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Donald Trump’s achievement: getting through his first year as President

Trump has successfully withstood the most sustained attempt to eject a newly elected President from office in US history

Alexander Mercouris

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As 2018 begins Donald Trump has reason to be satisfied.

He has survived his first year in much better shape politically than might have been expected, seeing off the single most sustained attack on a newly elected President that the US has witnessed since Abraham Lincoln’s first year.

Newly elected US Presidents can normally expect a honeymoon in the first six months following their election, with support for them tending to tail off towards the year’s end.

In Donald Trump’s case the pattern has been the reverse.  Not only are his ratings improving but his position in Congress looks stronger now than it has ever been before.

Though talk of impeachment is still there, with the Republican Party in Congress now finally closing ranks behind him its prospect, even if the Democrats win control of Congress in the autumn, is starting to melt away.

In order to understand how this has happened the reasons for Donald Trump’s problems in his first year as President must first be explained.

Donald Trump won the Presidency as an outsider running against the US’s political class.  He did so by highlighting the growing problems of ever larger numbers of Americans and the growing disconnect between them and the political class, which has increasingly turned its back on them.

Nothing is more calculated to infuriate professionals than to be beaten by an amateur at their own game, and the mere fact that Donald Trump won the President as an outsider would have sufficed to make him a host of enemies in Washington.

However the manner of his victory – with his calls to “drain the swamp” and have “crooked Hillary” “locked up”, together with his emphatic rejection of ‘identity politics’, criticism of interventionist wars, and calls for a rapprochement with Vladimir Putin (the US political establishment’s bête noire) – in other words by his total rejection of the orthodoxies of the US’s political class – was horrifying, calling into question the whole political and ideological construct within which the political class operates and casting doubt on its legitimacy.

In view of this a pushback against Donald Trump was inevitable, and one fact more than any other gave it an extra spur.

This was that Donald Trump won the election in the Electoral College but lost the popular vote, falling behind his opponent Hillary Clinton by as much as 3 million votes.

There has been much discussion about this – far too much in my opinion – but the key point about it is that the fact that Donald Trump cannot show that a majority of Americans backed him in the election has exposed him to attacks on his legitimacy and has emboldened his opponents.

This is what lies behind the challenges he has experienced in his first year.

They began on the very first day of his Presidency with a row about the size of the crowd which attended his inauguration.

Contrary to what is often said, I do not think this was a trivial episode, and I am sure Donald Trump did not see it that way either. That is why he and his officials insisted in defiance of all the evidence that the crowd was bigger than it really was.

Trump has come in for much ridicule for this, but this overlooks the reason why the question of the size of the crowd was brought up in the first place.

It was in fact yet another attempt to highlight the fact that he lost the popular vote in the election so as to insinuate – again – that he is not the legitimately elected President of the United States because the majority of the American people did not vote for him.

Given that the issue of the size of the crowd was being used in that way, Trump’s insistence that it was larger than it was becomes fully understandable as a defence of the legitimacy of his election to the Presidency.

Soon after that attack more followed.

Within just two weeks of the start of Donald Trump’s Presidency a series of political and judicial attacks were launched against his ‘travel ban’ Executive Orders, even though these Orders fulfilled pledges he had made during his campaign.

Of all the attacks Donald Trump has experienced since his election the attacks on his ‘travel ban’ Executive Orders are the ones which have troubled me most.

This is not because I agree with the policy set out in the Executive Orders.  On the contrary I think it is harsh and cruel.  However I have never had the slightest doubt that Donald Trump has the constitutional authority as President to make these Orders, and I have been dismayed that no less a person than the Acting Attorney General of the United States not only argued otherwise but sought to sabotage them, and that several federal court judges have done the same, citing as grounds arguments wholly lacking in legal merit which read as if they were lifted straight out of the editorial pages of certain newspapers.

That it has required the Supreme Court to intervene to state what is legally obvious is deeply disturbing, and shows just how politicised the federal court system in the US has become.

The US constantly preaches to the world and to itself the importance of judicial independence, judicial impartiality and the separation of powers.  Indeed the whole US Constitution is based on these principles.

The grossly partisan way certain courts have behaved in the battle of the Executive Orders shows that in the US these principles are in danger of becoming a fiction.

That ought to be a very worrying fact, and it is a matter of still greater worry that so few Americans seem concerned about it.

