus, the Reichstag building was a reminder of some of the darkest days of the German state, symbolizing empire, dictatorship, and a divided country. Yet the site also symbolized a country in the process of reconciling. Even though Christo and Jeanne-​Claude had wanted to wrap the Reichstag since the 1970s, they had been denied permission for fear that it would provoke East Germany and the Soviet Union. In early 1993 Christo and Jeanne-​Claude won the support of the then-​current Reichstag president, Rita Sussmuth, who stated: Disguising a building can serve to emphasize its most striking features . . . By wrapping this building, the artist not only displays his own feelings, but also gives citizens a chance to react to an edifice that is so important both to their tradition and their future. (Kinzer 1993)

In 1995 Christo and Jeanne-​Claude wrapped the Reichstag in 100,000 meters of polypropylene fabric with an aluminum surface. The Reichstag stayed wrapped in this shimmery, silvery, if not ghostly, fabric for two weeks (Christo and Jeanne-​Claude 2016). For many Germans, this was a symbolic and historic moment, a sentiment captured by the New York Times:

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There could not be a better moment in history to wrap the Reichstag, if only because of the natural symbolism of unwrapping it now, a chrysalis out of which the new Germany may emerge. (Goldberg 1995)

The emotion imbued in the transformation the Reichstag is moving and inspiring. Yet in feminist Christian realism, the creative act is the focus. While one hopes for the transformation seen in the wrapping of the Reichstag, the emphasis is placed on the choice to be creative and hope for a new relationship or a transformation to happen from there. Another example of reconciliation comes from the West-​Eastern Divan Orchestra. Created by the late Palestinian postcolonial critical text scholar Edward Said and Israeli child-​prodigy pianist, composer, and the orchestra’s conductor Daniel Barenboim in 1999, it comprises young musicians from Israel, Palestine, and other Arab states (Black 2016). The aim is to “debate the meaning of democracy and cultural identity through music” (Black 2016); therefore, it utilizes the aesthetic practices of music to reframe the tension over identity and sovereignty that (primarily) exists between Israelis and Palestinians. One of the orchestra’s earliest concerts in Israel in 2001 encapsulates the ethic of democracy and conversation. The orchestra’s initial lineup for a festival included works by Richard Wagner, whose music has been informally banned and never played in Israel due to his music eventually being embraced by the Nazi party. Maestro Barenboim complied with the request from the organizers to drop this selection (MacAskill 2001). Yet, when the orchestra received a second ovation, and after he heard Wagner’s The Valkyries as a mobile phone ringtone in the audience, Barenboim addressed the audience: Despite what the Israel festival believes, there are people sitting in the audience for whom Wagner does not spark Nazi associations. I respect those for whom these associations are oppressive. It will be democratic to play a Wagner encore for those who wish to hear it. I am turning to you now and asking whether I can play Wagner? (MacAskill 2001)

After a heated thirty-​minute discussion, the orchestra played a selection from Tristan and Isolde. While some of the audience walked out (amid shouts of “fascist” and “concentration camp music”), most stayed to listen (MacAskill 2001). While this sparked an intense public discussion in Israel about Barenboim’s choice, this example displays the intentional and relational approach to bringing some of the divisions within Israeli culture (and beyond) to light.

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A similar dynamic emerges in Clemency Burton-​Hill’s reflections on his time with the orchestra. In 2008 Maestro Barenboim invited Burton-​Hill to be an “embedded” journalist and honorary violinist with the orchestra. The orchestra was scheduled to begin their 10th anniversary tour, which would take them to Qatar, Egypt, Russia, Germany, Austria, and Italy in early January [2009]. We were to play music by Beethoven, Verdi, Wagner, Mozart, and Schönberg. And we would perform in some of the world’s greatest halls including Vienna’s Musikverein and Milan’s La Scala. (Burton-​Hill 2014)

Yet in late December 2008, the Gaza War broke out, and Burton-​Hill anticipated that the tour might be canceled. Instead, the tour continued, and Burton-​Hill (2014) remarked: In the end, not a single Arab or Israeli member of the Divan boycotted that tour: from Israel, from the Palestinian territories, from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, they came together for a tough, but triumphant, two weeks. And it was a fortnight that changed my life. The West-​Eastern Divan is not an “orchestra for peace,” as it is so often dubbed, but an “orchestra against ignorance”—​mine, too. It is a singular space in which human beings who are otherwise forcibly kept apart can come together to exchange ideas and views, learn about each other and, above all, listen to each other in a world that would otherwise keep them silent.

While none of the musicians had support from their home countries, all of them stayed on, working and living in a community that “isn’t perfect: there is plenty of disagreement within its ranks; but nor is it the product of some kind of utopian idealistic vision” (Burton-​Hill 2014). Therefore, again, the creative choice is about opening a door to a different future—​it may not emerge and may not be easy—​but now the choice is there to engage differently. Both the art of Christo and Jeanne-​Claude, particularly the wrapping of the Reichstag building, and the West-​Eastern Divan Orchestra’s mission work as creative acts in keeping with feminist Christian realism’s emphasis on relationality. Christo and Jeanne-​Claude worked for themselves—​they raised funds for their projects by selling initial sketches and plans; they did not take money from governments or other funding bodies. This means they were politically independent, working from an artistic vision and ethic. Further, Christo and Jeanne-​Claude did not necessarily seek personal gain beyond their art—​true, they gained fame and ostensibly made more income

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from what they did sell—​but their vision was about reimagining space and place. In the case of the Reichstag building, such a reimagining led to a substantive communal response and helped transform relationships between individuals, the political community, and, ultimately, the state. Likewise, the West-​Eastern Divan Orchestra takes an empathetic, alternative vision to creating relationships between those divided by territory and national identity and works toward new and transformational relationships by using music, and conversation around music, as the modus operandi. The purpose of these examples is to demonstrate an iterative and relational approach to a creative dynamic, not necessarily to highlight that a creative response necessitates an artistic solution. More often than not, the artistic element may be missing from a creative solution to a political dilemma, but it will still be, in this framework, relational and iterative. Nevertheless, the examples of Christo and Jeanne-​Claude and the West-​ Eastern Divan Orchestra stand in stark contrast to where a creative response is still very much needed. The attitude toward Muslims in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom is woefully hostile and undermines personal security for people associated or perceived to be associated with Islam. In the autumn of 2015, fourteen-​year-​old Ahmed Mohamed entered the American consciousness when he was arrested at his high school in the Dallas area for bringing a clock that he made to school. Proud of his creative endeavor, he showed his English teacher his accomplishment. She in turn thought it resembled a bomb and reported him to the principal. He was questioned by police for an hour and a half at the school before being led out in handcuffs, arrested, fingerprinted, photographed for his mug shot, and detained at a juvenile detention facility—​all without being allowed to talk to his parents or an attorney. While the police ultimately determined Mohamed’s intent was not malicious, the incident went viral, leading to praise for the teenager (President Obama tweeted him, and tech and social media firms lauded his achievement) but also threats to his person and his family. Since January 2016, Mohamed and his family have primarily lived in Qatar, no longer feeling at home in the United States due to continued harassment and accusations that they are linked to terrorist groups. At the same time that the Mohamed family’s emigration to Qatar made headlines (August 2016), the winner of The Great British Bake-​Off in 2015 reported that racial violence against her was part of her daily life. The BBC’s The Great British Bake-​Off is one of the most-​loved British television shows; its reality-​T V format films contestants baking their way to success in a bunting-​covered, homey tent replete with vintage-​style pastel fridges, matching mixers, and country-​style work stations. It has recently become a sleeper hit on Netflix in the United States, where it is known as The Great

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British Baking Show. The 2015 winner was Bangladeshi-​ Briton Nadiya Hussein. She competed in full hijab, fusing the flavors of Bangladesh and Britain. In many respects, her win was an emotional one. Her winning final bake was the wedding cake she wished she’d had: it was a traditional British lemon drizzle sponge decorated in both the colors of the Union Jack—​red, white, and blue—​and South Asian–​style jewels. When she was awarded first place, the stalwart judge and national treasure Mary Berry teared up. Hussein’s popularity is large enough that she was asked to bake the Queen’s official ninetieth birthday cake, has done her own BBC food show traveling through Bangladesh, and will be the judge on a junior bake-​off spin-​off. Yet this woman who has won the hearts of many also receives the ire of many. Since 9/​11 every time a “massive event” happens, she receives racial abuse: “I’ve had things thrown at me and [been] pushed and shoved,” she said.  . . . “I feel like that’s just become a part of my life now. I expect it. Absolutely I expect it.” . . . “I expect to be shoved or pushed or verbally abused because that happens. It’s been happening for years.” (BBC 2016a)

I highlight the unacceptable treatment of two different people, living in different areas, to illustrate how intolerant and unwelcoming the United States and United Kingdom have become—​and possibly have always been, given the two countries’ relationship with colonialism and slavery—​ toward those who are different and those perceived to have an association with Islam. Rejecting individuals who exemplify the characteristics a modern democratic society should want (e.g., entrepreneurial, creative, intelligent) demonstrates just how broken and anxious society is when it comes to identity differences. It is therefore no surprise that multiple US states refused to take Syrian refugees because of their perceived association with a terrorist threat. Instead of seeing Syrian refugees for what they are—​survivors of a horrifically violent war who have experienced hardship as they strived to get away from it—​they were rejected, unwelcome, and reviled. Such revilement is a fearful response. We need a reawakening of what it means to empathetic citizens in a broken world.


Christian realism tends to be focused on the moment of insecurity and how this provokes anxiety. Thus, the point of operation or the moment of

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interest to both Christian realism and feminist Christian realism are in the moments of perceived acute tension—​in that political moment of antagonism. If one ponders a moment of acute anxiety and insecurity, there is perhaps no more anxious moment in global politics today than the fear of terrorism (Pyszczynski, Solomon, and Greenberg 2002). Terrorism is dependent upon anxiety—​the “terror” is owed to the indiscriminate and indeterminate nature of where and when the next terror attack will happen (see Schmid and Jongman 2006, 5; Braithwaite 2013). Terrorism generates an anxious fear because of the anticipation of a possible attack or “unknown knowns” in the words of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (see Massumi 2005; Daase and Kessler 2007; Gentry 2015a). The anxious response to terrorism is often far more destructive than creative. The Syrian conflict is complicated, horrific, and devastatingly violent. It began when teenagers were detained and tortured by President Assad’s security forces for painting revolutionary slogans on school walls. In response, pro-​democracy protests erupted in March of 2011 leading to a violent government backlash (BBC 2016b). The conflict has resulted in at least 250,000 civilian deaths (as of August 2015), 11 million displaced persons, and it allowed for Islamic State (IS), or Da’esh, to claim a foothold in the contested territory. There are numerous sides engaged in the conflict, including Assad’s regime, the rather amorphously labeled “rebels,” Hezbollah, IS, Kurds, alongside a Russian presence. The UN has determined that all sides have committed war crimes: murder, rape, torture, and disappearances (BBC 2016b). Civilian areas have been so heavily bombed by the regime that the UN has stated that these might be massacres (BBC 2016b). Additionally, the regime has used sarin and chlorine gas against rebel-​held areas, areas that also happen to be heavily civilian (BBC 2016b). Of the 13.5 million individuals, including 6 million children, that remain in Syria, the UN says it needs $3.2 billion to address their needs: About 70% of the population is without access to adequate drinking water, one in three people are unable to meet their basic food needs, and more than 2 million children are out of school, and four out of five people live in poverty. (BBC 2016b)

Of the 11 million displaced persons, 4.5 million (as of March 2016) have left Syria for surrounding states. Syria’s neighbors have taken in a majority of the refugees: there are 2.7 million in Turkey; 1.6 in Lebanon; 0.6 in Jordan; and even less in Iraq and Egypt (BBC 2016b). While only 10 percent of the refugees have gone to Europe, the refugee crisis has wrought political division within Europe on how to respond. For instance, as the

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refugees walked across the Balkans, they were met with more violence and barricaded and police protected walls in Hungary. While Serbia, Germany, and Sweden have taken the largest number, the United Kingdom has only received 2,659 refugees (BBC 2016b). The Syrian refugee crisis has not brought out the best in American politics and many link the refusal to take refugees with anxiety over terrorism, and particularly how terrorism has become associated with “Arab-​ness,” “Islam,” and “Muslim” (see Ahmed 2006). Therefore, the fear over Syrians as terrorist Others is another way that the raced hierarchy of the international system continues. It is no surprise then that the Obama administration’s promise to take in the relatively modest number of ten thousand Syrian refugees provoked a backlash within state governments. Thirty-​one states refused to take any Syrian refugees (Fantz and Brumfeld 2015). Some see this as a partisan issue: all but one of the states had a Republican governor (Fantz and Brumfeld 2015), but it is seemingly more acutely related to terrorism fears (Mosendz 2015). There was speculation that participants in the November 2015 terrorist attack in Paris had come to France via the Syrian migration. The fear of terrorism and its connection to Syrian migration was further exacerbated by the shooting in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015 (Fantz and Brumfeld 2015), even though neither of the shooters were part of the Syrian diaspora. Nevertheless, both of these events led to federal government restrictions on taking in more refugees (Hosenball 2016). Even as the United States has fallen behind in taking those ten thousand refugees, there are examples of a love-​informed creative answer to this humanitarian dilemma. Internationally, multiple countries, beyond Syrian’s immediate neighbors, have received Syrian refugees with a warm welcome: Sweden, Germany, and the United States’s neighbor to the north, Canada. For these three countries, it is a matter of national pride and identity that they have done so (Bevaqua 2016; Traub 2016), even if it has led to other issues.4 The Canadian government has kept a ticker of how many refugees it has resettled and, as of 22 August 2016, 29,970 Syrians have entered Canada.5 Charles Foran, the chief executive officer of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, wrote an editorial for The Globe and Mail in which he argued that the true test of Canadian citizenship was how well they welcomed Syrians: “How we comport ourselves in 2016 will determine how advanced our citizenship truly is, and how easily and inclusively that evolution will unfold” (Foran 2015). Such a hospitable vision is important and, whether Foran recognizes it or not, it supports a Christian vision. In the United States, a movement of faith-​ based organizations, We Welcome Refugees, has recognized hospitality—​and, particularly, hospitality

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toward Syrian refugees—​as a Christian calling. I have written about hospitality in the past (Gentry 2013) and its connections to a love-​informed creativity are strong: both are relational and both are rooted in an abundancy of love—​the love that Christians can freely give because they are loved by their Creator. This sentiment is reflected in the website for We Welcome Refugees. First, the website acknowledges why people are anxious about the refugees at a time when the west is reeling in fear and over half of the Unites States Governor’s are saying they will not accept Syrian refugees into their state, we as the Church have a responsibility to respond. We cannot sit blindly by as people die, flee for their lives, search for homes, or live in an existence many of us cannot even comprehend. We cannot let the generations to come look back on this time in history and wonder how we sat back and did nothing. We must engage, and we must act. ( 2016)

Second, the website connects such activities to the example of Christ: is our response to Jesus when He said:  “I was a stranger and you welcomed Me in.”—​Matthew 25:35 Your church, your people, and your community can impact our brothers and sisters seeking a better life in real and tangible ways. We have all seen the heart stopping photographs and we know that the love of God is for such a time as now. The Church, moved to action, can be God’s answer to the prayers many have been praying for so long. ( 2016)

As something akin to an aesthetic disruption, this movement provided support materials to churches to host “National Refugee Sunday” on June 26, 2016, which is part of the ongoing National Refugee Week movement. Moreover, they encouraged Christians to act independently as engaged citizens to contact the government to urge the United States to take more refugees and to do more to help those affected by the Syrian conflict. The example of both the welcoming international responses and the We Welcome Refugees call to individual and church communities demonstrates that there are multiple levels of creative responses to political dilemmas.


Babette’s Feast, a film based upon Isak Dinesen’s novel of the same title, exemplifies some of the elements of feminist Christian realism and serves

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to move the conversation into the three main political problems the rest of this book will explore: racism, misogyny, and how these combined, in part, to bring about the Trump presidency. In this movie, Babette, a French refugee, arrives at an isolated village on the coast of Jutland, Denmark, as the cook for two sisters, daughters of the local minister, who are heavily involved in the church, just as much of the village is. The sisters and their church brethren are pious; there is little fun or joyousness about their faith. When Babette unexpectedly comes into a sum of money, she asks the sisters if she can host a French dinner, one with foods and flavors that are likely to be seen as extravagant by the sisters and the guests. The unfamiliar food served to very familiar people triggers a renewal of the old and stale friendships around the table. Thus her creative outpouring brings about a shift in relationships where once again these churchgoers experience communion as a communal gathering of bodies inextricably linked by location, complex relationships, and commonalities. As they sup from the depth of Babette’s creativity, they enter, in many respects, into the imago dei. It is not to say all the tensions are forever reversed and that from the next morning forward this coastal village is a harmonious paradise. Instead, it is to say, they recognize, again, how deeply they are linked. Will a dinner solve our problems in reality? Maybe not. But maybe this would be a start. In the tense summer of 2016, the United States did not seem to know whether it was Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, or All Lives Matter. But some officers in Wichita engaged with the tension by inviting Black Lives Matter protesters to a picnic dinner. An initiative like this invited both sides to put a human face on the Other, removed some of the tension from the situation, and allowed those that promise to protect and serve to do just that. This example serves to start one thinking along creative lines—​as love-​informed lines—​to actually recognize the hierarchical structures that operate internationally and in the United States and that result in in the material reality of inequality and bias. The origins of the United States are rooted in the dehumanization of people of color, which allowed it to achieve wealth and international prowess. The remainder of this book will explore situations that expose anxious US politics: particularly the most recent manifestation of overt racism (police brutality against African Americans), and the misogyny that spurs the War on Women, and how these problems both coalesce in the Trump presidency.

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A House Divided Now on Fire


S citizens are potentially more familiar hearing or reading about United Nations reports on violence in other countries. Yet, the United States has been on the receiving end of scathing reports about racism in recent years (Sheriff 2015; United Nations News Center 2016). Of particular salience is the recent statement issued by Maina Kiai (2016), the special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. While his remit for his fact-​finding mission in July 2016 did not specifically require an investigation of race relations, he found it impossible to carry out his mission without taking race into account. His statement drives at the heart of this chapter: that while the United States has moved beyond the era of slavery or Jim Crow laws, it has not moved beyond racism. Instead, it has moved into an era where laws and policies mask and support racial hierarchies that enable racially charged violence and injustices. Kiai (2016) writes, Today, unfortunately, America seems to be at a moment where it is struggling to live up to its ideals on a number of important issues, the most critical being racial, social, and economic inequality, which are often intertwined.  . . .  This issue is particularly grave in the African-​American community, and understanding its context means looking back at [slavery, Reconstruction Era laws, and Jim Crow policies that have] enforced segregation and marginalized the African-​American community to a life of misery, poverty, and persecution. It means looking at what happened after Jim Crow laws were dismantled, when old philosophies of exclusion and discrimination were reborn, cloaked in new and euphemistic terms.

His statement goes on to directly address police violence and discrimination, naming some of the murders that will be discussed further on in this chapter (including Freddie Gray) and the rationale behind Black Lives Matter, which Kiai (2016) finds “reaffirm[s]‌that black lives do in fact matter, in the face of a structure that systematically devalues and destroys them”—​in other words, a white supremacist system. While the use of this term is sometimes shocking because of its relationship with historic violence in US history, “white supremacist” is apt because it affirms white privilege and white dominance. It enables and/​or depends upon dehumanizing discourse about blacks and all people of color, resulting in the material marginalization of people of color. This chapter looks at two interrelated discourses: first, the discourse that perpetuates the “criminality” of black men and, second, the anxiety-​driven response from the (mainly) white community who perceive the law enforcement community (an institution in a white supremacist system) to be under attack and therefore in need of protection from the Black Lives Matter protesters. These discourses are two sides of the same coin and highlight the uneven power relationships at work in the racial hierarchies that underpin and undermine the United States and its democratic practices. Even if the United States is built upon a system of oppression and racism, this does not necessarily condemn all individuals within it, because the experiences, sentiments, and resentments held by individuals within a system of oppression vary considerably. I  am very sympathetic that some of the white population experiences poverty, drug use, unemployment, and joblessness. In the United States, power often runs along racial lines, historically and currently disadvantaging all people of color (not just blacks) and most minorities, including women and the LGBTQI community. Feminist Christian realism is more concerned with the behav­ ior of those who have typically held the power, and in a white supremacist system where laws, institutions, and sociopolitical norms favor white people, white people still hold the reins of power. I write this chapter as an exhortation to all white people to recognize this access to political, economic, and social power has historically been theirs—​even if this has been unevenly distributed among whites. Feminist Christian realism holds that those with power need to be exceedingly and exceptionally aware of it and that such an awareness will help to mitigate the effects of anxiety about losing privilege. While the chapter cannot offer a firsthand account of US race politics, the point of the chapter is a feminist Christian realist “calling out” of the lack of relationality—​as intrinsically about love, respect, and empathy—​at the heart of racism. This lack of relationality is a failure to recognize black people as people deserving love, dignity, and respect as well as

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a failure of those with power to be aware of how it can harm. Therefore, it is a failure to recognize privilege. Analyzing the entire sordid history of race in the United States is impossible; instead, this chapter will explore how the Black Lives Matter movement has risen to the forefront and the rationale behind its existence. The purpose of the chapter is mirrored in the structure. The first section will deal with how the racist ideology of black criminality is historically linked to slavery, establishing a lived reality that perpetuates harmful structures, with a particular focus on what the Black Lives Matter movement seeks to draw attention to:  the disproportionate targeting of African American youths by the police. Even in the midst of the acknowledgment that not all police officers are racists, the second section will critique the reactive backlash to Black Lives Matter. Reactivity occurs when people are unable to handle or acknowledge their anxiety. Thus, the second part of the chapter will examine the presence of anxiety over threats to white supremacist institutions. The discourse focused on in this section stems primarily from the Blue Lives Matter response to Black Lives Matter, but it also examines the defense of police officers who have been acquitted for killing black people.


After President Obama was elected in 2008, there was talk that America was a “post-​race” society (Omi and Winant 2015, 2). For a society or a country to be post-​race, it means that people are no longer evaluated by their skin color or the presumption of their race: it means there is an assumption of “colorblindness” (Omi and Winant 2015; Kelley 2016, 21). To be post-​race in America means that the harmful legacies of slavery no longer persist; that unemployment and lower wages no longer track along racial lines; that people can expect equal and respectful treatment; and that (white) Americans have fooled themselves into believing that these historical conditions no longer matter. Yet, the United States has always been an extremely race-​conscious nation. From the very inception of the republic to the present moment, race has been a profound determinant of one’s political rights, one’s location in the labor market, and indeed one’s sense of identity. (Omi and Winant 2015, 8)

America and Americans are then caught in a living contradiction: one where we would like to believe that race no longer dictates a person’s position or opportunities, yet it clearly does.

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In the era of supposed colorblindness, it became the norm to say “African American” or “Mexican American”; yet this is another way of erasing race and color—​as a way of minimizing the notion that the color of our skin matters. Using these euphemisms becomes a marker of privilege and unawareness (one that lies somewhere between naivety and ignorance): The problem with being “colorblind”—​aside from the fact that we’re not really—​ is that it is really a white privilege to be able to ignore race. White people like me [humanist John Halstead] have the luxury of not paying attention to race—​ white or black. The reason is because whiteness is treated as the default in our society. Whiteness is not a problem for white people, because it blends into the cultural background. Black people, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of being “colorblind.” They live in a culture which constantly reminds them of their Black-​ness, which tells them in a million large and small ways that they are not as important as white people, that their lives actually do not matter as much as white lives. Which is why saying “Black Lives Matter” is so important. (Halstead 2016)

After the civil rights movement in the 1960s it was perhaps too easy to think that US laws and politics were changing for the better. Yet, the authors of Racial Formation in the United States (2014), Michael Omi and Howard Winant, argue that the neoliberal order1 that came into power under President Reagan in the 1980s was a racially charged order that has some significant linkages with the politics of the 2016 presidential election. As Omi and Winant (2014, 211) discuss, Neoliberalism took charge under the banners of anti-​statism and authoritarian populism. Although it was led by big capital, it owed its ascent to the mass electoral bases that only the new right could provide. Neoliberalism was at its core a racial project as much as a capitalist accumulation project. Its central racial component was colorblind racial ideology. The hegemony of neoliberal economics is matched and underwritten by the racial hegemony of colorblindness. The new right’s authoritarian populism attracted mass white support. The competing tendency on the right, the neoconservatives, had never commanded a significant mass following . . . .In its mobilization of white suburban tax-​payers, in its hostility to integration, in its use of long-​standing producerist ideology to distinguish between “deserving” and “undeserving” members of U.S. society, neoliberalism adapted the new right’s deep-​seated racist ideology to the “post-​civil rights” era.

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It is therefore argued that colorblind neoliberalism was anything but and that colorblindness discursively attempted to conceal massive inequalities and injustices. An economic and political order that proposes to be colorblind suggests that people will have • equal access to education—​yet this is something that has long been shown as false by Jonathan Kozel (1967, 2006, 2012); • equal access to employment opportunities—​even though overall unemployment in the United States stood at 4.8 percent in the second economic quarter of 2016, when broken down for race, the unemployment rate for whites was 4.2  percent and 8.3  percent for blacks (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016); • and equal treatment under the law—​in July of 2016, 37.7  percent of inmates in the United States were black, whereas blacks only make up 12.2 percent of the US population (Bureau of Prisons 2016). Colorblindness is undone by “anti-​immigrant initiatives [California’s 1994 Proposition  187],” the dismantling of the welfare system in the 1990s, and “in its systematic victimization of post-​Katrina New Orleans” (Omi and Winant 2014, 212). These statistics and instances all suggest that the United States is not only not colorblind but also dominated by institutionalized racism. Institutional racism is created by and in turn perpetuates a racial hierarchy; thus the United States’s sociopolitical culture is stratified by race. Racial hierarchies are dependent upon race essentialism. Race essentialism assumes that at least one of these three elements is correct: 1. The first element of a black racial identity consists of the belief that humans (by virtue of their skin color and other physiognomic features) are exclusive and discrete biotic entities . . .[;]‌ 2. the belief that all races are not equal. This belief necessarily entails a ranking of races against one another . . .[;]‌ 3. the belief that the outer physical characteristics of different races really represent surface manifestations of inner realities. (Cokely 2002, 34) Race essentialism leads to racial stereotypes, which help perpetuate the structural racial hierarchy. It leads, for instance, to the attitude that blacks are less intelligent or more violent—​the outcome of which is witnessed in the statistics presented previously. While the racial hegemonic relations in the United States deserve more space and time than can be covered in this

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section, this chapter, or even this one book, this chapter focuses on how the race essentialization of “black criminality” has contributed to this very fraught moment of racial politics in the United States.

