How MAGA functions as white political theology both within the White House and amongst Trump’s base.
NOTE: THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN WHILE TRUMP WAS STILL PRESIDENT IN 2018
“Trumpism” is not a coherent socio-political doctrine. Where it does cohere is in its symbolic attempts to parry the cultural shocks endured by the self-perceived victims of liberal progressivism – those who see whiteness not as a privilege, but as a state of fragility, those who also narrate this fragility as constitutive of the end of Christian America or, more broadly, Judeo-Christian civilization. The rationale for Trumpism is not simply policy-based, or economic. Rather, resonating under Trumpism and the promise to Make America Great Again (MAGA) is a white political theology which is deployed in a new “spiritual war” for the soul of America and indeed, the soul of the West. More troubling is how this “spiritual war” articulates itself in the new culture wars and, for some, the inauguration of a geo-political apocalypse which finally resolves the clash of civilizations. This article investigates how MAGA functions as white political theology both within the White House and amongst Trump’s base. Following from this, we explore this political theology as a vast ideological apparatus engendered by neo-liberalism in spiritual-racialist terms.
From the outset of his presidency, Donald Trump has embraced an authoritarian leadership style. In registering the shocks of the new leadership, many citizens have come to ask if such authoritarianism could morph into fascism. While one should be prudent in the usage of the political appellation, Robert O. Paxton underlines that the correspondences between Trumpian authoritarianism and its extreme-right analogues cannot be overlooked:
Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
In comparing Trumpism to Fascism, Paxton veers on the side of caution, observing the existence of both “echoes” and “very profound differences.” Yet, more attention needs to be given to these echoes and their uncanny capacity to shape “the new normal.” Paxton’s original definition provides an efficacious framework for teasing out their reverberations.
Trumpism’s narrative of decline is bound to the narrative of white and White-Christian decline, reconfiguring “Americanness” in terms of imaginary racial purity. For the president, racial scapegoating is a quasi-everyday affair and creates the discursive conditions for a potentially very real race/civil war. Trump’s preferred refrains concern America’s persistent humiliation at the hands of immigrants and global powers (“They’re laughing at us”). This is also a macho politics designed to re-virilize “the victims” – namely middle- and lower-class white men. But, while Trumpism echoes populism, its leader is a real estate mogul, emblematic of capitalism’s darkest instincts.
The president’s appeal amongst his base is, in part, dependent on his continuous attacks against the free press, penchant for conspiracy theory, and tireless peddling of “alternative facts.” His America is a decadent and apocalyptic wasteland, besieged by a crisis that cannot be resolved with recourse to classical understandings of the political. He aestheticizes the political during his rallies, and sacrifices content to “optics,” precisely where the show controls the reality. He has shown courtesy toward dictators, condones the use of violence against his detractors and has dared to even physically threaten his democratic counterparts. He has declared war on governmental institutions, and understands himself to be above the law.
Cries of “Trump Fascist” erupted after the news of the humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border (May 2018). In the shambolic roll-out of Trump’s zero tolerance policy, and as the babies stripped from their parents were being put in “Tender Care” camps, Trump went on to confound the immigrants with the very gang members and rapists that they were fleeing from. He likened them to and vermin coming to “infest” the nation, using a nativist language reminiscent of the Know-Nothing movement.
Paxton’s analysis of fascism, however, downplays the role of the political myth, which Raoul Girardet remarks, is like traditional myth, “a fabrication, a deformation or suspect interpretation of the real, […] but it has an explicative function, offering a number of keys for the comprehension of the present, constituting a framework through which to organize the disconcerting chaos of facts and events.” The Make America Great Again myth fits into this framework, for it fulfills the essential criteria of all political myth in erecting itself around the topoi of “the conspiracy” (the unhinged democratic left, the globalists, immigrants, “witch-hunt” etc.), “the Golden Age” (white supremacy and the pre-multicultural world), “the savoir” (Trump himself), and “Unity” (the white base).
Trumpism expresses the resurgence of white supremacy in mainstream politics, referring to America’s Anglo-Saxon racialist story of origins. According to Reginald Horsman, American Anglo-Saxons understood themselves as “a separate, innately superior people whose were destined to bring good government, commercial prosperity and Christianity to the American continents. […] This was a superior race, and inferior races were doomed to subordinate status of extinction. […] God’s intentions were revealed in the survival and prosperity of the tiny colonies.” Resonating under Trumpism and the promise to Make America Great Again is a white political theology built on the racialist Anglo-Saxon thesis, one whose defining narrative is that of a “magistrate of God” under siege by the generally perceived ills of mixity, migration, and multiculturalism. Radically anti-modern and anti-enlightenment, this theology naturalizes white supremacy through a mosaic of evangelical and spiritual tropes that define Western civilization in mythical and transcendent terms. This article aims to demonstrate that Make America Great Again and Trumpism are iterations of an American racialist myth which, as Andrew O’Hehir observes, serves “narrow-minded, present-tense political purposes.” It telescopes both the voices and actors responsible for the reproduction of the myth including, but not delimited to, Trump, his base, his religious constituents, but also the new media ecology from where many journalists respond to Trump’s provocation with their own brand of dogmatism, performing a type of specular doubling and also casting Trumpism in religious terms.
The Trump Rally as Revival
In the late 18th century, America was caught in the fervor of the Second Great Awakening, an “evangelical renovation” which sought to “re-baptize” the nation whose greatness was bound in divine providence. The Awakening was driven by the rituals of revival, “those outpourings of the Spirit, which result in the quickening of the church and the conversion of sinners.” At these mass prayer meetings, charismatic preachers would incite hysteria in the congregation. Throngs of devotees would convulse, cry for mercy, and quiver. As they begged for grace from depravity, the nation too would be saved.
In Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff likened the typical Trump Rally to “big tent religious revivalism” which drew on “another sort of American charisma” that “was more in the Christian evangelical vein.” Here, the presidential candidate qua preacher exalted with a hitherto unseen brand of hatemongering that healed the narcissistic wounds suffered by members of the base, and alchemically transformed their humiliation into triumph. However, implicit in Wolff’s characterization is the problem of how and when forms of political effervescence mutate into “revivalism.” While the Trump Rally may share family resemblances with 18th century religious revivalism, what sets it apart is the nature of the “deliverance,” the “salvation,” and contours of “the faith.” What is really being “revived” at the Trump Rally? What constitutes Trumpism and the purported religiosity that it inspires? Part of the answer to these questions can be found in how racism, white rage, and affect congeal in the spectacle of the Trump rally qua revival.