If Donald Trump’s political opponents have not hesitated to use the courts and elements of the Justice Department’s bureaucracy to try to obstruct the implementation of his policies, they have also not hesitated to obstruct the appointment of officials to his administration.

The process of Senate confirmation of candidates for senior posts in the administration has been spun out to a ridiculous degree, with many middle ranking positions still unfilled.

This is not because the candidates Donald Trump is nominating are unfit for office.  It is because it is Donald Trump who is nominating them.

That this sort of behaviour is utterly self-destructive ought to be obvious.  The United States cannot function properly without a government yet some people in Congress appear to be so hostile to Donald Trump that they are prepared to sacrifice the efficient operation of the US government in order to conduct their feud with him.

It is however the Russiagate scandal which eclipses all other attacks which have been made against Donald Trump in his first year.

The origins of Russiagate go back to 2015 when Donald Trump up-ended US political class orthodoxy in the most radical imaginable way by speaking well of Russian President Vladimir Putin and making clear his wish for better relations with Russia.

In doing so Donald Trump had the courage to doubt one of the central charges the US political class regularly makes against Vladimir Putin: that he carries out extra-judicial killings (ie. murders) of his Russian political opponents.

Worse still, it turned out that the American people were not only unfazed by what Donald Trump had to say about Putin, but his talk of wanting a rapprochement with Russia was actually striking a positive chord with them.

To a US political class which to a disturbing degree has internalised hostility to Russia and for whom the demonisation of Vladimir Putin has become an article of faith, this was well nigh unbelievable heresy, so shocking that there had to be some ulterior motive behind it.

The result was a series of investigations which were launched in the first instance privately in the autumn of 2015 to try to find the ‘hidden link’ between Donald Trump and Russia which would explain his supposedly extraordinary behaviour.

These investigations gained critical mass in the early summer of 2016 when Hillary Clinton and her campaign hit on the story of Donald Trump’s supposed connections to Russia as the silver bullet which would kill off his campaign, divert attention away from the ugly revelations in the DNC and Podesta emails, and deliver Hillary Clinton the Presidency.

Accordingly at some point in July 2016 the private investigations of Donald Trump’s supposed Russian connections expanded into an official investigation by the FBI based on the Trump Dossier, a grotesque compilation of salacious gossip about Donald Trump and members of his campaign team paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign and put together at the request of Fusion GPS by the ex British spy Christopher Steele.

The result was that from July 2016 until the inauguration on 20th January 2017 members of Donald Trump’s campaign and transition teams were placed under surveillance by the FBI, with the US intelligence community publishing an extraordinary statement a month before the election which all but said that the Russians were trying to swing the election to Donald Trump, and publishing a further Intelligence Assessment on 8th January 2017 – after the election and shortly before the inauguration – which without providing any evidence again all but said the same thing.

This was accompanied in the last weeks of the transition period and the first weeks of the new administration by a flood of leaks from the Justice Department, the FBI, other sections of the US intelligence community and from former members of the Obama administration, which also sought to delegitimise Donald Trump and destabilise his administration by also insinuating that he owed his election to the Russians.

The media, which in the United States as in all other Western countries has now become the servant of the political class, picked up and magnified these unsupported claims to an extraordinary degree, treating the Russian role in Donald Trump’s election as “proved”, ridiculing Donald Trump’s denials, and labelling anyone expressing any doubt about the claims as a “Kremlin stooge” or a “conspiracy theorist”.

The resulting scandal has resulted in two very dangerous moments for Donald Trump.

The first came in February 2017 when with weeks of his inauguration he was forced to ask for the resignation of General Michael Flynn, his National Security Adviser and the person who was spearheading his attempt to mend relations with Russia.

Flynn was felled in part by his own mistakes but mainly by a concerted and in part illegal campaign of leaks and bureaucratic traps which in the end successfully brought him down.

Flynn’s resignation created a gap within the administration’s foreign policy team which has never been properly filled, but more critically it gave an appearance of reality to the conspiracy allegations at the heart of the Russiagate scandal, which gave the scandal extra life.

The immediate result was to harden the already strong hostility to Donald Trump in Congress, with many Republicans now convinced that there might be something to the Russian conspiracy allegations after all, making the possibility of impeachment appear for a time a very real one.

It was the bad feeling caused by the Flynn affair which in my opinion lay behind the strongly negative reaction to Donald Trump’s entirely correct and fully justified sacking of the FBI’s scheming and incompetent Director James Comey, and to the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel.

