Ls&Qs: Denying Reality, Rewriting History

It gets worse and worse.

From just the past couple days. The titles and subtitles speak for themselves.

Salon: It’s time to recast anti-vaccination governors as mass murderers, subtitled, A comparison of COVID deaths in two Republican-run states with wildly different approaches to the virus

Slate: Tennessee Is Doing Exactly the Wrong Thing to Stop COVID

Salon: Of course the GOP is spreading COVID-19 for political gain — it’s been their playbook for decades, subtitled, Before deliberately spreading COVID-19, Republicans boosted sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy

Vox: Tennessee has one of the lowest vax rates. Republicans are working to make sure that stays the case., subtitled, Tennessee Republicans demonstrate how vaccine skepticism has escalated to outright hostility.

The Atlantic: The Utter Familiarity of Even the Strangest Vaccine Conspiracy Theories, subtitled, Disease narratives maintain certain features over time, even as specific details vary to fit a new epidemic or context.

Not surprisingly, virtually all new COVID cases are among the unvaccinated. Darwin’s natural selection will take its course.


Other topics:

NY Times, 9 July, Michelle Goldberg: The Christian Right Is in Decline, and It’s Taking America With It

White evangelicals once saw themselves “as the owners of mainstream American culture and morality and values,” said Jones. Now they are just another subculture.

From this fact derives much of our country’s cultural conflict. It helps explain not just the rise of Donald Trump, but also the growth of QAnon and even the escalating conflagration over critical race theory. “It’s hard to overstate the strength of this feeling, among white evangelicals in particular, of America being a white Christian country,” said Jones. “This sense of ownership of America just runs so deep in white evangelical circles.” The feeling that it’s slipping away has created an atmosphere of rage, resentment and paranoia.

And concerning “Critical Race Theory”

[Robert P. Jones] As Jones notes, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845 after splitting with abolitionist Northern Baptists. He described it as a “remarkable arc”: a denomination founded on the defense of slavery “denouncing a critical read of history that might put a spotlight on that story.”


NYT, 8 July, Michelle Cottle: The Nation Needs a Reality-Based G.O.P. Only the Kook Caucus Is Stepping Up.

Ominously, this election cycle is not about moving the Republican Party in a more conservative or more moderate direction or about reshaping its policy views. It is about packing the party with conspiracy theorists and liars and people itching to advance Mr. Trump’s belligerent, apocalyptic, reality-resistant brand of politics. Some three dozen QAnon-friendly Republican congressional candidates are in the mix, according to Media Matters’s latest count.

Already, there are far too many Republican officials willing, either cynically or genuinely, to advance Mr. Trump’s Big Lie. An election that installs more of them up and down the ticket could easily turn the acute reality crisis of the past few months into a lingering condition.


The Atlantic, 10 July, David A. Graham: The Rise of Anti-history, subtitled, The Trumpist wing of the GOP uses history as a bludgeon, without regard to context, logic, or proportionality.

For [Marjorie Taylor] Greene and others in the Trumpist wing of the Republican Party, anti-history has become a shibboleth. They drop historical references and facts into political debates, but without regard to context, logic, or proportionality. Their villains include Adolf Hitler, but also Mao Zedong and Joseph McCarthy; the Holocaust was bad, but also, Jewish people control the weather. The pose is more than the simple historical illiteracy that’s endemic among American politicians. In this GOP faction, members are willfully ignorant of history, which they view in purely instrumental terms, as a bludgeon to wield even as they do not bother to understand it.

Conspiracist thinking, another hallmark of Trumpism, is anti-history’s natural partner. Each snatches isolated facts or claims out of their proper context, fabricates new contexts for them without regard to reality, and fashions them into partisan weapons. That Greene (found espousing bizarre anti-Semitic theories when she isn’t comparing anything she dislikes to the Holocaust) and Trump are leading proponents of both anti-history and conspiracy thinking is not a coincidence.


The Atlantic, 9 July, Ibram X. Kendi: There Is No Debate Over Critical Race Theory, subtitled, Pundits and politicians have created their own definition for the term, and then set about attacking it.

Republican operatives have buried the actual definition of critical race theory: “a way of looking at law’s role platforming, facilitating, producing, and even insulating racial inequality in our country,” as the law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who helped coin the term, recently defined it. Instead, the attacks on critical race theory are based on made-up definitions and descriptors. “Critical race theory says every white person is a racist,” Senator Ted Cruz has said. “It basically teaches that certain children are inherently bad people because of the color of their skin,” said the Alabama state legislator Chris Pringle.

The Republican operatives, who dismiss the expositions of critical race theorists and anti-racists in order to define critical race theory and anti-racism, and then attack those definitions, are effectively debating themselves. They have conjured an imagined monster to scare the American people and project themselves as the nation’s defenders from that fictional monster.

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