THIS ELECTION IS A GK CHESTERTON NIGHTMARE AND I CAN’T WITH IT

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at Clinton Middle School in Clinton

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at Clinton Middle School in Clinton, Iowa January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria – RTX24QAB

Fellow Americans, hold me for a minute.

Because I officially CAN’T with this election.

I think each of us has had a moment in the last ten months where we felt like we were living in the greatest, weirdest reality show ever staged. A reality show that we were all watching, and all part of, and that for once might live up to the hyperbole about being “the most important election” in the history of ever.

It was very surreal, because the race was being dominated at every turn by a cartoonishly rich, orange-haired, orange-skinned human with a habit of bragging about himself and a gift for trolling the media.

At least once a week, the glamour that he had cast over all of us would fade for a minute and we would remember how weird this is, and how things like this aren’t supposed to happen. Short-fingered buffoons don’t magically become presidential nominees by insulting women, Latinos, Muslims, prisoners of war, the disabled and the pope, right? Candidates who are despised by a majority of the country and who mail journalists pictures of their own fingers circled in gold sharpie don’t win primaries in record-breaking numbers. That’s not a thing that happens, here in the USA? Please?

 But there was never a single event that broke the spell completely, where we finally threw up our hands and said, “What kind of bizarre fever dream world are we living in?”

Not when Donald Trump WON the first debate by proudly asserting that he hadn’t called all women fat pigs, “only Rosie O’Donnell.” (That was kinda weird, but we went with it, because it was the first debate and Marco Rubio would probably win every primary).

The spell wasn’t broken when New Jersey governor Chris Christie dropped out of the race after eviscerating Rubio, the party’s Last, Best Hope, and formally became Trump’s Wormtongue, standing behind Trump at rallies serenely nodding as Trump made fun of him, and having to tell reporters, “No, I wasn’t being held hostage.”

It wasn’t broken when Ted Cruz said, “Donald Trump may be a rat, but I have no desire to copulate with him.”

It wasn’t even broken on April 26, a day that began with Trump suggesting that Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination and ended with Trump sweeping five northeastern states.

But this week we were introduced to “John Miller,” and I’ve had enough. Obviously a vengeance demon has been screwing with our timeline. Clearly Trump has cast an augmentation spell to make everyone adore him, and we’re living in the reality where he’s a world-champion basketball player and the star of the Matrix film trilogy.

Because how else do you explain this? Trump spent years in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s calling up reporters, disguising his voice, and pretending to be a weirdly Trump-loving press agent who bragged about Trump’s friendships with celebrities and sexual exploits.

This is a thing that happened. This was done, repeatedly, by the presumptive Republican nominee for the office of president of the United States, a man who has won MORE primary votes than any Republican in history.

The Republican nominee, a man nearly ten million people voted for in the primary, spoke to People Magazine disguised as his own publicist and bragged about how Trump was a “good guy” who was “doing very well financially” and who Madonna wanted to go out with.

And—what’s real anymore? I already don’t know. I feel like a man who just challenged another man to a swordfight, who’s now watching my opponent peel off his face to reveal he’s someone completely different.

And it gets worse, much worse, because in addition to Trump secretly being his own press agent, today comes the news that Trump might have been the anonymous source who leaked the story about Trump being his own press agent to the press. The man who tipped reporters off to a story that might have embarrassed Trump, was Trump.

And suddenly I realize, I don’t know what’s going to happen in this election.

Because Trump could be anyone.

Because clearly this election is the hackneyed young adult mystery that America has been clamoring for, and we’re about to elevate the protagonist / villain of a GK Chesterton nightmare-novel to the highest office in our country.

And then what will happen? There are no longer any limits except Trump’s imagination.

He will give the press a series of clues written on napkins that, when put together in the right order, outline his foreign policy. The press will have to work together day and night in a snow-shrouded hotel just to figure out whether Trump wants to raise tariffs on China.

He will hide the nuclear codes in a jasmine-scented library, in a wooden duck named “Ping,” and send the secretary of defense on a scavenger hunt to go find it.