The Shame of Our American Lyric

I have borrowed my subtitle from Claudia Rankine’s powerful reflection on this moment in American history, Citizen:  An American Lyric. Reading Citizen is heartbreaking, as Rankine explores racial politics, identity, and violence in the American 21st century. While many of her powerful reflections caused me to pause, the section on the treatment of Serena Williams by referees (and others) has haunted me the most. I am not a particular fan of tennis, but perhaps like most people I  know who the top tennis stars are. I have been a fan of Serena and Venus Williams, yet I have problematically never thought too deeply on what they have encountered in the crusty, white world of tennis. Rankine’s own reflections, however, demonstrated everything that they, particularly Serena, have been up against. Rankine follows key, fraught moments in Serena’s career through Zora Neale Hurston’s phrase, “I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background” (Rankine 2015, 27). Rankine mostly reflects upon Serena’s responses to biased referee decisions—​ decisions that Rankine demonstrates the bias of by “proof texting” her observations with the voices of white, male sports commentators who also saw the decisions as unfair—​by throwing Serena’s black body against the sharp white background of tennis: It is difficult not to think that if Serena lost context by abandoning all rules of civility, it could be because her body, trapped in a racial imaginary, trapped in disbelief—​code for being black in America—​is being governed not by the tennis match she is participating in but by a collapsed relationship that had promised to play by the rules. Perhaps this is how racism feels no matter the context—​ randomly the rules everyone else gets to play by no longer apply to you, and to call this out by calling out “I swear to God!” is to be called insane, crass, crazy. Bad sportsmanship. . . . Serena’s frustrations, her disappointments, exist within a system you understand not to try to understand in any fair-​minded way because to do so is to understand the erasure of the self as systemic, as ordinary. For Serena, the daily diminishment is a low flame, a constant drip. Every look, every comment, every bad call blossoms out of history, through her, onto you. To understand is to see Serena as hemmed in as any other black body thrown against our American background. (Rankine 2015, 29, 32)

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Rankine was particularly taken with the way that Serena’s anger over the bad calls that have plagued her career for decades was read as “black rage,” as irrational and as an overreaction to inconsequential events. But this is how racism feels no matter the context: it exists to minimize the pain, the plight, and the very lives of those who have been shoved to the corners. Racism can best be understood, then, as an issue of “embodiment  .  .  .  about how one can and cannot be in a body” (Mendieta 2004, 46). This is what the Black Lives Matter campaign captures—​that black people are not allowed to exist within the same frame of reference as whites. This is witnessed when John Crawford III, a young father of two who went into Walmart, picked up a toy BB gun and continued to shop, only to have one shopper call 911—​alleging that he was being aggressive and threatening. Video footage does not support these claims. Nonetheless, Crawford was killed when the police confronted him in the pet supplies aisle (Swaine 2014). While a “colorblind” determination would rest on the idea that the legacy of slavery has been resolved, the United States is instead “a society that has transformed slavery and legalized discrimination into” the ghettoization of black people, which “have been functionally and structurally assimilated into the prison-​industry complex” (Mendieta 2004, 43). In the instance of criminalization and the relative ease with which black folk are killed by the police, this is the long-​standing materialization of “discourses . . . that cast Black bodies as closer to animals” (Richter-​Montpetit 2014, 51). During the slave trade, European and American law was written in order to prevent “mixed marriages and miscegenation” (Richter-​Montpetit 2014, 51). Discipline for breaking these laws was carried unequally on the bodies of black people:  because they were seen as closer to animals, blacks had “thicker skin and [were] able to endure more pain” (Richter-​Montpetit 2014, 52). Additionally, “slave codes and later black codes legalized extreme suffering, including corporal mutilation,” and “later legislation codified the right to correct slaves ‘to the point of killing them’ ” (Richter-​Montpetit 2014, 52). Melanie Richter-​Montpetit (2014) rather powerfully connects these historical legacies with the perceived criminality of blacks in the United States. She notes how these uphold the raced hierarchy: The spectacular inscription of violent subjugation marks the boundaries between “us” and “them,” ranks bodies within the larger social order, and helps turn socially recognized categories of difference, such as race  .  .  .  into bodily difference, as the very performance of violent bodily domination provides the

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visual “proof” for “their” social difference and differential status. (Richter-​ Montpetit 2014, 52)

Furthermore, Richter-​ Montpetit (2014, 54)  calls this the “logic of Blackness,” wherein the black body is so “open to gratuitous violence” that any violence to it is easily disavowed, “making possible the legalization of extreme corporeal suffering.” The “logic of Blackness” is seen in the criminality discourse, where black men are narrativized as “brutes” or “thugs” (Smiley and Fukunle 2016) and is related to presenting black men as overly tough, physical, and hypersexual (Bouie 2014; Hutson 2014). Criminalization should be understood “as the process by which styles and behaviors are rendered deviant and are treated with shame, exclusion, punishment, and incarceration” (Rios 2011, xiv). It “occur[s]‌beyond the law; it crosse[s] social contexts and follow[s] . . . across an array of social institutions, including school, the neighborhood, the community center, the media, and the family” (Rios 2011, xiv). Particularly, criminalization is used to cement the notion that the black folk killed by police deserved it. Smiley and Fukunle (2016) argue that “the exploitation of these often-​targeted victims’ criminal records, physical appearances, or misperceived attributes has been used to justify their unlawful deaths.” This in turn makes (white) police violence justifiable, warranted, and even desired. To wit, the highly esteemed writer and journalist Ta-​nehisi Coates (2014) wrote that to challenge the police is to challenge the American people . . . . When the police are brutalized by people, we are outraged because we are brutalized. By the same turn, when the police brutalize people, we are forgiving because ultimately we are really just forgiving ourselves.

It is this very materiality of the black criminality that Black Lives Matter attempts to refute, and it has everything to do with a police, judicial, and governmental system that has not existed to serve people of particular skin colors. The US system is not colorblind, and it is time we widely recognized this. The Black Lives Matter campaign is a social movement borne out of the frustration over the way black bodies are violently discarded in the United States. The origin of the Black Lives Matter and its foundational ideology are owed to three women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Khan-​Cullors, and Opal Tometi, who see the movement as inherently intersectional. Intersectionality means that Garza, Khan-​ Cullors, and Tometi pay attention to how race interacts or intersects with gender, sexuality, class,

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and criminalization. Black Lives Matter is not simply focused on the deaths from police violence but also to the multiple oppressors that blacks face, including, as listed on their website: • black poverty and genocide as state violence; • the incarceration of 2.8 million blacks; • “how Black women bea[r]‌the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families is state violence;” • “how Black queer and trans folks bear a unique burden in a hetero-​ patriarchal society”; • the use of “Black girls . . . as negotiating chips during times of conflict and war;” • and, the injustices disabled blacks face when “normality [is] defined by white supremacy.” (Black Lives Matter 2016a) Thus, Black Lives Matter is not a movement with a single cause but a movement that hopes to lift all black people because “we understand that when Black people in this country get free, the benefits will be wide reaching and transformative for society as a whole” (Black Lives Matter 2016b). (An interjection at this point:  If any of the language used by the movement, the website, or the individuals involved is upsetting, a creative challenge is to continue to read and to grapple with why the language makes one uncomfortable. Is it because it challenges a sense of comfortability or complacency? If so, maybe it is time to get uncomfortable, because the injustices and oppressions facing blacks are indeed uncomfortable.) While Garza, Khan-​Cullors, and Tometi are concerned with a wider array of injustices, they formed Black Lives Matter in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin, “the posthumous trial” of Martin for his own death, and the resulting exoneration of his killer, George Zimmerman (Black Lives Matter 2016b). In other words, the way in which both the legal trial, which led to Zimmerman’s acquittal, and the “media” trial were conducted made Martin out to be the guilty one and deserving of extra-​judicial death. They were concerned in this instance with the continued criminalization of the black community, particularly toward the men, that presumes guilt even when there is no crime (see also Kelley 2016, 29). The Black Lives Matter movement has crystallized around the police shootings with planned protests raising awareness of the violence and brutality beyond the black community. For instance, it is often noted that Black Lives Matter became more prominent during the protests that followed the killing of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer. The justificatory discourse around both of these deaths will be discussed further,

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arguing that they reflect reactive anxiety on the part of the law enforcement community. Two prominent international newspapers have dedicated considerable resources to following police shootings in the United States: the Washington Post and the Guardian. Both of their projects, the Post’s “Fatal Force” and the Guardian’s “The Counted,” tally the killings by police in 2015 through 2016 for the Guardian and 2017 for the Post. Anyone accessing their websites can examine the statistics by gender (including nonconforming), race and ethnicity, state, and/​or if the victim was armed or unarmed. Both are frequently updated, and both list the victims by name and other details. For instance, the Guardian has provided, in essence, a calendar of those killed. Their names, photos, and the state they were killed in are organized by month and day. It is a horrifically overwhelming montage of the 1,093 (266 black, or 24.3 percent) people killed by the police in 2016. This differs from the Post’s Fatal Force count of 963 (233 black, or 24.2 percent). In 2017, Fatal Force recorded 813 killings as of November 2, 2017, and from these records we know that 191 individuals were black (23.5 percent). Either way the numbers are high: more blacks died due to police shootings in 2015 (286) than were lynched in the most violent year of the Jim Crow laws (1890–​1965): 161 blacks in 1892 (the average was thirty-​nine lynchings per year) (Merelli 2016). A rather dismissive response to the targeting and killing of blacks might be that blacks are responsible for more crime or their behavior is more violent. This is classic racial essentialization, and it is indicative of the thinking that perpetuates a racial hierarchy: Talk of “Black-​on-​Black” homicides, sagging pants, and teen pregnancies almost always dislodges the focus from state violence. This classic bait and switch forecloses a deeper interrogation of the ways that state violence [such as police violence] manifests. (Kelley 2016, 30)

Even if blacks are arrested and convicted for more crime than other ethnicities, this does not control for sociological reasons for criminal behavior, such as economic disadvantages, nor, most importantly, does it control for the racism (against all minorities) in the system, which disproportionately arrests and convicts blacks. To illustrate this point, one simply needs to look at the context of Freddie Gray’s death: Gray  .  .  .  was arrested on April 12, 2015  .  .  .  for making eye contact with a [Baltimore] police officer and running away. He was apprehended, shackled, tossed on to the floor of a police van without a safety belt, and likely beaten. By

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the time the van arrived at central booking, Gray was unresponsive, his spine 80 percent severed at the neck and his voice box crushed. (Kelley 2016, 18)

He lived for a week in this destroyed condition. It does not matter what Gray was suspected of: he did not deserve to be destroyed, because destroyed is what he was—​not beaten, but destroyed—​in the back of a police van while in custody. He died on April 19, 2015 (Kamat 2016, 75). Three officers were tried for his death but none were convicted (Caldwell 2016). Lack of accountability is not how a democracy is meant to function and, yet, this is exactly how American democracy is functioning. Journalist Anjali Kamat makes the connection between neoliberalism and the criminalization of black lives in Baltimore when she describes the neighborhood Gray grew up in: Gray was a well-​loved young man who grew up in the dilapidated Gilmore Homes projects in Baltimore’s poorest Black neighborhood, Sandtown-​Winchester. Life here is precarious by design, decade upon decade of residential segregation, criminalization, and neoliberal economic policies have entrenched inequality and elevated every social indicator to levels far above the national average. With 20 percent unemployment and 31 percent poverty, one in four juveniles has experienced arrest, one in four buildings is abandoned, lead paint violations are four times higher than the citywide rate, and the rates of domestic violence, shootings, and homicides are among the highest in the city. Deindustrialization, compounded by disinvestment, the crack epidemic, displacement through urban renewal programs, and the subprime mortgage crisis decimated the wealth and well-​being of communities like this. While the city poured hundreds of millions of dollars into redeveloping its harbor district and building new sports stadiums to attract tourists, neighborhoods like Sandtown-​Winchester were left to rot. Since 1991, funding for programs supporting young people in Baltimore—​ recreation centers, parks, libraries, summer jobs, and after-​school programs—​ has been either frozen or slashed. In the same period, by contrast, the budget of the Baltimore Police Department tripled, and tax subsidies to corporations have increased. One glaring exception to the disinvestment in poor communities is incarceration: Maryland allocates $17 million a year just to incarcerate people from Sandtown-​Winchester in state prisons. (Kamat 2016, 74)

Such policies are not unique to Baltimore. They are happening all over the United States. The over-​policing of and police violence against blacks are also endemic. For example, a Guardian investigation revealed that the Chicago Police Department had a large secret detention site, Homan Square. Situated

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on the South Side in a majority-​black neighborhood, suspects brought to Homan Square were mainly arrested within 2.5 miles of the site. Eighty-​ two percent of the detainees were black, even though Chicago is 33 percent black and 32  percent white (Ackerman and Stafford 2015). More troubling is that a gross majority of those detained there and interrogated by police were not allowed counsel, sometimes for days (Ackerman and Stafford 2015). Between August 2004 and July 2015, only 68 people received visits from counsel (Ackerman 2015a), which means “approximately 3,500 people” apparently waived their right to counsel, were not informed of it, or were explicitly denied it after the request was made (Ackerman and Stafford 2015). This breaches the Miranda warning and the constitutional right to counsel. In a style scarily similar to that used by some South American police forces during the guerras sucias (dirty wars), those detained at Homan Square were “off-​the-​books” (Ackerman 2015a). Public notice was only made for sixty-​eight detainees and booking records were not kept, making it impossible for attorneys to find their clients and families to find their relatives (Ackerman and Stafford 2015; Ackerman 2015a). Some of those detained recounted torturelike conditions, including denial of food and water and police pressure to inform (Ackerman and Stafford 2015). Fourteen men recounted physical abuse by the police, including “punches, knee strikes, elbow strikes, slaps, wrist twists, baton blows and Tasers,” and several of them have said they still deal with pain and discomfort years later (Ackerman 2016). The Guardian found evidence of one man “who died in police custody under questionable circumstances” (Ackerman 2016). Testimonies also include at least one count of rape, probably by a police pistol, when a man was unwilling (or unable) to help with a sting on a drug dealer (Ackerman 2015b). Potentially, it is quite easy in America to acknowledge that racism “still” exists but to not know what it looks like and what it feels like—​and thus to tacitly minimize its existence. This is the very nature of privilege. To be privileged in this way—​to not know what racism looks or feels like—​is to automatically have power. When those with power seek to deny or mitigate the racism, this is a failing. What is worse is that the notion of black criminalization makes the black community responsible for the racism—​ as if they are the ones who started the injustice and therefore deserve it. And this is how anxiety operates; this is how it functions. And this can be observed in the responses to Black Lives Matter by Blue Lives Matter, a website organized by and associated with US police officers, in addition to sources that defend and normalize police violence.

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Shockingly, several recent surveys demonstrate how many white citizens in the United States are unable to see both the systematic racism and, by implication, the necessity of the Black Lives Matter movement. In a 2015 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), an astonishing 43 percent of white Americans surveyed felt that “discrimination against whites has become as large a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minority groups” (Ross 2015). In a later (2016) Pew Research Center survey, white Americans believed that personally held racism against blacks was a bigger problem than institutional racism (or structural and systemic) (19 percent of whites believed racism was “built into laws and institutions” as opposed to 70  percent who believed it was owed to the “prejudice of individuals”) (Pew Research Center 2016). The Pew Research Center survey demonstrated just how far apart the white and black community are when it comes to issues concerning race discrimination. While the white community was evenly divided on the state of race relations (46 percent said “race relations are generally good” and 45  percent said “generally bad” [Pew Research Center  2016]). Other statistics demonstrate the polarization between the white and black communities about the treatment of black individuals. When asked if the blacks were treated less fairly than whites by the police, 50 percent of whites, and 84 percent of blacks affirmed this. Further results include that 25  percent of whites and 66  percent of blacks believed that blacks were treated less fairly when applying for a mortgage; and 20 percent of whites and 43 percent of blacks felt that blacks were treated less fairly when voting (Pew Research Center 2016). Here are more startling statistics that came out in the report written from this survey: • ‘in 2014 the median adjusted income for households headed by blacks was $43,300, and for whites it was $71,300’; • ‘blacks are still more than twice as likely as whites to be living in poverty [26 percent compared with 10 percent in 2014]’; • 47 percent of blacks ‘say that in the past 12 months someone has acted as if they were suspicious of them because of their race or ethnicity. Many blacks also report feelings like others questioned their intelligence. Some 45  percent say that in the past 12  months people have treated them as if they were not smart because of their race or ethnicity’(Pew Research Center 2016).

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We may shake our heads at the white community’s sheer ignorance about race in America, or we may empathize, assuming that these results demonstrate the lack of esteem in the impoverished white community (see, e.g., MacGillis and ProPublica 2016), yet these (false) perceptions are driven by anxiety over status and position. For instance, in the PPRI survey, 57 percent of surveyed white Americans believe that life was better in the 1950s (Ross 2015). In analyzing this survey, Janell Ross (2015) wrote the following for The Washington Post: But the sheer size of the racial/​ethnic gap concerning perceived discrimination against white Americans is particularly interesting because there is very little in the way of objective evidence of this discrimination and the disadvantage that typically follows. On just about every measure of social or economic well-​being, white Americans fare better than any other group. That’s true of housing and neighborhood quality and homeownership. That’s true of overall health, health insurance coverage rates, quality of health care received, life expectancy, and infant mortality. That’s true when it comes to median household earnings, wealth (assets minus debt), retirement savings and even who has a bank account.

Thus, it is hard to imagine how a significant minority of white Americans believe they are being racially discriminated against. Nor is it easy to understand why white Americans think life was better in the 1950s—​it certainly was not better for women, people of color, or sexual minorities. This makes Ross’s (2015) observation about what could be generating this anxiety all the more important: “White Americans no longer have an exclusive or almost-​exclusive hold on the best housing, jobs, schools or the ballot box.” It is this waning of dominance or hegemony that leads to the discourse that anxiously attempts to protect raced institutions. It is this anxiety that makes it difficult to see different perspectives, inhibiting some members of the white population to understand where the black population is coming from. In order to demonstrate anxious and reactive thinking, this section will look at the language, or discourse, employed by those who position themselves at odds with Black Lives Matter because they see the movement as a threat to white supremacy. Because one cannot know what the other is feeling until the other makes this known, the link between emotions and discourse is strong (Fierke 2004; Solomon 2012; Gentry 2015a). As anxiety is tied to a future problem or a feeling of unsettlement, anxiety can be found in statements that suggest a threat to the status quo. Anxiety is totalizing—​when a person is anxious about a situation everything is tinted

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by the anxiety. An anxious person in this unthinking state simply reacts to new input, unable to make clear sense of the new information. This response is termed “reactivity”—​it comes out in “defensive” and “adrenalized” behavior (Gunther 2013). It inhibits listening and anxious Selves look for sameness and agreement (Stosny 2008). While most of the literature on reactivity is looking at interpersonal relationships and family systems, it is easy to extrapolate anxious behavior to other systems, including sociopolitical ones (see Gentry 2015a). Reactivity is found in statements that: deny responsibility, suggest the other party is to blame, and allude to the possibility being in a precarious position. Reactivity inhibits people or a group of people from being able to see their own contribution to a conflict, instead blame and resentment are pushed outward. The reactivity that is justified through racism, as an ideology that supports raced hierarchies, is apparent in the language of Blue Lives Matter, a pro-​police media platform, as well as in the literature that supports the acquittal of police officers for killing black folk. The reaction is about preserving a specific economic and political order, the white supremacist raced hierarchy in the United States. The reactive, racist discourse then focuses: first upon the blamelessness of the police and the connection between the police and status quo power arrangements and second, the guilt and responsibility for violence as stemming from the black community. The scapegoating in these publications leans heavily on the classic stereotypes of blacks addressed above:  the supposed criminalization of black people and the presumed inherently violent nature of black people.

Threatened Power/​T hreatened Dominance

Conservative journalist Rachel MacDonald published her book The War on Cops in the summer of 2016. In this book, she claims that the police, due to Black Lives Matter and other factors, have become so weakened as to be ineffective. Race-​driven complaints against the police are, according to MacDonald (2016), eroding law and order and putting more American lives at risk. While some believe such sentiments are by and large overblown (Lynch 2016a), Louisiana passed a “Blue Lives Matter” bill, which made the “targeting [of] police officers, firefighters and emergency medical serv­ ice personnel . . . fall under Louisiana’s hate crime law” (Izadi 2016). It is also seen in the Fraternal Order of the Police, the largest US police union, endorsing Trump; this is believed to be directly tied to Trump’s own discursive support that there is a “war on cops” (Neyfakh 2016). When digging into the Blue Lives Matter literature, it is clear that a false dichotomy

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exists: to be supportive of or sympathetic toward Black Lives Matter automatically implies that one does not support the police force. This false dichotomy reveals an enormous amount of anxiety and reactivity. The supposition that questioning the police and police practices leads sine qua non to the targeting of the police is troubling, but it is perfectly evident on the Blue Lives Matter website. Blue Lives Matter is “a media company, made up entirely of active and retired law enforcement officers” (Blue Lives Matter 2016). The website accuses the media and Black Lives Matter of “spread[ing] . . . false narrative[s]‌” and “anti-​police bias” (Blue Lives Matter 2016). Its discourse constructs the police community as in diametric tension with the black community: The media catered to  .  .  .  Black Lives Matter, whose goal was the vilification of law enforcement. Criminals who rioted and victimized innocent citizens were further given legitimacy by the media as “protesters.” America watched as criminals destroyed property, and assaulted and murdered innocent people, and they labeled these criminals as victims. Personal responsibility for one’s actions went away, replaced by accusations of racism and unjust government. It seemed that almost every media organization was spreading the absurd message that people were being shot by law enforcement simply because of the color of their skin. Our political leaders pandered to those criminals and helped spread this false narrative. (Blue Lives Matter 2016)

Blue Lives Matter presents itself as a community under siege, one that has lost support from the US’ “naïve society” (Blue Lives Matter 2016), further demonstrating a discursive need to support an institution within a raced hierarchy that views its survival as threatened. In the “News” section of the Blue Lives Matter website, different contributors post articles or blog about policing news. While these demonstrate that there are many ethical police officers out there that deserve appreciation, the “News” section also serves as a way of delineating the population that Blue Lives Matter positions itself within. Looking at the posts solely for September 2016, the subjects cover police officers who were killed in the line of duty; examples of good policing; the arrests of those who have killed or harmed police officers; reviews of assault rifles (“The great thing about these parts and firearms built for warfare:  civilians can buy them as well” [Donut Operator  2016]); and criticisms of Black Lives Matter and those who support them, such as Beyoncé (Officer Blue 2016a). The posts are always in favor of police action and always quick to offer a defense against outside criticisms. For instance, one article begins with

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a discussion of Linc Sample of Maine who posted signs in support of the Second Amendment in his yard, one of which read “Black Rifles Matter.” In response, some Black Lives Matter members voiced that this sign minimized their oppression. Instead of simply reporting on this chain of events, Blue Lives Matter author Charles Jackson quickly orients himself with Sample and against Black Lives Matter: Once again, we see the supporters of the Black Lives Matter are missing the point. Again, we see them jump to label someone as a racist in an attempt to silence anyone who doesn’t agree with them. But their movement, which is devoid of facts, and fuels violence and rioting, is protected by the same free speech that Linc Sample is exercising. (Jackson 2016)

While Jackson could be accused of doing the same, Jackson nevertheless continues to construct the polarity between (a) Blue Lives Matter, all police officers, and those supportive of them, such as those who value the Second Amendment, against (b) those that identify with and support Black Lives Matter. The police/​Black Lives Matter binary exists in articles from outside the Blue Lives Matter website as well, stemming from conservative sources that aim to protect the hierarchy. Christopher Caldwell (2016), an editor at the conservative British journal, The Spectator, makes a similar argument to MacDonald: that the police in the United States are less likely to do preventative policing and that the murder rate is rising. Thus, the status quo is under threat because police forces are under threat. Caldwell believes that most cases of police shootings involve suspects who are resisting arrest, and only a few “have been open-​and-​shut cases of brutality” (Caldwell 2016). In considering the two shootings (Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown) that served as an impetus for Black Lives Matter, he declares the Martin shooting by Zimmerman “unsolvable.” Whereas Brown was a “300lb teenager who attacked a patrolman named Darren Wilson” and “Wilson’s explanation that he shot Brown in self-​defense . . . held up” (Caldwell 2016). This aligns with Blue Lives Matter’s opinion of Wilson as “heroic” (Blue Lives Matter 2016). The main focus of Caldwell’s (2016) Spectator article is actually highly anxious—​he is fearful that the American public’s reaction to Black Lives Matter could hand Trump a victory in November. Even within this disjuncture, Caldwell’s (2016) belief that police forces in the United States are under attack is supported by his fear of Black Lives Matter:

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The rage of young blacks against the police has taken on dimensions not just of a protest but a rebellion. Fully two thirds (65 per cent) of US blacks support the Black Lives Matter movement, even as it has come to question the very legitimacy of the forces of order. (emphasis added)

In this passage, the reader comes away with the image that all black people are rebelling against legitimate governance, which coheres with the Blue Lives Matter discourse. There is no consideration that police violence and brutality actually undermine governmental legitimacy and credibility (but, of course, according to Caldwell there is very little police brutality anyway). Caldwell’s article shows no sign of critiquing or seeing through the criminalization of the black community in the United States—​he fails to note that the Department of Justice report “found racial bias and profiling in Ferguson’s criminal justice system” (CBS 2016), which is explored in detail below. Instead, Caldwell believes the responsibility for the violence lies within black criminality. The shift from defensive blamelessness slides readily and easily into the blaming of the black community for their own oppression.

Victim Blaming, or, Black Criminality

The protective, anxious discourse is dependent upon the continued criminalization of black men. Thus, the discourse that supports law enforcement shootings of black men often returns to the criminalization narrative. For instance, Caldwell’s defense of Darren Wilson ignores Wilson’s own grand jury testimony. Wilson describes Brown as a “demon” (Bouie 2014) and “When I  grabbed him the only way I  can describe it is I  felt like a 5-​year-​old holding onto Hulk Hogan,” said the 6-​foot-​4, 210-​pound Wilson of the 6-​foot-​5, 290-​pound Brown. “Hulk Hogan, that’s how big he felt and how small I felt just from grasping his arm.” (Bouie 2014)

His testimony continues with perceived evidence of Brown’s overwhelming strength: I felt another one of those punches in my face could knock me out or worse. I mean, it was, he’s obviously bigger than I was and stronger and the, I’ve already taken two to the face and I didn’t think I would, the third one could be fatal if he hit me right. (Bouie 2014)

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Even after Wilson shot Brown multiple times, he read Brown’s wounded and in pain body language as threatening, At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him . . . And that face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even anything in his way. (Bouie 2014)

As established earlier, “demon” relates quite easily to the “logics of Blackness” and the discourse of “brute” or “thug.” Lately this brutishness has been supplemented by the attribution of superhuman strength in black men, making it “easier to picture them running as fast as a jet or picking up a tank” (Hutson 2014). Thus, Caldwell’s article and Wilson’s own testimony protect what they consider to be legitimate policing against the superhuman black criminal. The shooting of Michael Brown was never brought to trial, as the witness statements are contradictory regarding Brown’s own actions against Wilson. Yet, the killing of Brown became a touchstone because of the community it happened within:  Ferguson, Missouri, which was once a “sundown” town in the 196os, or a town where black people were banned from entering at night. Since then the demographics have shifted considerably, as 67 percent of the current population is black. The majority of the police force and elected officials, however, are white (Department of Justice 2015, 6; Demby 2014). As mentioned above, the Department of Justice (DoJ) led an investigation into both the shooting of Brown and of Ferguson Police Department (FPD) and the municipal courts. In 2015, it published a damning 105-​page document about the racist practices endemic in Ferguson, ones that show the material realities of criminalization discourses. The DoJ (2015, 4) report determined that from 2012 to 2014 . . . African Americans account for 85% of vehicle stops, 90% of citations, and 93% of arrests made by FPD officers, despite comprising only 67% of Ferguson’s population.