Trumpism is not a coherent political doctrine but a rhetorical apparatus that can be appropriated by a protean group of political actors. His campaign speeches showed outbursts of rancor but very little real substance. Their lack of content, coupled again with the buffoonery that is the hallmark of all authoritarian personalities, allowed the various members of the base to connect to the man who would return heart to the heartland and rescue the Rust Belt from the decay left in the wake of the globalists’ conspiracy. His feigned folksiness dissimulated the fact that he was a businessman who profited off the poor, proving like Machiavelli’s Prince that cunning and deception were preferable to virtue and wisdom. He was a showman in total control of the attention economy. Management by chaos and shock and awe replaced the tedious study of policy. Whenever the journalists accused him of propagating “Fake News,” his followers cheered, for what mattered was not the truth but the leader’s breaking of the norms. The Trump rally was the paroxysm of America – the total spectacularization of the political, the spectacle of the spectacle itself.
His campaign also foregrounded the spectacle of the religious. An unrepentant “sinner”, Trump was the Christian right’s Trojan horse. Despite his lip-service to God, his affirmations of personal faith were exercises in cynical reason unraveling in the simulacra of “the reality show.” But this has not deterred many a believer, especially among white evangelicals, as Chauncey DeVega observes:
Trump has become a “White Jesus” […,] a pseudo-Christian savior, to whom evangelicals offer their votes, their allegiance and their political donations, worshiping at the altar of this false image of God. […] American conservatism at present is deeply fundamentalist. But it is also deceptively inclusive: authoritarians, bigots, racists, misogynists, white supremacists, nativists, gangster capitalists, the willfully ignorant and anti-intellectual, and those who eschew reason for passion are all welcome.
One could argue that De Vega’s rendering of Trump and his base is slightly reductionist. While followers of “White Jesus” are certainly to be found amongst Trump’s supporters, it would be a misnomer to reduce them to a band of rabid, white, uneducated zealots. Trump’s base is not a homogenous block. Nonetheless, De Vega’s exhortations do pastiche the sincerest of convictions of Trump’s hagiographers and those in his inner circle, many of whom believe that he is either God or that his presidency is God’s will. For example, Trump’s “spiritual advisor,” the Pentacostalist preacher Paula White, confirmed that Trump was anointed by God on the Jim Bakker Show “because God says that he raises up and places all people in places of authority, it is God who raises up a king. It is God that sets one down.” Stephen Strang’s God and Donald Trump compiles an impressive demographic list of American religious leaders, including Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress, who all opine that Trump was God’s candidate, one who would bring America back to religion, and answer their prayers.
But Trump did not preach social justice and compassion, accepting and encouraging violence at the revivals. Through the acerbic deployments of the MAGA myth, he provided the ideological legitimation for the suspension of the ethical. The revivals could be described as “orgies of feeling” which, according to political scientist Elizabeth R. Anker, establish a “dynamic in which overwhelming affects displace more routinized experiences of suffering”:
Orgies of feeling manage the suffering that arises from diminished possibilities for freedom by offering a new explanation for suffering and implying that pain will soon be overpowered by a “liberated” self. Orgies of feeling can help to describe the dynamic and affective work of melodramatic political discourse. Melodrama’s heightened affects might be appealing to political subjects precisely because those affects offer a way to explain and overcome the protracted pains and “dull” paralysis in daily lives saturated by myriad and unaccountable forms of power.
The Trump rally, where religion and white anger intertwined, substantiated many of the deepest fears of the liberal left – namely that the halcyon days of a public sphere, where citizens guided by the spirit of liberal reason and committed to securing the common good, would deliberate on the possibility of the least worst society, were over. The political was now reduced to the orgy – policy by affect, diplomacy by instinct, and political conscience as dopamine hit.
Unlike the laïcité found in its sister republic, American secularism and freedom of religion were never designed to protect the political from religious influence, but rather created to assure that government could never persecute religion. In principle, American recensions of freedom of religion build on notions of tolerance and co-existence; everyone should be able to practice their religions freely just as long as such practice does not impinge upon others and their capacity to practice. In its Trumpian articulations, however, such freedom is paradoxically recast as freedom to discriminate on the basis of one’s religious convictions.
The groundwork for this re-reading of freedom of religion was already present in policy tabled by Governor Mike Pence in Indiana. Pence’s rhetoric is not the same as Trump’s, but their ideological leanings do overlap; Trump’s “re-making of America” melds with Pence’s “re-moralizing of America” and desire for a “religious restoration.” In 2015, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which justified anti-LGBTQ discrimination on the basis of one’s faith. ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos sought to clarify Pence’s position in an interview: “Does this law allow a Christian florist to refuse service for a same-sex wedding?” “George, look,” Pence said at one point, sounding frustrated, “the issue here is, you know, is tolerance a two-way street or not?” Following criticism from the liberal left and the Indianapolis-based NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), the bill was amended to not discriminate against homosexuals. Nonetheless, the spirit of the bill and the restoration it promised set the tone for Trump’s own building of the two-way street.
In May 2017, guided by the increasingly powerful evangelical lobby, Trump signed the executive order “Promoting Free Speech and Liberty,” which allowed for religious leaders to “speak freely” about their beliefs in public fora. It thus attempted to rescind the Johnson Amendment which prevented religious organizations from publicly endorsing candidates or pushing policy measures. The amendment awarded their silence with tax exemptions. Trump referred to the Johnson White House as a “regime” and further remarked: “My greatest contribution to Christianity – and other religions – is to allow you, when you talk religious liberty, to go and speak openly, and if you like somebody or want somebody to represent you, you should have the right to do it.”
The purported repeal was yet another exercise in Trumpian bloviating. And evangelicals wanted more – namely the reinforcement of Pence’s “restoration act.” In September 2017, the Justice Department openly sided with a baker in Colorado who refused to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. Then, in October 2017, Trump, now with the aid of Sessions, attempted again to accommodate the evangelical lobby with a memo on “Religious Liberties.” It included a “free exercise clause” which is decidedly opaque concerning florists, bakers, and homosexual couples. Although it does maintain LGBTQ protections in the workplace, it allows for believers to “act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious belief.” Like the executive order of May 2017, it de-secularizes the public sphere and stipulates that “Americans do not give up their freedom of religion by participating in the marketplace, partaking of the public square, or interacting with government.” In affirming the sanctity of “religious autonomy,” it supports discriminatory practices and states that “Religious employers are entitled to employ only persons whose beliefs and conduct are consistent with the employers’ religious precepts.” The memorandum was accompanied by a new policy from the Department of Health and Human Services (which soon had its own “Conscience and Religious Freedom” division, which Sessions completed with the Religious Liberty Task Force) designed to “protect the religious freedom of the employer,” a tenet that allows for employers to act on their convictions and hence enables them to refuse to provide abortion and contraception insurance to their employees. The equivocal nature of the memorandum offered a tremendous amount of symbolic and juridical leverage to religious groups. It is a massive victory for the religious right over their secular counterparts.