When the country is on the brink of declaring bankruptcy, he will lock his cabinet in the Oval Office and force them to work out their differences while trying to solve the murder of a Savannah belle and only speaking in Southern accents.

Someone stop this man. Break the augmentation spell. Go back in time and retrieve the sports almanac. Find the monks who transformed an energy key into Trumpian form and MAKE THEM TAKE IT BACK, this is not a joke, America, we need our timeline back.

Hi I’m Demisexual. Here’s What That Means

ron and hermione

I have a vivid memory of being over at my friend Bethany’s house, back when she was still alive. One of her sisters, Amanda*, was watching a movie starring Jennifer Lopez.

As I was walking by, I turned and glanced at the screen. “I don’t get what so many guys see in her,” I said. “She’s not my idea of attractive.”

“Okay, Boze,” said Amanda in a tone that was both amused and condescending. “Who’s someone you consider attractive?”

“Bethany!!” I yelled, as though this should have been obvious.

It was a running joke among everyone who knew me that my attractions weren’t like those of other guys. In high school my best guy friends would tease me because I squirmed uncomfortably whenever they talked about hot girls they liked. “Boze, I ran into Leann!” they would say. “She was in the gym, she leaned over and her boobs were right in my face!” And I would be like, “I don’t care, and this is awkward.”

For a long time I thought it was because I had grown up in a controlling, hyper-repressed religious environment and my sexual instinct had been stifled. But I began to notice I was peculiar in other ways. Every time I had ever fallen in love, it was with a best friend. And I had never known love at first sight: whenever I felt attracted to someone, it was after we had already become friends.

Then a couple of years ago when I was trying to explain to a girl why I wasn’t interested, she suggested that maybe I was demisexual. I had never heard of it, but I began looking into it, and that was when all the pieces fell into place.

What Is Demisexuality?

Put simply, demisexuals are people who only experience sexual attraction in an emotional context. For us, bonding and relationship, or the perception of bonding and relationship, precedes libido. Although the degree to which this is true varies from person to person, many of us are basically asexual until we connect with another person emotionally. At that point we may experience feelings, both emotional and sexual, that are vivid and powerful.

Why Is This Controversial?

I’ve experienced a certain amount of pushback on Twitter and in the comments over at Slacktivist’s blog because some (no doubt well-intentioned) people insist that “demisexuality” isn’t a real thing. They say it’s just a trendy label that millennials made up to describe the way the majority of people experience sexuality. Or they might say that we’re trying to claim an “oppressed status” in order to coopt the narratives of LGBTs who have actually suffered and been oppressed because of their sexualities. (However, most of the people I’ve talked to have been empathetic and respectful).

How Does Demisexuality Differ from Most People’s Experience?

I can only laugh when people say demisexuality is the “normative” experience of sex, because that’s never been my experience. Growing up, long before I had a word to explain why I felt the way I did, I felt isolated from other guys my age because our sexualities diverged so radically. Pornography never interested me because I felt no attachment to the people having sex on the screen in front of me. I told my best friend, “Maybe if they made a pornography where the couple was shown to be in an intimate, loving relationship, it might interest me, but why would I want to watch two strangers having sex?”

Likewise, dating sites have always been wasted on me, and I’m not alone in this. Occasionally I might message someone who seems reasonably cute and bookish, but even if they respond I’m guaranteed to stop writing after a few messages because I lose interest. Twitter actually has become the “dating site” of choice for many demis because it’s a place where we can cultivate friendships in a safe space before embarking on any perilous romantic adventures.

Let’s Not Erase Each Other

Another complaint, and one I can understand, is that demis are chasing the “LGBT bandwagon” and trying to claim special status as an oppressed people. In reality, there’s disagreement in the demi community over whether we should adopt the “queer” label. Some demis accept it for themselves while others choose not to. Personally I choose not to, because I don’t want to trample on people who may feel they have a more legitimate claim to that label.

