Sunday, March 1, 2020

#2314: Carol Swain

Carol Swain is a deranged fundie wingnut, author and wingnut television analyst. What sets her apart from most fundie wingnut conspiracy theorists is that Swain was, in fact, once upon a time a professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, a position she resigned from in 2017 partly, it seems, as a result of being exhausted by admittedly rather misdirected and silly student protests and petitions. She has more recently appeared in promotional materials for Prager University, which itself shows that Vanderbilt should be happy to have gotten rid of her.

Possibly a turning point in her career (Swain’s strange journey from scholar to deranged lunatic is discussed here) was her 2002 book The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration, in which she explicitly chose to disregard data, evidence, methods and established results (“[I] have reserved for myself the right to explore hunches and draw upon personal intuitions as I interpret and evaluate data”) to come to conclusions largely siding with the white nationalists. Her 2011 book Be the People: A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith and Promise, meanwhile, was written as a response to “the ungodly direction” of the United States – Swain slams the Supreme Court’s rulings on separation of church and state, for instance, saying that “[t]he expulsion of God from public schools was a blow to civil religion and a clear repudiation of what Jesus proclaimed to be the greatest commandment” – though it didn’t even attempted to pretend to be a scholarly affair. Neither did she aim for truth or accountability in her subsequent books Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children’s Hearts and Minds – which aimed to explore “the aggressive secular agenda to indoctrinate children with a worldview that rejects the traditional morality associated with the Judeo-Christian worldview” but didn’t really do any exploration – and Who’s Stealing Our Kids?: Revealing the Hidden Agenda to Secularize Our Children, both co-authored with Steven Feazel. Over the last decade, she has also participated in numerous conferences and radio programs organized by the Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation.

Her own political career consists of two unsuccessful runs for the position of mayor of Nashville and speaking at the Values Voter Summit. She supported Trump in 2016 (and backed Mark Harris and Cynthia Dunbar in 2019), and appeared in Dinesh D’Souza’s feverishly delusional pseudohistory flick Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party. She also appeared in Christian-nation activist David Barton’s “Foundations of Freedom” series, where she told Barton that what she sees as problems in the judiciary result from judges being “educated at institutions where they come out as secular humanists, and so there’s no fear of God.”

In 2016 Swain criticized Black Lives Matter for being “a Marxist organization” – even “pure Marxism” – and “a very destructive force in America”, concluding that it “needs to go”. For someone with an education in political science she currently seems remarkably unable to draw rather fundamental distinctions on foundational issues in her own putative field of expertise. In 2017, she also defended Trump’s “both sides” response to Charlottesville and claimed that the Southern Strategy had nothing to do with race.

Meanwhile, in Swain’s world President Obama “did everything to start a race war,” and the Southern Poverty Law Center – which has criticized some of the hate groups Swain pals around with – has, according to Swain, “declared itself an enemy of Christians loyal to biblical teaching, and it fights a no-holds-barred propaganda war against them” due, of course, to the SPLC’s ungodly opposition to bigotry and hate. She also, for good measure, falsely blamed the SPLC for inspiring violence.

As for the Marxist connection, Swain has adopted what is best characterized as a throwback to the red scare tactics of the 50s – she quotes liberally from W. Cleon Skousen – according to which Marxism is the sinister explanation for many of (what Swain views as being) the nation’s ills, including current “resistance to the president” (i.e. Trump), which she said is “like a playbook out of this Marxist agenda.” Indeed, the Communists have control of one U.S. political party and are working on another; “[w]e are at war,” Swain claims, and need “wartime strategies” to counter liberals who have learned from the writings of Saul Alinsky. You don’t get much deeper into redbaiting conspiracy territory than Carol Swain.

Swain on meteorology and climate
In 2017, apparently as a response to the agreement on the debt ceiling and relief funding for victims of Hurricane Harvey, Swain claimed to see “spiritual significance” in hurricanes and wildfires. “I hang out in the Old Testament,” said Swain, and there’s “consequence for sin” (we doubt that she intended to refer to the Donald’s). 

Diagnosis: Yes, it’s a very sad story. Of course, academia could probably never have matched the level of attention or recognition she has enjoyed once she threw facts, truth and accountability to the wind, and we are sure she feels happy with where her journey to crankhood took her. She is crazy, though. 

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