Tag Archives: Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Twisted And Hateful

I often quote Ed Brayton, who follows crackpots and lunatics on the far fringes of the Religious Right and reports on their activities in his blog, Dispatches from the Culture Wars.  (I honestly don’t know how he manages to keep both his sanity and his sense of humor after daily encounters with these deeply disturbed individuals, but  he has–I’ve met him and he’s very smart, very astute–and very funny.)

Just a few days ago, Ed revisited Randall Terry.

Anyone familiar with the effort to deny women our reproductive rights has encountered news of Terry at some point. He founded Operation Rescue, the group that blocked clinic entrances around the country and engaged in other semi-terrorist “pro life” activities. (Give him props for honesty, though–he admits what so many of his fellow “pro life” warriors pretend is untrue– he’s as opposed to birth control as he is to abortion. Keep those women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen like God intended!)

Not surprisingly, he’s also homophobic, and he’s recently fixated on Mayor Pete. As Ed writes,

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is polling well in Iowa and raising lots of money in the Democratic primary for president and now he’s going to be hounded by anti-choice crackpot Randall Terry. He’s headed to Iowa to confront Butegieg for being a babykiller who is locked in the sexual bondage of homosexuality. Or something.

Ed shared Randall Terry’s press release:

We are going to Iowa to confront the “new political sensation;” Pete Buttigieg.

We’ve sent a press release to every daily newspaper in the state of Iowa…telling them we are coming to welcome “Mayor Pete” AT ALL FIVE of his campaign stops next week!

As I read and read about this 37 year old, poor lost soul, I am filled with grief and rage.

I grieve for Pete Buttigieg – for his endangered soul, his sexual bondage – and I am enraged by what he is really doing.

He is a baby-killing politician, who is recruiting young people into homosexual bondage by his example, and trying to normalize what is an intrinsically evil behavior.

This rant reminds me of the greeting cards I got one Easter when I was Executive Director of Indiana’s ACLU; there were a couple dozen of them, all with a praying Virgin Mary on the front. The inside of the cards was blank, and on each one, someone had written  “We are praying for your sinful soul.”

Unfortunately, I still have my old, sinful soul. And from all accounts, Mayor Pete is still gay and still running for President.

People like Terry would be funny if they weren’t dangerous. Most simply pose a threat to religious liberty and the Constitution, which is troubling enough, but others are violent. All of them are locked in to an alternate reality.

And speaking of alternate realities, Ed also had a post about crazy lady Michelle Bachmann.

Michele Bachmann, the “pastor to the United Nations,” told crackpot Jan Markell that she had never seen a more Biblical president than Donald Trump and that she prays that God will help destroy the “deep state” so that Trump can “expose the hidden deeds of darkness” done by that amorphous, universal bunch of baddies.

If only the “deep state” of rightwing fever dreams really did exist and could do something about Trump…

How detached from reality do you have to be to consider Donald Trump “Biblical”?

 

Quick, Dirty and Accurate

Every so often, I read something that expresses an opinion I hold so succinctly and clearly that I get a bit jealous of the wordsmith. (That tends to be my reaction to pretty much anything Leonard Pitts writes, and especially this one).

That was also my reaction to a recent post by Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Brayton was addressing the recurring question of why Trump supporters don’t care about his constant–incessant–lies. He began by referencing two classic analyses by Richard Hofstadter, the book  Anti-Intellectualism in American Life and Hofstadter’s much-quoted essay, The Paranoid Style in American Politicsboth of which are well worth reading if you haven’t already done so. Hofstadter wrote in the 1960s, and Brayton’s point was the cyclical nature of American history.

It seems that about every 40-50 years we go through this bout of pseudo-populist, anti-intellectual, anti-immigrant and racist fervor. You can go back to the Know Nothings of the mid-1800s, to the rebirth of the KKK in the early 1900s, to the McCarthy era and the birth of the John Birch Society in the 60s (which was just starting when Hofstadter did his analysis). What we’re seeing with Trump is the latest rebirth of those movements. He’s tapped into a rich vein of ignorance, paranoia and bigotry that is never far below the surface in America.

When I am particularly worried about our prospects for emerging from the current cesspool of corruption and bigotry, I remind myself of these episodes from America’s past. After all, we survived those; surely when the fever breaks, we can repair the damage being done every day by the looters and racists who now control our government.

Can’t we?

Brayton makes another point I’ve frequently made: these eruptions occur in times of economic and cultural stress.

When people feel insecure economically or socially — as in white Christians feeling threatened by becoming a smaller percentage of the population, coupled with vast income inequality and the massive recession of 2008 and 2009 — they tend to retreat into this very simpleminded tribalism. They want to build Fortress America and shut everyone else out. They retreat to racial tribes and lob bombs — sometimes literally — at other tribes. Their fear and insecurity make them easy targets for demagogues like Trump to whip them up into a fervor by telling them that it’s all the fault of (insert scapegoat here — blacks, Latinos, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, gay people, “elites” or “globalists”). Fear is a powerful motivator and is easily exploitable by those seeking authoritarian power.

And once people are fully in the grip of tribalism, the truth simply doesn’t matter to them anymore.

Brayton points to Trump’s repeated–and largely fact-free– attacks on immigrants as an example. Those immigrants (unless, of course, they are pale and come from Norway) are dangerous threats, they are “other.”

Leonard Pitts, in the linked column, brilliantly summed up how we fell into this particular abyss.

There is no mystery here. Trump is president because Obama was, and because there were many people for whom that fact was apocalyptic. It’s no coincidence David Duke loves this man, white people chant his name to taunt black ones and hate crimes spiked during the campaign.

After all, what’s a lie or two–or 3,000–when your white Christian heterosexual tribe is in danger of losing its hegemony?

Random Thoughts and a Great Video

Yesterday, I spoke to the Northern Ohio Chapter of CFI–the Center for Inquiry. It was refreshing to be in a group where science and empirical evidence are respected–especially on a day when yet another embarrassing Congressman (on the Science subcommittee, no less!) makes a fool of himself.

One of the highlights of the program was this video created by one of the members, Mark Tiborsky. It’s a bit long, but really funny.

For me, another highlight was meeting lots of bright, nice people–all of whom seemed to have more than a nodding acquaintence with the Constitution!–and finally getting to meet Ed Brayton, whose blog–Dispatches from the Culture Wars–has been a favorite of mine. (If that isn’t on your personal blogroll, it should be.)

Me with the rest of the panel--Ed Tabash, Ed Brayton and Michael De Dora

Watch the video!