Trump’s public speeches are apocalyptic sermons, warning of the imminent decimation of the West. In his inauguration speech, he stunningly portrayed America as a forsaken dystopia, as opposed to unifying citizens around a shared project:
Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
A message of possibility drastically undermines the potency of the MAGA myth, which depends on exacerbating dormant resentments. MAGA will deliver us from carnage, resurrect the dead and the dead factories, and stop the “deprivation.” Trump’s speech in Warsaw in the summer of 2017 expanded the carnage metaphor to the entirety of the West and also petitioned the lord:
As I stand here today before this incredible crowd, this faithful nation, we can still hear those voices that echo through history. Their message is as true today as ever. The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out “We want God.”
And between his jabs at NATO and vows to stop Radical Islamic Terrorism, he did not waiver on who this God was and who it would save:
The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? […] Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it? […] Our own fight for the West does not begin on the battlefield – it begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls.
The prophecies of MAGA speak of the coming battle, one not only between civilizations, but between races. As James Fallows observed, following the speech, drenched as it was in the language of blood, heritage, ancestors, will, and ways of life, America seemed to no longer refer to an idea, but rather to an “ethnic group.”
Much of this discourse has come to shape American domestic and foreign policy and manage to ignite the “will” of a “re-awakened” base. Trump garnered 81% of the evangelical vote (4 points more than George W. Bush who openly displayed his evangelical faith). The “re-ethnicization” of America and the galvanization of Trump’s base around a white theology may also be a response to a shift in cultural and religious landscape of America. According to a recent projection of the American Census Bureau, America will no longer be a white-majority nation in 2043. Furthermore, according to a 2015 Pew Research Poll, Americans, and particularly young Americans, are steadily abandoning traditional religions and becoming progressively agnostic and/or “spiritual.” The return of the Anglo-Saxon racialist unconscious into American public life depends on a multitude of complex factors and has no one strict root cause. However, one must ask how it relates to the arrival of immigrants into previously homogenous American small towns and into the empty pews at the local church. For some evangelicals, this may be perceived as on attack on the “Magistrate of God,” creating thus the potential conditions for the progressive embracing of the racial ideology that undergirds MAGA. And, here, enraged by the narrative of White Christian decline and traumatized by its generally perceived inevitability, many “Trumpvangelicals” identify as a new breed of virulent Christian Nationalists who collectively identify as ethnically homogeneous “Americans.” Their glory is religiously predestined. Trumpism is the new manifest destiny, one which plays on and amplifies the persecution complex of White Christians.
Yet, the White Christians’ relationship to the President has been described as inter alia, a marriage of convenience, a transactional affair, and also “the last temptation.” Stated otherwise, Trump’s victory amongst them revealed how religious discourse could be used to mask all too human self-interests. Here, one can locate three principle currents: Prosperity theology, “Muscular Christianity,” and “Neo-Liberal Christianity.”
Most saliently captured in the sermonizing of Joel Osteen, the prosperity gospel resurrects medieval Christian explanations for the feudal system, in affirming that the wealthy are favored by God and the poor, forsaken by him. In a 2006 Pew survey, 46 % of American Christians were convinced that God offers material prosperity, with the number being significantly higher amongst Pentecostals. The poor have sinned or fallen out of favor with God while the wealthy, despite the tactics employed to acquire their wealth, remain “blessed.” The prosperity gospel explains social inequality while also consoling the poor faithful with the promise of God’s economic intervention. Prosperity theology is the ideological supplement to late capitalism: according to Kate Bowler, it “is an explanation for the problem of evil,” “incredibly attuned to the deepest needs of Americans in an economic system that’s radically unequal.” Poverty is thus the result of being spiritually disadvantaged. And according the gospel, one should worship at the altar of Trump. Or as Peter Feuerherd quips, “Trump Tower is not just his monument. It is seen as God’s gift.” Moreover, what draws men to this particular strain of Trumpian theology is how the “pussy grabbing” and the prosperity of Trump fuse together in a noxious brew of misogyny and money. If the prosperity gospel justifies social hierarchy, “Muscular Christianity,” as one of its corollaries, justifies male patriarchy.
In the December 2017 Special Election for Senator of Alabama, Republican Roy Moore narrowly lost to the Democrat Doug Jones and received 48.3 % of the popular vote. In the midst of the runoff, a bevy of women, many long-time Republicans, accused Moore of sexual assault. More troubling was that, in some of the cases, the assaults allegedly took place when the women were teenagers, with one claiming to be as young as fourteen. Although Moore was accused of being a pedophile, Trump continued to support his candidacy. And GOP evangelicals, despite their commitment to “family values,” not only sought to discredit Moore’s accusers, but also came to his defense and that of his own Christian Reconstruction agenda. Driven by the desire to re-instill “biblical patriarchy” and reclaim a virile Christianity against the evils of feminism and egalitarianism, Moore’s supporters biblically justified pedophilia. For Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler, Moore’s behavior was an extension of the Holy Family:
Take the Bible: Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance… Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.
Joseph was not, by all accounts, a sexual predator and, arguably, did not prey on Mary. Yet, Ziegler’s defense of Moore reveals the tendency on the part of certain fundamentalists to contort, re-calibrate, and re-read ancient religious texts to justify the perversions of religious and political actors in the present. And in the environs of the GOP, these re-readings of religion and the instinct for political survival evinced in Trump and many members of the Republican party over code one another.
Victims of Trump’s own sexual assaults are slowly emerging, demanding their right to speak. The most prominent of these voices, is, of course, that of porn star Stormy Daniels. The evangelical response to the Stormy Daniels affair was fraught with irony. Most disputed Daniels’ allegations while many others greeted Trump’s transgressions with a plea for Christian mercy. Tony Perkins, president of the evangelical Family Research Council and regular visitor to the Trump Whitehouse, said the right thing to do was to give Trump “a pass” of sorts, a “mulligan.” For Rhonda Garelick, Perkins’ choice of pardon is revealing:
In response to a fallen man’s sins of the flesh, his breaking of his sacred marital vows, the Christian right resorted to […] golf metaphors. A mulligan is a minor golf “cheat” […] an indulgence kept secret. The Stormy Daniels affair, which by rights should provoke moral outrage in devout Christians, got downgraded to a golf mistake […] but it also reveals that Perkins wanted to speak Trump’s language, to show that he too was a man of the world, accustomed to golf courses and country clubs. By extension, Perkins was also demonstrating that he might know something about Trump’s other expensive pleasures too. Even a “family values” supporter, it turns out, is susceptible to the lure of a porn-star affair, willing to wink clubbily – and perhaps longingly – at the peccadillos of his pack’s alpha dog.