Another important thing to understand, though, is that demisexuality exists on the “sexuality / asexuality” spectrum, not on the LGBT spectrum. Again, it’s a variation of asexuality: when we’re not in a relationship, we tend to lose interest in romance and sex altogether. So people who try to conflate it with homosexuality, lesbianism and bisexuality are conflating two different things. And it’s not the intention of most self-identified demisexuals to erase anyone else.

But because our sexuality isn’t widely understood, we sometimes experience erasure from people who have a poor understanding of what it means to be demisexual. So I want to reiterate: it’s a real thing that millions of people really experience. It’s distinct from “normative” sexuality in a number of ways, ways that are keenly felt by those of us who identify as demis, but that can be hard to see for anyone who isn’t. If you tell us that we’re perfectly normal and need to get over it, if you tell us that our chosen way of identifying and understanding ourselves is made up, you’re erasing something that has given context and guidance to our lives, that has helped us navigate the incredibly confusing waters of sex and romance. We would still be “different” and still experience the world in this way even if we didn’t have a label for it, but the label gives us a community. The label gives us understanding and power.

So as I’ve said so many times before on this blog, and on Twitter, never tell someone that how they identify themselves isn’t “real,” that you know better than they do who they are and have more authority to make decisions about their lives than they do. Saying, “You’re not this, no matter what you think,” is a subtle form of aggression, but it is still hateful and it is aggressive, and it is perceived keenly and deeply by those with sensitive hearts. Be gentle, kind, and empathetic. Actually listen to people and let them reveal to you their perceptions and experience.

Four Fictional Characters Who Are Ted Cruz

cruzsnape

is this Ted Cruz?

Donald Trump has had an incredible streak of good fortune during this campaign, but his biggest stroke of luck may have been running against Ted Cruz, a man so reviled by members of his own party that last night former Speaker of the House John Boehner described him as “Lucifer in the flesh,” adding, “I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

 English majors and Milton fans were quick to point out that Boehner’s comparison is unfair to Lucifer, who in Paradise Lost is portrayed as an eloquent and dignified revolutionary, while Ted Cruz is naturally, viscerally repulsive.

 So if not Lucifer, then who is he? Here are a few more suggestions:

Uriah Heep (David Copperfield)
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Columnist Jeet Heer suggested Uriah Heep, David Copperfield’s slimy antagonist in Charles Dickens’ 1851 novel. This analogy has a few things going for it. One, Uriah Heep styles himself as a model of virtue and “humbility.” When he invites David over to his house for dinner, his modesty and good-heartedness is the sole topic of conversation. Yet Heep is eventually exposed as a scheming hypocrite and fraud who will manipulate even his closest friends to advance his way in the world. There’s also the creep factor: Heep is so physically repulsive that when he spends the night at David’s house, David fantasizes about running him through with a hot poker.

Kenneth Widmerpool (A Dance to the Music of Time)

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat makes the case for Kenneth Widmerpool, the breakout character in Anthony Powell’s midcentury quartet “A Dance to the Music of Time.” Widmerpool isn’t as unctuous as Heep, but he is as unloved: the books’ other characters are surprised late in life to find that he’s clawed his way to an aristocratic title, a position he achieved through shrewd calculation and sheer persistence.

Severus Snape (the Harry Potter series)

snape

Snape, the potions master

Though possibly the most complex and multilayered character in the Harry Potter books, Severus Snape is defined above all by his resentment of Harry’s father for winning the affection of the love of his life, Lily James, when they were very young. Although the motives are different—Ted Cruz’s resentment stems more from his frustrated political ambitions than from spurned love—both carry the look of defeat on their faces, the cold sneer, the sense that they deserve better than what they’ve got, that occasionally hardens into pure malice. Read this scorching New Republic profile of Cruz—which paints him as the nerdy kid who hung out with adults because other kids his age didn’t like him—and try not to think of young Snape.

