When I was twenty-three, I went with my parents to the Dachau concentration camp. There was a display of photographs, including many grotesque images showing emaciated prisoners in tattered stripes, mounds of discarded clothing, slave crews working on pointless exercises. I found my mother, who was not given to public displays of emotion, weeping quietly in front of a photo of a woman walking with a child whose hand she was holding. It was an innocent-looking picture, but it was captioned, “On the way to the gas chambers.” My mother felt dissociated from the prisoner photos, but in that one she saw herself and me. We wondered what that mother had told her child about their destination. My children live in a world that suddenly requires a surrender of their innocence, as I try to explain why we may be less than other families in the eyes of the changing law. We are nowhere near a holocaust in the U.S., but, amid all the nationalistic frenzy of the past few weeks, I have found myself more than once wondering how to tell my son about the people who hate us, from whom I will be able to protect him only imperfectly.
Surrounded by friends, married with children, I nonetheless feel very alone when my government turns against me. I had told Hasan that it wasn’t like that here. I had told my children that we were safe and lucky. I had told my husband that we would go on and on and on and on. Perhaps all of that will remain true, but perhaps it won’t, and that is an adjustment that sears itself into our most mundane activities. No, in October, our family felt very different from how it feels now. We were an open landscape, but now we are a citadel.
It is important to understand that they are coming at this from a place of passion and dedication. They have a fire in their bellies. While it looks like a bunch of backwoods hillbillies playing with guns to anyone outside, they are resilient and in it for the long haul. They want America to succeed, but in their America there isn’t room for anyone unlike them. There’s a reason Trump’s mantra stuck despite his deplorable behaviour. They think America was founded on conservative Protestant ideals because that’s what they’ve been fed, because that’s what aligns with their interpretation of the Bible and they will not go down without a fight.
They are scared of anything newer than the 18th century; you can’t logic the fear of change away from people. If you do no research and are instead predisposed to the belief that older is better, it’s easy to think the Puritans were good and wholesome. People wore funny hats, were conservative and hated science. Church was basically mandatory and women weren’t allowed to speak or be autonomous people. These are all comforting things for people who feel as though the world is against them because of their religion, rather than the fact that their views and actions are bigoted, racist and actively harmful to millions of other humans. You cannot be this version of evangelical and not force your beliefs on others. Failing to convert is a failure on you and your dedication to your faith. This religion is based entirely on fear; you can’t argue away a fear so intense that it hardens you to anyone unlike you or your tribe.
Even after Muslims in Bernards Township filed a federal civil rights lawsuit that won support from 34 religious and civil liberties groups, and the U.S. Justice Department launched its own probe - and also decided to sue - Mayor Carol Bianchi insisted her town was "inclusive and warm" and being unfairly maligned.
She painted township officials as the real victims, and said there was no "circus of bigotry." Now we have this: Bigoted emails disparaging Muslims and Islam, sent from the personal accounts of the people who run this town - including township and planning board officials, some of them former and incoming mayors.
After Trump takes office this will probably be praised as proper hate
I'm skeptical about fMRI studies, but interesting nonetheless and perhaps an interesting path to test...
The paper mentioned is on Mormons (outside their paywall)
Reward, salience, and attentional networks are activated by religious experience in devout Mormons
Michael A. Fergusona, Jared A. Nielsenb,c, Jace B. Kingd, Li Daie, Danielle M. Giangrassod, Rachel Holmanf, Julie R. Korenbergd,e and Jeffrey S. Anderson a,d,f
aDepartment of Bioengineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA; bDepartment of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; cDepartment of Psychology and Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA; dInterdepartmental Program in Neuroscience, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA; eDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA; fDepartment of Radiology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
High-level cognitive and emotional experience arises from brain activity, but the specific brain substrates for religious and spiritual euphoria remain unclear. We demonstrate using functional magnetic resonance imaging scans in 19 devout Mormons that a recognizable feeling central to their devotional practice was reproducibly associated with activation in nucleus accumbens, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and frontal attentional regions. Nucleus accumbens activation preceded peak spiritual feelings by 1–3 s and was replicated in four separate tasks. Attentional activation in the anterior cingulate and frontal eye fields was greater in the right hemisphere. The association of abstract ideas and brain reward circuitry may interact with frontal attentional and emotive salience processing, suggesting a mechanism whereby doctrinal concepts may come to be intrinsically rewarding and motivate behavior in religious individuals.