Lesser gods vs Lesser Magistrates

Christians Must Align with Unexpected Co-Belligerents

If you haven’t heard about the latest kerfuffle in the ongoing “Pride Wars,” let me introduce you to our new techno-utopian overlords. 

In 2023, a rash of articles was released in sources as disparate as Wired here, The Wall Street Journal here, Triple A Alliance Magazine here, and The Atlantic here among other places, all exhorting readers to approach the new Electric Vehicle with trepidation due to hacking concerns. While some of this “mUh CoNcErN” journalism was probably legitimate, some was no doubt a response to Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and the rebranding of it as X. Since the CEO and founder of Tesla was responsible for 63% of the EV market at that point, it made sense that aggrieved former fact check/content lords of Twitter would take shots at the legitimacy of the product that undergird his largest company.

However, fears about viruses or hacking can be put to bed. We are no longer in danger of Elon turning off the cars, nor of software being hijacked by foreign agents. We have our own agents at home. 

Perhaps you haven’t been paying attention, but the overlords of our cultural transformation, what James Poulos once dubbed, “The Pink Police State” have decided that the symbols of their victory, namely the Pride Flag are sacrosanct and holy in ways that even the American flag is not. As Joshua Mitchell identified early on, this is the continuing advancement of the Godless Great Awakening. The true civil religion of our ruling classes.

The current victors of the culture wars, claiming their divine right to rule, have taken to not just hanging their idols from civic displays or painting them on the walls of schools and government buildings, but painting them into the crosswalks of city streets in places like Spokane, Washington or Huntington, West Virginia. Doubtless, to the cultural enthusiast, such a permanent display on a publicly walked and driven environment encompassing the main methods of travel for the majority of citizens is not just a statement about “upholding human dignity,” but about enforcing cultural hegemony.

Which is why disapproving truck enthusiasts and the teenagers with their Lime Scooters put skid marks on them. For those readers unfamiliar, Lime scooters are part of the new mobile digital economy. Electric scooters that are set out in public to be accessible to anyone with a card and a desire to travel. The three offending teens paid for their Lime scooters and then with great pride proceeded to deface these symbols of institutional dominion. Typical teenage defiance. A middle finger raised to “the man” by those juveniles who possess the thymos, but not the dunamis to wield real authority. 

But this defiance is being met with the same dystopian vision that captured the writers of those anti-EV pieces. Not only have the three teens been arrested, along with a number of other teens across the country, for daring to raise the abomination within the walls of the sacred temple. Not only are prosecutors using a recently passed Washington State law that charges defacing of public images as a hate crime to charges these teens with felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But in fact, Lime Scooters, that corporate bastion of virtue has declared themselves blameless, “All of us at Lime condemn these vile acts in no uncertain terms,” the company said in a statement, adding that it is “disturbing to see the hate taking place in Spokane.” As if there is some larger NGO campaign funded by dark money pressuring all these organizations to align.

An unprovoked statement like this can only be understood as a signal to the civil religion that Lime’s values align entirely with its own. However, even such statements are not enough. We find out that Lime is, “immediately instituting a no-ride zone around the mural to protect it from any future vandalism attempts,” which means the scooters will shut down automatically if driven over the street’s Pride paint. The automatic disabling of the Lime scooters per company policy in accordance with the wishes of the ruling elite is synonymous with the corporate takeover of public space. Activists lobby to make sacred marks in public funded by corporate dollars. Corporate dollars and state enforce the recognition of the sacred art.

Beyond that, this immediately raises the importance of magistrates, a significant aspect of Protestant social teaching, who can act against the hegemonic domination of our public square. And not just within governmental structures, political theorists as disparate as Sohrab Ahmari in Tyranny, Inc. and Curtis Yarvin in UnQualified Reservations have demonstrated, a CEO (especially of private corporations) is a magistrate in his own right. Christians should be seeking those “lesser” magistrates who can align with the faithful to protect the public square from hegemonic domination by evil forces and those who wish to align with them. Because for all the fearmongering Elon gets by modern journos, it wasn’t Tesla that shut down your car for driving over the rainbow crosswalk.

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Justin Redemer

Justin Redemer is a Christian High School Principal in the SF Bay Area. A former High School English teacher and Varsity football head coach, he lives in the East Bay with his wife and five kids. He is a hunter, a gardener, and a Bay Area Men's Ministry Leader.

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