According to the report, FPD appears to bring certain offenses almost exclusively against African Americans. For example, from 2011 to 2013, African Americans accounted for 95% of Manner of Walking in Roadway charges, and 94% of all Failure to Comply charges. (DoJ 2015, 4)

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Additionally, FPD officers were encouraged to generate revenue through citations against citizens: Issuing three or four charges in one stop is not uncommon in Ferguson. Officers sometimes write six, eight, or, in at least one instance, fourteen citations for a single encounter. Indeed, officers told us that some compete to see who can issue the largest number of citations during a single stop. (DoJ 2015, 11)

Among many other problems, including racial profiling, the misuse of force against people inside and outside of custody, overuse of Electronic Control Weapons, and the deployment of dogs, the DoJ (2015, 33) determined that police officers used force not to counter a physical threat but to inflict punishment against the community, specifically black citizens. These punitive and severe measures were all supported by racist discourse and justifications. The DoJ (2015, 5)  found that Ferguson “city officials . . . frequently asserted that the harsh and disparate results . . . reflect a pervasive lack of ‘personal responsibility’ among ‘certain segments’ of the community.” The DoJ (2015, 70–​1) explicitly states “that racial bias has impermissibly played a role in shaping the actions of police and court officials in Ferguson,” including “direct communications by police supervisors and court officials that exhibit racial bias, particularly against African Americans” and “a number of other communications by police and court officials that reflect harmful racial stereotypes.” Disturbingly the DoJ (2015, 72) uncovered numerous emails “involving several police and court supervisors, including FPD supervisors and commanders.” The e-​mails included these sentiments: • A November 2008 email stated that President Barack Obama would not be President for very long because “ ‘what black man holds a steady job for four years.” ’ • A March 2010 e-​mail mocked African Americans through speech and familial stereotypes, using a story involving child support. One line from the e-​mail read: ‘I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment! Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!’ • An April 2011 email depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee. • A May 2011 email stated: “ ‘An African-​American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.” ’

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• A June 2011 email described a man seeking to obtain “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.” • An October 2011 email included a photo of a bare-​chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion” (DoJ 2015, 72). Only once did a someone apologize for the offensive nature of the e-​mails yet that person never received a rebuke or disciplinary action for it nor did any other perpetrator (DoJ 2015, 72–​3). The report finds that these sentiments led to the permissibility, acceptance, and strategic targeting of the black community in Ferguson. Additionally, the need to label the community as lacking in personal responsibility or billing them as lazy, criminal, or “backwards” puts the onus on blacks and defensively (as an activity related to anxiety) guards the wrongful systemized targeting by the white supremacist police and judicial community. Additionally, the actions that led to the shooting of John Crawford III and the response to it demonstrate the facile way that the criminalization of black men is normalized and accepted—​again deflecting blame from the guilty parties and thereby protecting the faults and problems of white supremacy. This allows for the building of scapegoats in an anxious system. On August 5, 2014, Crawford fatefully/​fatally chose to pick up a highly realistic toy BB gun while shopping at Walmart. Again, video cameras show him holding it predominately downward but occasionally casually swinging it. Yet the transcript of a 911 call from a fellow shopper provides a problematically different description: 911 operator: Beavercreek 911. Where is your emergency? Ronald Ritchie:  I’m at the Beavercreek Wal-​Mart. There is a gentleman walking around with a gun in the store. 911 operator: Has he got it pulled out? Ronald Ritchie: Yeah, he’s like pointing it at people. 911 operator: What does he look like? Ronald Ritchie: He’s a black male, probably about six-​foot tall. (Hayes and Robinson 2014) Further on in the call, Ritchie alleges that Crawford points the gun at two children. The video shows that there is a woman and two children at the end of the aisle that Crawford is in. He never pointed the gun at them

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(Hayes and Robinson 2014). A few moments later the police entered the Walmart and shot Crawford. Special prosecutor Mark Piepmeier admitted that without Ritchie’s phone call, Crawford would still be alive (Hayes and Robinson 2014). At the same time, however, both Piepmeier’s further comments and reflections from the wider law community speak to a level of normalization—​that shooting Crawford was not unusual and the grand jury’s decision to not take it to trial and charge the police officers was also to be expected. In an interview, Piepmeier described how serious, and how overblown, the police response was. The first officer gets out of his car, puts his regular service piece in the trunk, gets out an assault rifle. The other officer shows up, does the same thing—​puts on his tactical vest, gets his assault rifle. . . . You can see as they’re coming in . . .it looks like a combat picture. And that’s what these guys were taught. That’s how they’re taught to approach this kind of thing (emphasis added). (Hayes and Robinson 2014)

Similarly, a University of Dayton law professor, Lori Shaw, was unsurprised at the decision of the grand jury to not charge the officers because there was a “weapon” involved (Cornwell 2014). Looking at the Blue Lives Matter website and associated texts, this same need to normalize or to lay the problem at the feet of the black community is obvious. For instance, the website’s “Organization” section states: In today’s evolving society, an increasing number of citizens fail to accept responsibility for their actions and attempt to escape the consequences through outward blame. Due to the nature of the profession, law enforcement personnel are seen as easy targets and are consequently bullied by slander, illegitimate complaints, frivolous law suits, and physical threats.

While this would be a great opportunity for the police community to address and apologize for when and where illegitimate police violence has occurred, the Blue Lives Matter website does not. In the aforementioned “News” section on the Blue Lives Matter website the discourse quickly turns from reporting into disputing and repudiating the actions of the Black Lives Matter movement. One article written by Officer Blue (2016b) covers rapper Lil Wayne’s recent interview on Undisputed (a sports show) in which he claimed that

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he has never experienced any form of racism. Officer Blue (2016b) extemporizes: [Blue Lives Matter] find Lil Wayne’s statement about not having experienced rac ism . . . shocking . . . [and] we are actively involved in discussion of racial issues. Our Facebook moderators are constantly trying to hold back the never-​ending tide of racist remarks . . .so it’s obvious there’s plenty of racism to go around. Black Lives Matter thrives off of pushing the false narrative that police officers are inherently racist. Their outrageous claims are bolstered any time somebody doesn’t understand a police officer’s action . . . Maybe if we tried to be more understanding of each other, we would see that there’s a lot less racism than we think.

Even though this passage from Officer Blue’s article comes across as nuanced—​ Officer Blue does, after all, admit that racism exists—​ this passage nevertheless demonstrates reactivity by laying all responsibility for any sense of racism within the police as a “false narrative.” By not admitting here or anywhere else on the website that there have been racist acts by police in the United States—​including in the shooting of Brown, the harrowing death of Gray, or the existence of Homan Square—​indicates that the Blue Lives Matter media platform does not see police activity as problematic. This is the epitome of defensive behavior—​instead of holding its self-​identified community accountable, it attributes fault to the Other and holds itself up as a paragon of non-​racial bias. A similar phenomenon occurs in The Spectator article. Caldwell supports his (anxious) argument by making multiple claims about black criminalization in the United States, while failing to account for police misconduct and violence. Even though Caldwell (2016) makes a throwaway comment at the beginning of his article that seems to indicate a critique of the police—​“The United States is well policed, even if it has been hard to say so lately”—​his main argument centers on this statement: “Barak Obama and other politicians have lately encouraged blacks to blame their frequent encounters with police on white prejudice, not black criminality.” Caldwell mentions the rising murder rate in the United States, yet he fails to break down the reasons for this. By focusing solely on black criminality, he makes it appear as if all or most murder stems from black violence. He barely mentions the endemic problem the United States has with gun violence, in particular mass shootings. Caldwell certainly does not mention that mass shootings are most often committed by white men, not black individuals (see Gentry 2015b). The only the mention of a mass shooting in Caldwell’s (2016) piece is of the sniper attack on the police in

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Dallas during a Black Lives Matter protest in July 2016. Caldwell (2016) refers to the sniper as “a wild-​eyed (but well-​trained) black nationalist Iraq War veteran.” He completely ignores that Micah Johnson, the sniper, was being treated for mental difficulties and had been dismissed from military service for sexual harassment (Associated Press 2016a). Even if Johnson self-​identified with Black Lives Matter, this was a cause that gave him an excuse to use violence and neither a strategy encouraged, enabled, nor authorized by Black Lives Matter members or leadership. Instead of recognizing that those with the power bear more responsibility in a relational crisis, the blame for these events is placed squarely at the feet of the black community. Such blame only perpetuates and reifies US racial hierarchy. As representatives of the government the police should be held to account, and there are many in the policing community who are outraged and apologetic for the violence against blacks in the United States (Goldstein 2016), it is a false proposition to equate support for Black Lives Matter with anti-​police sentiments (Lu 2016). The reason why the Blue Lives Matter counter-​campaign to Black Lives Matter does not work is because it willfully denies the systemic, systematic, and structural racism that has told the black community in the United States that their lives do not matter, since Africans were imported as slaves. The Three-​ Fifths Compromise, Jim Crow, ongoing segregation, and disproportionate imprisonment tell all communities in the United States that particular communities are and have always been less valued.


In triage, doctors and nurses assess the degree of urgency with which patients with wounds or illnesses need to be cared for. A triage “mentality” is needed in this instance. No violent death or activity is acceptable, but the violence under discussion here is disproportionate and targets a particular vulnerable community: black individuals in the United States. The US criminal-​judicial system has not acted as if black lives matter, instead it works to uphold white supremacy. While the subtitle of this book suggests that the United States is in a particular moment of anxiety, I do not think that the anxious need to protect white supremacist institutions is in a discrete moment. Instead, raced hierarchies and the racist ideology that underpins and perpetuates it have existed since the formation of the United States. What this demands of us is a recognition of this structure and a desire for justice to see it overturned. This is what Black Lives Matters desires; it is what taking a knee by Colin Kaepernick demands—​and yet these calls for justice have been met with

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sneers, (more) violence, and denigration. Black Lives Matter has been repudiated with the sentiment that “all lives matter,” but John Halstead (2016) writes that many of the people saying “All Lives Matter” also are fond of saying “Blue Lives Matter.” If you find that the statement “Black Lives Matter” bothers you, but not “Blue Lives Matter,” then the operative word is “Black.” That should tell us something. There’s something deeply discomfiting about the word “Black.” I  think it’s because it reminds us of our whiteness and challenges our notion that race doesn’t matter. (emphasis true to text)

According to Halstead, the discomfort comes when the colorblind discourse is revealed as false and when white privilege is made obvious. Instead of rejecting the discomfort, feminist Christian realism requires not just an acceptance of it but a creative solution toward resolving it by building better relationships and seeking a more a just situation. Creativity, as noted in ­chapter  2, is often linked with disruption, and disruption often causes further discomfort. Beyoncé’s black power Super Bowl performance and her Lemonade album is one such instance. It caused an extraordinary amount of discussion about the appropriateness of her protest, but the main thing is that it led to conversation. Relatedly, Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the 49ers, has sparked a national protest in support of Black Lives Matter. In late August 2016, Kaepernick originally protested the playing of the national anthem at the start of a game by not standing for it. After the game, he told NFL Media: I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color . . . . To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. (Wyche 2016)

After having a conversation with former Army Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer, Kaepernick instead began protesting by taking a knee during the anthem. Having spent my teenage years in Texas and thus having spent many Friday nights watching high school football, I read this move as one conveying respect while also continuing to protest. Taking a knee in football is not just to conserve energy during a break in play, but it is also taken when a hurt player is carried off the field. Indeed, this is the resolution that Kaepernick and Boyer came to and one that Kaepernick explained on ESPN:

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Once again, I’m not anti-​American. I  love America. I  love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I  want to help make America better. I  think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from. Those conversations are important to have because the better we understand each other, the better we know each other, the better we can deal and communicate with each other which ultimately makes everyone, puts everybody in a better position. (Under the Radar 2016)

Kaepernick has come under intense fire for this, however. Yet, in all of the ire, September 2016’s top-​selling item on the NFL’s online shop was Kaepernick’s jersey (Heitner 2016); Kaepernick is donating all of the proceeds to “communities” in need (ESPN 2016). And Kaepernick’s influence has grown further, defining the 2017 NFL season. Both Beyoncé and Kaepernick are in positions of power: they are high earners with a following. They use their power to draw attention to a cause they believe in and a cause all Americans should believe in. This is where feminist Christian realism wants to see interventions—​where those with power recognize their obligation to use it. But it needs to go further: it is not good enough to only have black people protest—​all Christians should be there alongside them. These interventions are and must continue to be relational:  they are working on behalf of a specific community to make a difference and to make things better. And it is iterative, not just because they chose different approaches, such as Kaepernick’s thoughtful retooling of his protest, but because the black community is trying different ways of getting the message across: they will no longer be scapegoated or marginalized. In the anxiety/​reactivity dynamic, scapegoating is inherent. A scapegoat will only continue to be a scapegoat if they accept it. A powerful way to disrupt this dynamic happens when the scapegoat refuses that position and label. The protests make it clear that the black community will no longer be a scapegoat for any racialized fears and anxieties in American society. The backlash against the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to re-​inscribe and/​or reify the scapegoat status, further demonstrating the anxious drive to protect the racist status-​quo.


I do not write this chapter as if I am an expert of the lived reality of racism but as a witness to the horror that is racism. I write this because at this

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moment of history, I firmly believe that it is a Christian duty—​a requirement of living with imago dei—​that we speak out at against the continued, ever-​present reality of racism in the United States today. Anxiety feeds racist systems and institutions: anxiety over status, over status-​quo power arrangements, over the fear that the Other will take jobs, livelihoods, and houses. Christian realism’s response to anxiety has always been about finding creative solutions and feminist Christian realism seeks to find creative solutions that hold at their center love, relationships, and iterative engagement. As someone who lives outside of the black community, and currently lives outside of the United States, I am deeply troubled by the headlines. This chapter has been written out of that pain and concern but also out of my extreme empathy for the black community. I cannot know the pain and fear that the black community in the United States feels, but I can stand in empathetic solidarity and hope for and demand an end to the injustice. I fear for my friends and family who are raising children of color; I cannot imagine the worry of bringing children up in this environment. I suspect the people reading this book are already sympathetic to the arguments within it, but this author lives in the hope that it still serves as a shout from the rooftops that this cannot continue.

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The War on Women


f the reaction to Barack Obama’s election to the presidency revealed just how much racism there still is in the United States, then Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president revealed just how much misogyny there continues to be in America. The 2016 contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was especially fierce. Clinton is one of the most experienced candidates to have run for president in a long time: she was a former first lady who was extensively involved in setting her own agenda, a senator for New York, and one of Obama’s secretaries of state. Before she was the first lady, she was actively involved in community and state politics. Trump is a businessman with no political experience. Running as a Washington outsider against Clinton’s insider status, he stirred up the populist vote, a vote that was dependent upon those who feel that racial and gender politics in the United States are moving too fast and against their values, as will explored further in c­ hapter 5. While I  share my own reservations about Clinton, particularly in the areas of foreign policy and the Hillary Doctrine, which articulated that the US should intervene in countries where women’s right are insecure, the harshness with which her character was assassinated and continues to be after the election—​the chants of “Lock Her Up!” at Trump rallies and the post-​election rumor of that Clinton and her campaign manager ran a child-​sex ring out of a pizzeria in DC—​are not necessarily based within the realm of reason. The e-​mail scandal is not enough of a legal infraction for her to stand trial. The idea that she did/​does not care about the lives lost at Benghazi is nonsense and the very suggestion that it was somehow her fault is akin to saying 9/​11 was President George W.  Bush’s fault. These accusations reside in anxious reactivity linked not just to her status as a


Democrat or as married to President Bill Clinton but to her status as a woman that threatens American patriarchy. Multiple media outlets have indicated that the very threat of her becoming president has been enough to reveal the misogyny within America. I  think this is compounded with how a clear and significant minority of people continued to support and then vote for Trump,1 in spite or despite of his misogyny and the way his commentary supports both rape culture and toxic masculinity. After the Entertainment Tonight story broke—​of the recording of Trump talking with reporter Billy Bush (of the Bush family) about how Trump felt free to “grab [women] by the pussy”—​it took me several weeks to watch a video that a Christian minister made in support of him. I  was loathe to watch it because I  knew that somewhere in this video, this Christian man who is probably married with children and likely “ministers” to women, said that it is better to have a president that grabs women by the pussy than for the president to actually have one. No person should have to explain why this is demoralizing. How it reduces women to a sexual object. How it could be illustrated by Magritte’s painting Rape, where he painted the head of a woman but, instead of her face, there are breasts for eyes, a belly button for a nose, and pubic hair for a mouth. If this description or the painting offends, then I hope Trump’s comments offend as well. I found myself having to explain this sexualization and objectification of women and their bodies to men (no, not any women) of varying stripes and convictions. Yet, somehow, I know people, both men and women, who were torn on the eve of the election of voting for Clinton, Trump, or the other three candidates. This troubles me far more than it puzzles me. Trump’s candidacy and eventual win really should not have come as a surprise. Republicans had been stirring up the nativist populist vote against Washington insiders or skilled politicians for at least a decade—​ the vicious post-​factual reporting of Fox News and the rise of fake news sites has long been doing the same. But I hoped his candidacy was the final assault in America’s War on Women (WoW).2 One year after the election, we know that it was just the beginning. The War on Women is the true focus of this chapter and how this particular “war” is focused on rolling back the advances made in gender equality. Writings on the WoW tend to focus on reproductive health and eliminating access to legal abortions. I  will also argue that the WoW is about ensuring that women remain second-​class citizens in the United States. While women’s rights and equal access to jobs and fair pay has always been contested in the United States, it is no coincidence that the WoW began at the same time as the Great Recession. First, like any economic

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depression or recession where people lose their jobs, companies close down, and economic security seems precarious, anxiety levels go up. As explained in the introduction, when anxiety goes up, humans try and control those who are unlike them or make them assimilate. Given that women were generally better off in the Great Recession than men—​even if (or because) their pay was lower, they kept their jobs at a higher rate—​the one way that the status quo could be preserved was by controlling women’s bodies via removing reproductive health options, which could push them back out of the work force. Thus, the first section will look briefly at how women fared during the Great Recession before moving into a discussion of how the War on Women ensures American women remain economically, bodily, and reproductively vulnerable. The second section will examine how the WoW is an outcome of anxiety about the status quo: a system dominated by white male privilege. It will do so by making connections between the material reality of women in the United States with various online groups that maintain that the United States is actually misandrist; therefore, they argue that feminism and women’s rights have harmed both men and women—​but mainly men, as well as the fabric of US society.


There has been a small amount of discussion about why Clinton wore white to accept the Democratic nomination for the president and, subsequently, to Trump’s inauguration. White is the color the Suffragettes wore to protest for better working conditions for women in the early 1900s, and it is the color they wore when demanding the right to vote. The United States is not even a hundred years past the Eighteenth Amendment, which granted women voting rights. It is barely fifty years past the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which overturned the Jim Crow laws that prevented blacks from full access to voting.3 Like Clinton, I  graduated from a women’s college:  she went to Wellesley, and I went to Mount Holyoke. Mount Holyoke’s founder, Mary Lyon, opened the doors to the longest continuing women’s institution for higher education in the United States on November 8, 1837. She believed that women deserved the same access to quality education that men had and that with an education, women could do great things. She just happened to open the doors on the same day, 179 years later, when the majority of Americans voted for a female presidential candidate. At our graduation ceremonies in May, the first action of a Mount Holyoke College alumna is to participate in the Laurel Parade: to dress in white and to walk with other alumnae holding a chain of laurel leaves and to wrap the chain

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around Mary Lyon’s grave at the center of the campus. We honor her and we honor the suffragettes for fighting for our rights to be educated, employed, and voting citizens. Yet, women’s rights in America are still unsettled. Women are still paid less than men for the same job and with the same qualifications. Sex discrimination is a very real phenomenon. Sexual harassment continues to plague the workplace. And women’s voices are still seen as less valuable and having less authority than men’s. An example of this is just one encounter Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had. Not only did she get in a verbal scuffle with Trump about how she moderated the debate, but she had a later verbal scuffle with former Republican Congressman Newt Gingrich while on air with Fox News. I  had a visceral reaction to the exchange between Kelly and Gingrich, which happened in the few last weeks before election day. The relevant part of the interview focused on the allegations of Trump’s sexual violence against women. Kelly began her question with “If  .  .  .” these allegations are true when Gingrich interrupted her, proclaiming that Trump has yet to be found guilty and Kelly was implying his guilt. As Kelly calmly defended her question, Gingrich kept interrupting, finally shaking his head and wagging his finger at her. Watching this exchange made my stomach sink, my lungs feel tight, and my cheeks redden. It reminded me of countless conversations I  have had with (typically older) male family members, colleagues, friends, fellow church members, random men in the streets, bosses, and students. Men who, with the shake of their head and the wagging of their finger, tried to silence me, shame me, and tell me that my voice, my opinion, and my research were unimportant and wrong. And not because they simply disagreed with me but because I  was a woman. This happens to women over and over again.4 So when I write and assert that women’s public position in the United States is still vulnerable, it is not because I think women’s suffrage (as in the right to vote) will be repealed but because women’s status as bearers of knowledge is constantly and consistently being undermined. In this way I find the focus on women’s reproductive health as certainly important but possibly also a red herring clouding a larger issue. In the same way that the black experience of prejudice and violence is denied and subjugated and that black folk, particularly men, are criminalized, women (and other marginalized voices) are not conceived of as bearers of knowledge, making them lesser citizens, if not less human. Miranda Fricker, a philosopher at City University of New York, terms this an “epistemic injustice,” which is to “wrong someone in their capacity as a subject of knowledge, and thus in a capacity essential to human value” (Fricker 2007, 5). Fricker argues that this bias and injustice are particularly gendered and raced—​intersecting in

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attempts to hold women and people of color in a subordinate position. The need to contain and curtail women’s knowledge and women’s experiences is at the heart of the War on Women. Because women’s intelligence and capabilities pose a threat to the status quo, there is substantial anxiety about this change. “Keeping” women vulnerable means they are less likely to progress and pose a threat to the current patriarchal system. While Fricker’s study is contemporary, such bias and injustice is centuries (if not millennia) old. In the early 1980s, both Carole Pateman (1980) and Jean Bethke Elshtain (1981) brought the bias against women to the attention of political theory. In her work, Pateman (1980) argues that political thought has constrained women to the private sphere, or the domestic sphere, because it was thought that women could not participate in the public sphere due to their inherent “disorder.” Tracing Western political thought with a particular focus on Jean-​Jacques Rousseau and Sigmund Freud, Pateman’s (1980, 22) main criticism is that “women . . . are a source of disorder because their being, or their natures, is such that it necessarily leads them to exert a disruptive influence in social and political life.” This has meant that women cannot fully engage in the practices of a citizen in the public realm because women are a subversive force that “engender vice,” can “bring a state to ruin” if at the “helm of government,” and are “hostile to and in opposition to civilization” (Pateman 1980, 20). Clearly these perspectives continue—​such thinking is reflected in some of the accusations leveled at Hillary Clinton. These serve as an example of the patriarchal and misogynistic structures that dominate the United States and much of the world. These structures, like race, are upheld through exclusionary and harmful discourses that establish and reify harmful material structures. For instance, in her work on war and citizenship, Elshtain (1987), borrowing from Hegel, argues that Western political thought from Ancient Greece to now has used two symbolic figures, the Just Warrior and the Beautiful Soul, to determine the roles of men and women, respectively, in war. The Just Warrior is a chivalrous knight sent into harm’s way—​again, the public sphere—​to protect and fight for the Beautiful Soul, waiting at home to pray for, and mourn if need be, her Just Warrior. This (false) binary relationship between the male Just Warrior and the female Beautiful Soul has set up a nearly impenetrable perspective against women’s physical ability and mental capability to fight in war (see MacKenzie 2015). It is only recently that women have been allowed to serve in active combat duty. What is particularly problematic to this study is how such a binary has influenced how we have thought about citizenship. Both women’s disorder and their status as a Beautiful Soul has prevented them from being seen as

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natural citizens. Citizenship in the West is based upon the idea that citizens are rational, logical actors who act/​vote/​engage in the public sphere for the best of the country. If women are disordered, they cannot access rationality and therefore justice (Pateman 1980). Beyond the critique that rationality and justice are gendered notions themselves, this joins with the equally ancient ideal that citizenship is linked with either military service or the ability to serve in the military at some point. For example, the automatic conscription of men for military service in some countries, and the requirement of all eighteen-​year-​old men in the United States to register for the military draft, stands in contrast to the limited conscription of women or the lack of requirements for eighteen-​year-​old women to register. This is reflected in how relatively new women’s suffrage is and how resistant the American public is to a woman president. Being seen as lesser citizens also underpins a sense and a reality of vulnerability in women’s lives. As discussed in ­chapter  2, feminists are particularly concerned with vulnerability, and any theology concerned with humanity should be as well. Vulnerability is felt more acutely by those without power or with minimal power. It is a lived reality for those on the margins and for those where policy and law are either unconcerned with marginal lives or actively seeks to harm them. All humans are subject to vulnerability because we are subject to the weaknesses of our body (see Vaittinen 2015); to repeat from ­chapter 2, “To be vulnerable is to be fragile, to be susceptible to wounding and to suffering; this susceptibility is an ontological condition of our humanity . . .” (Mackenzie, Rogers, and Dodds 2014, 4). The possibility of emotional or bodily injury and our limitations as finite creatures in an infinite metaphysical world makes humans anxious, and it is in this anxiety that Christian realism sees the turn to power-​seeking. Such power-​seeking, in turn, exacerbates the second form of vulnerability noted in c­hapter  2, which “focuses on the contingent susceptibility of particular person or groups to specific kinds of harm or threats by others” (Mackenzie, Rogers, and Dodds 2014, 6). Therefore, it is the feminist Christian realist perspective to pay close attention to these human structures that do harm. From a law and policy perspective, Martha Fineman (2008) argues against the masculine, rational, sovereign, and independent subject of Western political theory. Given that this subject is an ideal and not a reality, she believes law and policy would progress further if we recognized the relational nature of all humans. Instead, the “vulnerable subject” must replace the autonomous and independent subject asserted in the liberal tradition. Far more representative of actual lived

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experience and the human condition, the vulnerable subject should be at the center of our political and theoretical endeavors. (Fineman 2008, 2)

Fineman (2008, 2) argues that this new “vision of the state as actively responsive to and responsible for” the subject-​as-​vulnerable would mean achieving “a more equal society than currently exists in the United States” (Fineman 2008, 2). The United States is beholden to a poor vision of equality—​one that has prioritized formal equality (written into law and policy) to protect people with identities different from the heteronormative white male. In fact, she argues this vision is so poor “it can and has resulted in significant backlash” (Fineman 2008, 4). Instead, Fineman (2008, 8) wishes to transform the association of vulnerability with marginal and marginalized lives to one associated with all lives: I want to claim the term “vulnerable” for its potential in describing a universal, inevitable, enduring aspect of the human condition that must be at the heart of our concept of social and state responsibility. Vulnerability thus freed from its limited and negative associations is a powerful conceptual tool with the potential to define an obligation for the state to ensure a richer and more robust guarantee of equality than is currently afforded under the equal protection model. (Fineman 2008, 8–​9)

While ultimately this suggestion—​to associate vulnerability with all lives as suggested in Chapter 2—​is what creativity and creative solutions will be based upon, it is also not the lived reality of women (and people of color, and individuals within the LGBTQI community, and the Dreamers, and Native Americans) in the United States currently. The rest of this section will focus on three different vulnerabilities women face in the United States: • economic vulnerability, including access to jobs, expense of childcare, poverty, education; • bodily vulnerability, because women are the largest target in gun crime (and white men are the most frequent mass shooters), rape culture; • reproductive health vulnerability, not just access to abortions but simple access to health care.