Antonio Salieri (Amadeus)

index

mock me, amadeus

Not the Salieri of history, whose rivalry with Mozart was by most accounts friendly and not murderous, but the Salieri of the Peter Shaffer play that later became an Academy Award-winning movie. This Salieri has talent, a strong work ethic and limitless ambition—theoretically everything he needs to be successful, the greatest. The only problem is, there’s one person better. One person with an eerie and almost supernatural talent whose genius makes the efforts of others look wan and uninspired. Yes, in this analogy, Donald Trump is Mozart.

Every Christian Song from the ’90s, Basically

dc talkOK So We’re Not Nirvana but Let’s Pretend

God Is Calling You to Change History, Possibly by Starting a Band and Singing Songs about History-Changers

Listen, I Have a Daughter and I Know She’s Only Five but One Day I Will Entrust Her to You, a Young Man I’ve Never Met

Yeah I Heard You the First Hundred Times You Said You Weren’t Interested in Jesus but Hear Me Out

Honestly the Rest of Us Have No Idea What K-Max Was Saying in that Last Verse

So I Heard This Funny Story that Disproves Evolution

Yes I Realize Scooby-Doo is a Great Dane and Can’t Technically Be Saved but What If

Oh the Sex We Will Have After Marriage

Hi We’re from Australia Here’s a Song about the Circus

This Song Is about a Spaceship but the Spaceship is Just a Metaphor as I Will Soon Reveal

Put on Your Scuba Gear, Saddle Your Horses, Climb in Your Submarine, Go on Safari

Here Is a Disco Song, Just an Ordinary Disco Song, We’re All Fine

You Won’t Believe This Crazy Guy I Met on the Corner, He Was Nuts and This Is What He Said

No Idea What Heaven Is Like but I Guarantee There Will Be Football

What I’m Into: January 2016 (Doctor Who and Gilmore Girls)

I made SO MANY great new discoveries this month. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
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TV

After years of putting it off and only watching the occasional episode, I finally tore through the first four seasons of the Doctor Who revival (the entire Russell T. Davies era, featuring Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant as the eponymous Doctors). This turned out to be a fortuitous decision, as it was taken off Netflix at the end of the month.

Davies-era Doctor Who is wildly inconsistent. You’ll watch three great episodes and then a fourth one that makes you never want to watch it again. What’s great about the show is how it borrows plots, tropes and story structures from the whole history of science-fiction and fantasy. It’s become a game for me to see how many allusions I can spot to classic works like Back to the Future, Aliens and Harry Potter. It’s also given me a greater sense of how stories are told, and a wealth of new ideas with which to tell them. I have been taking copious notes.

The other big story of the month, TV-wise, was my introduction to a little show called Gilmore Girls, about a woman and her daughter living in a tiny New England town called Stars Hollow. They read books and sip coffee and quote 1940s screwball comedies and listen to Nick Drake and Belle and Sebastian and the show is basically perfect. It’s the best possible counterpoint to the frenetic zaniness of Doctor Who.

Movies

Movies! So many good movies this month. Raise the Red Lantern (1991) is a gorgeously filmed story about a woman working as a courtesan in early twentieth-century China and slowly losing her mind. The Thief of Bagdad (1940) adapts several of the most famous stories in the Arabian Nights to create a visual and imaginative spectacle that rivals The Wizard of Oz. In a Lonely Place (1951) is another in a string of movies where Bogart plays a dangerously unstable man who self-destructs. Black Narcissus (1947) is a beautiful and often frightening melodrama about two nuns who are driven to jealousy and obsession over their shared love of a man, culminating in a shocking but entirely plausible act of violence. The Gospel According to St Matthew (1964) is probably the best cinematic depiction of the life of Jesus, because it portrays him as an idealistic young man rather than a mysterious and unknowable deity. Love and Mercy (2014) hops back and forth in time to tell the story of Brian Wilson (played by Paul Dano and John Cusack), his ambition to make the greatest album of all time, and his subsequent mental breakdown.

