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Frank Zappa Warned About The U.S. Becoming A 'Fascist Theocracy' Back In 1986—And It's Spot-On

The musician spoke about how America was headed toward a 'fascist theocracy' back in 1986—and his words ring more true than ever.

Frank Zappa and John Lofton

If you've felt at times like you've seen America's battle with religious fascism coming from a mile a way, you're not alone and you're in good company.

A resurfaced clip shows legendary musician Frank Zappa sounding alarms about America sliding into "fascist theocracy" all the way back in 1986. But he might as well have been talking today.

The clip comes from an old episode of CNN's long-running show Crossfire, which ended in 2014. In it, Zappa lambastes conservatives for their advocacy of a "moral code" derived from religion.

Crossfire was a panel show on CNN in which a conservative pundit, a liberal pundit and a nominally centrist pundit get caught in the "crossfire" as they debate political topics.

The show also featured guests, perhaps the most legendary of which was Jon Stewart, who tangled with then-hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala over their partisan rhetoric, which Stewart said was "hurting America."

The more things change...

Zappa's appearance in 1986 saw him tussling with conservative Robert Novak and journalist John Lofton. Lofton, who was supposed to be the resident centrist on the panelist, ended up revealing a far more rightward tilt as Zappa engaged him in a debate.

The topic at hand, as it so often was in era of Republican President Ronald Reagan, was the supposed threat of communism to the United States, a topic the right-wing has been screaming about for literally decades. There is nothing new under the sun, as they say.

Zappa posited that, as it is now, "religious fascism" was the real threat in a country like America that is far, far to the right of most democracies on Earth.

Zappa told Lofton:

"The biggest threat to America today is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy, and everything that's happened during the Regan administration is steering us right down that pipe."

He went on to say:

"When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view, and if that code happens to be very very right wing, almost toward Attila the Hun..."

The Reagan era was a time rife with religious moral panics, especially as the AIDS crisis unfolded in LGBTQ communities across the country and brought the lives, sexuality, and horrifying deaths of queer people into the news.

President Reagan, who infamously refused to even acknowledge AIDS for years, never explicitly said the disease was "the wrath of god on homosexuals" like his close associate Jerry Falwell did, but his communications director Pat Buchanan publicly called it "nature's revenge on gay men."

Zappa had a more personal connection to the Reagan era's religious moral panics, however.

He was one of many music artists, including Prince, Madonna and Mötley Crüe, who were targeted by Tipper Gore—wife of former Democratic Vice President and then Senator Al Gore—as part of her efforts to censor popular music that made reference to sex, violence and/or drugs.

Gore and her organization the Parents' Music Resource Center convened Congressional hearings in 1985 about the supposed scourge of popular music, at which Zappa testified to fervently oppose her efforts toward censorship.

The spectre of these hearings also came up on Crossfire.

Challenged by Lofton about the supposed "filth" and "pornography" found in popular music, Zappa retorted:

"We are talking about words, and I don't believe that there is any word that needs to be suppressed."
At which Lofton railed, "Our families are under attack because of people like you." There truly is nothing new under the sun.

On social media, people could not believe how timely Zappa's words were nearly 40 years ago.







Here's hoping we don't slide any further into the "fascist theocracy" Zappa warned about than we already have.