The War on Women

The discourse of the WoW typically points to gendered violence and bias against women to be fully equal and agential citizens in control of their

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own personal and political decisions. The literature on it is often split into two different tracts: an international war on women’s rights—​particularly in the continued suppression of women in specified parts of the world—​ and the domestic one in the United States. Often these two tracks do not quite meet—​the United States is often held up in international relations scholarship and other publications as a bastion of women’s rights and as an exemplar that other countries, particularly those in the developing world, should emulate (see Hudson et al. 2012; Pinker 2011; Kristof and WuDunn 2009). In the scholarship and media that focuses on women worldwide, the argument for women’s rights is often tied to security. Heavily militarized societies, ones with a large or disproportionate amount of government funds spent on the military, are usually characterized by a lack of women’s advancement (Hudson et al. 2012). In fact, the studies have shown that the states in which women are physically and economically insecure are more likely to contribute to regional insecurity (Hudson et al. 2012). Most of the studies rather problematically focus upon women in “brown” countries—​ states that are discursively or statistically linked with Islam—​and how these “Muslim states” discriminate against women (see Gentry 2015b). While these studies have brought women’s security to the forefront and linked individual security with state and regional security, they problematically deflect away from the women’s insecurity in Western states and in particular in the United States. In fact, women in the United States are particularly vulnerable in multiple ways. The women leading the UN’s working group on discrimination against women visited the United States in 2015 and found that “women in the United States were ‘missing right’s compared to the rest of the world” (emphasis added) (Bassett 2015). For example, the United States is “one of three countries in the world that does not guarantee women paid maternity leave” (emphasis added) (Bassett 2015). Furthermore, the delegation was particularly concerned with “violence against women,” especially “gun violence” (Bassett 2015). Therefore, while the literature on America’s War on Women has often focused upon the rolling back of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court Case that legalized abortion in the United States, the reality is that women’s vulnerability is wider and more deeply entrenched than just reproductive rights. The War on Women is about the control over women’s bodies that would force them into dependency on other people and the state. If women cannot access safe and legal abortions, they will seek procedures that could cause permanent harm to their bodies, if not kill them. If women choose (or are forced) to remain pregnant, this hinders their ability to finish their

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education and/​or be offered and keep jobs that demand time and skills—​ unless they have money to pay for childcare or have a willing support group to help them raise the child. This works most often if the woman is middle to upper class. It does not work if the woman is working class or among the working poor—​where everyone needs to work. The woman is then not just dependent upon her family and friends, but her choice is dependent upon what the state says she can do with her body. While I believe as both a feminist and a Christian that humans are not wholly autonomous sovereign individuals and that dependency is neither an ill nor a detraction, I do believe forced dependency is something that women encounter more than men. And in this way, women everywhere are vulnerable beings and that vulnerability in the United States centers around economic vulnerability, bodily vulnerability, and a specific form of bodily vulnerability: reproductive health.

Economic Vulnerability

Women are more likely to live in poverty than men. In fact, poverty is greatest among women of color: Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2014, 30.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.7 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2  percent of married-​couple households lived in poverty. (National Poverty Center 2017)

Women are more adversely affected by divorce. Even though the Great Recession saw more women retain their jobs in the early years, as male-​ dominated industries such as manufacturing and construction were more heavily hit than female-​dominated industries such as education and government offices, men were rehired at a greater rate than women as the United States recovered (Wething 2014; Wartenberg 2012; Hartmann, English, and Hayes 2010).5 Even in jobs women are equally qualified for, or adjusting for men being in better-​paid industries (Weissman 2012), “White women make about 79 cents to the white man’s dollar, while black women make 66 cents and Hispanic women bring home just 59 cents” (Adamczyk 2016). To examine this further, one study sent in “test” women to apply for two very different sorts of jobs: waiting on tables and being a classical musician in a symphony. In high-​paying restaurants, women’s applications

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were either not accepted or were called back less often. When women auditioned for symphonies behind a curtain, “their probability of advancing increased” (Weissman 2012). Justifications (all of which can be read in the reactive discourse of men’s rights groups in the next section) for this kind of unfair treatment ranged from claims such as women do not need to support a family (see above); women leave the workforce to have children; and women need to learn to be better negotiators. There was the even more misogynist belief that women are simply not as productive or agile at their jobs (see Adamcyzk 2016; Weissman 2012)—​despite the fact that women are becoming the best-​educated population in the United States. Furthermore, women simply have more difficultly advancing in the workplace. In her Atlantic article, Jordan Weissman (2012) interviewed labor economist and Cornell professor Francine Blau, in which Blau argues: Even when controlling for measured factors, women will get less training than men. Mentorship has been a long-​term issue, especially in male-​dominated areas, or areas where the senior people are men. People still tend to identify of [sic] younger colleagues of the same sex. So they may be more supportive, encouraging and helpful to young men than they are to young women. And even how it affects women themselves. There have been some studies that suggest . . . just having a female professor in some of these scientific and technical areas increased the probability that women would go into these areas.

In the end, Blau maintains that the United States has some very impressive anti-​discrimination laws, but that change must be a mixture of law and attitudinal change from employers themselves (Weissman 2012). In other words, women’s economic vulnerability is a societal disposition.

Bodily Vulnerability

There are two striking elements to women’s bodily vulnerability in contemporary America: gun violence and rape. First, that women are particularly vulnerable to gun violence in the United States: “Whereas 15 percent of total gun homicide victims in the U.S. between 2008-​12 were female, 50 percent of the victims of mass shootings  .  .  .  were female” (Everytown Research 2016). All but one of the mass shooters were male (Follman, Aronson, and Pan 2016). Furthermore, there is “a noteworthy connection between mass shooting incidents and domestic or family violence. In at least 76 of the

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cases (57 percent), the shooter killed a current or former spouse or intimate partner or other family member” (Everytown Research 2016). Between 2009 and 2014, there has been a mass shooting every two months in the US—​mass shootings fall outside of other gun fatalities and injuries (McKay 2014). Mother Jones started an open-​access database on mass shootings in July 2012 after the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Defining a mass shooting as four or more victims by one perpetrator (except in the cases of Columbine High School and Westside Middle School shootings), the Mother Jones database covers 1982 to 2016. By their count, there have been eighty-​four mass shootings in that timeframe: “Forty-​seven of these mass shootings have occurred since 2006. Seven of them took place in 2012 alone, including Sandy Hook” (Follman, Aronson, and Pan 2016). Most of the shooters showed signs of mental illness that went untreated, and more than 75 percent of the weapons were obtained legally (Follman, Aronson, and Pan 2016). More than half (44) of the shooters were white men; only one was a woman (Follman, Aronson, and Pan 2016). “Toxic masculinity” is given term to help us understand why most mass shooters are white men; it is defined as a specific model of manhood geared towards dominance and control. It’s a manhood that views women and LGBT people as inferior, sees sex as an act not of affection but domination, and which valorizes violence as the way to prove one’s self to the world. (Marcotte 2016)

Toxic masculinity in the United States is particularly geared toward mass shootings because “there is a persistent pressure to constantly be proving manhood and warding off anything considered feminine or emasculating” (Hamblin 2016). Toxic masculinity is especially evident in the 140-​page “manifesto” and YouTube video left by the 2014 “Isla Vista” shooter, Elliot Rodger. In his video he warns, Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I  will have my revenge . . . you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one, the true alpha male. (Penny 2014)6

In her New Statesman article, Laurie Penny (2014) draws from historic examples of other mass shootings where women and feminism were the explicit targets, including the 1989 killing of twenty-​eight people at École Polytechnique in Quebec and a 2009 shooting of thirteen people in

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Pittsburgh. For Penny (2014), toxic masculinity or extremist misogyny is a specific ideology: Women owe men. Women, as a class, as a sex, owe men sex, love, attention, “adoration,” in Rodger’s words. We owe them respect and obedience, and our refusal to give it to them is to blame for their anger, their violence—​stupid sluts get what they deserve. Most of all, there is an overpowering sense of rage and entitlement: the conviction that men have been denied a birthright of easy power. (emphasis true to text)

A similar commodification of women and their bodies is behind the second bodily vulnerability. “Rape culture” identifies the second bodily vulnerability. The United States is dominated by a rape culture that frequently lets rapists go free, particularly if they are, again, middle-​class white men. Rape culture is strongly identified with the sexualization and objectification of women’s bodies and their entire personhood. According to the American Psychological Association (2007, 1), [s]‌exualization occurs when:

• a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics; • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy; • a person is sexually objectified—​that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; • and/​or sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

While some literature links sexualization with the trafficking and sexual victimization of women and girls internationally (UNICEF USA 2016), the literature explored here argues that such commodification of women and girls and the entitlement of white men allows rape culture to continue in the United States. In their classic edited volume, Transforming a Rape Culture (1994/​2005), editors Emilie Buchwald, Pamela Fletcher, and Martha Roth make the claim that rape culture is endemic in America—​where rape is normalized and where sexiness, sexuality, and violence became intertwined. One in five women survive rape or an attempted rape in the United States (Maxwell 2014). One in six boys are raped by the age of eighteen (Maxwell 2014). Ninety-​seven percent of rapists never spend a single night in jail (Maxwell

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2014). When Zerlina Maxwell, a Time reporter, started a Twitter hashtag, #RapeCultureIsWhen, she received these responses:

• Rape culture is when women who come forward are questioned about what they were wearing. • Rape culture is when survivors who come forward are asked, ‘Were you drinking?’ • Rape culture is when people say, ‘she was asking for it.’ • Rape culture is when we teach women how to not get raped, instead of teaching men not to rape. • Rape culture is when the lyrics of Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ mirror the words of actual rapists and is still the number one song in the country. • Rape culture is when the mainstream media mourns the end of the convicted Steubenville rapists’ football careers and does not mention the young girl who was victimized. • Rape culture is when cyberbullies take pictures of sexual assaults and harass their victims online after the fact, which in the cases of Audrie Pott and Rehtaeh Parsons tragically ended in their suicides. • Rape culture is when, in 31 states, rapists can legally sue for child custody if the rape results in pregnancy. • Rape culture is when college campus advisers tasked with supporting the student body, shame survivors who report their rapes. (Maxwell 2014)

By now the name Brock Turner is infamous: he is the white, upper-​middle class Stanford University student and once-​promising swimmer. He was convicted of raping a woman and received a six-​month sentence of which he served three. The judge was loath to imprison him, “citing the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ of Turner’s youth, clean criminal record and other considerations in departing from the minimum sentence of two years in prison” (Associated Press 2016b). This is rape culture, or the “normalization of sexual violence in society” (Mahdawi 2016), and it overwhelmingly favors white, upper-​and middle-​class men such as Turner, Donald Trump, and Dominique Strauss-​Khan.

Reproductive Health Vulnerability

Ever since the Roe v. Wade ruling, abortion has been challenged—​rolling back the window when legal abortions can be provided; determining that pregnancy due to rape can or cannot be ended; making women listen to the heartbeat of the fetus, etc. The focus of this section, however, is not

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on abortion, but on the conflation of abortion with women’s reproductive health. As abortion has been challenged through defunding and ever stricter regulations, this has had an impact on women’s access to affordable reproductive health care, including less access to birth control, screening for cervical cancer and breast cancer, as well as diagnosis and treatment of STDs. While most states have challenged the legality of abortion, no state has been as aggressive as Texas. The more recent Texas state laws on “abortion” have actually meant a campaign against reproductive health care to poorer women, primarily in the Rio Grande Valley that borders Mexico. In a 2012 Texas Monthly article, Mimi Swartz follows the Texas legislature’s gutting of reproductive health care in the state and delineates the history of reproductive rights for women in the state. She relies upon the saying, “Texas is heaven for men and dogs, but it’s hell for women and horses.” Swartz (2012) recovers some lost history, mainly that there has been a long-​term seat at the politics table for women of a type: Before it was considered politically incorrect, a woman in the political arena was known as a good ol’girl or a man’s woman. This complimentary description meant she could drink, cuss, and cut a deal, and probably never cried in public. Many of these women were what today we’d call liberals, people like [Barbara] Jordan, . . . [Ann] Richards, and Molly Ivins. They have endured the hollow loneliness of public scorn, but they managed to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified in Texas in 1972.

There were also conservative women and together, “both Democrats and Republican women used their power to advance the cause of family planning” (Swartz 2012). Swartz (2012) reminds Texans that at one time, “when abortion was both dangerous and illegal  .  .  .  volunteering for Planned Parenthood was a socially acceptable, even admirable thing for many middle-​and upper-​middle-​class women. . . . Partisanship just wasn’t in the picture.” It was Roe v. Wade that changed that picture. This shift in perspective eventually resulted in a tide of restrictive reproductive health laws that Peter Durken, a former CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said “we all thought . . . was harassment” (Swartz 2012). It began with a parental notification law for minors seeking abortions in 1999; it went on to the 2003 Women’s Right to Know Act, that “required doctors to give pregnant women a booklet—​tinted pink with a daisy—​that includes information about the growth and development of ‘the unborn child;’ ” it extended to the 2005 lawsuit Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas v. Sanchez, which wanted reproductive health care centers divided into separate “entities:  one would distribute birth

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control and perform women’s wellness checkups . . . the other would provide abortions exclusively” (Swartz 2012). After the Republicans won a “super majority” in the state legislature in 2010, an agenda to “cut government spending—​waste—​[was used] to push a deeply conservative social agenda” (Swartz 2012). In 2011 the legislature slashed reproductive health-​ care spending in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and passed a sonogram bill—​one that required all women seeking an abortion to have a sonogram twenty-​four hours in advance (Swartz 2012). In 2013 the legislature removed “Planned Parenthood and 50,000 low-​income patients from a Medicaid-​waiver program known as the Women’s Health Program just because they ‘affiliate’ with organizations linked to abortion” (Tuma 2017). It was in these bill-​passing sessions that Wendy Davis held her infamous eleven-​hour filibuster. Some of these measures have been repealed through a Supreme Court judgment, including making abortion-​providing doctors have admitting procedures at a hospital and that the clinics would be required to have “hospital-​like standards,” which would mean these would fail the “undue burden” test (de Vogue, Kopan, and Berman 2016). In the spring of 2017, the Texas legislature is seeking to pass a law that would allow obstetricians to keep information from their female patients about their pregnancies (Pearson 2017). Indeed, these measures would have (and did) eliminate access to reproductive health care in the Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost region of Texas with some of the worst poverty and a high Hispanic population. Nuestro Texas (Our Texas), a grassroots organization, began in response to the 2011 bill because: These polices  .  .  .  have jeopardized women’s rights to health, life, autonomy, equality and freedom from ill treatment. One of the areas most deeply impacted is the Lower Rio Grande Valley, an under-​resourced area where family planning clinics are frontline providers for uninsured and low-​income women who would otherwise have nowhere to turn for essential services like contraception and cancer screenings  .  .  .  With long delays at clinics and the elimination of many free and low-​cost services, reproductive health care has become unavailable and unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of women. Health outcomes reflect this, with reported increases in unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, as well as reproductive system cancers that, if caught early, are preventable or treatable. (Neustro Texas 2017)

Whatever side of the abortion aisle one is on, it does not have to determine the health-​care coverage that women receive. Indeed, reducing

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women’s reproductive health to abortion diminishes women to bodies if not uteruses to be controlled and determined by mainly men, as the Texas legislature has been dominated by (mainly white) men since its inception. The same again is happening nationwide with the discussions about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. A much circulated photo showed a room packed with white men cutting a deal to eliminate maternity care and mammograms from the package of essential benefits that insurers are required to provide in the Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. (Chira 2017)

Yet again that visceral feeling I described at the beginning of this chapter returns in writing these sections but especially when I deliberate the prospect of white men determining the future for millions of women as if they do not rely on women every day and have not come from women’s bodies. As if they do not have grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, wives, daughters that rely on this health care. Most of all, it is as if these men do not see women as fully human. And this is the point: they should not need to have a relationship with a woman to respect women. Are these men so privileged, so obtuse, so wealthy as to think women in the United States do not fundamentally have to have access to good reproductive health care as the very essence of their own good health? As Susan Chira (2017) proclaims, “Republicans seem to have an evil genius for tone-​deafness when it comes to women.”


Unlike the previous chapter, where I highlighted a specific anxious response to a specific social movement, in this chapter I  argue that the policies against women and sexual minorities are the anxious responses meant to defend a patriarchal system that is under attack. The discourses therefore “speak” in defense of perpetuating these vulnerabilities against women and either fail to regard the vulnerabilities as truth or actually see them as manipulative lies. This section will look at how women are presented in the literature associated with the men’s rights movement, including the National Coalition for Men (NCFM) and the Red Pill, the aforementioned Reddit forum, and Breitbart, the “alt-​right”—​white supremacist—​news, opinion, and commentary Internet site led by Steve Bannon.7 To be clear, to say that misogyny is an alt-​ right or conservative issue is misleading—​misogyny is not a binary in which alt-​right guilt

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of it absolves the left. One example is the media, which conservatives often label as liberal, backlash against Gabby Douglas but the weak negative response to Ryan Lochte’s antics at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. Conservatives often label Hollywood as extremely leftist and out of touch, yet recent stories demonstrate how the subordination of women happens there, too. Well before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke and a tsunami of survivors’ experiences flooded Hollywood, Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 film, Last Tango in Paris, made headlines because Bertolucci admitted, in a recently resurfaced 2013 interview, that he colluded with Marlon Brando, then forty-​two, to rape his 19-​year-​old co-​star, Maria Schneider. They were filming an explicit sex scene (anal rape) in which Brando uses a stick of butter as lubricant: Bertolucci revealed that [Schneider] was not even told about Brando’s use of butter . . . [Bertolucci] wanted her reaction “as a girl, not as an actress.” He said he felt guilty, but did not regret his decision. “I wanted Maria to feel, not to act, the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for her whole life.” (Lewis 2016)

Schneider never filmed another nude scene and had for years stated that she felt violated and raped by Brando and betrayed by Bertolucci. This not the only time that something similar has happened to women in Hollywood (Lewis 2016). Sharon Stone was told that the famous leg-​ crossing scene in Basic Instinct (1992) would not reveal anything; instead, she found she had been lied to while watching the premiere, surrounded by people (Lewis 2016). What this all exposes is that men have both the moral authority to determine what to do with women’s bodies but also the moral authority to determine when sex is or is not rape. This goes back to how epistemic injustice feeds into women’s vulnerability—​women are not knowers or speakers of their own violations. Such sentiments cohere too closely with Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” (see Lang 2016a), and it aligns all too well with what is read on both Breitbart and the Red Pill.8 This section will thus look at how these texts play with the economic, bodily, and reproductive health vulnerabilities of women and thereby reveals the authors’ own anxieties about the threats to men’s continued privileged position. All of these contribute to a culture of toxic masculinity and the sexual objectification of women. These texts all hold the same key assumptions: that women are objects whose worth is derived from what they bring to men, mainly sexual attractiveness and the ability to procreate; women’s intelligence is inferior to men; feminism is a threat to civilization; the Pill and other contraception is not good for women and that paternity is simply used to entrap men.

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Economic Vulnerability

Milo Yiannopoulos, one of Breitbart’s columnists, is the now-​disgraced “enfant terrible” of the alt-​right (Lang 2016b) who frequently addresses/​ attacks women’s issues in his speeches and columns. He is known for being a troll, particularly toward women and transgender people (Lang 2016b). He was disgraced because he made comments in support of pedophilia. His commentaries on Breitbart are extremely polemic and speak to the threat he perceives women to be. In this instance, his need to mark women as intellectually inferior and less able to compete in the public sphere of business, science, and technology demonstrate the vulnerability of men’s status. While it is widely accepted that women and girls lag in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) due to gendered constructions about women’s abilities, Yiannopoulos (2015a) claims, “The real reason there aren’t more female astrophysicists is that the number of really, really smart girls is minuscule.” He continues, “Of course there’s the odd mould-​ breaking chick brainiac who gets a lot of press attention. But they’re in the minority, and not because girls are put off by some mythical male-​ dominated patriarchy.” Instead, he claims that men “occupy more of the higher end of the IQ scale;” only later does he state that men also occupy more of the lower end of the scale, where women tend to clump in the middle (Yiannopoulos 2015a). In another article Yiannopoulos (2015b) denies patriarchal and misogynistic bias: Women drop out of science and maths in alarming numbers, not because there are sinister and mysterious patriarchal forces at play, but because they either can’t cut it in highly competitive environments or they simply change their minds about what they want from life. . . . . Even women who graduate with good degrees in science subjects often don’t use them:  they switch careers in their twenties, abandoning the hard sciences. In some cases, they simply drop out of the workforce altogether. (Yiannopoulos 2015b)

He then proposes that there “ought to be a cap on the number of women enrolling in the sciences, maths, philosophy, engineering . . . and perhaps medicine and the law, too” (Yiannopoulos 2015b). Yiannopoulos’ anxiety is revealed over his concern that equality-​seeking policies adversely impact men. Women’s admission to competitive programs “is a disaster for

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men who missed out on places, and it’s a criminal waste of public funds” (Yiannopoulos 2015b). This becomes more relevant to women’s economic vulnerability—​in getting jobs and receiving equal pay—​when he lists the fourteen “facts” the tech industry does not want women to know (Yiannopoulos 2015c). Yiannopoulos argues that there is not a glass ceiling in tech for women; instead, the women “who want to work in tech already do” (fact 1)  and “most women aren’t interested in tech” and will never be: “Women simply don’t want to build spaceships or code iPhone apps” (fact 2) (Yiannopoulos 2015c). For his third fact, he reminds his readers that women are not as intelligent as men and “women’s brains aren’t as well suited to programming as men.” Women’s lack of competitive edge serves as his fourteenth fact. For the remaining points, Yiannopoulos turns his attention away from women’s mental acumen (or lack thereof) and problematizes a diversity and equality culture; for instance, fact 4, “There Is No Evidence That ‘Diversity’ Improves Company Performance,” and fact 6, “There’s Vanishingly Little Sexism In The Tech Industry” (or “[a]‌t least no more than anywhere else in society and a damn sight less than the law, finance and politics”) (Yiannopoulos 2015c). As before, Yiannopoulos’s anxiety over men’s positions is apparent: for fact 8 he believes that the diversity culture has led to women having “massive advantage when applying for tech jobs” and (fact 9) that “arbitrary quotas” for women “are discriminatory and sexist” against men (Yiannopoulos 2015c). He ends by reminding women that they “can’t have it all”—​women need to “pick raising a family or making CEO. You can’t do both, unless you’re rich.” (Yiannopoulos 2015c). Thus, men can have it all—​be CEO and have children—​but only if women give up work (the public sphere) and return to the private. In fact, he specifically targets heteronormative women as they can learn from lesbians to be cut-​throat (Yiannopoulos 2015c). He separates gay women from straight—​making gay women deviant and more like competitive men, who are also presumably un-​nurturing and uninterested in children. His attitudes toward women demonstrate a misogynist lack of concern for their welfare. These writings may not discuss women’s poverty or the gender wage gap, instead they demonstrate that Yiannopoulos does not believe women should be in (competitive) work forces because they cannot handle the stress, and this denies men their rightful position. Society would work better if women were forced to depend upon men. A  similar position dominates the Red Pill forum. One of the “theoretical” texts, “The Misandry Bubble” (Red Pill 2010) claims that men have become “second-​ class citizens” due to feminists and leftists shifting “civilizational forces,”

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including child support after divorce, advancing employment parity and equality, and supporting anti-​violence and harassment laws. According to this source, civilization emerged when: Societies . . . enforced monogamous marriage . . . ensur[ing] that all beta men had wives, thus unlocking productive output out of these men. . . Women, in turn, received a provider, a protector, and higher social status. (Red Pill 2010)

Women who did not marry remained “trapped in poverty” (Red Pill 2010). “The balance of civilization” is becoming “distort[ed],” in part because of women’s economic demands, such as “no-​fault divorce, asset division, and alimony,” “female economic freedom,” and “female-​centric social engineering,” that includes support for single mothers, the criminalization of violence against women, and sexual harassment laws (Red Pill 2010). This is because “The Western World . . . undervalues men and overvalues women, where the state forcibly transfers resources from men to women” leading “otherwise good women to conduct great evil against men” (Red Pill 2010). Instead of being able to recognize that divorce and poverty affect women and children more, this article and the Red Pill forum more generally find that child support and divorce are a ploy for economic gain. As one text states, “Women love opportunistically” and pursue “hypergamy,” or marrying a person in a superior economic position (Red Pill 2011a). Marriage is a “tyranny” for men; it has become, “a shockingly unequal arrangement, where the man is a second-​class citizen” (Red Pill 2010). Therefore, a man should only enter a marriage if they make the same amount, has a pre-​nup, and is “deeply competent in the Venusian Arts”—​or “The Game” as it is referred to on the Red Pill (2015a), more on that below. Men’s economic well-​being is under assault by laws that protect women. There is a denial that there is a structural reason for the existence of the glass ceiling and instead an assertion that men are the victims of the “glass floor, where we see that 90  percent of imprisonments, suicides, and crippling occupational injuries are of men” (Red Pill 2010). If women do only earn “75 percent of men” it is owed to a general incompetence/​inexperience (see also the link on the forum to Esther Vilar’s [1971] The Manipulated Man), the article makes the comparison that “22-​year-​olds earn less . . . . then [sic] 40-​year-​olds” and it queries why is this not then “age discrimination” (Red Pill 2010)? It is then implied that “profit” is at risk if a company complies with “political correctness” and that if women deserved to be paid equally this would be corrected by “[m]‌arket forces” (Red Pill 2010). Thus, while the article never comes out and says women are paid less because of pregnancy

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or lack of aptitude, it is hinted at. Together this has led to men’s insecurity in the job market. It claims that there has been no recovery from the “mancession” and that “government stimulus funds were steered to boost female employment at the expense of assistance for men” (Red Pill 2010). Overall, therefore, the discourse more points to a fear of women’s gains on men and the threat that a gainfully employed female population presents to men who feel their wages and their positions are under threat. The need to be misogynistic in language and attitude (even if they claim they are correctly identifying women’s true nature) is indicative of reactivity and a protectiveness of patriarchal structures that would keep women out of the workplace.

Bodily Vulnerability

According to another of the Red Pill’s theoretical contributions, women have no inherent value—​ not as a human, not as a person—​ because value has to be earned and women can no longer rely on the value that possessing a vagina has given them (Red Pill 2013). This article therefore serves to emancipate men from the power of the vagina, yet all it does is to equate women with their vagina and little else, like Magritte’s painting or Trump’s comments. This sentiment is embedded throughout the forum’s theoretical texts. The “loosely based set of behaviors specifically designed to increase attraction” (Red Pill 2015b) called “game” is crucial to the Red Pill “sexual strategy.” It is a defense against feminism, which the Red Pill identifies as a “sexual strategy” because “it puts women into the best position they can find, to select mates, to determine when they want to switch mates, to locate the best dna [sic] possible, and to garner the most resources” (Red Pill 2015a). Game is self-​admitted “manipulation” that is “effective . . . against [women’s] own sexual strategy” (Red Pill 2015a). Drawing upon misinterpretation of evolutionary biology’s research on attractiveness and how sexual partners are chosen, it argues that men and women’s reproductive needs are at odds with one another. Women “are” subjected to “filter” men for economic “security” (Red Pill 2011b). Men have their own criteria for mating selection and determining the best genetic pairing for his reproduction (i.e. she’s gotta be hot), but his criteria is certainly less discriminating than that for women (i.e. no one’s ugly after 2am). This is evidenced in our own hormonal biology; men possess between 12 and 17 times the amount of testosterone (the primary hormone in sexual arousal) women

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do and women produce substantially more estrogen (instrumental in sexual caution) and oxytocin (fostering feelings of security and nurturing) than men. (Red Pill 2011b)

Because civilization has been corrupted, so has this natural process. Therefore, the men that women settle down with, for example, “Nice Guys”/​betas that are good providers, are sexually unsatisfactory, which leads women to cheat with alphas, like the “pool boy or the cute surfer she met on spring break” (because apparently all women are college-​aged) (Red Pill 2011b). Once a man understands this dilemma, he can use the game to become an alpha (Red Pill 2015a). One man’s “confessional” post about transforming from an “incel,” or an “Involuntarily Celibate[:]‌A man who wants to get laid, but can’t” (Red Pill 2015b), to an alpha happened when he walked out of his “now ex-​wife’s” thirtieth birthday party and walked into a strip club (Red Pill 2012). He describes being tired of having the sex lives (which he describes somewhat graphically) of women he wanted to date/​sleep with rubbed in his face, thus, at the strip club, he channeled his “ang[er]” and “foul mood” towards “a sweet thin Polish girl” who he slept with. This new modus operandi of anger and dominance worked to get him laid each and every time (Red Pill 2012) because women want one thing: sex with an alpha male. By getting “game,” he was able to show his dominance and free himself from women’s sexual (and economic) manipulations all the while demonstrating just how much this author only can see women as sexual objects designed from men’s gratification. Furthermore, both the Red Pill and Breitbart pose men as the victims, like the reformed “incel.” This leads to the conclusion that the only reason men and women have a relationship is for sexual gratification—​not friendship, not family ties, not companionship, and not because they have common interests—​but simply for sex and sex that satisfies men not women. The violence connected with the objectification and sexualization of women’s bodies (UNICEF USA 2016) are also present in various articles on Breitbart. It becomes clear that there is an ideal woman within the Breitbart world: good women are not feminists nor college educated, they do not play with unusual hair colors, they are not overweight, and they are compliant (Yiannopoulos 2016a, 2015d). Women, in Yiannopoulos’s opinion, are to be physically attractive in a specific way and perform femininity in a specific way; they are to be loveable, smart, but not overly educated. This all plays into the refusal to understand what structures and discourses are responsible for rape culture.

