Rarely has such a simple title managed to explain the complexity of a theme that, on the other hand, the subtitle aims to clarify: “How white evangelicals corrupted a faith and fractured a nation.” Historian Kristin Kobes du Mez, a professor at the University of Grand Rapids (Michigan), has shaped an essay that, due to its detailed analysis of the North American sociopolitical reality, complements perfectly with “Why are we polarized” (21) by Ezra Klein, another outstanding title in the Captain Swing catalogue.
Du Mez could have started from the confessional polarization that characterizes the human geography of the United States, but instead offers an exhaustive analysis of the history and logic of white fundamentalism based on its dangerous influence because, as the author points out, Few social groups have such a media machinery within their reach: magazines, books, publishers, record companies, bands, radio stations, television channels, newspapers, blogs and, even better, a wide network of collaborators capable of turning conventions and conferences into a real field. culture battle.
It is true that other religions also have similar information mechanisms, but here there are a whole series of distinctive aspects that have contributed to social fracture: its iron political conservatism, its commitment to patriarchal authority, its fascination with weapons as a cultural attribute, their exclusive nationalism –which, in other words, translates into pure and simple racism– and their perception of the gender difference (since “feminism represents a threat to traditional femininity and to national security”) constitute a fundamentalist ideology that, like other openly reactionary movements, takes the form of identity. Since their ideological reconfiguration in the 1970s, white evangelicals have feared and fought communists, homosexuals, pacifists, immigrants, feminists, or liberals by evoking the nation’s romanticized past. For this reason, the actor John Wayne (1907-1979) has ended up becoming an icon for white evangelicals; his real-life conservative activist – and, paradoxically, Catholic – stands as a model of aggressive hypermasculinity because of his rudeness and swagger; That heroic cowboy, that dedicated soldier, lives on for hundreds of thousands of people as an example of patriotic, patriarchal, and combative leadership.
Biting, yes, but deeply documented, the author – impeccably translated into Spanish by Gemma Deza Guil – denounces the theological gaps in her moral dogmas and recounts, through multiple examples, her growing influence on American popular culture thanks to the instrumentalization of hate and fear with the mission of combating social movements that watch over the rights of ethnic and/or religious minorities, the LGTBIQ+ community or phenomena of our time, such as Black Lives Matter. The very interesting reading of it not only allows us to understand why figures like Donald Trump have reached the top of American politics, but also the way in which this reactionary wave divides, whips and poisons, little by little, its population.