Music

The Hold Steady! The Beach Boys

New Series and Miniseries
paul dano

I’ve gotten hooked on two new series that premiered this month. One is the BBC’s six-part adaptation of War and Peace, penned by Andrew Davies (he of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice) and starring Paul Dano as Pierre Bezukhov. Davies draws out the finest dramatic moments in Tolstoy’s novel while necessarily omitting the endless layers of characterization that made the novel brilliant. If you try not to think too hard about all that’s being left out, you can more easily appreciate the lavish visuals and the best Pierre we’ve ever gotten.

The other great literary adaptation of the month is SyFy’s The Magicians, a multi-season adaptation of Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy (2009-2014). The first Magicians novel was one of my favorite novels of the last decade, because it took some of your favorite stories and filtered them through a haze of disillusionment and melancholy. The TV series retains the central premise, about a group of twenty-somethings who attend a magical school in New York, but makes it less reflective. The actors are doing great work, however, and have succeeded in making their characters equally as memorable and endearing as the ones in the book. Of the four episodes aired so far, each one is an improvement over the one before, even if the plot is steadily drifting further and further from Grossman’s original.

 

What about you? What did you discover this month?

Trump Is a Terrible Person, and a Great Entertainer

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at Clinton Middle School in Clinton

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at Clinton Middle School in Clinton, Iowa January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria – RTX24QAB

Depending on what happens in Iowa in the next few hours, by the end of the night either Donald Trump will be on his way to securing the Republican nomination or his campaign will have been exposed as a fantasy floated by an over-enthusiastic media, a celebrity spectacle with no real organization or infrastructure.

Regardless of the outcome, Trump’s gift for dominating polls and media coverage over the last six months is unprecedented in recent American history. When he launched his campaign last summer by slowly descending the escalator at Trump Tower, pundits almost universally treated him as a joke whose balloon would puncture once voters began seriously vetting more serious candidates. On the contrary, his numbers have been steadily rising (with only a slight dip in mid-October) since the announcement, and polls released over the weekend suggest that his popularity among likely GOP caucus voters is as high as it’s ever been.

Depending on your point of view, this is either a triumph of the common people and billionaires against the political elite or a catastrophe that presages a new era of darkness and demagoguery in American politics.

I’m inclined to think it’s the latter. But it’s worth noting that the most perceptive and forward-thinking insights on Trump’s campaign, from the beginning, have been written by entertainers and TV critics who recognize Trump’s mastery of image and spectacle, honed by his years hosting one of America’s most popular reality shows. Much of the key to understanding Trump’s appeal is understanding that he’s selling a fantasy, in the grand American tradition of P. T. Barnum, L. Frank Baum and Aimee Semple McPherson.

Thus, regardless of whether you consider his campaign a catharsis or a crisis, his success has much to teach writers and entertainers about winning an audience and the power of wish-fulfillment.

  1. Trump knew his audience and courted them assiduously

Every time Trump made an offensive statement in this campaign, the pundit and political classes declared it the end of his presidential ambitions. It happened in his announcement speech when he said Mexico is flooding America with rapists and murderers. It happened a few weeks later when he said John McCain isn’t a war hero. It happened when he seemed to suggest that moderator Megyn Kelly was menstruating during a debate, and it happened, most pointedly, when he called for banning all Muslim immigration into the country “until we can figure out what the hell is going on.”

The critics were only wrong because they were basing their assumptions on what’s happened in every presidential race prior to this one. In a traditional campaign, any one of those statements would have torpedoed the chances of a fledgling candidate. But Trump instinctively understood that his appeal didn’t rest on the sorts of people who usually vote in primaries or elections, but in drawing out the people who feel shut out of the political process. He understood that for a certain kind of person—crucially, the kind of person he was courting—saying nasty, offensive things was a virtue, not a drawback. Trump became the principal beneficiary of a media environment where not knowing things and saying mean things makes you a hero rather than a villain.