The mulligan is an apt metaphor for the cynical reason that founds the relationship of Trump to his evangelical backers. Following Garelick, within the libidinal projections between the priest and president, where the former winks “longingly” at the latter and potentially aspires to the same “prosperity,” the rapport between the infraction and Christian Mercy is solidified at the country club. And the winking would bring one to believe that there was a secret that no one should be let in on, one only understood on the golf course between Trump and members of the religious right.
The cases of the pedophile and the porn star reveal the existence of a reactionary evangelical nexus – “Muscular Christianity” where MAGA is a “macho white theology.” The narrative of white Christian victimization is overcome through a religiosity which feminizes all voices on the left, pines for a fictional world of Christian manly men, and unleashes the misogyny of the monotheisms into the culture wars. For Tara Isabelle Burton,
The conflation of virility and Christianity, and the valorization of a certain kind of machismo as the ultimate way of being ‘Christian’ in the world, is hardly new. In fact, it derives from yet another era when social change, the development of technology, and the anxiety over a man’s place in the world (and particularly a white man’s place) made white Christianity a particularly reactionary force.”
In other words, MAGA is a regressive theology of white male values. As for Trump’s female supporters, according to The Independent columnist Hannah Fearn, they voted for him out of fear of immigration and tolerated his sexism because, as predominately uneducated and poor, “locker room talk” was not offensive, but rather the norm. One could also posit that they may have deemed the empowerment of their white male counterparts as their own.
Prosperity theology and Muscular Christianity may seem like anachronisms, but they are eminently modern insofar as they function as extensions of neo-liberalism. Marco Rosaire Rossi suggests that “Trump has not only furthered the neoliberal doctrine of privatization, but also that of the economization of everyday life, and specifically, the economization of American racism.” Unfettered economic deregulation, the recuperation of all and everything into the logic of the marketplace, and the bourgeois capitalist “state of nature” create the conditions where God becomes the ultimate advocate of self-interest. Trumpism collapses the historical tension between the conservative evangelical reactionary and the neoliberal free marketer. And the evangelical will turn a blind eye to Trump’s indiscretions as long as “white religion” and “white money” are protected. The economization of American racism joins with white political theology in what can only be called “Neo-Liberal Christianity.”
Trump is not on the side of pluralism, intercultural dialogue, or the reconciliation of cultures. Without fail, he has painted all of Islam as intrinsically violent and radically rolled back both George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s attempts to quell anti-Islamic sentiment in the post 9/11 context. Unlike his predecessors, he marshals and mobilizes latent Islamophobic sentiment to cement the base and reproduce the clash of civilizations thesis. According to Zainab Arain, “Based on preliminary estimates, it’s fair to say that 2017 is gearing to be the worst year on record for incidents of anti-Muslim bias since we began our current system of documentation.” To this, Ibrahim Hooper, founder of the Council on American-Islamic relations, added “it’s worse now than even after 9/11. He [Trump] has empowered and mainstreamed white supremacy and bigotry… After 9/11, bigotry was under the rocks and hidden. Now these bigots are out in the open and saying they are proud of their bigotry.” Trump supporters are not all Islamophobes. But, Trump has never hesitated in branding all “Muslims” as terrorists, painting all of Islam as intrinsically violent. He has radically rolled back both George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s attempts to quell anti-Islamic sentiment in the post 9/11 context. In a remarkable sequence, spanning from Birtherism to the Muslim Ban to Britain First, Trump has capitalized on the constant stoking of such sentiment. In an interview with CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, Trump did not prevaricate:
I think Islam hates us. There’s something there. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us. […] And we have to be very vigilant. We have to be very careful. And we can’t allow people come in this country who have this hatred of the United States and of people that are not Muslim. […] It [radical Islam]’s very hard to define. It’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.
One wonders if the regular deployments of these sentiments may be simple political strategies to rally the base, as they have not prevented Trump from cozying up to Saudi royalty. It is also rumored that Jared Kushner has close “business ties” with a Saudi Crown Prince who supposedly claimed that “Kushner was in his pocket.” Nonetheless, Trump’s rapport with the oil-rich Saudis does little to annul his palpable Islamophobia. At the March 10, 2016 Republican Debate, Jake Tapper pressed Trump to clarify whether he was concerned about all of Islam. Trump responded:
I mean a lot of them. I mean a lot of them… Well, I’ve been watching the debate today and we’re talking about radical Islamic terrorism or radical Islam. But I will tell you, there’s something going on that maybe you don’t know about, or maybe a lot of other people don’t know about but there’s tremendous hatred and I will stick with exactly to what I said to Anderson Cooper.
As “it is very hard to define,” Trump deliberately invited the MAGA supporter to cast his Muslim neighbor, family man, and father of three, as always-already a terrorist. In his view, there could be no “ordinary Muslims,” let alone Muslim-Americans. But was this really about religion, or rather about the way people looked? However, if the Muslim next door was white, Trump would assure us, there would be no cause for alarm. In a describing the prototype of what would eventually become the Muslim ban(s), Trump, playing golf in Scotland, admitted that it would not trouble him if a Scottish Muslim came to the United States as Scotland was not a “terror country.” Trump’s Islamophobia may not simply be about religion, but more specifically, the intersections of race, religion, and geography. This being said, geography may not ultimately matter either, as Trump has not embraced Muslims in America, even those with children died for the country.
Over the summer of 2016, Trump was embroiled in a battle with Gold Star Father Khizr Khan who lambasted his proposed Muslim ban and, unlike his dead son, excoriated Trump for having “sacrificed nothing.” In response, Trump, who did not serve in Vietnam because of supposed bone spurs, retorted: “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard,” while also suggesting that Khan’s wife, who stood silently weeping next to him at a speech at the Democratic Convention, was silent because she was a Muslim: “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably – maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.” The subtext is clear: in Trumpland, all Muslim women are silenced by Sharia and never grieving mothers, and Muslim Americans can never possess enough mastery of the English language to craft moving speeches.