It was also the Flynn affair which led to the second dangerous moment in Donald Trump’s Presidency, the passing by Congress in August of its bizarre anti-sanctions legislation targeting Russia.

This was undoubtedly intended by Donald Trump’s Congressional opponents to be an impeachment trap akin to the equally unconstitutional Tenure of Office Act which in 1867 nearly felled Andrew Johnson.

The plan was that Donald Trump would veto the legislation, exposing his ‘loyalty’ to Vladimir Putin and Russia, Congress would then override his veto – just as it once overrode Andrew Johnson’s veto of the Tenure of Office Act – so that with with Trump discredited and his support in Congress shot to pieces Congress would move to impeachment as soon as a convenient pretext arose.

In the event Donald Trump showed much more political skill and agility than his opponents had reckoned on, sidestepping the impeachment trap they had laid for him by signing the legislation into law instead of vetoing it whilst making clear his belief in written provisos that the legislation is unconstitutional, thereby preparing the ground for a future challenge to the Supreme Court.

Since then events have begun to move in Donald Trump’s direction.

The reason is that the main thrust of the attack on him – the Russiagate scandal – has turned out to be a grotesque and gigantic misfire.

The evidence to back the collusion claims with Russia which Donald Trump’s opponents staked so much on in order to bring him down stubbornly refuses to appear, and the longer the scandal continues the more obvious it becomes that that it is not appearing because it is not there.

The result is that instead of Donald Trump being exposed as a Russian stooge, it is his opponents and the US security agencies who are being increasingly exposed as conducting a witch-hunt against him.  Moreover it has also become increasingly clear that this is a witch-hunt which has repeatedly tipped over into gross impropriety and sometimes into outright illegality.

The point has now been reached where even former Republican opponents of Donald Trump’s are now calling for the appointment of a new Special Counsel to investigate the actions of his accusers.

Though this has not yet been noticed by the wider US public, it has transformed the situation in Congress.

Whereas in July many Republicans in Congress were worried that their President would turn out to be a Russian stooge, now only an irreconcilable hardline minority of anti Trump Republicans in the  Senate believes it or pretends to believe it.

The result is that whereas in the first half of the year Donald Trump was desperately short of support in Congress, making it all but impossible for him to get legislation passed, now with the Republican Party in Congress rallying behind him not only is the danger of impeachment receding but he has finally scored his first big legislation win in the form of the tax reform bill, which is now set to become law.

Here I ought to say that I happen to think that the tax reform bill is as wrong on economic grounds as I think the entry policy contained in Donald Trump’s ‘travel ban’ Executive Orders is wrong on moral grounds.  However politically speaking it is Donald Trump’s success in getting the tax reform bill through Congress which is what matters.  The point is that whilst Donald Trump did not have sufficient support from Republicans in Congress to get it through six months ago, he has that support now.

The result is that with the Republican Party in Congress closing ranks behind him, with doubts about Robert Mueller’s and the FBI’s conduct of the Russiagate inquiry growing, and with the economy looking strong, Donald Trump starts 2018 politically much stronger than he has been at any time since he was inaugurated President.

Even his approval ratings are rising, so that according to one poll they now stand at the same level as Barack Obama’s at this stage in Obama’s Presidency.

Donald Trump has paid a price for his survival in his first year.

He has lost his two most important lieutenants – Flynn and Bannon – and has been obliged to surround himself with a Praetorian Guard of generals who behave more often as his captors than as his servants.

The result is that the belligerent foreign policy of confronting everybody everywhere all the time which Donald Trump pledged during the election to reverse has not only continued but has intensified.

As for the project to mend fences with Russia, at least for the moment it has been kicked into the long grass.

Given the forces stacked against him at the start of 2017 Donald Trump will consider that an acceptable price to pay.

The key point is that he has survived and grown stronger after the most sustained attack ever experienced in modern US history on a newly elected President.

It is now all but certain that he will continue to the end of his term, with at least a possibility – especially if the economy remains strong – that he will be re-elected in 2020.

Donald Trump’s political space is increasing.  The test of his Presidency will be how he uses it.

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The Discarded Wisdom of America’s Founders

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.