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According to Breitbart, rape culture is the idea that Western culture somehow promotes and perpetuates the crime of rape, and that pernicious forces in society like the patriarchy are responsible for the violent crimes. (Deacon 2015)

In a search of the Red Pill forum for “rape,” the results were often linked with false accusations, migrants, and how to avoid being charged with marital rape. One article labeled as “theory” claims that all women lie about rape because if they were true the statistics would indicate that almost “half of the women you’ve met in your life” have experienced sexual assault (Red Pill 2016). And somehow this is an impossible reality. Yiannopoulos implies that rape culture is a misunderstanding politicized by feminists, “who want to throw men in jail if their advance is too awkward, or if they themselves say yes and later regret it” (Yiannopoulos 2016a). He finds that “affirmative consent” is taking matters too far: If you don’t consent at every stage of a sexual encounter, it’s rape. That means asking for every kiss and asking for every boob squeeze. It’s almost as if feminists want everyone to remain celibate. Just because they can’t get any sex, they want the rest of us to have deserts down there too. (Yiannopoulos 2016a)

And this is not just a problem because men’s lives are ruined by false allegations of sexual assault and rape, but because it is destroying the very fabric of America. Because the trend to blow the whistle on rape culture is on the uptick, the anxiety to preserve a way of life—​heteronormative patriarchy—​that fails to hold men accountable for their actions is laced throughout these texts. Both the Red Pill and Yiannopoulos’s discourse elides affirmation of rape by reflecting rape as normal heterosexual relations (the “absurd campus rape culture myth” [Yiannopoulos 2015e]). By reflecting rape as a symptom of feminism’s attack on the “non-​existent” patriarchy and not a problem of misogynistic rape culture that amplifies women’s vulnerability, the discourse attempts to deflect away from men’s and a patriarchal culture’s responsibility. By their logic men are the vulnerable ones. By believing that women control men through sex this affirms the “right” for men to take back their autonomy and worth by defiling women, which is again reflected in the Red Pill’s articles on how to either “control” or “tease” their “bitches.” In this discursive narrative, the only way to defy women is to either never have sex with them (having it

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instead with a sexbot) or to take their control back, which is tantamount to rape. American government is not immune to these claims. While Trump’s own comments demonstrate his contempt for women, self-​proclaimed Evangelical Christian Vice President Mike Pence is equally problematic. Pence has stated that he will not be alone with a woman out of respect for his wife. This is an unacceptable position for a modern government leader to hold. This denies women access to power. It means that Pence can only see women as sexual temptation and not, again, as bearers of knowl­ edge. This exclusionary position is further witnessed when women’s access to contraception and reproductive health care is limited by panels and committees formed solely by men.

Reproductive Health Vulnerability

The objectification of women’s bodies continues into the few discussions of women’s reproductive health and rights. With regard to the other vulnerabilities, the National Coalition for Men (NCFM) discourse has been more moderate in tone and position than either the Red Pill or Breitbart. All three, however, converge on the issue of birth control. Like the Red Pill, the NCFM believes that American society has morphed into one that oppresses men and is overprotective of women’s rights. In a word search of the Red Pill Reddit’s forum for “birth control,” the returned articles focused on the lack of male birth control options and whether birth control was actually harming women’s “biological” sexual filters, further harming society. While Breitbart echoes the concern of “harm” toward women, the NCFM addresses the former—​the dearth of options for men—​directly. Most of the NCFM website makes an effort to avoid casting women a harmful light; however, the page on “Reproductive Rights” skirts this line. Two concerns are addressed on the site: first, that men are victims of fraudulent paternity claims and, second, that men have fewer contraceptive choices than women. The website claims that men have few options in contesting paternity claims made against them: Many of these men are inadequately served or respond late due to language barriers, mental disabilities, fear, or mistaken belief that they do not have to respond because the child is not theirs. They often first learn of a paternity judgment when their wages are attached or their driving privileges are suspended. (NCFM 2017)

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Even though the NCFM helped pass laws to protect men, it maintains that judges still have discretion to force a man to pay even after DNA excludes him as the biological father, and many men still find themselves trapped by the existing two-​year deadline to challenge a paternity judgment from the time they “knew or should have known” of it. If they are late by one day, they are locked in with no escape, and courts have no discretion to relieve them. (NCFM 2017)

This victimizing language, which indicates that women are exploiting men and the American legal system is rigged against men à la the Red Pill, continues in the discussion of contraception. In this line of thought, there is no recognition and even denial of the structures that force single mothers into poverty. Instead, women are better off: Men are deemed at least as responsible as women when an unwanted pregnancy occurs, but women have the entire say in whether to abort or keep the child, and have much easier access to adoption or safe-​haven abandonment. As a result, when an unwanted pregnancy occurs, either by accident or when men are lied to about birth control or fertility, women can surrender their parental rights and responsibilities, while men cannot. (NCFM 2017)

The discourse of the NCFM therefore flips the issue of reproductive health rights. It is no longer about protecting the vulnerability of women and the children they may have but about how men are harmed by paternity. Men are harmed because women either do not know who got them pregnant or are naming men in paternity suits for (seemingly) economic gain. The sentiment of women’s manipulative nature continues on Breitbart. Pro-​life activists are “menopausal, droopy-​eyed office drones who spend their nights at home with a wine bottle” surrounded by the smell of “cat piss” that look down on the “genuinely beautiful thing” that child bearing is (Yiannopoulos 2016b). “Conservatives” and “churches” are right—​the pill leads to “promiscuity” and to women who “think and act like men” (Yiannopoulos 2016b). The pill, birth control, and abortions are “the work of the Devil. Like all things discouraged by the Bible, it leads only to misery and suffering—​for young men as well as women” (Yiannopoulos 2015f). He returns to a point raised in the previous section that encouraging birth control is bad for American society: Now, you may be asking what I would have women replace the Pill with, since it’s obviously so awful. Condoms? Vasectomies? The answer is:  nothing. We

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need the kids if we’re to breed enough to keep the Muslim invaders at bay. (Yiannopoulos 2015f)

Indeed, from what I can tell, the Breitbart website nor Yiannopoulos’s articles are never explicitly pro-​life, but the articles are clear that birth control and abortion are moral evils that harm women, harm men, and therefore harm society thereby converging with the Red Pill and the NCFM. This is where things take an interesting turn. While the Red Pill posits this threat as owed to feminism and immigration, the threat to society posed particularly by Muslim immigrants gets wrapped up in Yiannopoulos’s discussions of birth control. This places it within the discursive structures of historic, white supremacist pro-​life arguments: that white people cannot afford to lose the population battle against people of color (Smith 2005). If we give women unfettered access to birth control, American demographics will look different and be different: they will be brown. Similar arguments were made in the 1950s and 1960s, and it is one of the reasons that extreme pro-​lifers are tied to white supremacy groups (see Mason 2002; Smith 2005). Given that the alt-​right is a not so subtle veil for white supremacy, this hits a chord with Breitbart readers. The anxiety implicit in these articles, in the need to control women and their choices, is not just about preserving the patriarchal order that exists but to also control/​preserve/​maintain the white order. Gender assumptions about how Muslims treat women was one of the justificatory bases for the Bush administration’s war in Afghanistan. It was argued that women in Afghanistan, due to the extreme form of Islam practiced by the Taliban and advocated for by al-​Qaeda, were abused and dominated by (hyper)masculine Muslim men who were prone to violence, aggression, and barbarism (see Shepherd 2006; Nayak 2006). Similar discursive framing is also witnessed on Breitbart (see for instance Yiannopoulos 2016a). Ironically, Islam is posed as a threat to women in multiple ways. Saudi women are not liberated and should be (although Western women no longer want it and are damaged by it) (Breitbart Jerusalem 2015). Muslim men, particularly refugees, rape all women, but constitute a particular sexual threat to Western women. For instance, a Breitbart columnist argues that in Norway, recent statistics revealed that 100 per cent of violent street-​rapes committed in the capital city of Oslo were committed by “non-​ western” immigrants. It’s a similar story in Denmark, where the majority of rapes are committed by immigrants, usually Muslim. In England . . . . tens of thousands of young British girls are brutalized, tortured, beaten and raped by organized gangs comprised almost exclusively of Muslims. And now we have Germany.

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When Chancellor Merkel threw open the doors of her country to hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, she opened the door to the rape of German women. (Waters 2015)

The same journalist uses her column to draw attention to a new NGO, Islam Kills Women, which “aims to do one thing and one thing only, show the world just why it is that women are treated so utterly appallingly in every Muslim society on earth” (Waters 2016). Such thinking, of course, has already been reflected in US foreign and domestic policy: the nonsensical belief that Muslim men are rapists is one of the reasons why so many governors refused to take Syrian refugees. It is a dehumanizing discourse. What is happening here is how the threat of the “brown” person (either in racism against black folk or the racialized religious prejudice against Muslims) intersect with gender—​women are used as the standard bearers of the culture and the nation (see Yuval-​Davis 1997). Controlling women and what they represent controls the narrative of the “nation,” marking it as “good” or “bad” depending on the status of women (see also Gentry 2017). In this instance what we can take from this is a misogynistic attitude toward women that demonstrates a lack of relational care between (some) men and (all) women.


It is rather obvious that men and women have held intimate and caring relationships since time immemorial. Yet it is also obvious that both US and Western culture and have historically constrained women’s participation in the public, deeming them unfit to govern and participate effectively. This has resulted in the three vulnerabilities that are the focus of this chapter. Feminist Christian realism desires the equal worth, recognition, and respect for all people—​no matter how their body is sexed and/​or gendered, the color of their skin, or their place of worship (or not). What the economic, bodily, and reproductive health vulnerabilities demonstrate is the lack of relational care that those in power—​namely white men—​have for women. Perhaps they are able to look the women in their lives in the eyes when they go home at night. Perhaps not. Perhaps the women in their lives agree with them—​more’s the pity. However, even more fundamentally, relational care and recognition of women’s historic socioeconomic and political vulnerabilities should not be dependent on whether or not lawmakers have women in their lives—​the relational care and recognition of women should be there simply because women are equally deserving citizens and members of humanity.

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We Need to Talk About Fascism


ntil December 2016, I  never would have dreamed of worrying about “fascism” coming to the United States. If anything, I  may have used the fascist label hyperbolically to describe policies typically generated by conservatives that I found targeted particular people in a heavy handed way. Yet, with the election of Trump and his subsequent decisions, actions, and tweets, this book, framed by the presidential election, would be incomplete without a frank discussion of just how easily democracies can slide into fascism. As the previous chapters established, the United States has long been politically divided and, in recent years, polarized. The polarization touches on identity politics such as race, gender, and class. Many people in the United States have felt ignored or left behind in a changing political and economic landscape; for instance, much has been made of the white working class in “the middle” of the country (MacGillis and ProPublica 2016). In turn the feelings of marginalization—​of anxious uncertainty about the future of the economic and political status quo that is supported by raced and misogynist structures—​seem to result in scapegoating that leads either to the ignorance, minimization, or obliteration of the rights of certain people. The disproportionate murder and abuse of black folk by the police has become a touchstone—​either one is with the black community or with the police. The War on Women continues to erode not just access to abortion but access to reproductive health care for poor, rural women, such as women from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. The gap between the super rich and the vanishing middle class continues with further promised tax breaks for the wealthy and a continued tax burden for the middle class.

To address these issues provokes fear of change—​or anxiety—​about how the American sociopolitical landscape is changing. Anxious people fear change, the unknown, and difference. To “make America great again” is not a new charge—​it is a charge that harkens back to some nostalgic past of economic prosperity as well as a white heteronormative patriarchal order. “America First,” an expression Trump used in his campaign and as the central refrain of his inaugural address, is a nearly unchallenged reference to Charles Lindbergh’s pro-​Nazi group that fought against America’s entrance into World War II (Reich 2017). The expansion of rights to minorities exemplifies a challenge to the known order and sparks anxiety in those who fear they will lose out. Since the 1960s, American white supremacy has faced the biggest challenge to its power and dominance after the Civil War. The anxiety over identity politics and what “America” means to certain individuals did not necessarily lead to Trump being elected; however, his election re-​opened the doors of American democracy to the “alt-​right,” better known as a fashionable term for “white supremacy” or “white nationalism.” While ­chapter  4 explored some of the white nationalism of Breitbart, it did not fully explore this in an intersectional way, querying how the alt-​right and white nationalism target minorities of color, express anti-​Semitic views, and exemplify a misogynistic perspective. Such sentiments are important because it is this Othering and scapegoating that demonstrate the strength of anxiety politics, which is manipulated by certain people to gain power and convince others that heavy-​handed policies are needed. Such extreme racism is evident in Trump’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” known more popularly as the “Muslim ban.” This is how fascism takes root. The work on fascism—​a hard-​to-​define ideologically-​driven movement to control/​protect the state—​makes one aware of how fragile democracy really is and how quickly it can slide into a fascist-​style government. Such a slide originates with a deeply polarized constituency and a dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. Although I  believe this dissatisfaction began earlier than Barack Obama’s presidency, the racist backlash against his election crystallized it. The “birther” crisis, led by none other than Trump, was a racially motivated way to discredit Obama, constantly keeping any link to Islam and his “African-​ness” in the minds of the voters. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign equally brought the misogyny embedded in American society to light (see’s interview with bell hooks [2017]). A fascist system continues to grow by proposing an alternative to mainstream conservatism. At one point, the Republican party had seventeen unsatisfactory candidates for the presidential election. No one took Trump

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seriously—​until they had to. As it became a certainty that Trump would be the Republican nominee, he was backed by computer scientist billionaire Robert Mercer to the tune of $13.5 million. Mercer also supported other Republican campaigns and ultra-​ conservative non-​ profits (Cadwalladr 2017). Mercer put Trump in touch with Breitbart’s leading executive, Steve Bannon. Now-​ deceased Andrew Breitbart told Bannon that they had to “take back the culture” (Cadwalladr 2017), a classic fascist sentiment. Bannon was, until mid-​August 2017, the president-​elect’s so-​called chief strategist, a newly created White House position. It may be easy to laugh at Trump’s Twitter account until one realizes that his tweets have already led to a diplomatic fracas with China (Smith 2016); it may also be easy for some to be impressed by Trump’s thunder until it weakens ties with US allies, such as Australia (Greenwood 2017). Proposed actions that veer toward fascism include Trump’s campaign promise to lock up and/​or investigate his political rivals, including Hillary Clinton. Worryingly, fascism is often associated with “crony capitalism” (Holcombe and Castillo 2013) and will try strengthening ties with institutions such as the military that may resist such a consolidation of power (Paxton 1998; Mann 2004). Trump’s original cabinet picks had a combined wealth of $4.5 billion, and many of them have demonstrated animus for the departments they will be leading. Trump’s early leadership picks and confirmed appointments were also military heavy. Hope rests in public resistance—​creative, public resistance. This is not to deny Trump is the president or to necessarily break the law, but it is to actively resist what is unjust. As Epps (2016) wrote for The Atlantic, while he may argue that the election of Trump was “scrupulously fair” because it “followed the law of 2016” and therefore Trump is the US president, he refuses to drink the “Kool-​Aid” that Trump is offering. He argues that “Trump ran on a platform of relentless, thoroughgoing rejection of the Constitution itself, and its underlying principle of democratic self-​ government and individual rights” (Epps 2016). Furthermore, Trump actively campaign[ed] against any notions of racial, religious, and sexual equality. He threatens those who oppose him with the unchecked power of the state. He is, in other words, a figure out of authoritarian politics, not the American tradition. (Epps 2016)

Therefore, Epps (2016) writes in the spirit of resistance, for he will not give up “my rights or those of others who cannot defend themselves.” We have a seen a resistance movement grow and gather strength. While one can hope that the checks and balances written into the US Constitution

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will keep fascism at bay, public resistance will yield the most power. When the United States woke up on January 3 to the House Republicans having secretly dismantled the House’s ethics oversight committee, hope fermented in the large, immediate public backlash against the Republicans’ move that they backtracked by the end of the day. When Trump’s transition team asked for the names of all climate scientists in the Energy Department, the department refused to comply with its request. The resistance list goes on:  the Women’s March one day after his election and the reclamation politics of the “pussy” hat; the sanctuary cities and the protection of immigrants; the presence of lawyers at airports during the “Muslim ban”; in Elizabeth Warren’s attempt to derail Attorney General’s Jeff Sessions confirmation by reading a letter Coretta Scott King wrote to President Reagan, decrying Sessions’s abysmal record on civil rights. She was censured by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for slandering a fellow Senator. He defended his actions: Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.

Resistance and “persistence” by institutions, organizations, state and city governments, bureaucrats, and individuals will be what protects American democracy.


Most scholars who study fascism agree that fascism is difficult to define. While there are similarities between the different fascist governments that have existed and shared traits between fascist movements, these are neither hard and fast similarities nor traits. This section will explore various approaches to and definitions of fascism and look at how fascist systems of government come into being. It also will emphasize that fascism is a complex political process of attempting to consolidate power and maintain it through a commitment to far-​right conservative values, the construction of a feared Other or many feared Others, and establishing mistrust toward mainstream organizations and institutions, such as the media, intellectuals, and religious organizations, in order to gain control. Fascism is often associated with an extreme commitment to conserv­ ative values that are seen as having come under threat by liberalism, feminism, migration or a racialized Other, and economic loss. When one looks at the fascist movements of Nazi Germany or Italian fascism under

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Mussolini, both of these highlight an extreme commitment to a particular nationalist past, hence the commitment to volk (folk) culture by the Nazis. In addition, characteristics of fascist movements include: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

ultranationalism charismatic leadership dictatorship racism antisemitism a single party paramilitarism violence, actual or threatened corporatism a totalitarian ideology anticapitalism antisocialism and anticommunism antiliberalism antiparliamentarianism anticonstitutionalism. (Passmore 2014, 5)

However, not all fascist movements will share all of these characteristics, and this leads to two problems. The first: if not all fascist movements or governments share these, then how many of the characteristics does it take to be labeled as fascist? And second, even if two fascist movements share the same distrust or dislike of one of the elements, the importance of such an element may be weighed differently by different movements (Passmore 2014, 5–​6). Indeed, Robert Paxton (1998) elaborates upon this difficulty by explaining the five challenges of defining fascism. The first problem is one of timing and how populist movements coincided with the expansion of the vote in the last century. Given the expansion of democracy, particularly in the provision of voting rights to a larger population of people, most thinkers at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s believed that universal (not just women’s) suffrage would “benefit democracy and socialism” (Paxton 1998, 2) and not the more conservative elements of society. Thus, when fascism became a dominant system in Germany, Italy, and Spain with fascist movements elsewhere in the 1930s, owing in large part to populism, this was somewhat shocking. Secondly, as fascism became “popular” in the 1930s, “elements of fascist décor” were borrowed by non-​fascist governments “to lend themselves an aura of force, vitality, and mass mobilization” (Paxton 1998, 3). Thus, while there is often a tendency or desire

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to identify fascism by its aesthetics—​“one cannot identify a fascist regime by it plumage” (Paxton 1998, 3). Thirdly, as there is no “fascist playbook” or one key seminal ideological tract, there are “dauntingly wide disparit[ies] among individual cases in space and time” (Paxton 1998, 3). By being so closely associated with conservative and nationalist elements within a specific society, “each national variant of fascism draws its legitimacy . . . from what it considers the most authentic elements of its own community identity” (Paxton 1998, 3). This is closely related to the fourth issue—​most of the 20th century “-​isms,” “conservatism, liberalism, socialism,” were all associated with particular ideologies that then drove action (Paxton 1998, 4). In contrast, fascists despise thought and reason, abandon intellectual positions casually, and cast aside many intellectual fellow-​travellers. They subordinate thought and reason not to faith . . . but to the promptings of the blood and this historic destiny of the group. Their only moral yardstick is the prowess of the race, of the nation, of the community. They claim legitimacy by no universal standard except a Darwinian triumph of the strongest community. (Paxton 1998, 4–​5)

The anti-​intellectualism and the primacy of the state perhaps are the most important factors to be considered—​and the ones that will become more evident in the US context. The fifth and final element that makes it difficult to define fascism is how the discursive label of “fascist” is an all too easily accessible epithet that waters down the meaning of what fascism actually is (Paxton 1998, 8). “Fascism” or “fascist” have become common labels used by both the sides of the political binary to demarcate disagreement. On the right, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called women he disagrees with “femi-​nazis” (Paxton 1998, 8). On the other hand, a humor columnist for The Guardian called Kirsti Allsopp, a minor British television celebrity with ties to the Conservative party, a “fascist” because she had a Channel 4 show on traditional British crafts and cooking (Jeffries 2011). Because of these difficulties, Kevin Passmore (2014, 6)  feels a “definitional approach” to fascism “suffers from intrinsic flaws.” As with any definition, it overly signifies some elements while leaving others out—​ to Passmore (2014, 6, 17) this “arbitrariness” fails any investigation into fascism. For Passmore (2014, 20–​1) it may be more important to query whether a movement is moral more than it is fascist; still one can only investigate fascism as long as one is clear about the parameters of the definition. As Paxton (1998, 9) argues, “We cannot give up in the face of these difficulties. A real phenomenon exists.”

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Therefore, I  look at three different scholarly definitions of fascism, from Robert Paxton (2007, 218), Kevin Passmore (2014, 16), and Roger Griffin (1991, 26), and merge them into my own:  fascism is a consolidation of power that moves a government away from democracy and democratic values in order to redeem or provide vengeance for a (perception of) wronged populist conservative identity group. This is a group that often identifies society’s wrongs with race or gender issues, leading to violence or the threat of violence. Given the uneasiness toward a definition and indeed Passmore’s indifference toward definitions in favor of a moral judgment, how does one proceed in identifying what may be a contemporary form of fascism in perhaps the least-​likeliest place—​the United States? “Least likely” that is only if we believe in an exceptional vision for the United States, like the notion that the United States has been a truly equal society with equal access to the law, education, and employment, or if we forget Upton Sinclair’s 1935 novel-​as-​ warning It Can’t Happen Here. For Griffin (1991), it is to spend an entire book on parsing out the various aspects that need to be included in a definition, whereas for Paxton (1998) the importance of his work seems to be on the stages of fascism, or what happens as a government begins the descent into a fascist system. This, to me, seems to be more obvious route to go down in this chapter. Paxton (1998, 11, for a longer discussion see 10–​11) argues that we can get to the fascist process of consolidating power by comparing and “distinguish[ing] the [five] stages of fascism in time.” Looking at Paxton’s five stages first and then comparing them to the events since November 8, 2016—​and in particular, just the first month of Trump’s presidency—​substantially assists in understanding just how real the fascist threat to American democracy is.

The Five Stages of Fascism and the Trump Presidency

Using historical comparisons, Paxton (1998, 11) enumerates five stages of fascism: 1. the initial creation of fascist movements; 2. their rooting as parties in a political system; 3. the acquisition of power; 4. the exercise of power; . . . [and] 5. in the longer term . . . radicalization or entropy.

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This section will work through Paxton’s explanation for each stage before looking at them in relationship to the sociopolitical context, in brief, that led to Trump winning the election, the events and choices of the Trump team previous to the inauguration, and President Trump’s first month in office. This cursory examination of the polarization of American politics and the foothold that fascism has found does not claim to be exhaustive but illustrative—​especially as a means of creating a connection between polarization and anxiety politics.

The First Stage

The first stage, the emergence of fascist movements, happens with enough frequency that “all modern states have had protofascist militants and publicists since” World War I  (Paxton 1998, 11). These early fascist movements “can appear wherever democracy is sufficiently implanted to have aroused disillusionment” (Paxton 1998, 11). Fascism needs the freedoms democracies rather ironically afford the population, such as freedom of speech and assembly as well as voting rights. Whether or not it is evident or indeed valid, fascism grows “in reaction to claimed failings of democracy” (Paxton 1998, 12). In the current US situation, what we have seen is an increased polarization, meaning there are parties on both sides of the left/​right binary that are resistant to one another and to any government policies and laws that are seen to have been created by and/​or for the benefit of the other side. A new study reveals that the polarization in the United States is asymmetric and has been more visible among the right wing, whereas there has been less movement in the left (Benkler, Faris, Roberts, Zuckerman 2017). Furthermore, much was made of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) 2016 Democracy Index that downgraded the United States from a “Full Democracy” to a “Flawed Democracy” and many pointed to the election of Trump for this. Yet, the EIU was clear that the United States would have been downgraded regardless: Trust in political institutions is an essential component of well-​functioning democracies. Yet surveys by Pew, Gallup and other polling agencies have confirmed that public confidence in government has slumped to historic lows in the U.S. This has had a corrosive effect on the quality of democracy. (as quoted in Chandron 2017)

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And it was not as if the United States did not have some warning. According to The New  Yorker “before and after [Trump’s] election, a passage from Richard Rorty’s  .  .  .  Achieving Our Country [1998], circulated on social media” (Remnick 2016) that reads: Something will crack . . . The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—​someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. . . . One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. . . . All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet. (Rorty 1998, as cited in Remnick 2016)

In his last interview as sitting president, Obama admitted to The New Yorker that “we’ve seen this coming  .  .  .  Donald Trump is not an outlier; he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party for the past ten, fifteen, twenty years” (Remnick 2016). The election of Obama brought the left/​right polarization in the United States into sharper relief, mainly along race/​ racist lines. In that The New Yorker interview (Remnick 2016), Obama acknowledged: A President who looked like me was inevitable at some point in American history . . . . It might have been somebody named Gonzales instead of Obama, but it was coming. And I probably showed up twenty years sooner than the demographics would have anticipated. And, in that sense, it was a little bit more surprising. The country had to do more adjusting and processing of it. It undoubtedly created more anxiety than it will twenty years from now, provoked more reactions in some portion of the population than it will twenty years from now. And that’s understandable.

The continued feeling of marginalization by the white working and middle class, the sense of being left behind and left out, is played out in the conflation of racial and economic anxieties, in particular. As political scientist Michael Tesler (2016) explains, “racial attitudes . . . increasingly structur[e]‌public opinion . . . including subjective perceptions of objective economic conditions.” Tesler (2016) gives this example:

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Racially sympathetic white Americans were far more likely than racially resentful whites to correctly conclude that the unemployment rate was declining in the year leading up to the 2012 election. Before Obama’s presidency, racial attitudes were uncorrelated with perceptions of the election-​year unemployment rate.