On January 27, 2017, Trump presented the first Muslim ban, which, in a general manner, suspended visas for 90 days for people entering the USA from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya. In the past, he had proudly likened his Muslim ban to Japanese internment camps, but on the heels of the executive decree insisted that this was not about race or religion, but simply a matter of national security. Critics of the ban were repulsed and befuddled. Behind the inherent Islamophobia that animated the decree, what was so perplexing was that, since 9/11, no one from the countries flagged in the ban had committed terrorist acts on American soil. Later versions of the ban added Chad, North Korea, and Venzuela to the list to “de-muslimify” the ban, but its symbolic opacity was lost on no one. Yet, other data has begun to surface which some MAGA aficionados may find troubling. According to chief of staff of Muslim Girl, Azmia Magane,
Muslims are not victims of hate crimes or terrorism in Trump’s twisted and fact-avoidant mind – they’re only the perpetrators. Which, factually, is wrong. The biggest terror threat in the United States isn’t Muslims. It’s far-right extremists, the majority of whom happen to be white males that dabble in fake news, who are obsessed with guns and gun culture. Not so fun fact: the US is home to 300 violent attacks inspired by far-right extremists each year.
It is not without interest that the white perpetrators of mass shootings are often labeled “mentally unstable” or “in need of help,” but rarely associated with the word “terrorist.” It is not without interest either that violent attacks by non-Muslim whites far exceeds those by Muslims and that the majority of violent attacks conducted by Muslims in America are “homegrown.” David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, corroborates Magane’s findings: “Attacks by Muslims accounted for only one third of one percent of all murders in America last year. […] The 54 fatalities caused by Muslim-American extremists in 2016 brought the total since 9/11 to 123,” whereas a study by sociology professor Charles Kurzman shows that “more than 240,000 Americans were murdered over the same period.” Such statistics have not deterred Trump.
In addition, following the September 2017 London Tube bombings, President Trump repeatedly ridiculed London’s Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan and called into question the strength of British counter-terrorism and the female leadership of Theresa May. However, Trump arguably out-tweeted himself in late November of 2017 with a series of “re-tweets” of Anti-Muslim propaganda culled from the extreme right group “Britain First:” “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” The “Muslim Migrant” in the first video was neither Muslim, nor a migrant. The second clip apparently dates back to 2013 and came from InfoWars.com, Alex Jones’ right wing conspiracy website. The final clip has a far more complex history. Kim Sengupta, who spoke with Amer, one of the men on the roof, notes that the video was a tragic example of the quotidian violence found in Egypt after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood and the military coup of General Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi in 2013:
Alexandria, traditionally a liberal metropolis, had voted in a progressive candidate in the national elections two years previously, before backing the Muslim Brotherhood in the run-off which followed. But when Morsi forced through a decree granting himself wide-ranging extra powers, protestors burned down the Brotherhood offices in the Sidi Gaber district and the mood in the city turned against him. There were repeated skirmishes in the streets. Amer and his friends were pursued and set upon when Brotherhood supporters marched against Morsi’s removal and entered Sidi Gaber. What happened was dreadful and totally unjustified. It was not, however, part of an Islamist terrorist campaign which Donald Trump, and the right-wing extremist group whose postings he promoted, would want people to believe. It was, instead, the result of violent passions which had erupted due to a particular political and religious crisis in Egypt at the time.
As Roland Barthes reminds us, myth is always on the right and succeeds insofar as it dehistoricizes real social relations. MAGA, like Trump’s tweets in this instance, work precisely because of their capacity to mobilize the orgies of feeling through obscuring history and material conditions. In other words, often, Trump and the base do not know what they are looking at. The members of Britain First, noted for its use of “Christian Patrols” to destroy Mosques, were, nonetheless, elated. They had been recognized by the President of the United States of America – America First loved Britain First.
The Trumpian Rhetoric of Anti-Semitism
Trump’s relationship to Judaism is far more equivocal than his relationship to Islam. On the one hand, and as per American foreign policy, he is a committed supporter of Israel. Yet, on the other hand, his public statements on Jews and public silences on Anti-Semitism in America constitute a problematic space of paradox. Stated otherwise, the same person who moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem was incapable of denouncing the Neo-Nazis at Charlottesville who chanted “Jews will not replace us.” How do we account for this and the progressive mainstreaming of Anti-Semitism in America? Are the two phenomena bound in any way?
According to the Anti-Defamation League, between 2016 and 2017, anti-Semitic incidents rose 60 percent, faster than any time over the last 40 years. These incidents, occurring in all fifty states, include vandalism, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues, physical assaults, and the now seemingly banal brandishing of swastikas and Nazi paraphernalia. The number of Anti-Semitic hate crimes over the last two years, was also significantly higher than anti-Muslim, anti-atheist, and anti-other crimes.
Although his daughter and son in law (Ivanka and Jared Kushner) are practicing Jews, Trump has systemically failed to denounce Anti-Semitic elements in his own base and systemically failed to robustly address the rise of anti-Jewish hate crimes during his tenure. Trumpian rhetoric on “globalists,” “cosmopolitans,” and “liberals,” not only guts these terms of their theoretical complexity, but also deploys them to connote always the figure of the Jew, the money lender, the diaspora, and the Pharisees who killed Christ. Trumpian anti-Semitism performs a crude redux of the already crude Protocol of the Elders of Zion, warning also that the harrowing forces of globalization, ever prepared to unleash more carnage in middle America, are emanated by the eternal Jewish conspiracy. Enamored of conspiracy theory, the base believes Trump when he tweets that Jews, the Rothschild family and George Soros, along with the Vatican and Luciferians, are secretly controlling the world. Furthermore, he often derided Gary Cohn and Mick Mulvaney for being “globalists,” prompting Washington Post reporter Eli Rosenberg to bring attention to Trump’s latent anti-Semitism, one which was deliberately designed to play into the hands of the alt-right and his conspiracy-drunk base. It is also telling that in his statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump failed to mention Jews, preferring to pay homage to “victims, survivors, and heroes.” For Trump, it is vital to remember that others were murdered too.
So is the self-proclaimed “least racist” and “least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever met in your entire life” dissimulating the existence of a larger political strategy designed to maintain the cacophony of the orgies of feeling? While Trump may not be anti-Semitic, anti-Semites are attracted to Trumpism in a relation of “consubstantiality.” As Ira Allen explains,
…the point is that the constellation of hate gets interwoven at all levels irrespective of varying individual attitudes. “Consubstantiality” is a rhetorical term for the way in which separate beings are together and, in being together, are one…Thinking in this way helps us to account for the troubling confluence of Trumpism and anti-Semitism.
As discourse on the left shifts towards the question of the intersections of race, religion, gender, class etc., the logic of consubtantiality functions as a means of rethinking the intersections of rage on the right. MAGA, one could posit, is the nodal point for these intersections, precisely where the Islamophobe, Anti-Semite, Homophobe, Anti-Immigrant create an alliance of anguish and anger that are sutured together in Trumpism and the religion of American whiteness.