Eric Zuesse

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A good example of the discarded wisdom of America’s Founders is George Washington’s Farewell Address to the nation, delivered by him not orally but instead solely in printed form, published in Philadelphia by David C. Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, on 19 September 1796, and distributed to the nation. The following extended excerpt from it is the most famous part of it, and is being blatantly raped by today’s U.S. Government, and therefore it might indicate the necessity for a second American Revolution, this one to disown and throw out not Britain’s Aristocracy, but America’s aristocracy. America’s Founders had done all they knew how to do to conquer Britain’s aristocracy, and they embodied in our Constitution all that they knew in order to prevent any aristocracy ever from arising in this nation; but the Founders clearly had failed in this their dearest hope, because a domestic U.S. aristocracy has arisen here and destroyed American democracy, as this nation’s Founders had feared, and as Washington in this document effectively affirms — and, by these words, proves — to have happened (they’ve taken over this country, in and by both of its Parties, and so we have here a profound and scathing, blistering, criticism of today’s American Government):

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils? Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Bruce Ohr Texts, Emails Reveal Steele’s Deep Ties to Obama DOJ, FBI

There are indications that the FBI knew that Steele was in contact with the media before the bureau submitted the first FISA application.

The Duran

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Authored by Sara Carter via SaraCarter.com:


A trove of emails and handwritten notes from Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr exposes the continuous contact and communication between the DOJ attorney and anti-Trump dossier author Christopher Steele, according to notes and documents obtained by SaraACarter.com. The emails and notes were written between 2016 and 2017.

The notes and emails also reveal that Ohr was in communication with Glenn Simpson, the founder of the embattled research firm Fusion GPS, which was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC to hire Steele.

In one of Ohr’s handwritten notes listed as “Law enforcement Sensitive” from May 10, 2017, he writes “Call with Chris,” referencing Steele. He notes that Steele is “very concerned about Comey’s firing, afraid they will be exposed.” This call occurred months after FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee and revealed for the first time that the FBI had an open counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and alleged collusion with Russia.

Steele is also extremely concerned about a letter sent from the Senate Judiciary Committee asking Comey for information on his involvement with Steele. Grassley sent 12 questions to Comey regarding the bureau and Steele’s relationship and wanted all information on any agreements they had during the investigation into alleged Russia-Trump collusion. Grassley also wanted to know if the FBI ever verified any of the information in Steele’s reports.

In Ohr’s notes from May 10, 2017, he goes onto write that Steele is concerned about a letter from the Senate Intelligence Committee, writing:

“Asked them 3 questions:

  1. What info (information) did you give to the U.S. govt (government)?
  2. What was the scope of yr (your) investigation?
  3. Do you have any other info that would assist in our question?”

SaraACarter.com first reported this week text messages between Steele and Ohr, revealing that Steele was anxious about Comey’s testimony and was hoping that “important firewalls will hold” when Comey testified.

Those text messages in March 2017 were shared only two days before Comey testified to lawmakers.

The House Intelligence Committee revealed in their Russia report earlier this year that Steele–who was working for the FBI as a Confidential Human Source (CHS)–had shopped his dossier to numerous news outlets in the summer of 2016.  According to the report, the FBI terminated Steele after discovering that he was leaking to news outlets, breaking a cardinal rule by the bureau to not reveal ongoing investigations and information to the media.

However, there is growing concern that the FBI was well aware that Steele was in contact with media outlets about his dossier before the FBI applied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for its first warrant in the fall of 2016 to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign volunteer advisor, Carter Page.

There are indications that the FBI knew that Steele was in contact with the media before the bureau submitted the first FISA application…

“There are indications that the FBI knew that Steele was in contact with the media before the bureau submitted the first FISA application and that question needs to be resolved,” said a congressional official with knowledge of the investigation.

The documents from March 2017, reveal how concerned Steele is with Grassley’s committee and the letter from the senator’s office seeking answers from Steele on the dossier.

In June 2017, Steele tells Ohr,  “We are frustrated with how long this reengagement with the Bureau and Mueller is taking.  Anything you can do to accelerate the process would be much appreciated.  There are some new, perishable, operational opportunities which we do not want to miss out on.”

In October 2017, Steele notes that he is concerned about the stories in the media about the bureau delivering information to Congress “about my work and relationship with them.  Very concerned about this.  People’s lives may be endangered.”

And in November 2017, Steele, who is trying to engage with Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel, writes to Ohr saying, “we were wondering if there was any response to the questions I raised last week.”

Ohr responds by saying, “I have passed on the questions (apparently to the special counsel) but haven’t gotten an answer yet.”