  1. Audiences aren’t interested in “nice” people

If you understand, as Todd VanDerWerff of Vox has put it, that Trump isn’t so much a politician as a “reality TV character who’s escaped into a presidential race,” then Trump’s ability to say despicable things and get away with it, even profit from it, makes more sense. Because as much as Trump is selling an ideology, he’s selling a character—an obscenely rich, unfiltered, larger-than-life character. And audiences love it because they’re able to put themselves in the shoes of this character, to pretend that they’re the ones telling off their bosses and flouting political conventions and drinking Manhattan water from golden faucets.

Jeb Bush’s supporters have taken to wondering aloud in the vicinity of reporters why their candidate is losing when he’s such a nice guy, but Jeb’s mistake was in thinking that what audiences want is a nice guy in this election. Not coincidentally, this is also a common mistake made by aspiring writers and storytellers. Samuel Raphaelson devotes a section of his classic book The Human Nature of Playwriting to proving that viewers don’t want a “nice” character, they want a character with whom they can identify, even if that means a character who’s vengeful and petty and lazy. In his own book on storytelling, Into the Woods, John Yorke adds, “There is something immensely attractive in living through a character who does obtain revenge, who is proved to have value or … is finally proved right. The attraction of wish-fulfillment, benevolent or masochistic, can’t be underestimated.”

This is the appeal of beloved characters ranging from Odysseus to Cinderella to Spiderman to Harry Potter—relatable, seemingly normal people who also happen to be immensely gifted, or talented, or ludicrously wealthy (something most people will never be), but who are only human and sometimes use their immense gifts, talents and wealth in the services of spite, pettiness, and vengeance (something most everyone would do, if they could). Trump is following a universally recognizable character script, and he’s killing at it.

  1. A good villain is crucial to the success of any good story

The moment I began to suspect that Trump might actually have this nomination in the bag came early in the first debate. Fatefully, Megyn Kelly said, “You’ve called women you don’t like, ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals’…”

“Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump interrupted.

He said it without hesitation, without even really seeming to think about it—and the response from his largely Republican audience was deafening. They loved it. He took a question that was supposed to highlight his own personal bullying and made it about someone else. He sold a counter-narrative, and it stuck: odds are, if you even remember the first debate at all, you remember it because of that moment.

The role of scapegoating in Trump’s campaign has been widely noted. Interviews with Trump supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire suggest that much of the candidate’s appeal rests on a narrative in which Muslims and Mexicans are running rampant in America, stealing jobs, hollowing out the middle class, and committing heinous acts of terrorism.

The morality of these appeals is, of course, horrifying, but in terms of storytelling, Trump’s instincts are sound. The late, great social theorist René Girard wrote that scapegoating appeals to the darkest instincts in our nature, uniting communities against a common threat. But crucially, his disgust at the process did not extend to the realm of literature. Girard held that scapegoating was the ritual foundation of Greek drama, and therefore of all Western literature. We go to the theater, we read stories, because we want to see certain characters demonized by an author and ultimately punished by the heroes. It’s cathartic for a storytelling audience, just as it must be for the audiences at Trump’s rallies—and for those who despise Trump, who have spent the last three or four months crafting a narrative in which he’s the second coming of Mussolini, Hitler, or the dark lord Voldemort.

Now obviously I would rather Trump have stuck to the entertainment world, where demonizing an enemy is a storytelling device and not a dangerous tool of mass manipulation, one of the dark arts of politics. But, six months into his campaign, this is where we find ourselves, and the events of the next few weeks will determine whether and how effectively his patented brand of entertainment can cross over into the political mainstream.