The logic of consubstantiality is also evinced in Trump’s engagement with Israel. In Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and officially recognize the city as the “capital of Israel,” he effaced seven decades of careful American foreign policy, the repercussions of which are both geo-political and theological. More importantly, the decision does not contravene the fundamental narrative of Christian Nationalism which can also be recalibrated as an apocalyptic Christian Zionism. Jerusalem and MAGA do intertwine in real politik and mysterious ways. Trump’s decision halts the possibility of a two-state resolution, upends the Arab-Israeli peace talks, and sets the stage for a protracted scene of unrest in Palestine, Israel and the Arabo-Muslim world at large. It de facto appears to support the enlargement of Israeli settlements. Beyond this, the US has effectively tarnished is historical credibility as a mediator eager to facilitate the peace process. For many ordinary Muslims, the decision also confirms the implicit neo-imperialist designs and trenchant Islamophobia of American and Israeli power.
However, the religious dimensions of Trump’s decision cannot be elided. Hitherto, religious leaders strained to transform the city into a religious capital for various creeds. Now it belonged to only one. Furthermore, as Allison Kaplan Sommer notes, in a clever play of words, “The U.S. evangelical community is in raptures over Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, believing it moves the world closer to Armageddon.” Jerusalem is the flashpoint for the ultimate clash of civilizations one where the politico-material merges into the cosmic-celestial. In the evangelical imaginary, geopolitics and talk of two state solutions appear as so much fodder obfuscating the real stakes of the issue, the accelerating of the apocalypse, one both earthly and transcendent, one all too human and more than human. The Middle East conflict is where the latter literally bleeds into the former. Trump’s decision was confirmation of God’s plan and every literalist reading of scripture. For historian of Christianity, Diana Butler Bass:
The President makes a world-important declaration about global politics, and an absurdly apocalyptic thought arises, “Jerusalem? The Last Days must be at hand!”[…] Christ would return to Jerusalem to rule as its king…Whenever Israel gained more political territory, whenever Israel extended its boundaries, it was God’s will, the end-times unfolding on the evening news…For many conservative evangelicals, Jerusalem is not about politics. It is not about peace plans or Palestinians or two-state solutions. It is about prophecy […] It is about the end-times. […] If you know evangelicals, chances are very good that you know this theology, whether you believe it or not […]. I may not believe it – anymore, at least. You may not believe it. Donald Trump might not even truly believe it. But millions do.
The geo-political and the theological are not distinct sectors when it comes to Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. Bannonism, Trumpism, Trumpvangecalism, and even some elements of the Alt-Right achieve their total synthesis in the union of MAGA and Jerusalem, where, according to prophecy, white Americans will once again inherit the Earth, which was always rightly theirs.
MAGA: The Great Regression?
The problematic of political theology, as elaborated by both historians of religion and political scientist, concerns the porosity of the wall between the secular state and the public sphere, on the one hand, and faith and the private sphere, on the other hand (and, in certain cases, the shattering of the values and norms that it is constructed upon). The commingling and confusion between the political and the religious that constitute this problematic is most saliently realized in, following Lucian Jaume, the manner in which “the religious is often constrained to speak in a political language, and conversely, in how the religious often expresses itself in a political register. Here there is a confusion of energies and domains which is urgent to untangle.” The untangling of these energies and domains becomes all the more complicated in a landscape where they were never meant to be untangled, one where the antinomy between secular reason and faith was never internalized, one where the promise of the universal could never be reconciled with universal as always and already white – America.
Indeed, Trumpism and MAGA as white political theology are a testament to the triumph of a new form of singularly American contemporary irrationalism and a landscape where American individualism is typified in the citizen’s capacity to believe what he wants, be what he wants, and dream what he wants, regardless of how implausible these beliefs, being, and dreams may be.
Many Trump supporters embrace a narrative of white victimization and “nostalgic deprivation.” Faced by the uncertainties that accompanied economic precariousness, the advent of a multicultural America, and the discursive hegemon of social justice politics, they surmised that whiteness was under attack and took solace in the vision of a 1950s America so dear to both Trump and Bannon. Such nostalgia is not simply sentimental, but also avowedly religious and spiritual. In other words, the agency of whiteness, the institutional racism, the white tribalism, and boys clubs that reproduce its supremacy are part of a Christian and Aryan worldview. In its most insipid iterations, victimization and nostalgia sound like so many fearful voices from Trump country:
People have to choose between heating their homes, buying food or buying health care and you want them to worry about the survival of the planet or transgender stuff? I respect business and I distrust government. I don’t want illegal immigrants taking our jobs. I don’t like liberals who shop at Whole Foods talking down their noses at me because I shop at WalMart. I don’t want God and guns chased out of the country. White lives matter, too, you know. That Hillary forgot that – and was punished. We lost our discipline and our moral code in this country. So we need honest Trump to shake things up and get our country back.
MAGA gave white anxiety form and legitimated it through recoding it in theological and mythical terms. Trump’s masterstroke was his kindling of such dread and its transposition into the new populism, its promise of the reconstruction of the white moral code. In lieu of engaging with systemic causes of the disenfranchisement of the white middle- and working- class, in lieu of recognizing that members of these demographics wake up on the wrong side of capitalism as their brown and black counterparts, Trump stokes the culture wars.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has referred to Trump as America’s “First White President,” and whether it be his ambivalence towards David Duke’s praise, his embrace of birtherism, his utter disinterest in diversity, or his twitter wars with Colin Kaepernik, LeBron James, and Jay Z, Trump appeals to whiteness as a preeminent value, gift, and cardinal virtue in and of itself. The connection of the words “white” and “supremacy” is sui generis in Trumpland and attempts to destabilize the space between them should be deemed unnatural and profaning. For Coates,
The triumph of Trump’s campaign of bigotry presented the problematic spectacle of an American president succeeding at best in spite of his racism and possibly because of it. Trump moved racism from the euphemistic and plausibly deniable to the overt and freely claimed. This presented the country’s thinking class with a dilemma… In recent times, whiteness as an overt political tactic has been restrained by a kind of cordiality that held that its overt invocation would scare off “moderate” whites. This has proved to be only half true at best. Trump’s legacy will be exposing the patina of decency for what it is and revealing just how much a demagogue can get away with.
The dilemma faced by the “country’s thinking class” should not be underestimated for it is tied to the deep fear that Trumpism signifies the end of the liberal world order the end of the moral and political virtues that typified liberal democracy. However, Trump’s ascendance and the white resentment that drives it appear co-extensive and do signal the breakdown of some of the most central of liberal virtues. Stated otherwise, MAGA as myth testifies to the gradual collapse of reason, moderation, contemplation, critical thinking, common decency, and common sense, and also “cordiality.” One is thus brought to wonder whether the fracture is so profound, that a return to these virtues and a shared commitment to their flourishing is even possible. The conditions for this particular dimension of “the great regression” are born of America’s historical inability to truly become secular and decouple the story of the Republic from the story of whiteness, religion, and white religion. MAGA is born from within these gray zones. But let us not risk being overly emphatic either: perhaps, Trumpism is just a parenthesis in the history of America.