Steele then says,  “I am presuming you’ve heard nothing back from your SC (special counsel) colleagues on the issues you kindly put to them from me.  We have heard nothing from them either.  To say this is disappointing would be an understatement!  Certain people have been willing to risk everything to engage with them in an effort to help them reach the truth.  Also, we remain in the dark as to what work has been briefed to Congress about us, our assets and previous work.”

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College offer courses on ‘queering’ children, the Bible

US Colleges are teaching students to “queer” Christianity and religion in general.

Campus Reform

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Authored by Celine Ryan via Campus Reform:


This school year, students across the country will attend courses on “Queering the Bible,” “Queering Childhood,” “Queering Theology,” and similar topics.

Students at Pomona College in Claremont, California, for instance, will have the opportunity to enroll in a brand new course titled “Queering Childhood,” which will examine “the figure of the Child and how this figuration is used by politics, law, and medicine to justify continued cultural investment in reproductive heteronormativity and productive ablebodiedness.”

The course description explains that students will examine the childhoods of “queer and crip children,” as well as “childhoods against which the figure of the Child is articulated,” with reference to work related to “gender studies, childhood studies, disability studies, and queer theory.”

Colleges are not only attempting to “queer” childhood, they are teaching students to “queer” Christianity and religion in general, as well.

This fall, Eugene Lang College will offer a course titled “Queering and Decolonizing Theology,” where students will explore topics such as “the sexual ethics and ritualization found in the S&M community,” and “transgender Christs.”

“Christian theology is often depicted as a violent colonial force standing in particular opposition to LGBTQI lives. However, over the last 30 years people of faith, activists, and theorists alike have rediscovered what is queer within Christianity, uncovered what is religious within secular queer communities, and used postcolonial theory to decolonize lived religious practices and theologies,” the course description asserts.

According to the college, the course “explores secular philosophies of queer and postcolonial theory as well as their critical and constructive application to religion,” focusing on topics like “the sexual ethics and ritualization found in the S&M community, transgender Christs, and the mestiza (or mixed) cultures of Latin America.”

Similarly, students at Harvard Divinity School will be able to attend a course on “Queer Theologies, Queer Religions” this fall, which will explore the “project of ‘queer theology’” and how it relates to “larger aspirations of queer religion or spirituality in America.”

In this course, students will begin by “sampling the efforts to revise traditional Christian theologies in order to accept or affirm same-sex loves.” After that, they will move on to examining “forgotten possibilities in historical engagements between advocates of homosexual rights and established religious bodies (chiefly churches and synagogues).”

“We will consider the boundaries between queer theology and queer theory or between it and other political theologies,” the course description explains.  “We will test the boundaries of ‘Christianity’ while considering the varied forms of queer religion outside familiar religious institutions—in spirituality or spiritualism, in magic or neo-paganism, in erotic asceticism.”

Swarthmore College students, meanwhile, will survey “queer and trans* readings of biblical texts” during a course titled “Queering the Bible,” which will introduce them to “the complexity of constructions of sex, gender, and identity in one of the most influential literary works produced in ancient times.”

“By reading the Bible with the methods of queer and trans* theoretical approaches,” the description promises, “this class destabilizes long held assumptions about what the [B]ible—and religion—says about gender and sexuality.”

The University of San Francisco is also getting into the act with a course on “Christian Feminist Theology” that aims to “develop an understanding of how feminist scholarship provides one fruitful means towards reappropriation of central Christian insights about God.”

The course will facilitate “critical reflection upon the experience of God, and insights from feminist thought,” according to the description.

In a similar vein, students enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s “Gender, Sexuality, and Religion” course “will read religion through a variety of feminist and queer theory lenses- exploring the key characteristics of diverse feminist analyses of religion, as well as limits of specific feminist approaches.”

“In this course we will learn about women’s and men’s rituals, social roles, and mythologies in specific religious traditions,” the course description explains. “We will also look at the central significance of gender to the field of religious studies generally, with particular attention to non-binary genders.”

To that end, the course will address questions such as “How important are the gender differences in deciding social roles, ritual activities, and spiritual vocations?” and “How does gender intersect with nationality, language, and politics?”

Campus Reform reached out to each of the schools mentioned in this report for additional comment on the courses in question, and is currently awaiting responses. This article will be updated if and when any of them provide a statement.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan

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