Tesler (2016) was able to determine that even “after accounting for partisanship and ideology,” race and perceptions of “resentment” were not part of the “perceptions of the unemployment rate in 2004.” Yet, a mere eight years later, this shifted: “People who expressed more racial resentment were less likely to perceive that, in fact, the unemployment rate had improved” (Tesler 2016). Tesler (2016) concludes that as “racial attitudes” are now intimately tied to Obama and his positions, beliefs about Obama’s own race is therefore “associate[ed with] racial resentment and economic anxiety.” Fundamentally, “this racialized political environment” contributed to Trump’s nomination and subsequent election (Tesler 2016). This was compounded by the threat that Democrats—​ with their commitment to pro-​choice policies, environmental policies to slow climate change, and LGBTQI rights, and with the actualization of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—​would and did make significant changes to the laws of the land. Even before the ACA and the actualization of (limited) LGBTQI rights, the 2010 mid-​term elections were swept by the Tea Party, who led with the racist “birther” doubts of Obama’s birthplace. After the Tea Party faded, an unusually disorganized Republican Party lacked conviction, making it ripe to be swayed, if not hijacked, by Donald Trump’s campaign. Yet, it was not just Trump that got Trump elected. Bombastic, offensive, incoherent, inexperienced Trump was largely dismissed until Steve Bannon got behind him. And Bannon, with his connections to America’s alt-​right movement, is where the fascist element comes into the picture. The term “alt-​right” is a poor discursive maneuver to minimize the white supremacist ideology that defines it. On some level, American discourse has whitewashed (no pun intended) the continued, persistent existence of white supremacy and racism. Yet since, at minimum, the end of the Civil War, through Jim Crow, and beyond the civil rights movement, white supremacists have been in not-​so-​dark corners of the American borders. The Ku Klux Klan’s white robes, pointed hats, and burning crosses may seem lost to the past, alongside the scarcely mentioned The Order or the Aryan Nations,1 but 60 percent of the 892 hate groups in the United States are white supremacist (Crockett 2016). Since 2002, right-​wing terrorists, which in the United States are typically white supremacist (see Michael 2003), have been more active in the United States than radical Islamists (Torres 2016). Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

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also associates these groups with an antigovernment sentiment. Potok (2017) argues that in 1995, at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, “39% of the American people agreed . . . that the federal government was ‘so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.’ ” By 2001, 52 percent of Americans agreed and “almost six in ten” by 2010 (Potok 2017). White supremacy and distrust of the US government have almost always gone hand-​in-​hand. One of the main themes of the extreme Christian groups is the belief that the “ZOG”—​Zionist Occupation Government—​runs the US government (and many other Western governments) and controls the banking and economic system. This unabashedly anti-​Semitic sentiment draws upon long-​held biases of Jews as nefarious money-​lenders (Sprinzak 1995). Such anti-​Semitism has grown on the Breitbart website (see Amend and Morgan’s [2017] SPLC report on the increase), and it is embedded in the white supremacist online community, which include: • 4chan, an image board used by racists; • the neo-​Nazi website of the Daily Stormer, founded by Andrew Anglin; • Stormfront, a website started in the 1990s by Don Black and one that went from five thousand registered users in 2003 to 300,000 in 2015 (see Hankes 2017). After the Charlottesville violence, Stormfront’s registrar seized its domain and took it offline (Associated Press 2017). Together, with Breitbart, these sources define the scourge of the alt-​right’s white nationalism. Leaders include Bannon and Stephen Miller, who has been close to Bannon since 2012 when he served the current Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions, an accused racist. After the election, Anglin is infamous for his Nazi-​invoking declaration, “We won, brothers  .  .  .  Our Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor. Make no mistake about it:  we did this” (Hankes 2017). Other notables include Richard Spencer, the coiner of the term “alt-​right” (see Hankes 2017; Hooks 2016). It was Richard Spencer who led people in “Hail Trump” and picks up where The Order and McVeigh left off: to overthrow the current US government and establish a “pure” white ethnic state (Hooks 2016). Of this movement, Bannon and Miller were the closest to President Trump (Dawsey, Johnson, and Karni 2017). They are seen as the ones responsible for the executive order that became known as the “Muslim ban” (see Dawsey, Johnson, and Karni 2017). Named in an unusual move to the National Security Council, Bannon sees himself as a Leninist and invested in the overthrow of government—​or at least in a radical rethinking of it in the form of “deconstruction,” which will be touched upon further in

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this section. A former independently wealthy Goldman Sachs banker, he was also a naval officer who feels President Carter undermined the navy’s mission to free hostages in the Iran hostage crisis. His experiences have shaped how he sees world events—​particularly that the United States is underprepared for a coming all-​encompassing war with Islam (Kranish and Whitlock 2017).

Stage Two

In stage two of Paxton’s consolidation of fascist power, the fascist movement begins to take “root” in a political system. “Success” in rooting is dependent upon “the weaknesses of a liberal state” as seen by the conservatives and ultra-​conservatives but also in the inability for the “Right . . . [to] accept a growing Left as a legitimate governing partner” (Paxton 1998, 13). It is witnessed by the Republican’s unified plan to obstruct Obama in any way possible, as evidenced by Senator Mitch McConnell’s (failed) pledge to make him a one-​term president (Barr 2010). Obama’s nominations for the justice system, particularly his nomination to replace Supreme Court Justice Scalia that was blocked for a year, were unprecedentedly blocked by the Republicans. The racism within the resistance is seen when South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson (Republican) shouted out, “You lie,” during a speech President Obama gave to a joint session of Congress in 2009. While Paxton (1998, 13)  argues that “some fascist leaders  .  .  .  are willing to reposition their movements in alliances with  .  .  .  frightened conservatives” as a step to put them into power, in the US context, it seems that the “frightened conservatives” made concessions to the fascist movement in order to keep themselves in power. For instance, Senator Ted Cruz, a reformed Tea Party candidate from Texas, disavowed Trump at the Republican Convention (Schleifer and Collinson 2016). Since January 2017, if not earlier, Cruz has been more than willing to work with Trump, a move one Politico journalist attributes to Cruz’s recognition that the Republicans control Congress. Trump in the White House means that the Republican agenda can move quickly ahead and Cruz will benefit enormously (Alberta 2017). It is rather problematically witnessed in those that run on Christian values but have embraced a philandering, misognynist, racist man who can barely say the Lord’s Prayer and used the National Day of Prayer to take a dig at Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was Trump’s replacement on the television show The Apprentice (Beckwith 2017). This concession of mainstream Republican leadership to Trump happened astonishingly quickly, and it was aided by the popular vote. In

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order for these Republican Congressmembers and elected state officials to stay in power they had to ride the Trump train. As far as the popular vote is concerned, Obama observed that Trump “tapped into something. He’s able to distil the anger and resentment and the sense of aggrievement” (Remnick 2016). David Simas, Obama’s political director, observed, “Within ten days of the Republican Convention, Trump consolidated the Republican base faster than Romney did in 2012” (Remnick 2016). Simas acknowledges his own misconception that Republican voters were still “ideological on issues,” instead “the Trump candidacy shows otherwise” (Remnick 2016). As Terrell Jermaine Starr (2017) opined in the Washington Post, “Trump’s supporters don’t fear Russian President Vladimir Putin: Racism is altering their perceptions of what a threat is and isn’t.” In effect, people “voted for him because he vowed to be the protector in chief of American whiteness” when “he accused Mexican immigrants of being criminals and rapists” and when he extended his “racist rhetoric extended to refugees, who he said are bringing terrorism to America” (Starr 2017). Almost 50 percent of Trump voters believe “blacks [are] more violent and criminal than whites. Some 58 percent of Trump backers have negative views of Muslims” (Starr 2017). Furthermore, these voters showed no regard for previously held sociopolitical norms: Until recently, religious institutions, academia, and media set out the parameters of acceptable discourse, and it ranged from the unthinkable to the radical to the acceptable to policy . . . The continuum has changed. Had Donald Trump said the things he said during the campaign eight years ago—​about banning Muslims, about Mexicans, about the disabled, about women—​his Republican opponents, faith leaders, academia would have denounced him and there would be no way around those voices. (Remnick 2016)

Social media, and the problem of “fake news” that clearly swayed the election, provides “social permission” for harmful and polemic discourse that has led to a “foundational change” in the electorate (Remnick 2016).

Stage Three

While all of Paxton’s “stages” should be seen as fluid and inexact, as the second stage takes hold and moves onward, Paxton (1998, 15) argues that “successful fascist parties also position themselves as the most effective barriers, by persuasion or by force, to an advancing Left.” As Bannon said in a very rare address at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), “ ‘If

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you [conservatives] think they’re [media and liberal “opposition forces”] going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken . . . Every day, it is going to be a fight’ ” (Rucker and Costa 2017). In the third stage, Paxton (1998, 16) reminds his readers: Fascism cannot appeal to the street without risking a confrontation with future allies—​the army and the police—​without whom it will not be able to pursue its expansionist goals. . . . The only route to power available to fascists passes through cooperation with conservative elites. The most important variables, therefore, are the conservative elites’ willingness to work with fascists . . . and the depth of the crisis that induces them to cooperate.

And this cooperation, if not support, is what Trump has received. There was the support outlined directly above in Stage Two, but Trump has also received support from various elements of society, like the Fraternal Order of Police as mentioned in c­ hapter 3. In the formation of his cabinet and other high-​level appointees he has included institutions such as the military, and elites, such as wealthy donors. Trump’s commitment to the law-​enforcement community became evident in the first weekend of Trump’s presidency when the White House website removed the Obama White House’s reference to civil rights under “Issues” and replaced it with “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community.” The first paragraph of that part of the website states: One of the fundamental rights of every American is to live in a safe community. A Trump Administration will empower our law enforcement officers to do their jobs and keep our streets free of crime and violence. The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration. President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-​police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it. (White House 2017a)

This seems to take aim at the Black Lives Matter community and protests. It is joined by fifteen states to ban protests, a fundamental element of democratic practices (ACLU 2017). The choices for Trump’s cabinet and other higher-​level positions also gives us glimpses into an emergent fascist state. In a fascist system, the leadership will attempt to either marginalize or co-​opt institutions that will actively resist it (Paxton 1998, 16). Given that the joint chiefs of staff indicated a resistance to Trump (the chairman, General Joseph Dunford, said some of Trump’s proposed policies would be demoralizing to the force

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[Kheel 2016]), it is perhaps then unsurprising that three of Trump’s cabinet nominees were military generals. This “reinforces the trend toward militarizing policy and risks cementing in place ‘the military-​industrial complex’ ” that could identify a fascist system (Adams 2016). It fails to both provide balance between a civilian-​controlled government and skepticism toward a military solution (Adams 2016). Such a balance is now in question given that Trump’s Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, needed to have an exemption of the law that prohibits military officials from taking this cabinet position within seven years of military service. The law was in place “to underscore the importance of civilian control over the military” (Kopan and Walsh 2017). Yet perhaps some of the checks and balances of a democratic system are working given Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, Trump’s confirmed appointment for national security advisor, was forced to resign because he had not disclosed how close his contact with Russian officials was after the campaign (Phipps 2017). Fascism is also linked with crony capitalism, as keeping elites close is one way of securing fascist power (Holcombe and Castillo 2013). In Trump’s first instantiation of his cabinet appointees, the appointees’ combined wealth measured $4.5 billion. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin is a hedge-​fund manager and is known for running a “foreclosure machine [that] kicked tens of thousands of people out of their home” (Klein 2017). During his appointment hearing it was revealed that he failed to disclose $100  million in financial assets and $95  million in property (Chan and Alexander 2017). His aim as treasury secretary is “the largest tax overhaul since Reaganomics,” which primarily means cutting corporate taxes (Chan and Alexander 2017). Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a former CEO at Exxon and “his company bankrolled and amplified garbage science and lobbied fiercely against meaningful international climate action” (Klein 2017). Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is known for severely damaging education in her home state of Michigan, and in her hearings it became clear that she was ignorant of some of the current education debates (Vyse 2017). The DeVos family gave over $900  million to Senators who were part of her confirmation hearing, and she has said, “I have decided to stop taking offence at the suggestion that we are buying influence . . . We expect a return on our investment” (Worley 2017). Yet, the checks and balances worked again when Andrew Puzder, a fast-​food CEO investigated by the very department (Labor) he would have been heading for paying workers “non-​liveable wages” and for not paying overtime (Klein 2017; Levitz 2017), withdrew from the position of labor secretary. He was described as “ ‘the most anti-​labor labor secretary candidate in the history of the United

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States, bar none,’ [by] Paul Secunda, director of the Labor and Employment Law Program at Marquette University Law School” (Semuels 2017). Indeed, all of Trump’s appointments are seen as bearing animus to their department—​Rick Perry’s goal (ostensibly stemming from a misunderstanding of his role) as secretary of energy is to do away with his department (Shelbourne 2017). As the main person behind Trump’s cabinet appointments, this is exactly what Steve Bannon wanted. Speaking at the aforementioned late-​February 2017 CPAC conference, Bannon admitted, first, that he was proud of Trump for never compromising or “moderat[ing]” his campaign promises; second, he articulated his notion of “economic nationalism,” which gained attention when he prefaced it with his desire to “deconstuc[t]‌the administrative state, meaning the system of taxes, regulations, and trade pacts” that harm the middle of the country and advance the interests of the coastal elites (Rucker and Costa 2017). Besides the ripe hypocrisy of this statement, “economic nationalism” and “deconstruction” speaks to the various supporters of the Trump presidency:  the populism of protecting the seen neglect of the American middle or “fly-​over” states and the deregulation of corporations and industries that will garner more profit for the elites much like those in Trump’s cabinet.2

The Fourth Stage

I fear that the United States is currently in Paxton’s fourth stage—​which in many ways is the crystallization of power control. (Therefore, I do not discuss the fifth stage, which is entropy or radicalization.) For Paxton (1998, 17–​18), the ascension to the fourth stage is malleable in that it “is conditioned by the manner in which fascism arrives in power.” Fascists are forced to cooperate in some way with the “conservative elites who had opened the gates to them” (Paxton 1998, 18). Yet, Trump has the upper hand: the mainstream conservatives who first opposed him, such as Cruz but also House Speaker Paul Ryan, are or were dependent upon Trump’s populist supporters to put them back into power. Nevertheless, Paxton (1998, 18) predicts a struggle for dominance among the leaders, his party [members who demand the fulfillment of campaign promises], the regular state functionaries such as police commanders and magistrates, and the traditional elites—​churches, the army, the professors, and business leaders.

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Currently, this is the struggle taking place and it is taking place on multiple fronts. First, there was an internal struggle in the White House to see who has the most sway with Trump—​was it Bannon, the more moderate Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, or Ivanka Trump (presumed to be his favorite child) and her husband, Jared Kushner? Until the summer of 2017, all bets were on Bannon, with a moderating influence coming from Ivanka and Kushner. It is believed that Bannon was able to persuade or enable Trump to issue the Muslim ban while Ivanka and Kushner observed Sabbath. In fact, Vanity Fair argues that most of Trump’s offensive or incoherent tweets happen when they are observing Sabbath and that the reason an executive order removing LGBTQI rights did not surface was because of their influence (Fox 2017; see also Kahn 2017 for an quantitative measurement of Trump’s “Sabbath” tweets). The strongest opposition comes from state functionaries such as governors and mayors, who are opposing Trump’s immigration policies through the creation of sanctuary cities and states and in the judiciary’s overturning of his Muslim ban. Trump vowed to cut off funding to these cities and states. When the first Muslim ban was overturned, Trump tweeted an attack on the “so-​called” judge who gave the final ruling, and as such, the judiciary. It is clearly dangerous in a democracy to have one branch discredit another. According to Ruth Ben-​Ghiat (2017), an expert on fascism, an attack on the judiciary becomes a necessity as “it stands in the way of their [fascists] ‘reforms’ that often veer into extra-​legality.” Finally, there is clear dissatisfaction and anger directed at Trump and his policies by the public as witnessed in the Women’s March, the protests over the Muslim ban, and in the repudiation shown by constituents toward their Republican elected officials at town halls across the country. Yet, a fascist machine has ways to deal with dissent and disagreement: lies and discrediting of intellectuals and the media. Trump and his members of staff lie almost all of the time (Sargent 2017). In Trump’s first address to Congress, fifty-​one of his sixty-​one claims were false (Indy100 Staff 2017). Bannon’s contempt for the media runs deep: he has branded it the “opposition party” (Cassidy 2017). White House staffers attempt to intimidate and discredit the media—​whether that is now-​removed Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s barely concealed hostility for the press in at least the first two press conferences. or in (also removed) Sebastian Gorka’s patronizing interview style, in which he labels anything he does not agree with, whether it is a question or a statement, “fake news” (see the BBC Newsnight interview with Gorka on February 16, 2017). Kellyanne Conway, the now sidelined advisor,3 made up at least one

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terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Ohio. Only this is not why she has been marginalized; instead, it was for (in essence) providing a commercial for Ivanka Trump’s clothing and jewelry lines in a television interview, which is an ethics violation. Spicer’s own language somewhat substantiated the “Bowling Green Massacre” but also talked about an “Atlanta” terrorist attack (there was one, by a white supremacist, twenty years previously), later clarifying he “meant” the Orlando Pulse shooting. Trump made up another of his own—​rather confusingly alluding to an attack in Sweden by probable Muslim migrants that never took place. When the press queries these false attacks, they are blamed for failing to report them at all. This brews intentional confusion among the electorate. When Trump disputed the turnout at his inauguration, claiming it far exceeded Obama’s (it did not), my first instinct was to go to the White House website for the numbers. Yet, since Trump’s team controls that source of information, how does one trust it anymore? And if one is a Trump supporter with a deep mistrust of the status quo, who are they more likely to believe, Trump or the “liberal” press? This is purposeful: the confusion allows him and his staff to become the final arbitrator of knowl­ edge. Confusion makes his followers even more dependent upon him. The false narratives are seen in how the White House has appropriated white supremacist discourse. In the White House’s statement on Holocaust Memorial Day, it failed to mention Jews. It read, in part: It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

When the White House was critiqued for failing to mention Jews, the defensive response was twofold: (1) that other victims besides Jews had died as well, and (2) that the statement was written by a Jewish staffer. Others remind us that Kushner is an Orthodox Jew and that Ivanka converted to Judaism. These defenses are used to deflect attention away from two problems: first, that failing to mention Jews in the original statement diminishes that Jews were the primary target of the Nazi’s eradication program, which killed two-​ thirds of European Jews; second, it plays into a classic white supremacist trope; and, third, that defensiveness only serves to highlight how thin the reasoning behind this exclusion is (Karni 2017; Nelson 2017). The lies and the confusion serve a purpose. As Hannah Arendt warned in The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), the purpose of false narratives is to keep the opposition tied up in knots—​it is a red herring. By focusing on the discourse, we are not focused on the actions that the discourse supports.

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Ben-​Ghiat (2016) believes that Trump “has been subjecting Americans and American democracy to analogous tests,” tests that will allow Trump to figure out “how much Americans and the GOP will let him get away with—​ and when, if even, they will say ‘enough.’ ” Additionally, these actions many see as irrational make chilling sense when considered under this framework: the many racist tweets or retweets, which his campaign then declares a mistake. His early declaration that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and not lose any supporters. His extended humiliation of powerful politicians such as Paul Ryan and John McCain. His attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the American electoral process. His intimation that ‘the Second-​Amendment people’ might be able to solve the potential problem of Hillary Clinton appointing judges, presumably by shooting her.

The question is, how much will he get away with? His first “Muslim ban” was overturned, but even after it was overturned it caused immense amounts of chaos, confusion, and harm to those still not admitted into the United States. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents continue the mass deportation of illegal migrants, including the “Dreamers” once protected by Obama and the arrest and removal of seriously ill people from hospital beds (Rosza 2017). Proposals and consideration for the wall along the US-​Mexico border are moving forward. Paxton argues that fascism feeds the emotions of the public through its “intensely charged rhetoric” (Paxton 2007, 29; 1998, 6). This emotion works both ways. The fascist movement purposely stirs up fears and anxieties about loss over an idealized way of life, economic security, and the preeminence of the state. Yet, the fascist-​style actions also stir up emotions of their own within those being targeted, including resentment, fear, grief, loss, and anxiety. The next section will discuss the anxiety present in Trump and his advisors’ decisions, with a primary focus on the “Muslim ban.” These are destructive decisions that aim to mitigate vulnerability through the seeking of absolute security—​something that can never be provided nor guaranteed. The final section—​the resistance to Trump’s descent into fascism—​is to focus on an alternative response to anxiety as creative, seeking to mitigate harm and not to instigate it.


Comparisons of Trump’s presidency to authoritarianism (Epps 2016; Ben-​ Ghiat 2016, 2017), totalitarianism (Reich 2016), and fascism

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(Severgnini 2016; Lynch 2016b) have been made. There have been declarative headlines and article titles, such as one in Foreign Policy just three days after the election:  “Donald Trump is the End of Global Politics as We Know it” (Mounk 2016). The content of the article gave a warning:  “Trump may prove a serious threat to liberal democracy in the United States”; he is a threat to multiethnic culture; and his election legitimized the illiberal in international politics, coming alongside other illiberal results such as Brexit and ennobling dictators everywhere (Mounk 2016). Another Foreign Policy headline declares, “Trump’s ‘America First’ [a sentiment repeated in his inaugural address] Is the Twilight of American Exceptionalism” (Boot 2016). The author feared that Trump will actually mirror, albeit very poorly and with far less elegance, Obama’s foreign policy of removing or tempering the show of American strength on the world stage. Similarly, The Economist (2016) dreads that the inexpert and brash Trump will break the “fragile legal rules for fighting terrorism” he has inherited. It is Obama, however, who gave hope in one of his last interviews:  “I don’t believe in apocalyptic [sic]—​until the apocalypse comes. I think nothing is the end of the world until the end of the world” (Remnick 2016). All of these headlines and statements, save Obama’s, reflect the authors’ own anxieties, but not Trump nor those in his administration. Instead, we can begin to see their anxiety by thinking more pointedly about how they display it. The anxiety present in the American public as discussed in the previous section is also present in Trump’s tweets, executive orders, statements and speeches, as well as in those of his advisors. It is a crystallizing anxiety in that it is not just about an amorphous fear of the Other, whether that Other is a black American or a Muslim immigrant. It is also a fear that the system that preserves a specific sociopolitical order will be lost. Such a fear is captured in Toni Morrison’s contribution, “Mourning for Whiteness,” to The New Yorker’s response to the Trump election. Morrison writes: Unlike any nation in Europe, the United States holds whiteness as the unifying force. Here, for many people, the definition of “Americanness” is color. . . . in America today, post-​civil-​rights legislation, white people’s conviction of their natural superiority is being lost. Rapidly lost. There are ‘people of color’ everywhere, threatening to erase this long-​understood definition of America. And what then? Another black President? A predominantly black Senate? Three black Supreme Court Justices? The threat is frightening. So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. . . .

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On Election Day, how eagerly so many white voters—​both the poorly educated and the well educated—​ embraced the shame and fear sowed by Donald Trump.

The previous two chapters argue that racism and misogyny are outcomes of anxiety and a general resistance by certain segments of the American population to change. In the election of Trump, we see the two anxieties over race and women converging. Trump and his team either share these anxieties or prey upon them with superb skill. In an aforementioned academic study of racism and economic anxiety, the authors found that Trump was able to use both explicit racist and misogynist language without fear of alienating the vote of under-​educated whites (as “education has been found to be related to views on race; whites with less education generally are less tolerant of other racial/​ethnic groups” [Schaffner, MacWilliams, and Nteta 2017, 6]). They conclude that “sexism and racism were powerful forces in structuring the 2016 presidential vote” (Schaffner, MacWilliams, and Nteta 2017, 25). While the racist and misogynist anxieties have led America to this moment, they also continue to shape it through the actions and stated desires of Trump and his administration, such as the rapidity with which Trump signed the executive orders in his first week as president. Just as the pro-​law enforcement language on the White House website appears to target the black community, the executive orders also revolve around race and gender issues. If the fourth stage of fascism is in part defined by placating the various constituencies that all want their piece of the power pie, the Trump administration continues to play/​prey on the racist anxieties about black protest, Hispanic immigrants, and the neo-​Orientalist racialization of Islam in the belief that all Muslims are terrorists. While this section will briefly engage these fears, its primary focus will be on the fear of the “Muslim Other” as a scapegoat of anxiety over terrorism. It is very clear from Trump’s own language that he perceives African Americans as a monolithic Other. He has frequently spoken about “the blacks” or “a black”—​never speaking about black people as individuals. This was apparent in the campaign, but it was grossly apparent in his meeting with black leaders and staffers in the Roosevelt Room at the White House for Black History Month. In this meeting, he equated all problems black people face to crime and inner-​city issues. He seemingly referred to Frederick Douglass in the present tense, clearly unaware that Douglass was a nineteenth-​century activist. This came on the heels of his Twitter attack on Representative John Lewis (Georgia-​Democrat) on

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January 14 and 15, 2017. Not only was this an attack on a black man who had been beaten as a civil rights activist in the 1960s, but it was an attack that also equated black concerns with crime and the inner city. Trump, and potentially those who voted for him, clearly only see black people as urban criminals. There is no sense of black people as (good) citizens of the American demos who deserve rights and protections. Thus, the racist anxiety about blacks as criminals and wastrels then allows for the rather heavy defense and support of the law enforcement community, as well as this new push to outlaw protest (which also speaks to the fear of the power of the Women’s March). Similar othering of people of color as criminal is evident in the discourse that Trump has used to talk about Hispanics since the first day of his campaign and in the desire to build the infamous wall between the United States and Mexico. It is further evidenced in the creation of a published registry, à la Nazi Germany, of crimes committed by immigrants. Statistics, however, show that immigrants commit fewer crimes than US citizens (Torres 2016); indeed, “Trump’s list serves no purpose other than to sow fear and loathing of a vulnerable minority group” (Levitz 2017). Yet, the main focus of this section is to look at the anxiety present over the fear of terrorism and the Muslim Other. Even though more right-​wing, white supremacist attacks have occurred in the United States in the past decade than radical Islamist-​related attacks, there is no recognition of this. Instead, Trump, Bannon, and his/​their supporters fear all Muslims, suggesting that all one billion internationally are a threat. The anxiety over terrorism and its relationship with Islam has been discussed rather thoroughly, and it is clearly central to the premise of this book.