- Some of the more salient, and early, framings of the question are found in the following: Robert Kagan, « This is how Fascism Comes to America, » Washington Post, May 18, 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?destination=%2fopinions%2fthis-is-how-fascism-comes-to-america%2f2016%2f05%2f17%2fc4e32c58-1c47-11e6-8c7b-6931e66333e7_story.html%3f&utm_term=.1f695ce4c610>, accessed on August 28, 2018. For a more recent and rigorous treatment of the theme, see Madeleine Albright, Fascism: A Warning, New York: Harper, 2018.
- Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, New York: Random House/Vintage, 2004, 218.
- Robert O. Paxton (with Isaac Chotiner), « Is Donald Trump a Fascist? » Slate, February 10, 2016: <http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2016/02/is_donald_trump_a_fascist_an_expert_on_fascism_weighs_in.html>, accessed on July 30, 2018.
- According to Rasmussen Reports, 31% of U.S. voters believe that a civil war will break out in America in the next five years. See Rasmussen Reports, “31% Think U.S. Civil War Likely Soon,” June 27, 2018: <http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/june_2018/31_think_u_s_civil_war_likely_soon>, accessed on July 30, 2018.
- See, for instance: Lucian K. Truscott IV, “It’s Long Time Past to Compare Donald Trump and the Nazis,” Salon, June 20, 2018. <https://www.salon.com/2018/06/20/it-is-long-past-time-to-compare-donald-trump-and-the-nazis/>, accessed on August 28, 2018. Eli Watkins, “Ex-CIA Chief Explains Nazi Reference to Criticize Family Separations,” CNN, June 18, 2018, Joe Concha,” MSNBC’s Deutsch equates Trump voters to Nazi guards: ‘If you vote for Trump, you’re the bad guy,’” The Hill, June 6, 2018. <http://thehill.com/homenews/media/393618-msnbcs-deutsch-equates-trump-voters-to-nazi-guards-if-you-vote-for-trump-youre>, accessed on August 28, 2018. Harriet Agerholm, “Trump adviser Stephen Miller ‘called a fascist in Mexican restaurant by fellow customer’, amid anger over separated children,” The Independent, June 21, 2018. <https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/stephen-miller-facist-eats-mexican-restaurant-trump-us-border-texas-a8409306.html>, accessed on August 28, 2018. Clive Irving, “It is Happening Here, Trump is Already Early Stage Mussolini,” The Daily Beast, June 30, 2018. < https://www.thedailybeast.com/it-is-happening-here-trump-is-already-early-stage-mussolini?ref=home, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Jeffrey J. Volle, Donald Trump and the Know-Nothing Movement: Understanding the 2016 US Election, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
- Raoul Girardet, Mythes et mythologies politiques, Paris: Seuil, 1986, 13.
- Ibidem, 12.
- Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981, 2-3.
- Andrew O’Hehir, « Trumpism and the Decline of the West: Ten Thousand Years of Civilization and We End Up with This Guy?,» Slate, July 8, 2017. <https://www.salon.com/2017/07/08/donald-trump-and-the-decline-of-the-west-ten-thousand-years-of-civilization-and-we-end-up-with-this-guy/?fb_comment_id=1093518110749482_1093588817409078>, accessed on July 30, 2018.
- Christian Advocate [American Methodist periodical], quoted by Wesley Banner (London), February 1849 [no pagination].
- Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2018, 46.
- Trump supporters do not function as a homogenous block. Trump’s base is comprised of, amongst others, middle- and upper-middle-class Americans reeling at rising college tuition costs, a white working-class unable to adapt to the culture transformations engendered by Obama and the progressive left, wall street traders and Goldman Sachs executives (many of whom find themselves in the Trump Administration), disaffected conservatives, and a wide swath of people longing to either throw a grenade into American politics as usual or simply gamble on a promise of radical change. Trump’s coalition cannot be reduced to rust belt opioid addicts and trailer trash. However, it cannot be denied that what bound these diverse communities into a the constituents of a political movement was the refraction of social and economic anxiety into the larger framework of “whiteness,” solidified as it was by Trump’s own bullying and constant berating of Mexicans, Muslims, minorities, and migrants.
- Chauncey DeVega, “Why Do Evangelicals Worship Trump? The Answer Should Be Obvious,” Alternet, January 13, 2018. <https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/why-do-evangelicals-worship-trump-answer-should-be-obvious
- Paula White, cited in Michele Boorstein, “Donald Trump’s ‘spiritual adviser’ claims God elevated him to presidency,” The Independent, September 11, 2017. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-god-president-spiritual-advisor-obama-clinton-christian-orlando-religion-politics-paula-a7938856.html>, accessed on July 30, 2018.
- Stephen E. Strang, God and Donald Trump, Lake Mary, Frontline Press, 2017, 14-20, 35-48.
- Elizabeth R. Anker, Orgies of Feeling: Melodrama and the Politics of Feeling, Durham/London: Duke University Press, 2015, 150.
- Ibidem, 150.
- Michael Wolff, op. cit., 48.
- Pence, a believer in divine intervention, remains convinced that his ascent to the White House is part of God’s plan. He is known to refer to his wife as “Mother” and refuses to be in a room with other women without her presence.
- George Stephanopoulous and Mike Pence, cited in Mckay Coppins, “God’s Plan for Mike Pence,” The Atlantic, January/February 2018 issue. <https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/gods-plan-for-mike-pence/546569/>, accessed on March 2, 2018.
- Donald Trump, cited in Kate Shellnut, “Trump’s Religious Liberty Order Doesn’t Answer Most Evangelicals’ Prayers,” Christianity Today, May 4, 2017. <http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/may/trump-religious-liberty-order-johnson-amendment-ndop-prayer.html>, accessed on March 2, 2018.
- Office of the Attorney General, “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty,” October 6, 2017, 2. <https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1001891/download?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery>, accessed on March 2, 2018.
- Ibid., 6.
- Donald J. Trump, « The Inaugural Address, » January 20, 2017. <https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/the-inaugural-address/>, accessed on March 2, 2018.
- Donald J. Trump, “ Remarks by President Trump to the People of Poland,” July 6, 2017. <https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-people-poland/>, accessed on March 2, 2018.
- James Fallows, “How American Presidents Used to Speak Overseas,” The Atlantic, July 6, 2017. <https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/07/trump-poland-speech/532839/>, accessed on July 30, 2018.