Why Reminders of the Holocaust Won’t Stop Evangelical Islamophobia

muslimsIt’s been a rough couple of weeks for the republic. First the Paris attacks and then the San Bernadino shooting by two Islamic radicals who had apparently pledged allegiance to ISIS created a climate of fear and hysteria unhappily reminiscent of the Red Scare of 1919. (Never mind that this appears to have been just the reaction that ISIS wanted). The governors of over a dozen states began to reconsider their policy of allowing Syrian refugees fleeing jihad to resettle in America, for fear that they might be jihadists. Violent attacks on Muslims and people who look like Muslims spiked dramatically. Leading Republican candidates contemplated allowing only Christians into the country, while celebrity billionaire Donald Trump, newly energized by hate, secured the affection of a section of the Republican base with his proposals to shut down mosques, establish a national Muslim database and stop all Muslim immigration “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

As they have since the start of his campaign in early summer, pundits predicted that these latest beyond-the-pale remarks would mark the end of Trump’s good fortune. On the contrary, they propelled him to new heights in the Republican primary: surveys revealed that 43 percent of Republicans support monitoring most American Muslims, while 73 percent agree with second-place candidate Ben Carson that under no circumstances should a Muslim be president.

I’ve been saying for a while that violence towards a group of people, up to and including genocidal acts, doesn’t occur out of thin air. It’s fostered by an atmosphere of demonization and hatred in which name-calling, bullying and slander are tolerated, eventually leading to more drastic acts of intimidation and culminating in acts of physical violence on an individual and then collective level. When a Muslim woman is nearly run off the road while leaving a mosque, when a young boy’s legs are severed by a Kansas City motorist who thinks the Quran is a disease “worse than ebola,” when thousands of Americans suddenly have memories of New Jersey Muslims cheering on 9/11, when the president of a major Christian university brags about carrying a concealed weapon to “end those Muslims” before they kill us, it’s not over-stating things to say that Muslims in this country are not safe. And the usual defenders of free speech and freedom of religion have been, with a few exceptions, all but silent on their behalf.

On Twitter, Christian pastors and writers like Brian Zahnd and Rachel Held Evans have been sounding the alarm, warning that scapegoating an entire group of people is the road to hell, the road to holocaust. Evans has been particularly vocal, reminding her followers that on the eve of the second world war, over two-thirds of Americans opposed welcoming Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler’s Germany. “We can stop wondering if we would have protested the anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust,” she wrote on Facebook. “This is exactly how it begins.”

Unfortunately, I fear that reminders of the Holocaust, while warranted, will prove useless to the minority of Evangelical voters who support Trump and his nativist policies. The reason why has a lot to do with the reverence most Evangelicals hold towards the Jewish people—and a corresponding fear of Muslims that has been actively cultivated over the past 15 years. These two things, this reverence for Jews (or at least their idea of Jews) and fear of Muslims, are more closely connected than you might think.

When I was growing up in church, before 9/11, the European Union and new age religion were the great bogeymen which many Evangelicals believed would herald the last days and the rise of the Antichrist. After 9/11, this changed, seemingly overnight. Joel Richardson wrote a popular book, The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth about the Real Nature of the Beast, arguing that prophecies of a messianic figure in the Quran correspond perfectly with the Bible’s descriptions of the Antichrist. (Richardson became a hero on the far right and was even interviewed by Glenn Beck). Prominent charismatic prophets like Paul Cain taught that the last great evil empire would be a fusion of Soviet-style communism and radical Islam that would take over Europe. Kansas City pastor Mike Bickle repeatedly warned that the people of Israel would suffer a “second holocaust” at the hands of their Arab neighbors.

Crucially, the attempted extermination of the Jewish people is not viewed as something that has the potential to happen given the pervasive hatred of Jews in much of the Arab world. It is something that must happen because the Bible predicts it, because it is critical to God’s end-time plan to save the nation of Israel, and because Satan now fills the hearts of many Muslims just as he filled the hearts of the Germans at Buchenwald and Auschwitz.

Thus the lesson that eschatologically minded Evangelicals have taken from the Holocaust is not that hating and scapegoating an entire group of people is wrong because it can lead us to become the very people who would build the death camps and send innocent victims to their graves. (It’s never occurred to many of us that we would even be capable of doing that). The lesson of the Holocaust is that hating and scapegoating the Jews is wrong. And this is precisely what Muslims throughout the world are now trying to do, which is why they must be stopped at all costs. Through violence, if necessary.