Fundamentalism's Colonial Drag

Former Revealer managing editor Kathryn Joyce makes her debut with an account of “The Other Jamestown Party,” an ultra-right Christian celebration of the colony’s 400th anniversary:

Fifteen miles from Williamsburg, Va., in Charles City County, on a country road dominated by plantations turned bed-and-breakfasts, 4,000 ultra-conservative, largely home-schooling Christians gathered to correct a month-old mistake: to do Jamestown right. The women wore hoop skirts, bustles, bonnets and mob hats. The men wore tricorn, feathered “Musketeer” or top hats; they carried swords. “Maidens,” that is, girls, wore aprons, while “heroes”—boys—donned armor or coonskin caps.

It should come as no surprise that I’m a fan of this story by my friend and sometimes collaborator. It’s funny, scary, fascinating, and weirdly empathetic — the perfect combination for journalism about the far right, especially the far right in colonial drag. But what should challenge the assumptions of both Christian conspiracy theorists — those who think “the culture” is out to get them — and lefty media nihilists — who think mainstream media is always a total wash — is the way Kathryn’s story is both fair and revealing.The event’s organizers get their say and then some — there can be no complaining that this is a hit piece. At the same time, “their say” gives readers all the information they need to understand the ideological position of a group that considers those who don’t share their faith “Infidels and Savages.” A lesser writer would have been content to mock or to shriek theocracy — but Kathryn tells the story calmly, neither relegating the event to the fringe nor declaring it a sign of the democratic end times. I have only one criticism — how could she have missed Chuck Norris?

Read the whole story.

Read event organizer Doug Phillips’ blog.

Visit Doug Phillips’ Vision Forum store to outfit your son as a Christian warrior.

My two cents on Vision Forum and the fundamentalist historical imagination.

–Jeff Sharlet