I’ve seen a lot of people making fun of Newt Gingrich for his view that the anti-Christian views that allegedly dominate America will create a country that’s simultaneously atheistic and subordinated to Islamism:
“I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9,” Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.” […]
The evening worship was a boisterous celebration of American patriotism. A 100-person choir sang “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” between hymns. The church’s orchestra struck up the anthem for each of the five military branches and a loud cheer went up for veterans and active duty members who stood up during their song.
I think it’s important to actually understand what Gingrich is saying here and not just make fun of him for contradicting himself. This speaks, I think, quite accurately to what the conservative movement in the United States is about—the identity politics of middle aged white suburban conformists. Note that Jesus Christ was not an American patriot. Indeed, there was no United States of America at the time the Gospels were written down. Nor were the early Christians some kind of Roman nationalists. But American conservatives are both Christians and Americans and it’s important to them to affirm these identities simultaneously, even though it makes a bit of a hash of things. This is also why in the United States loud proclamations of Christian faith are typically associated with enormous belief in the beneficent possibilities of organized violence, but only among Christians who are also white people.
You have to think of “America” in Gingrich’s eyes as constituting not so much a place as a specific tribe of people. The concern is that tribe of people might all go secular, which will leave the country exposed to takeover by radical Islamists. This is what many conservatives appear to believe has happened in Europe. A place like France has supposedly managed to both go secular and also be ground zero for Eurabia. Those two things are causally related because secularism enfeebled France by undermining support for Christian patriotic militarism, and they’re non-contradictory because French Muslims aren’t “really” French. This is how it gets to be the case that overturning marriage equality in Iowa is somehow a blow against the threat of creeping sharia.