Post Mortem

Moving towards a mix between faith and politics

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 11/4/2020 1:11:41 PM IST

 Our world is shifting—could be for better or for worse. Some say, it is moving towards the worse, while others say for better. However, the very mosaic of global order is moving towards diametrically fundamentalist and far-right conservative endswherein far-right politics is basically influencing the young voters. As a result, the far-right fundamentalists subscribing to supremacy of one religion over others employing all sorts of absolutesthat are taking over the governments of countries. On similar lines there are many othersfollow suit.  

Those belonging to far-right extremist political ideologies converge on many issues, policies and programs. For instance, the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, representing Republican party and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).Donald Trump used far-right conservative evangelicalism as part of his electoral narratives extensively lured a sizable American electorate in his bid four years ago and now deepening the process more persuasively in his re-election campaigns.

American evangelicalism is currently functioning on divisiveness that rallies around white supremacy, xenophobic, Islamophobia, anti-immigration and advocates that USA is for the whites alone.Trump has intensified this process by ploughing more yields through his political narratives and manoeuvrings.  For example, Franklin Graham, son of well-known American evangelist late Billy Graham thanked God for electing Donald Trumpreiterating that “God was behind the last election,” inferring God allowed him to win in the election—” God had a hand”.

In India, BJP, a far-right political party that rules the country as Modi the Prime Minister, is engaged in divisive politics polarising country on the grounds “majority”versus “minority” pushing for Hindu Rashtra. Everything is premised around their interpretation and those who fail to fall within their constructed rubric and framework are branded as anti-nationals and unpatriotic. They keep twisting and turning India’s plural ethos and cherished values of secularIndia withinclusive values have rather become as antithetical to their notions and conceptions.

Trumpian and Modianideological, political and religious conceptions, perceptions and ideological moorings by and large converge. Both belong to far-right fundamentalist political streams and so their religious conceptions underscores polarizationthat believes in vertical divide of the social fabric based on race, caste, class and religious tenets of their respective societies. Their understanding of citizenship though skewed and contradictory to the constitutional provisions and guarantees enshrined,they both tends to push their sectarian and partisan views and standpoints,so that their constituencies are protected and promoted.

We have been witnessing how Trump is invoked in the election rallies— “Trump as the protector, keeper, and guardian of Christian conscience”, who in letter and spirit translates the American evangelical conservatism. The appointment of Supreme Court Justices is the stellar revelation that would decide the controversial issues that looms in the American society for generations. Though the value system he holds is totally flawed and contentious, those who disagree with him are snubbed such as “you are an enemy and cannot be Americans, and so leave America. Those who agree with him are considered as his trustworthy friends. 

The ways with which Trump and those belonging to right-wing fundamentalism across the continents use narratives that are so dangerous, diabolical, despicable and detrimental. Trump has been considered as “deeply committed person of faith and a good Christian” and so the entire evangelical block voted for him in the year 2016. This block with some minor percentage of his supporters moving away, but many trusts him, because whatever he has promised in the last four years, he did translate such as shifting the embassy of the United States to Jerusalem.

He defied COVID-19 saying that “God is with us and so nothing to worry because God is still moving and working in spite of the fact that there have been millions of lives lost, infected and lost jobs. He and his followers by and large have refused to wear face masks and follow physical distancing. He and his wife tested positive and, in the hospital, but the following day he took a drive in his motorcade for some distance to show to his supporters that he could not be contained by coronavirus. He makes mockery of his rivals and ridicules his opponents.

His political activism that are evident in such ways that he stood in front of St. John’s Church, near White House with the Bible in his hand for photo opportunity—hurt the Bible and hurts God.Nonetheless, he boasts about him including his supporters say that “nobody has done so much to America than any American”. In India, as mentioned in the BJP Manifesto, the leadership has fulfilled the promise and accordingly started to constructing Ram Temple in the place they claim where Ram was born. We have come across the ways with which the ruling dispensation protected those who ridicule and hurt the religious sentiments of other faith.

Similarly,in Israel, ultra-nationalists led byPrime Minister Netanyahu uses Torah to justify his political agenda by annexing and settling the Israelis in the land of Palestine. In recent times, we have been witnessing how religion and politics are being mixed as the far-right political parties have insulated the religious tenets in their ideologies to attract the majority of citizens to vote for them. Classic example is a series of incidents happened near Paris in France where a teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded for having used cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civic class. 

Very recently, a woman was beheaded and killed two other people at a church in the French city of Nice wherein a knife-wielding attacker shouting “Allahu, Akbar” (God is the greatest). Condemnation of the attack came from countries in Europe and others while others for example, Erdogan, the President of Turkey criticised French President Macron over displays of the Prophet. On similar lines, Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad tweeted that Muslims had a right “to kill millions of French people”. Substantiatingfurther, he said that the freedom of expression does not include “insulting other people”. 

He added that, “irrespective of religion professed, angry people kill.The French in the course of their history has killed millions of people. Many were Muslims. Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacre of the past. By and large the Muslims have not applied the ‘eye for an eye’ law. Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t.”Our world is moving towards dark terrains because of the fact that fundamentals of religion are forgotten and kept aside.  Fundamentalism of religion is on the rise insulating itself in the political ideologiesto advance theirfundamentalist political agenda. Rhetoric and narratives emerge such as ‘multiculturalism is dead’, ‘white nationalism is inevitable’, ‘majoritarianism is the reality’, ‘those belonging to other than majority religion be treated as ‘second class citizens’ and ‘their citizenship is doubtful’. Nowadays citizenship, nationality, patriotism and one’s residency are determined by race, caste, class, ideology and host of others. 

The levels of debates, electioneering, narratives and slogans have hit the lowest and national political leaders lost basic etiquettes. Their discourses on issues are filled with blatant lies and heightened exaggeration. Speeches are so toxic,spewing venom and hatred against those who disagree to their political agenda and vision. Fundamentals of religion echoes wholeness of life, mutual co-habitation, inclusiveness, neighbourliness, respect to each other, preservation and promotion life, hospitability, just peace and so on. The far-right conservatism is premised on principles that are contrarian to the fundamentals of religion. The world we live has been reduced to building walls, separating parents from children, curbing the freedom of movement,betraying the constitutional rights and provisions of the minorities. The credo of majoritarianismenmeshed in such ways that those from other religion have been asked or intimidated to leave the country they belong to. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has certainly countered and straitjacketed populism right across as the populists failed to address the adverse impact of the deadly pandemic that resulted in the death of millions of people and many millions are being affected by it. Populism is waning as it failed to accommodate compassion and accountability of the leaders. However, populism and populists loom at large and thereforeneeds to be countered and resisted with alternative narratives, theorical analysis and pragmatic actions within the framework of the constitution.

Dr. John Mohan Razu

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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