Security Seeking: Anxious, Racist Reactivity

Fear of terrorism is the epitome of anxiety. The political violence known as terrorism is intended to cause an amorphous sense of fear or dread. The politically violent actor may target something specific, like the World Trade Center or the Alfred R. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, but the aim is to cause a larger fear among the general public as the public does not know when or if the terrorist will strike again (Schmid and Jongman 2006, 5; Braithwaite 2013). Given anxiety centers on the uncertainty about a future event, terrorism and anxiety dovetail disconcertingly well (see Massumi 2005; Ahmed 2006). For instance, terrorists are constructed “as . . . shadowy figure[s]‌” permeating their activity with “an unspecifiable may-​come-​to-​pass” (Ahmed 2006, 79). Thus, after 9/​11, anxiety was rather

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high among the American public: 72 percent of Americans believed in the imminence of another attack (Pyszycynski et al. 2002, 91; Gentry 2015a). Importantly, anxiety was correlated with a desire for revenge among the American population against the radical Islamist terrorists (Kaiser et  al. 2004; Gentry 2015a). This also plays into the Self/​Other dynamic within anxiety—​of reifying Self and community (here the American identity) against the Muslim Other. Furthermore, in American and indeed much of Western discourse, “terrorist” and “terrorism” have become synonymous with “Islam, Arab, fundamentalism, repressive, and primitive” (Ahmed 2006, 76). Therefore, in the United States, even though an overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide are not terrorists, and the majority of terrorist violence in the United States is not radical Islamist in nature, Muslims are scapegoated because of the way terrorism has become conflated with all of Islam and all Muslims, not just those who distort the faith and teachings of Islam with their radical ideology (see Tuastad 2003; Cole 2011; Morey and Yaqin 2011). Thus, the (first) executive order banning Muslim immigrants from seven states—​the only seven states from the Middle East that Trump coincidentally does not have business interests in—​owes much to the fear of the Muslim/​Terrorist/​Other. The executive order, “Protecting The Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” was issued on January 27, one week after Trump’s inauguration. It was in effect for just over one week before a federal judge overturned it. Besides barring entry of individuals from those seven countries, it also “suspended the admission of all refugees to the United States for 120 days; suspended the admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely; [and] prioritized the refugee claims of non-​Muslims in the Middle East” (Levitz 2017). In the immediate aftermath alone, nearly sixty thousand immigrants had their visas revoked (Levitz 2017). Anxiety over radical Islamism is evident throughout the executive order. The first clause first invokes the tragedy of 9/​11, blaming poor State Department procedures for “prevent[ing] consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans” (White House 2017b). The EO admits that procedures have been strengthened, but they are limited, and the EO alludes to other attacks that have been committed by immigrants to the United States:  “These measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.” It continues by justifying the need for the actions called for in the EO:

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Numerous foreign-​ born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-​related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States. The United States must be vigilant during the visa-​ issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism. (White House 2017b)

The uncertainty about future attacks is clear in the above quotation, and the “deteriorating conditions” speak to the year-​long battle Obama faced against Republican-​led states who refused to Syrian refugees because they saw them as terrorists. The executive order discourse exists alongside the refugee discourse, but it coheres with the beliefs that Trump and Bannon have expressed. At a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio, Trump described an America “under siege by ‘radical Islam’ ” and that he wanted a “ ‘total and complete shutdown’ of Muslim immigration, arg[uing] that the United States faced a threat on par with the greatest evils of the 20th century” (Shane, Rosenberg, and Lipton 2017). Long before the campaign in November 2015, Bannon hosted a radio show with Representative Ryan Zinke (Montana-​Republican) who was featured because of his opposition to Obama’s resettlement plan for Syrian refugees. While Zinke was actually arguing for a longer vetting process, Bannon “cut him off” and asked “Why even let’em in?” (Sellers and Fahrenthold 2017).4 Indeed, Bannon is convinced that the War on Terror and even Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” are not over but just beginning. He foresees a larger war between the “Judeo-​Christian West” and “an expansionist Islamic ideology,” that the West is naïvely unprepared to wage. According to Bannon, “Islam is not a religion of peace—​Islam is a religion of submission” (as cited in Shane, Rosenberg, and Lipton 2017). Bannon already fears the loss of Europe: “To be brutally frank, Christianity is dying in Europe and Islam is one the rise” (as cited in Shane, Rosenberg, and Lipton 2017). This, of course, echoes Trump’s campaign warning that there are “Muslim-​dominated ‘no-​go areas’ in Britain” (Noack 2016). In a visit to the Vatican in 2014, Bannon warned that “there is a major war brewing . . . Every day that we refuse to look at this as what is—​and the scale of it, and really the viciousness of it—​will be a day where you will rue that we didn’t act” (Sellers and Fahrenthold 2017). He believes a “new,” “very aggressive” “caliphate” is forming (Sellers and Fahrenthold 2017).

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Furthermore, the West is losing this war and, in order to win, “it was worth overlooking differences and rivalries with countries like Russia” (Sellers and Fahrenthold 2017). Even though Bannon is no longer in the White House, his destabilizing policies and activities are still with us. This all plays into the hands of the white supremacists who support Trump. Levitz (2017), for example argues: Bannon and  .  .  .  Miller  .  .  .  have explicitly argued that such immigrants are a threat simply because their religion will prevent them from assimilating into our society. Once you stipulate this view, the order becomes more coherent: The goal is not to stop terrorism but to halt the dilution of the white Christian population in the United States. It’s about protecting ‘ethno-​national’ security.

For instance, Anglin’s first post-​election headline stated:  “Female Hajis Fear to Wear the Headtowel in Public After Trump Win—​You Should Yell at Them.” The article itself started, Now is the time for it. We want these people to feel unwanted. We want them to feel that everything around them is against them. And we want them to be afraid. (as cited in Hankes 2017)

This may be what the anxiety-​riddled white supremacists and Bannon want, but this deeply destructive, problematic approach is not going to produce greater security. This reaction—​of banning and demonizing an entire group of very diverse individuals—​is counter-​productive for being hateful at best and producing greater insecurity at worst. First, it is important to note that “no foreign national from any of the seven blacklisted countries has committed a fatal terrorist attack in the United States since 1975” (Levitz 2017). Indeed, the attacks that have been committed by radical Islamists in the United States, “the large majority” turned out to “have been American citizens or legal residents” and “about a quarter . . . were converts, further confirming that the challenge cannot be reduced to one of immigration” (Wright 2017). Second, there is a widespread belief held both by Rand, a think tank that has published well-​regarded literature on terrorism, and the Council on Foreign Relations that the ban will “lead to a backlash and sense of alienation of Muslims in the US,” which could make them “easier to recruit or inspire” lone-​wolf activity (Wright 2017). Therefore, this attempt to create security is an illusion that is dependent upon the hubris of the United States’s current president and his leaders. It is particularly damning because absolute security is a myth. If Trump and

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Bannon really believe they can provide this for the United States they are overestimating their own power. If “security seeking” is just the line that they are feeding for others to believe, in order to discriminate against and harm a group of people, then this could actually undermine United States (and global) security. As stated earlier in the book, the security of the United States (or any other country) cannot be dependent upon harming others. This falsely assumes that some people are worth more than others. While it is, again, normal for a government to prioritize its citizens, it is unethical and deeply problematic to do so in a way that actively harms other people.


Fascism is completely dependent upon asserting the rights and worth of some people over the rights and worth of others. It is a political system built entirely upon Othering. The only relationship fascists care for is the one between Self and Self-​same individuals—​there is no room for difference in fascism. And this is why fascism and anxiety work so well together:  a fascist system uses anxiety to get ahead by relying upon a Self that is so weak that it can only tolerate those who reflect its values, norms, and traditions. A  fascist Self cannot handle the difference and challenge an Other brings. Thus, fascism builds upon existing Othering structures, perpetuating them and creating new ones. The racist and misogynist Othering that brought this fascist style of government into existence in the United States has existed in that country since its inception. Honor and dishonor in the American government have always existed in tension with one another: without it we would not have had a Constitution that first included the Three-​Fifths Compromise; without it we would not have had an abolitionist movement that made conciliations on who got the vote (i.e., not women); without it we would not have had Jim Crow laws. Yet in the tension of honor/​dishonor, there has been enough of an honorable side to drive the country forward into a brighter future. Only now does this progress seem to be in jeopardy.

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Conclusion Love Will Win


ruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball album (2012) is an angry, heartfelt response to the 2008 economic crash. At the time of the crash, Springsteen was writing a gospel album but altered his goal in order to write “ ‘folk songs’ about the current state of America and what he perceived as inequality, corruption, and lack of care” (Wawzenek 2017). Watching friends and family lose their homes and savings while those responsible—​bankers and investors—​got away with their wrongdoings, the songs on the album capture Springsteen’s “pissed off,” grieving, and vengeance-​seeking mood before mellowing into one of hope and possible redemption (Wawzenek 2017). Springsteen’s angst is community driven, as he wonders what has happened to the ethos of his country—​one that has allowed such harm to come to those around him—​and vilifying those responsible for his country’s ethical failures (Wawzenek 2017). The track that has stuck with me the most as I  have approached the conclusion of this book is “Rocky Ground,” which is placed toward the end of the album. The beginning of the song captures my sense of where the United States has been for some time: “We’ve been travelling over/​rocky ground” with the treatment of minorities and women, of the poor and in ill health, and for those that the people in power do not know how or want to make sense of. The song continues, speaking it seems to those in power: Rise up shepherd, rise up Your flock has roamed

Far from the hill The stars have faded, The sky is still It powerfully calls out complicity: Tend to your flock or they will stray We’ll be called for our service . . . . The blood on our hands will come Back on us twice. The song begins to take on its hopeful edge as it returns to “The stars have faded, the sky is still,” but that line is followed by: “Sun’s in the heavens and/​A new day is rising.” One reviewer, Neil McCormick (2012), of the Telegraph, explains that “the ambiance” of “Rocky Ground” hints at the brooding soul of Philadelphia [and l]yrics [that] evoke biblical language . . . focus the attention, but as a gospel choir pitches in, all these disparate elements start to fuse into a bold, weird 21st-​century anthem of hope.

The hope comes from not just declaring that a new day is dawning, but it brings the album full circle to the relational care exhibited in the album’s first song, “We Take Care of Our Own.” While Springsteen’s anger at the lack of accountability and the absence of compassion is very clear in “We Take Care of Our Own”—​ I been knocking on the door That holds the throne I been looking for the map That leads me home I been stumbling on good hearts Turned to stone The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone —​the refrain of the song is Springsteen’s lament: We take care of our own We take care of our own Wherever this flag’s flown We take care of our own


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In an interview, Springsteen said he posed “We Take Care of Our Own” “as a question that could ‘gauge the distance between American reality and American dream’ ” (Wawzenek 2017). Thus, one listens to the song and hears the refrain, “we take care of our own,” as an accusation, a challenge, and a eulogy for what has been lost. There is also a possibility, though, that we have never taken care of our own. Who is it that we include in “our own”? Is it all Americans or just some Americans? It is clear to me that those who deny the rationale for Black Lives Matter, those that wage the War on Women, and those who populate and support the Trump administration limit who are seen as true or full Americans deserving the full protection of the law and the rights guaranteed within the Constitution. Populist, ultra-​ nationalist, racist movements define their “own” very narrowly to those that think, look, and act like them. From such exclusions harm happens. In her poem “A Litany for Survival,” Audre Lorde (1978) captures this exclusionary harm in way that reverberates with the claims I was making about “the least of us” in the prologue: For those of us who live at the shoreline standing upon the constant edges of decisions crucial and alone for those of who cannot indulge the passing dreams of choice . . . . For those of us who were imprinted with fear  . . .  learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk  . . .  We were never meant to survive. And when the sun rises we are afraid it might not remain when the sun sets we are afraid it might not rise in the morning  . . .  and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid

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So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive. If we say we care, then we care about those who have felt unsafe, unheard, and unwelcomed—​and if we do not then we are complicit in this sense that some lives matter less, that some people are not meant to thrive and survive. Christians are not meant to form such exclusionary boundaries or to determine who is meant to survive or not. We are called to love creation and all creatures within it. This call to care may be seen differently:  not all Christians have to believe in universal health care, for instance. Yet, all Christians should want to see the best for all people and denying that that there is a problem with how minorities are treated in the United States undermines and exacerbates this commitment. Those who fail to recognize the degradation of women and minorities in the United States are more committed to themselves and to whatever ideological persuasion convinces them that dehumanization and degradation is acceptable. Such people have drawn back into their own corners—​convinced that their own vulnerability is more important than anyone else’s vulnerability. Instead we must constantly remember, be reminded, and remind others that Christians accept that as creatures of God we should place God the Creator at the center of our lives and politics. This may lead to disagreements over what this looks like, but it should never leave us that we are called to care about all people. Every single individual and everything that populates this planet are creations of God. We must respect this; we must cherish everything. God is in everything. This is difficult for us: as creatures our “inclination” is “to defy the limits” set for us (Niebuhr 1955/​ 2015, loc. 13285). It is a destructive response to the existential crisis that is human life. We want to but cannot attain absolute transcendence and therefore absolute power—​this makes us anxious. In our creatureliness, we are vulnerable and fear harm—​this compounds our anxiety. We have a choice in how we respond to our anxiety—​we can either be destructive and prioritize our own vulnerability above everyone else’s, allowing harm to come to others and accepting it as long it is not our harm. Or we can be creative and look for ways that we can flourish alongside an Other’s flourishing. Creativity in this way is deeply relational, wanting the best for the Other, of recognizing that we are all in community together—​whether this is community in the


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everyday sense of neighbors and relatives or community in the larger international spectrum. In the feminist Christian realism focus upon creativity, it is about the activity of creativity, not the outcome. Feminist Christian realism attempts to do two things differently. First, one must not just be fully cognizant about human-​built power structures but also recognize the ability to change them. Second, one must emphasize that this change comes through love-​infused creativity. Therefore, feminist Christian realism is about the formation of relationships and about the nurturing of sustained healthy communion in community-​building. The outcome of such activity cannot be guaranteed, and it can go horribly wrong. Creativity is a constant and difficult striving to make things better: it is about the giving back, the hope for the future, the desired outcome. Creativity cannot be an exacting promise of a perfect outcome because this is an impossible promise. As fallible creatures, we know that initiatives fail or that the worst happens. Yet, such fallibility should not stop us—​if we stop we have given in to the destructive side of anxiety—​instead, we must engage in hope—​in the “warp and woof” of life in community with others (Elshtain 2000, 168). Creative responses must build relationships and affirm community. Instead of writing derisively about Black Lives Matter, how much more powerful would it be if Blue Lives Matter had held the policing community accountable? How powerful could it have been if their website presented a position of accountability and concern? Since a feminist Christian realist response to anxiety is love-​driven creativity, how much more creative would it have been for those behind Blue Lives Matter to have a website that not just praised police activity but also rejected police violence and bias? Below is my vision for what that could look like. The Blue Lives Matter website could operationalize intentional engagement with the Black Lives Matter movement by encouraging other police departments to follow the lead of the Wichita, Kansas police department. A Black Lives Matter protest was scheduled to take place in Wichita at the end of July 2016 to express concern over “officer-​involved shootings and acts of violence.” However, “after a long discussion with the Wichita Police Department,” the protest was replaced by a “First Steps Cookout, a gathering in a local park aimed at taking the first step towards building a relationship between officers and the community” (May 2016). Members of the police department served food and activities included basketball, bounce houses, dancing, and more importantly, a question-​and-​answer period. During the Q & A, Chief Gordon Ramsay “took questions from the community about racial profiling, transparency, and building relationships”—​answers even addressed the feeling that “the community was being bought off with food”

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(May 2016). The most important thing is, however, that it happened at all and that both sides came together for difficult conversation. Further ideas for the Blue Lives Matter website include posting, alongside the articles about the arrests of “cop killers,” there would be articles about the arrests of cops who use unjustifiable force. It would welcome frank conversations about where police force was necessary and where it was wrong. Instead of mocking police officers who chose to not use force1 or always siding with officers who shoot to kill,2 the website would look at both sides of the story. In other words, if Blue Lives Matter recognized it was in a place of responsibility by being linked to power, it would partner with Black Lives Matter to draw attention to how both “black” and “blue,” and, indeed, all lives matter in a United States that is not just cognizant of racial tensions but lives in hopeful expectation of something better. Such actions would have been preferred. Yet to delineate different and unrelated ways of acting creatively is limited. It is limited to think about creative acts to the problems each chapter outlines—​stark, endemic racism, resentment and fear of women, and hatred for anything that threatens a corrupted, idealized version of the nation. Each creative response is then too narrowly conceived and framed, failing to understand that these issues are connected and not isolated from each other. Instead, it is more helpful to think “intersectionally.” Intersectionality is a feminist approach to understanding not just how people encounter bias but also a way of looking at issues of race, gender, class, as well as other identifiers. It began as a way of articulating the problem that many black feminists encountered with second-​wave feminism of the 1960s through the 1980s. The feminist activity of this period was concerned with the problems white, middle-​class women faced, and it failed to engage or understand the discrimination black women (and other women of color) encountered on a daily basis. Intersectionality was articulated initially by the Combahee River Collective, a group of black feminists in Boston, in their statement (1978): The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking. The synthesis of these oppressions creates the conditions of our lives. As Black women we see Black feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face.


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Thus, oppressions cannot be isolated one from the other—​they interact, creating intersecting structures that pose deeper and more devious harms. As Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw (1989, 149) explains, Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a Black woman is harmed because she is in an intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination . . . But it is not always easy to reconstruct an accident: Sometimes the skid marks and the injuries simply indicate that they occurred simultaneously, frustrating efforts to determine which driver caused the harm.

For those who suffer a harm or an injustice it may be difficult to tease out why it happened. But, for this argument, it is important to argue that no creative solution is worthwhile unless it seeks to creatively address the various harms and power structures that exist. For instance, the worldwide Women’s March that happened on January 21, 2017, could be seen as creative way of addressing misogyny. It began as a way of resisting the Trump presidency and what his discourse and now his policies represent to people:  racism, misogyny, rape culture, xenophobia, queer/​trans/​homo/​phobia, etc. The March was ostensibly intersectional—​it happened globally for one, but the people who organized it and participated in it marched for a multitude of reasons that largely revolved around gender, including differently abled inclusions, the LGBTQI community, racial minorities, pro-​choice, among other reasons. Yet, there were criticisms of those who participated in the march as being overtly hostile toward people of color. White feminists have a pretty heinous track record when it comes to supporting women of color. Being an ally must be a priority in creative resistance and creative solutions to power structures. More pointedly, one of the many creative signs that were used that day queried, “Will you be at the next Black Lives Matter Protest?” The author of this sign was clearly suspicious of the intersectionality of some of those who marched that day. I am not sure that I blame the author of said placard. Another example of intersectional responsibility taking is the recent “Boston Declaration” (2017), a letter written by and signed by some of the leading theologians and biblical scholars in the United States. It is a clear example of Christian witness and of rejecting complicity with the current state of America:

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We are outraged by the current trends in Evangelicalism and other expressions of Christianity driven by white supremacy, often enacted through white privilege and the normalizing of oppression. Confessing racism as the United States’ original and ongoing sin, we commit ourselves to following Jesus on the road of costly discipleship to seek shalom justice for the least, the lost, and the left out. We declare that following Jesus today means fighting poverty, economic exploitation, racism, sexism, and all forms of oppression from the deepest wells of our faith.

It is divided into sections, including a lamentation that concludes with: As followers of Jesus, it is vital that we take action when our government seeks to continuously harm life made in God’s image by cutting social safety-​nets and forcing the poorest and most powerless among us to spiral into an abyss of desperation. Action on the part of the church is warranted at a time when women, people of color, and various ethnicities, individual religions, immigrants and distinct sexualities are targeted for slander and violence from the highest offices of government. We cannot sit idly by and allow the people and the earth to be accosted with series after series of unjust policies that allow the interest of corporate profits to expunge the future for coming generations of humans and other living species.

This is followed by condemnations of imperialism, militarization, American exceptionalism, white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy and misogyny, failure to be a steward of the earth, Islamophobia, and bigotry against the LGBTQI community. In all, it is the first powerful step in rebuking Christians who support or are complicit in these harms and another way of being accountable for and to harm. Another response to the present moment comes from a friend of mine and fellow alumna of Mount Holyoke. When Trump and the Republicans swept the House and Senate on November 8, one of the first Facebook posts I saw that moved beyond disbelief into a stated action was from Markeisha J. Miner, the dean of students at Cornell Law. In it she declared her intention to start Shirley’s List, a means of identifying and supporting women of color to run for office at any level. Dean Miner named it in honor of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman in Congress, serving New York’s Twelfth Congressional District from 1969 to 1983, who ran as the first female presidential candidate for a major party (the Democrats), and who later held the Purington Chair at Mount Holyoke. Representative Chisholm’s slogan was “Unbought and Unbossed”—​she was brave, determined, and her own


[ 149 ]


woman. In one statement she captures both intersectionality and the purpose for this book: In the end, anti-​black, anti-​female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing—​anti-​humanism.

Therefore, the purpose of Dean Miner’s idea for Shirley’s List is to create a way of creating a government that will serve all people, working for the greater benefit of all people, our society. In this way, in only this way, will the United States be more successful in the ways that matter: a compassionate, just, honorable, and decent place for all people. The resounding slogan in the anti-​ Trump movement has been “Love Trumps Hate.” It is creative, yes, and it holds love at the center. It is clear that some Trump supporters do not understand why those who are anti-​ Trump cannot stop criticizing Trump. It is also clear that some who did not vote for him have also become complacent in his presidency, declaring the he won fair and square(ish). But the driving force of the resistance to him is easy to point to. It is “love.” His election represents that in this American moment “hate” has won. This is why those who oppose him will not be still. The ugly, vicious politics of exclusion, hatred, racism, and misogyny have won, and this is simply not the vision we have for this country or this world. For me, it comes back to the Bible passage that is often at the center of creative theology: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1: 1–​5). The civil rights movement also captured this:  We shall overcome. The light will overcome. Love trumps hate. The darkness will not last forever. We take care of our own. This American moment will pass, but it will only pass if we actively engage in a creative endeavor to make it better.

[ 150 ]  This American Moment


PROLOGUE 1. There have been shooters who have targeted white churches but not for the same racist reasons as the Charleston, South Carolina church. 2. For instance, Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011) argues that Western civilization (among other processes) has had a pacifying effect on society but that these are absent from Muslim-​majority countries, deeming these states “where angels fear to tread.” INTRODUCTION 1. There are others that argue anxiety in politics is owed to a “risk society,” or a society that is highly aware of modern threats—​environmental pollution, terrorism, nuclear threats—​but additionally “produce[s]‌fear of things that previously not regarded as threats” (Eklundh, Guittet, and Zevnik 2017, 4). 2. While there is some disagreement about the continued use of in/​out-​groups as a concept, its use is affirmed in the work related to collective identity and IR. Jeffrey Murer (2009, 5) contends that “when individuals feel vulnerable owing to great social tragedy or widespread societal upheaval, finding a secure collective identity offers a means of grounding the individual self” (for more on this in relational identity theory see Shapiro 2010; Murer 2010). CHAPTER 1 1. Christian realism aligns more easily with “classical” realism, as seen in the work of Han Morgenthau (1978). Like Niebuhr, classical realists believe the origins of conflict stemmed from human nature. Structural realists, or neo-​realists, depart from this quite substantially. As the first to articulate structural realism, Kenneth Waltz argues in Man, the State, and War (1959) and later Theory of International Politics (1979) that it was not human nature that was the permissive cause of war; instead, it was the anarchic nature of the international system. CHAPTER 2 1. While I believe that God transcends gender, I also recognize that God has been gendered as masculine and referenced via male pronouns as a way of upholding a dominant masculine/​male system (patriarchy) and not unproblematically, for more deconstruction of this, see Coakley 2002 and Hampson 1990. I attempt to avoid pronouns in referring to God but do sometimes resort to pronouns. 2. It should be acknowledged that relationality can go in a positive or negative direction. Miroslav Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace (1996) looks at the Othering


that drove the violence of the Yugoslav conflict. The Othering happened among people who had lived as neighbors, friends, and family members for years—​and these people who had been intimately involved in one another’s lives somehow emerged on very different sides of a bloody conflict. Intimate relationships can erode, abandoning what I think is inherent within a feminist Christian realist definition of relationality: care, love, and respect for the Other.     Intimate relationships can also be built within structural hierarchies that do not respect or accord the inherent value to another human being. Slavery and servitude are systems built upon submission and the systematic (and systemic) devaluing of another human being. For instance, an intimate relationship may exist between a nanny and a child and mother; however, the child and mother may “outrank” the nanny. Zadie Smith’s (2013) short story for The New Yorker, “The Embassy of Cambodia,” illustrates how such intimacy can exist within the boundaries of extreme Othering, where those in power fail to recognize and see the worth and value of those in servitude. 3. Other events include the freeing of the Israelites from Pharaoh, the use of prophets, the gift of a son to Abraham and Sarah, and the great flood (for which Noah built the ark). 4. For instance, the sexual violence and robbery at Cologne’s New Year’s Eve celebrations have largely implicated Syrian and other immigrants. Sweden has welcomed so many refugees that they have run out of space to house them (Traub 2016). 5. http://​​english/​refugees/​welcome/​. CHAPTER 3 1. Even though neoliberalism is not central to the argument of this chapter, it is central to the Black Lives Matter movement and to understanding how colorblindness came to dominate politics from the 1980s until now. A reformulation of liberalism that emerged after World War II, neoliberalism emphasizes individuals, competition, and profit. It minimizes the role of the state in economic affairs and prioritizes the role of private corporations. Inability to progress (by becoming wealthier) is seen as a result of the individual’s own deficiencies and not related to any systemic hierarchies and limitations (see Monbiot 2016; Lydon 2017). CHAPTER 4 1. Even if he only won the Electoral College by 80,000 votes, and Clinton won the popular vote by 2.6 million. 2. Some might object to me using the phrase “War on Women.” For some it is the discursive invoking of a war that is neither winnable nor militaristic in nature. Similar objections are made about Reagan’s War on Drugs or the War on Terror. Yet, it might help to problematize this by where the power lies. In the War on Terror, it was a hegemonic if not neo-​imperialist use of the term “war” to justify extraordinary measures that constrained civil rights and liberties in the United States (the USA PATRIOT Act) and to justify wars that may not have been all that justifiable (Afghanistan and particularly Iraq). It has also been used to justify the increase in drone strikes, extraordinary rendition, and torture. The power here is with the state to act undemocratically and the critique is of the use of “war” discourse to securitize the issue and to act in extremis if not unconstitutionally (see Jackson 2005; Huysmans 2014).