- G. A. Smith & J. Martinez, ‘How the Faithful Voted, A preliminary 2016 Analysis’ Pew Research Center- Fact Tank, November 9, 2016. <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/how-the-faithful-voted-a-preliminary-2016-analysis/>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- CBS News/AP, “Census : Whites No Longer a Majority in U.S. by 2043,” CBS News, December 12, 2012. < https://www.cbsnews.com/news/census-whites-no-longer-a-majority-in-us-by-2043/>, accessed on September 3, 2018.
- Pew Research Center, “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious,” Pew Research Center: Religion and Public Life, November 3, 2015. <http://www.pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/, > accessed on September 3, 2018.
- See Michael Lipka, “Evangelicals increasingly say it’s becoming harder for them in America,” Pew Research Center – Fact Tank, July 14, 2016. <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/14/evangelicals-increasingly-say-its-becoming-harder-for-them-in-america/>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Pew Research Center, “Spirit and Power,” Pew Research Center, October 5, 2016. <http://www.pewforum.org/2006/10/05/spirit-and-power/>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Kate Bowler, cited in Drew Pendergrass, “The Televangelist-in-Chief: Trump and the Prosperity Gospel,” Harvard Political Review, November 12, 2017. <http://harvardpolitics.com/culture/tevangelistinchief/>, accessed on July 30, 2018.
- Peter Feuerherd, “Does the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ Explain Trump,” JSTOR Daily, May 1, 2017. <https://daily.jstor.org/does-the-prosperity-gospel-explain-trump/>, accessed in July 30, 2018.
- See Alanna Vagianos, “Roy Moore Co-Authored A 2011 Study Guide That Promoted ‘Biblical Patriarchy,’” Huffington Post, November 30, 2017. <https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/roy-moore-textbook-biblical-patriarchy_us_5a2005e2e4b0392a4ebba23b?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009>, accessed on July 30, 2018.
- Jim Ziegler, cited in Miranda Green, “Alabama state official invokes Joseph and Mary to defend Roy Moore,” CNN, November 10, 2017. <https://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/10/politics/roy-moore-joseph-and-mary/index.html>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Rhonda Garelick, “Stormy Daniels is the Anti-Trump,” The Cut, March 14, 2008. <https://www.thecut.com/2018/03/stormy-daniels-is-the-antidonald-trump.html>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Tara Isabelle Burton, “How one strain of macho theology leads to a church choir singing ‘Make America Great Again,’” Vox, July 4, 2017. <https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/7/4/15913590/muscular-christianity-make-america-great-again-trump-hymn>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Hannah Fearn, “These are the Real Reasons Women Voted for Donald Trump – and They’re Terrifying,” The Independent, November 10, 2016. <https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-president-women-voted-for-white-college-educated-working-class-reasons-terrifying-a7409596.html>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Marco Rosaire Rossi, “Trump’s New Neo-Liberalism,” New Compass, January 1, 2018. <http://new-compass.net/articles/trumps-new-neoliberalism>, accessed on July 30, 2018.
- Zainab Arain, cited in Andrew Buncombe, “Islamophobia even worse under Trump than after 9/11 attacks, says top Muslim activist,” The Independent, December 27, 2017. <https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-islam-muslim-islamophobia-worse-911-says-leader-a8113686.html>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Ibrahim Hooper, op. cit.
- Donald Trump, cited in Theodore Schieffler, “Donald Trump: I think Islam Hates Us,” CNN, March 10, 2016. <https://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/09/politics/donald-trump-islam-hates-us/index.html>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Alex Emmons, Ryan Grim, Clayton Swisher, “Saudi Crown Prince Boasted That Jared Kushner Was ‘In His Pocket,” The Intercept, March 21, 2018. <https://theintercept.com/2018/03/21/jared-kushner-saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman/>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Donald Trump, cited in Jim Hoft, “Jake Tapper: Mr. Trump You Said “Islam Hates Us” Did You Mean All Muslims?… Trump: I Mean a Whole Lot of Them (VIDEO),” Gateway Pundit, March 10, 2016. <http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/03/donald-trump-on-islam-at-cnn-debate-theres-something-going-on-theres-tremendous-hatred-video/>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Donald Trump, cited in Ali Vitali, “Donald Trump in Scotland on Muslim Ban: I Don’t Want People From ‘Terror’ Countries,” NBC News, June 25, 2016. <https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/donald-trump-scotland-muslim-ban-i-dont-want-people-terror-n598956>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Donald Trump, cited in Steve Turnham, “Donald Trump to Father of Fallen Soldier: ‘I’ve Made a Lot of Sacrifices’,” ABC News, July 30, 2016. <http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-father-fallen-soldier-ive-made-lot/story?id=41015051>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- See Miriam Valverde, “No terrorist attacks post 9/11 by people from countries in Trump’s travel ban?,” Politifact, January 29, 2017. <http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/jan/29/jerrold-nadler/have-there-been-terrorist-attacks-post-911-countri/>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Azmia Magane, “As a Muslim American, I’m witnessing state-sponsored Islamophobia – the basis of Trump’s travel ban is fake news,” The Independent, December 7, 2016. <https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/travel-ban-donald-trump-far-right-extremism-islamophobia-fake-news-sessions-a8094731.html>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- David Schanzer, cited in Zack Beauchamp, “There is no rational justification for Trump’s travel ban,” Vox, June 26, 2017. <https://www.vox.com/world/2017/1/27/14412420/terrorism-muslims-america-islam-trump>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Charles Kurzman, Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, Chapel Hill : North Carolina, January 26, 2017. <https://sites.duke.edu/tcths/files/2017/01/Kurzman_Muslim-American_Involvement_in_Violent_Extremism_2016.pdf>, accessed on September 5, 2018.
- See Manuel Tobias & Miriam Valverede, “Donald Trump retweets anti-Muslim videos from far-right Britain First,” Politifact, November 29, 2017. <http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/nov/29/donald-trump-retweets-anti-muslim-videos-far-right/>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Kim Sengupta, “I know the sad truth about the video Trump shared from Britain First. This is what really happened,” The Independent, November 30, 2017. <https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-britain-first-tweets-video-what-really-happened-muslim-migrants-islamophobic-latest-a8084521.html>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
- Jayda Fransen, cited in Henry Austen, “Jayda Fransen: Britain First leader appeals to Trump for legal help after he retweets her,” The Independent, November 29, 2017. <https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/jayda-fransen-trump-britain-first-appeal-twitter-retweets-muslim-attacks-a8083331.html>, accessed on August 28, 2018.
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Originally published by Revue LISA/LISA e-journal XVI-n°2, 09.10.2018, DOI:https://doi.org/10.4000/lisa.9887, under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.