Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Alt-Right Embraces Tolkien

So, on Monday the NEW YORK TIMES ran a piece on Judge Roy Moore, the Alabama Senatorial candidate, in which the report, Katherine Steawart, devoted several paragraphs to Moore's supporters using Tolkien imagery in support of their cause:

 . . . [they believe] Roy Moore is the hero who will lead the Republican Party to glory.

He stood there with his staff and he pushed back against the forces of secularism and he said, just like in ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘You shall not pass,’ when they were going after the Ten Commandments,” Dana Loesch, an N.R.A. spokeswoman, said. Roy Moore, she added, is “the Gandalf of Alabama.”

Steve Bannon was also in Tolkien mode as he exulted over Mr. Moore’s victory in the Republican primary in September. “The hobbits are going door to door in the shire, and they’re getting everybody out,” he gushed.

. . . But they [McConnell & Ryan, et al] haven’t said — and they won’t say — a word about Mr. Moore’s theocratic agenda. Because in their hearts, they know that Mr. Bannon is right about one thing: They need to keep the “hobbits” happy.

It's another sign of Tolkien moving mainstream and finding new fans in new places -- in this case, among gun-lobbyists* and arch-conservative politicians in Alabama -- while at the same time being embraced by fringe groups among the white supremacists (something that's also happening to Taylor Swift, of all people, and to Norse sagas). Maybe Tolkien can at some point form common ground between deeply divided groups. In the meantime, I think we're going to see a lot more in the way of strange bedfellows.

--John R.

*or 'merchants of death', to evoke a name from another era

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