mfioretti: secularism*

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  1. I interviewed Green about what he learned after spending so much time digging into Bannon’s ideology. He argued that religion is more important to understanding the operative than one might think — that he has an apocalyptic, decline-obsessed worldview and a very real interest in esoteric mystic thinkers.

    But in the end, Green says, what helped both Trump and Bannon rise to prominence in the Republican Party was much more simple and crude: They realized “the power of demonizing immigrants as a way of motivating grassroots voters.”

    This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

    The major elements to it, as far as I’m able to detect, are an antipathy to free trade, a hostility to immigrants both legal and illegal, this kind of misty nostalgia for the white, blue-collar manufacturing economy of the mid-20th century.

    And in terms of foreign policy, there’s a kind of America-first isolationism coupled with what I guess you could describe as Islamophobia. But that isn’t rooted in the Fox News post-9/11 strain of Islamophobia; it’s something much deeper and religiously driven in Bannon that’s been around for a lot longer.

    Bannon also got a lot of attention this year when he said at CPAC that Trump wanted “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” What does that mean? Is that just a Bannon-y catchphrase for mainstream Republican deregulatory policy, or do you interpret it as something different and new?
    Josh Green

    I interpret that as being kinda two things at once. On its face it’s a nod to small-government conservatism — the kind of people who show up at CPAC, that’s their passion.

    On a deeper level with Bannon, I also think part of that is religiously driven. As nutty as it may sound, part of his “Traditionalist” philosophy holds that the rise of the modern nation-state system beginning 500 years ago has built up administrative infrastructures that have taken the place of the traditional and the transcendent. And that is one reason he’s so hostile to outfits like the EU and also outfits like the US government.
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  2. We should not deny the horror of January 6. But, in its aftermath, rather than uncritically reaffirm French national identity and wring our hands about Muslims’ refusal to integrate, we should use this moment of reflection to understand the various ways in which Muslims are consistently excluded from the nation, and to reassess the narrow bases what it means to be French.
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  3. After a decade of legal uncertainty over the wearing of the headscarf in state schools, the French government in 2004 banned all “conspicuous” religious symbols, including the Muslim headscarf, from public institutions such as state schools or town halls. This was followed in 2010 by what the French call the “burqa ban”, outlawing the full face covering in public. Critics accuse France of illiberalism, of curbing freedom of religious expression, and of imposing a Western interpretation of female oppression. Amnesty International, for example, called the recent European court ruling “a profound retreat for the right to freedom of expression and religion”. For the French, however, it is part of an unapologetic effort to keep religious expression private, and to uphold the country’s republican secular identity. Interestingly, many moderate Muslim leaders also back the ban as a bulwark against hard-line Islam.

    Had the European Court ruled against France, it would have prompted an outcry there. The country enjoys broad cross-party support for applying secular principles, on the left and the right, and the court accepted that it was part of France’s effort to encourage a society based on “living together”. If anything, the judgment will reinforce France’s resolve to protect its secular tradition.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-07-09)
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