[ 152 ] Notes

    For the War on Women, it is again the abuses of governmental power by the state, but this time the governmental representatives of the state are enacting policies on their own constituents and citizens. Furthermore, the government agents have not invoked the discourse of war themselves nor do they see these policies are problematic or harmful. Instead, the discourse of “war” is tactically used by women and allies to point out how their rights are being eroded by a government that is mainly run by men (white, wealthy men at that). It could be seen as a politics of reclamation that by using the discourse of war it helps to point out how women are consistently made to lead precarious lives by their own government in the United States. 3. Even now, voting access is unsettled (and unsettling) with North Carolina judges forcing the state to allow hundreds of blacks to vote, eligible voters who somehow had their voting rights repealed. 4. Something similar happened in the first meeting between Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel when the press asked them to shake hands: Merkel repeated the request to Trump, only to have him ignore her completely (Dockray 2017). 5. Rather problematically, these statistics assume heteronormativity: that all women are heterosexual and seeking or have been let down by heterosexual marriage. In the reports on the recession or on why women should be paid less it is presumed that women are in households with men (not other women) or are divorced from men. 6. Rodger’s language can be linked to the discourse studied in the latter part of this chapter. The “alpha male” claim is a primary focus of the Red Pill, an extremist men’s rights forum located primarily on Reddit, in which women are only interested in alpha men who are physically fit and domineering in attitude, leading women to pass by the kind “beta male.” In their glossary of terms, “alpha” is defined as: socially dominant. Somebody who displays high value, or traits that are sexually attractive to women. Alpha can refer to a man who exhibits alpha behaviors (more alpha tendencies than beta), but usually used to describe individual behaviors themselves. (Red Pill 2015b)    The definition for Beta is: Traits of provision:  either providing resources or validation to others, women [and perhaps men]. Beta traits display low value to women if they are are [sic] put on too strong or too early in meeting-​giving without equity. Beta can be used to describe individual behaviors, as well as people who have an overwhelming amount of beta properties [opposed to alpha]. (Red Pill 2015b)    Furthermore, this discourse assumes that women toy with men sexually as a means of exploiting them for casual sex and use marriage for economic gain, with articles entitled “How to Control Your Bitches” and “How to Tease Bitches.” 7. Time describes Breitbart as “a website that has pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-​Semitic material into the vein of the alt right” (Elliott and Millter 2016). While it was feared that Bannon as Trump’s “Chief Strategist” would allow him to bring his white supremacist beliefs into the heart of the American government (Smith 2016), he was fired in July of 2017 (as discussed in the next

Notes  [ 153 ]


chapter). He has instead claimed that he can pursue his agenda and support Trump best outside of the White House. 8. In a simple search of Breitbart’s website for “women,” 258,000 results came back. Going through the first five pages of results (twenty results per page), the returned articles were not in any particular order, varying over the past couple of years and ranging between commentary and reporting.     The website of the National Coalition for Men (NCM) was also consulted, paying specific attention to reproductive rights as the other discourse was more attenuated and focused less on the problems of women and more on the problems of men. For instance, the page entitled “Rape Victims—​Male” made the argument that men are also victims of rape and often at the hands of women, it did not so in demonizing and inflammatory discourse. According to the website, the NCM aims to “remov[e the] harmful gender based stereotypes especially as they impact boys, men, their families and the women who love them.”     The Red Pill, a name derived from The Matrix film referencing the pill Neo takes that reveals the truth, forum on Reddit is extensive with hundreds of posts, 235,747 subscribers as of November 16, 2017. This serves as the forum’s description: “The Red Pill: Discussion of sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men.” However, in a side bar, there are designated readings, including rules, introductory texts, and theory. Many of these are blog posts, and these are the texts I focused upon. CHAPTER 5 1. Both The Order and the Aryan Nations are white supremacist terrorist groups with ties to an extremist form of Christianity. The Order committed at least one murder and other crimes; the group was dismantled after many of the members were brought up on different charges. The Aryan Nations continues to operate and has been associated with abortion doctor murders and bombings of abortion clinics. With the novel The Turner Diaries (Pierce 1978), the legacy of these groups inspired more violence, including Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. 2. Klein (2107) argues that these appointments represent the progress that the left had made on legislation such as climate change and livable wages. These policies represented a threat to these elites’ wealth. 3. It should be noted that none of Trump’s former White House advisors (such as Bannon and Gorka) were fired or forced to resign for spreading lies and misinformation. Instead, they were removed for how their performance reflected on Trump. In Bannon’s case, he was removed after contradicting Trump on North Korea and for remarks that (over)stated his importance to and influence on Trump (Diamond, Collins, and Landers 2017). Gorka’s lack of academic credentials along with his hyper-​nationalism could be seen to impinge on Trump’s own pride and ego (Politi 2017). Spicer, to give him some credit, resigned in protest to the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as Trump’s communication director (and Scaramucci himself only lasted a week) (Thrush and Haberman 2017). 4. In Bannon’s mind, immigration is not just tied to the Muslim/​Terrorist/​Other, but it is also linked to the (racialized) economic concerns of the populist vote. In another one of his radio shows he takes on the “progressive plutocrats in Silicon Valley” who want to bring foreign workers to the United States. He

[ 154 ] Notes

continued, “Engineering schools . . . are full of people from South Asia, and East Asia . . .They’ve come in here to take these jobs” (Sellers and Farenthold 2017). CONCLUSION 1. As in the case of West Virginian police officer Stephen Mader, who was placed on administrative leave for not shooting a man with an unloaded gun and later fired for placing other officers at risk (Officer Blue 2016c). 2. For example, the Tulsa Police Department released video footage from September 17, 2016, of the deadly shooting of unarmed Terrence Crutcher. Multiple police cars were called to the section of a road where Crutcher’s car was sitting, broken down, with Crutcher walking near it. The video shows an officer trailing the unarmed Crutcher with her gun as he walked back to his car. As he reached his car and was reaching into the window, she shot him. (Hannon 2016) quoted the Tulsa Police Chief as acknowledging the disturbing nature of the shooting: “It’s very difficult to watch. . . . The first time I watched it I watched it with the family . . . we will do the right thing, we will not cover anything up” (Hannon 2016). Yet, Blue Lives Matter’s response was very different. It begins with the statement, “The internet is already blowing up over the incident and spreading misinformation,” and it continues by siding more with the officers involved than with Crutcher (Officer Blue 2016d). Since this writing, the officer who shot Crutcher has been charged with manslaughter.

Notes  [ 155 ]



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Center, February 21, 2017. https://​​hatewatch/​2017/​02/​21/​ breitbart-​under-​bannon-​breitbarts-​comment-​section-​reflects-​alt-​right-​anti-​ semitic-​language American Psychological Association Task Force. Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2007. Andreasen, Nancy. “Secrets of the Creative Brain.” Atlantic, July/​August, 2014. https://​​magazine/​archive/​2014/​07/​secrets-​of-​the-​ creative-​brain/​372299/​ Anievas, Alexander, Nivi Machanda, and Robbie Shilliam, eds. Race and Racism in International Relations: Confronting the Global Color Line. Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge, 2014. Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Schocken, 1951. Associated Press. “World’s Oldest Neo-​Nazi Website Stormfront Shut Down.” Telegraph, August 29, 2017. https://​​technology/​2017/​08/​ 29/​worlds-​oldest-​neo-​nazi-​website-​stormfront-​shut/​ Associated Press. “Dallas Sniper Profile: Micah Johnson Was Sent Home from Afghanistan.” Guardian, July 9, 2016a. https://​​us-​news/​ 2016/​jul/​09/​dallas-​shooting-​more-​details-​emerge-​about-​micah-​xavier-​johnson Associated Press. “Judge Cleared of Misconduct in Light Sentencing of Brock Turner.” Guardian, December 19, 2016b. https://​​us-​news/​2016/​ dec/​19/​stanford-​sexual-​assault-​trial-​judge-​aaron-​persky-​brock-​turner Bacevich, Andrew. “Prophets and Poseurs: Niebuhr and Our Times.” World Affairs 170, no. 3 (2008a): 24–​37. http://​​article/​ prophets-​and-​poseurs-​niebuhr-​and-​our-​times Bacevich, Andrew. “Illusions of Managing History: The Enduring Relevance of Reinhold Niebuhr.” Bill Moyers Journal, August 15, 2008b. http://​​ moyers/​journal/​08152008/​profile3.html Barkawi, Tarak. “Empire and Order in International Relations and Security Studies.” In The International Studies Encyclopedia. Edited by Robert A. Denemark, 1360–​ 1379. Chichester, U.K.: WileyBlackwell, 2010. Barkawi, Tarak, and Mark Laffey. “The Postcolonial Moment in Security Studies.” Review of International Studies 32, no. 2 (2002): 329–​352. Barkawi, Tarak, and Mark Laffey. “Retrieving the Imperial: Empire and International Relations.” Millennium 31, no. 1 (2006): 109–​127. Barr, Andrew. “The GOP’s No-​Compromise Pledge.” Politico, October 28, 2010. http://​​story/​2010/​10/​the-​gops-​no-​compromise-​pledge-​044311 Bassett, Laura. “The UN Sent 3 Foreign Women to the US to Assess Gender Equality. They Were Horrified.” Huffington Post, December 16, 2015. http://​www.​entry/​foreign-​women-​assess-​us-​gender-​equality_​us_​ 566ef77de4b0e292150e92f0. BBC. “Nadiya Hussain: The Great British Bake-​Off Winner Reveals Racial Abuse.” August 14, 2016a. http://​​news/​entertainment-​arts-​37058043 BBC. “Syria: The Story of the Conflict.” 2016b. http://​​ news/​world-​middle-​east-​26116868 Beckwith, Ryan Teague. “Read President Trump’s Remarks at National Day of Prayer Breakfast.” February 2, 2017. http://​​4658012/​ donald-​trump-​national-​prayer-​breakfast-​transcript/​ Begbie, Jeremy. Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts. London: A&C Black, 1991.

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abortion, 96–​97,  101–​4 Adam, 43–​44, 48 Adams, Marilyn McCord, 30, 49 Affordable Care Act, 104, 125 Ahmed, Sara, 5–​7 All Lives Matter, 61, 86 Allsopp, Kirsti, 121 “America First”/​”make America great again”, 117 Andreasen, Nancy, 42–​43 Anglin, Andrew, 126, 140 anti-​Semitism, 117, 120, 126, 133, 153n7 anxiety destructive/​creative, creaturely, 12, 14, 30–​35, 45, 145–​6, 151n1 failure of empathy and, 22 fascism and, 17, 134–​41, 154n4 fear of change and, 117 fear vs., 4–​5 feminist Christian realism and, 12–​14, 34–​35,  88 misogyny, 20, 104–​9 politics, xxi–​xxii,  1–​2 power-​seeking and, 94 race structures, 75–​7, 88, 137 and reactivity, 64, 71, 76, 137 and scapegoating, 5, 7, 17, 87 terrorism, 5, 58-​9, 137–​41 Trump presidency and, 3–​6, 22, 124–​5,  135 vulnerability, 51, 94–​5 war on women and, 91, 106–​7,  111–​14

Apprentice, The, 127 Arendt, Hannah, 133 Aryan Nations, 125, 154n1 Assad, Bashar al-​, 58 Babette’s Feast,  60–​61 Bacevich, Andrew, 36 Baltimore, Maryland, 71–​72 Bannon, Steve alt-​right white nationalism, Trump and, 125, 126, 153n7 deconstructing the administration, 131 firing of, 154n3 on media and liberal opposition, 128–​29,  132 men’s rights movement and, 104 Mercer and, 118 Muslims/​Islam and, 137, 139–​41,  154n4 power to sway Trump, 132 Barenboim, Daniel, 54–​55 Barkawi, Tarak, xiv, xvi, 18 Basic Instinct (movie), 105 Beautiful Soul and Just Warrior, 93–​94 Ben-​Ghiat, Ruth, 132, 134 Berry, Mary, 57 Bertolucci, Bernardo, 105 Beyoncé, 86, 87 Biden, Joe, 2 Biggar, Nigel, 36 Black, Don, 126 Black History Month, 136

8 01

Black Lives Matter. See also racism and violence All Lives Matter and, 61, 86 Blue Lives Matter and, 15–​16, 61, 73–​74, 76–​79, 83–​86, 146–​47,  152n2 denial of the rationale for, 144 intersectionality and, 148 necessity of, 7 neoliberalism and, 152n1 picnic with police officers, 61, 146 Trump Administration and, 129 Blau, Francine, 98 Bloom, Paul, 20–​21, 22 Blue Lives Matter, 15–​16, 61, 73–​74, 76–​79, 83–​86, 146–​47,  155n2 Bonilla-​Silva, Eduardo, 3 “Boston Declaration” (2017), 148–​50 Boyer, Nate, 86 Brando, Marlon, 105 Breitbart, 104, 105, 106, 110, 112, 113–​14, 117–​18, 126, 153n7, 154n8 Breitbart, Andrew, 118 Brexit, 22 Bridges, Ruby, 2 Brown, Michael, 15, 70, 78, 79–​80, 84 Buchwald, Emilie, 100 Bush, Billy, 90 Bush, George W., 89, 114 Caldwell, Christopher, 78–​79, 80, 84–​85 Carter, Jimmy, 127 Charlottesville violence, 126 Chicago Police Department, 73 Chisholm, Shirley, 149–​50 Christian Century, The, 30 Christian realism. See also creativity; feminist Christian realism; love and politics and anxiety 8, 10, 13, 23–​26, 30–​35,  37 vs. feminist Christian realism, 10–​13 Niebuhr’s,  7–​8 power-​seeking and, 94 relevance and necessity of, 14, 23–​26 Christo and Jeanne-​Claude, 52–​56 Citizen: An American Lyric (Rankine),  67–​68 Clinton, Bill, 2, 90 Clinton, Hillary, 89–​90, 91, 93, 117, 118, 134, 152n1 Coates, Ta-​nehisi, 69 [ 180 ] Index

Cold War, 35 Combahee River Collective, 147 Communism, 18 complicity, 143, 148–​49 Conway, Kellyanne, 132–​33 Council on Foreign Relations, 140 “Counted, The” (Guardian), 71 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference),  128–​29 Crawford, John, III, 15, 68, 82–​83 Crawford, Neta, 37 creation story, 43–​45 creativity creator God and, 8–​10 defined, 41–​43, 152n2 destructive/​creative creaturely, 14, 30–​35,  151n1 feminist Christian realism and, 12–​13,  146 imago dei and, 8, 15, 17, 47–​49, 61 overview, 14–​15, 40–​41, 151n1 as reflection of divine, 8 relational genesis of, 43–​47, 152n3 resolving, problem of love-​informed creativity and, 50–​61, 152n4 Crenshaw, Kimberlé Williams, 148 Cruz, Ted, 127, 131 Cummins, Denise, 20–​21 Cummins, Robert, 20–​21 Daily Stormer, 126 Dakota Access Pipeline, 17 Davis, Wendy, 103 Democracy Index 2016, 123 Democrats, 2, 102, 125, 149–​50 Department of Justice on Ferguson,  80–​82 DeVos, Betsy, 130 Dinesen, Isak, 60 Douglas, Gabby, 105 Douglass, Frederick, 136 Dunford, Joseph, 129 Durken, Peter, 102 Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) 2016 Democracy Index, 123 Edkins, Jenny, 13, 34–​35 Eighteenth Amendment, 91 Elshtain, Jean Bethke, 11–​12, 47–​48, 91–​92,  93 empathy, 13, 19, 20–​23, 29, 52

Energy Department, 119 Enloe, Cynthia, 37 Entertainment Tonight Trump tape, 90 Epps, Garrett, 118 Equal Rights Amendment, 102 Eve, 41, 48

Great British Bake-​Off, The,  56–​57 Great Recession, 90–​91, 97 Griffin, Roger, 122 Guardian “Counted, The”, 71 gun violence and women, 96, 98–​100,  153n6

fake news, 90, 128, 132–​33 fascism anxiety and resisting, 134–​41, 154n4 defined,  119–​22 overview, 16, 116–​19, 141 Trump presidency and the five stages of, 122–​34, 154nn1–​3 “Fatal Force” (Washington Post), 71 fear anxiety vs., 4–​5 Syrian refugees/​terrorism and, 19, 22, 50, 57–​60,  137–​41 feminist Christian realism. See also Christian realism; creativity on anxiety, 12–​14, 34–​35, 88 vs. Christian realism, 10–​13 on emotions in social and political life, 14,  36–​39 on equal worth, recognition, and respect for all people, 115 focus of, 47 need for, 1–​17, 151nn1–​2 on race and gender constructions,  32–​33 racism and, 63–​64, 86, 88 Ferguson, Missouri, 15, 70, 79, 80–​82 Fineman, Martha, 94–​95 Fletcher, Pamela, 100 Flynn, Mike, 130 Foran, Charles, 59 Fortune500 CEOs, 42 Fox News, 90 Fraternal Order of the Police, 77, 129 Freud, Sigmund, 93 Fricker, Miranda, 92–​93 Fukunle, David, 69

Halstead, John, 86 Hauerwas, Stanley, 39 Havel, Václav, 33 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 93 Holocaust Memorial Day, 133 Homan Square detention site, 73 hooks, bell, 21, 117 House of Representatives ethics oversight committee, 119 Huntington, Samuel, 139 Hurston, Zora Neale, 67 Hussein, Nadiya, 56–​57

Gandhi, 33 Garza, Alicia, 69–​70 Gingrich, Newt, 92 God/​Trinity. See creativity; imago dei Gorka, Sebastian, 132, 154n3 Gray, Freddie, 71–​72, 84

imago dei. See also creativity creativity and, 8, 15, 17 love and, 12, 50 racism and, 88 submitting wholly to, 31 international relations (IR) Christian episteme and, 8–​9 emotions in social and political life, 14,  36–​39 empathy and cooperation, 21–​22 love-​informed creativity in, 47–​61 race and, 31–​32 war on women and, 95–​97 intersectionality bias/​injustice and,  92–​93 Black Lives Matter and, 69–​70 controlling women and, 115 feminist approach to, 147–​50 vulnerability and, 51 white nationalism and, 117 Iran hostage crisis, 127 Iraq War, 19, 37 Irony of American History, The (Niebuhr), 25 IR. See international relations Islam Kills Women (NGO), 115 Islam. See Muslims/​Islam Israel,  54–​55 Italian fascism, 119–​20 It Can’t Happen Here (Sinclair), 122 Ivins, Molly, 102 Index  [ 181 ]


Jackson, Charles, 78 Jesus sacrifice on the Cross, 44, 46 Jim Crow, 62, 71, 85, 91, 141, 153n3 Johnson, Micah, 83 Jordon, Barbara, 102 Just Warrior and Beautiful Soul, 93–​94 Kaepernick, Colin, 85–​87 Kamat, Anjali, 72 Kelly, Megyn, 4, 92 Khan-​Cullors, Patrisse,  69–​70 Kiai, Maina, 62–​63 King, Martin Luther (Jr.), 33 Kozel, Jonathan, 66 Krishna, Sankaran, 31, 36, 43 Ku Klux Klan, 125 Kushner, Jared, 132, 133 Laffey, Mark, xvi, 18 Last Tango in Paris (movie), 105 law enforcement and Trump, 77, 129 Lewis, John, 136–​37 LGBTQI, xv, 2, 17, 63, 125, 132, 148, 149 Lil Wayne, 83–​84 Limbaugh, Rush, 121 Lindbergh, Charles, 117 “Litany for Survival, A” (Lorde), 144–​45 Lochte, Ryan, 105 Lorde, Audre, 144–​45 love and politics absenting love, 26–​30 Christian realism relevance, 23–​26 destructive/​creative creaturely anxiety, 14, 30–​35, 151n1 emotions in social and political life, 14,  36–​39 empathy, 20–​23, 52 love will win, 142–​50, 155nn1–​2 overview, 14, 18–​19 Lovin, Robin, 36 Lyon, Mary, 91–​92 MacDonald, Rachel, 76 Magritte, René, 90, 109 “make America great again”/​America First, 117 Mandela, Nelson, 33 Martin, Trayvon, 70, 78 mass shootings, 98–​100, 153n6 maternity leave, 96

[ 182 ] Index

Mattis, James, 130 Maxwell, Zerlina, 101 McAdams, Dan, 4 McCain, John, 2, 134 McConnell, Mitch, 119, 127 McCormick, Neil, 143 McFarland, Ian, 9, 45 McVeigh, Timothy, 126 Medicaid waiver program, 103 men’s rights movement, 104–​15, 153n7, 154n8 Mercer, Robert, 118 Merkel, Angela, 153n4 Michelangelo, 43 military and Trump, 129–​30 Miller, Stephen, 126–​27, 140 Miner, Markeisha J., 149–​50 misogyny, xvi–​xvii, 3–​6, 14, 61, 89–​90, 100, 104, 117, 136, 148–​150 Mnuchin, Steve, 130 Mohamed, Ahmed, 56 Moral Man and Immoral Society (Neibuhr) challenges in IR since publication of, 19 on emotion and rationality, 23 feminist Christian realism, 13 on love, 27, 48, 50 overview,  10–​11 Morrison, Toni, 135–​36 Mother Jones mass shooter database, 99 Mount Holyoke College, 91–​92 Muslims/​Islam attitudes toward, 56–​57, 59, 137–​41 Muslim ban, 16, 117, 119, 126, 132, 134,  138–​40 Syrian refugees/​terrorism and, 19, 22, 50, 57–​60,  137–​41 women and, 96, 114–​15, 127 National Coalition for Men (NCFM), 104, 112–​14,  154n8 National Refugee Week, 60 Native Americans, 17, 95 Nature and Destiny of Men, The (Niebuhr) on anxiety and power, 10, 13 challenges in IR since publication of, 19 on creation and humanity’s role, 30 on the human condition, 33–​34 on love, 23, 48

on nationalism, 24–​25 on pride and misuses of power, 8 Nazi Germany, 119–​20, 137 NCFM (National Coalition for Men), 104, 112–​14,  154n8 neoliberalism, 65–​66, 72, 152n1 neo-​Orientalist bias, 19 New Orleans, post-​Katrina, 66 Niebuhr, (H.) Richard, 30 Niebuhr, Reinhold. See also Moral Man and Immoral Society; Nature and Destiny of Men, The on anxiety, 3, 7–​8, 24, 30–​35 creativity and, 43 on fearing harm, 3 on love, 14, 18–​19, 23, 27–​30, 39, 48, 50, 51 on nationalism, 24–​26 questions and dilemmas for, 12 Nussbaum, Martha, 38–​39 Obama, Barack birther debate regarding, 2, 3, 117 Caldwell on, 84 Dreamers and, 134 election of, 1–​2, 89, 124 foreign policy of, 135 Mohamed, Ahmed and, 56 police and court supervisors on, 81 post-​race society and, 64 racism toward, 2–​3 Republican obstruction and racism toward, 127 on Trump, 124, 128 Obama, Michelle, 82 Oklahoma City bombing, 126 Omi, Michael, 65, 152n1 Origins of Totalitarianism, The (Arendt), 133 Palestinians,  54–​55 Palin, Sarah, 2 Parks, Rosa, 33 Passmore, Kevin, 121, 122 Pateman, Carole, 93 Patriarchy, 6, 14, 20, 90, 106, 111, 149, 151n1 Paxton, Robert, 120, 122–​23, 127, 128–​29, 131, 134 Pence, Mike, 112

Penny, Laurie, 99–​100 Perry, Rick, 131 Pew Research Center, 74 Piepmeier, Mark, 83 Planned Parenthood, 102–​3 Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas v. Sanchez,  102–​3 police and Trump, 77, 129 police violence. See racism and violence politics, love-​informed creativity in,  47–​61 Potok, Mark, 125–​26 Priebus, Reince, 132 “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” (Muslim ban), 16, 117, 119, 126, 134,  138–​40 Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI), 74, 75 Pulse Nightclub, 17, 133 Putin, Vladimir, 128 Puzder, Andrew, 130 Racial Formation in the United States (Omi and Winant), 65, 152n1 racism/​race. See also white supremacy creativity and, 42–​43 election of Obama and, 1–​2 feminist Christian realism on gender,  32–​33 Obama election and, 124–​25 political order and power dependent on dividing by, 31–​32 racism and empathy, 22 Trump presidency and, 3–​6, 128,  136–​37 voting rights and, 91, 153n3 racism and violence black lives don’t matter, 64–​74, 152n1 overview, 15–​16, 62–​64, 116 recognizing and addressing, 85–​88 threatened power/​dominance,  76–​79 Trump rallies, 2 victim blaming/​black criminality,  79–​85 white Americans views on, 74–​76 women and, 115 Ramsay, Gordon, 146–​47 Rand (think tank), 140 Rankine, Claudia, 67–​68

Index  [ 183 ]

8 4 1

Rape (painting), 90, 109 rape/​rape culture, 100–​1, 105, 110–​12,  114–​15 Reagan, Ronald, 65 Reconstruction Era, 62 Red Pill Reddit forum, 104, 105, 107–​14, 153n6, 154n4, 154n8 refugees, 22 Reichstag wrapping, 52–​56 Republicans/​Republican  Party Affordable Care Act and, 104 House’s ethics oversight committee, 119 nativist populist vote and, 90 Obama/​McCain campaign and, 1–​2 Obama obstruction by, 127 reproductive health and, 102, 103, 104 running against Trump, 117 Texas, 2 Trump and, 4, 124, 125, 127–​28, 134, 149 Richards, Ann, 102 Richie, Ronald, 82–​83 Richter-​Montpetit, Melanie,  68–​69 “Rocky Ground” (Springsteen), 142–​43 Rodgers, Elliot, 99, 153n6 Roe v. Wade, 96, 101, 102 Romney, Mitt, 128 Rorty, Richard, 124 Ross, Janell, 75 Roth, Martha, 100 Rousseau, Jean-​Jacques, 93 Rumsfeld, Donald, 58 Ryan, Paul, 131, 134 Said, Edward, 54 Sample, Linc, 78 Saudi women, 114 Sayers, Dorothy, 8, 10, 46 Scalia, Justice, 127 Schneider, Maria, 105 Schwarzenegger, Arnold, 127 Secunda, Paul, 131 Sessions, Jeff, 119, 126 Shaw, Lori, 83 Shirley’s List, 149–​50 Simas, David, 128 Sinclair, Upton, 122 Sistine Chapel ceiling, 43–​44 slavery, 62, 64, 68

[ 184 ] Index

Smiley, Calvin John, 69 South American police forces, 73 Spanish fascism, 120 Spencer, Richard, 126 Spicer, Sean, 132, 133 Springsteen, Bruce, 142–​44 Starr, Terrell Jermaine, 128 Stone, Sharon, 105 Stormfront, 126 Strauss-​Khan, Dominique, 101 Suffragettes,  91–​92 Swartz, Mimi, 102 Sylvester, Christine, 20–​22, 36 Syrian refugees, 19, 22, 50, 57–​60, 115 Tea Party, 125, 127 terrorism/​fear and Syrian refugees, 19, 22, 50, 57–​60, 135, 137–​41 Tesler, Michael, 124–​25 Texas abortion/​reproduction laws, 102–​4,  116 Three-​Fifths Compromise, 85, 141 Tiananmen Square “Tank Man”, 33 Tillerson, Rex, 130 Tometi, Opal, 69–​70 toxic masculinity, 99–​100, 153n6 Transforming a Rape Culture (Buchwald, Fletcher, and Roth), 100 Trinity/​God. See creativity; imago dei “Trump Apocalypse Watch” (Slate), 4 Trump, Donald. See also fascism alt-​right and, 16, 126, 128–​29 anxiety and presidency of, 3–​6, 22, 128 Black Lives Matter and, 78 cabinet of, 129–​31, 154n2 Christians support of, 25 election of, 16, 90 Entertainment Tonight grab them tape, 90, 105, 109 Fraternal Order of the Police and, 77, 129 Merkel and, 153n4 misogyny and, 90, 152n1 rally violence/​chants, 2, 89 rape culture and, 101 sexual assault allegation against, 92 Women’s March and, 148 Trump, Ivanka, 132, 133 Turner, Brock, 101

United Kingdom, 56–​57 United Nations on US racism, 62–​63 Upheavals of Thought (Nussbaum), 38–​39 Voting Rights Act of 1965, 91, 153n3 Wagner, Richard, 54 War on Cops, The (MacDonald), 76 Warren, Elizabeth, 119 Washington Post “Fatal Force”, 71 Webster, John, 41, 45 Weinstein, Harvey, 105 Weissman, Jordan, 98 West-​Eastern Divan Orchestra, 52,  54–​56 “We Take Care of Our Own” (Springsteen),  143–​44 We Welcome Refugees, 59–​60 white supremacy. See also racism/​race; racism and violence alt-​right and Trump’s election, 16, 126,  128–​29 alt-​right term and, 125, 126 anxiety and, 7, 117 election of Trump and, 135–​36 fascism and, 125–​27 Trump Administration statements and, 133 Who Are We (Elshtain), 11–​12 Williams, Serena, 67–​68 Wilson, Darren, 70, 78, 79–​80 Wilson, Joe, 127 Winant, Howard, 65, 152n1 women Clinton, 89–​90, 91, 93, 117, 118, 134, 152nn1–​2

creativity and, 42–​43 Eve, 48 feminist Christian realism and, 32–​33,  115 intersectionality,  147–​48 military and war structures impact on, 37 misogyny and anxiety, 104–​5, 153n7, 154n8 misogyny and empathy, 22 misogyny and Trump, 3–​6, 90, 136–​37,  152n1 relational care and recognition of, 115 Trump rally violence toward, 2 vulnerability, 50–​52,  94–​96 vulnerability, bodily, 95, 98–​101, 109–​12,  153n6 vulnerability, economic, 95, 97–​98, 106–​9,  153n5 vulnerability, reproductive health, 95, 101–​4,  112–​15 war on, 16, 90–​97, 116, 144, 152n2, 153nn3–​4 Women’s March, 119, 132, 137, 148 Women’s Right to Know Act (Texas), 102 Wrecking Ball (2012), 142 Yiannopoulos, Milo, 106–​8, 111, 114 Zimmerman, George, 70, 78 Zinke, Ryan, 139 “ZOG”—​Zionist Occupation Government, 126

Index  [ 185 ]

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