Topics in this post:

  • Why do “parents’ rights” only seem to involve requests to suppress and ban?
  • The power of a single conservative snowflake.
  • Undermining democracy.
  • An authoritarianism quiz.
  • Phony scandals.
  • Banning non-existent vaccine microchips.
  • Religion as the solution to gun violence.
  • The New Yorker on Christian Nationalism.
  • Vox explains America’s enduring gun problem; plus, how conservatives are winning, graphics of what AR-15 bullets do, and how prayer does nothing.
  • Christians who helped Uganda criminalize homosexuality.
  • The 15-Minute city conspiracy theory.

(And these are just the left-over links after several weeks of addressing such issues at higher levels.)

NY Times, Jamelle Bouie, 28 Mar 2023: What the Republican Push for ‘Parents’ Rights’ Is Really About

It should be said that this movement for “parents’ rights” in Florida has empowered certain parents to remove books, films, even whole classes that threaten to expose their children to material that might make them uncomfortable. In Pinellas County, for example, a single complaint about the Disney film “Ruby Bridges” — about the 6-year-old girl who integrated an all-white New Orleans school in 1960 — led to its removal from an elementary school.

“Parents’ rights,” you will have noticed, never seems to involve parents who want schools to be more open and accommodating toward gender-nonconforming students. It’s never invoked for parents who want their students to learn more about race, identity and the darker parts of American history. And we never hear about the rights of parents who want schools to offer a wide library of books and materials to their children.

The reality of the “parents’ rights” movement is that it is meant to empower a conservative and reactionary minority of parents to dictate education and curriculums to the rest of the community. It is, in essence, an institutionalization of the heckler’s veto, in which a single parent — or any individual, really — can remove hundreds of books or shut down lessons on the basis of the political discomfort they feel. “Parents’ rights,” in other words, is when some parents have the right to dominate all the others.

This is an example of how we get so used to a particular political narrative that it doesn’t occur to most of us to ask why the reverse shouldn’t be just as true. Middle paragraph above. What’s especially outrageous about the latest conservative complaints is that it only takes *one* complaint to have this or that removed from access by *everyone* at a school or public library.

Another example: Shameful: ‘Ruby Bridges’ Film Banned From School Because White Parents Feeling Some Kind of Way (The Root via Yahoo)

And much in the news a week ago: Florida Principal Out After Viewing Of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ Upsets Parents (HuffPost).

Thus American culture is steadily being dumbed down by a tiny minority of conservative snowflakes.


More and more it seems Republicans don’t believe in democracy, either.

Slate, Sherrilyn Ifill, 24 Mar 2023: The Republican Plan to Make Voting Irrelevant

…[T]he Kentucky Legislature took the step of changing that state’s law—overriding the veto of the governor to do so—in a way that assured that Republicans would maintain control of McConnell’s seat should it become vacant.

This effort—to remove powers from elected representatives who are Democrats—has become the new method of disenfranchising voters and maintaining perpetual Republican political power. And it is being undertaken with alarming frequency and speed across the country. This may be the most dangerous and efficient structural attack on our democracy. Its threat, and pernicious ingenuity, lies in its ability to make voting itself irrelevant. Voters may turn out in high numbers and elect their candidates of choice, but if the official is not one whose views align with those of the Republican Party, they may find that their powers of office are removed by antagonistic GOP-controlled legislatures.

With many examples. And this:

Slate, Dahlia Lithwick, 24 Mar 2023: Take Our Quiz to Find Out What Level of Authoritarianism Is Right for You. Sample question:

3.  As it becomes increasingly self-evident that voters will continue to reject your radical policy preferences on everything from reproductive freedom to LGBTQ rights to environmental protections, you:

a)  Make it ever harder for voters to express their preferences by entrenching partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression, and wackadoo theories about independent state legislatures.

b)  Pass a raft of laws that would make it impossible for voters to decide issues by ballot initiative or referendum and make it ever more difficult for states to protect reproductive freedom with proposed overrides for gubernatorial vetoes, supermajority requirements, and bars to injunctive relief.

c)  Rediscover your lost love of sweeping unprecedented nationwide injunctions and band together as state attorneys general to demand control over the distribution of medication.

d) All of the above

The point of course is that Republicans have done all these things, as the referenced articles at the links indicate.


And just today:

NY Times, Neil Vigdor, 29 Mar 2023: Republicans Face Setbacks in Push to Tighten Voting Laws on College Campuses, subtitled “Party officials across the country have sought to erect more barriers for young voters, who tilt heavily Democratic, after several cycles in which their turnout surged.”


Another item about making things worse rather than attempting to solve problems.

Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin, 26 Mar 2023: Opinion | Comer’s ‘oversight’ is focused on phony scandals

The worst-kept secret in Washington is that Democrats could not be more delighted with the inept, unhinged and entirely unproductive hearings that House Republicans insist on conducting in search of pay dirt on Democrats.

For that, they can thank Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.


Yes, this sounds like Republicans too.

Gizmodo, Lauren Leffer, 24 Mar 2023: Non-Existent Vaccine Microchips Could Soon Be Banned in Missouri, subtitled “House members advanced a bill that would bar covid-19 vax mandates, and also ensure the public isn’t forcibly subjected to microchipping or genetic mutation.”



A familiar theme.

Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 29 Mar 2023: Trump wants Americans to think society is an apocalyptic wasteland: Mass shootings help him, subtitled “Gun paralysis isn’t just about the NRA — Republicans are convinced they win when voters feel helpless and afraid”

They don’t actually do anything except offer “thoughts and prayers.” In this case, though, one Republican politician is going further: the solution to gun violence is… his personal religion.

“We’re not gonna fix it.”

Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee was blunter than some of his fellow Republicans, who mostly ran away from reporters or offered bland “thoughts and prayers” in response to Monday’s school shooting in Nashville that left three kids, three school employees and the shooter dead. But Burchett, a hardline Trumpist who voted in support of Donald Trump’s attempted coup in 2021, was certainly on message with what the Republican Party is telling America: Abandon all hope.

“I don’t think you’re going to stop the gun violence,” he continued, arguing that the only thing that could possibly work is mass conversion to his version of Christianity. “As a Christian, we talk about the church. I’ve said this many times, I think we really need a revival in this country.”

This latest shooting happened at a religious school. How have those repeated thoughts and prayers, invoked after so many earlier shootings, worked out?


The New Yorker, Kelefa Sanneh, 27 Mar 2023: How Christian Is Christian Nationalism?, subtitled “Many Americans who advocate it have little interest in religion and an aversion to American culture as it currently exists. What really defines the movement?”

Long. Skimmed.

In contemporary America, though, the practice of Christianity is starting to seem abnormal. Measures of religious observance in America have shown a steep decrease over the past quarter century. In 1999, Gallup found that seventy per cent of Americans belonged to a church, a synagogue, or a mosque. In 2020, the number was forty-seven per cent—for the first time in nearly a hundred years of polling, worshippers were the minority. This changing environment helps explain the militance that is one of the defining features of Christian nationalism. It is a minority movement, espousing a claim that might not have seemed terribly controversial a few decades ago: that America is, and should remain, a Christian nation.

It ends:

The strangest thing about the debate over Christian nationalism is the assumption shared by many of the participants. The sociologists see a fearful tribe, resentful of a country that won’t stop changing. Exponents see a small but indomitable movement, standing strong against a tide of secularism. Miller sees an opportunity for Christians to play a constructive role in a changing country, preaching what their compatriots may no longer practice. But the underlying idea is that recent trends will continue: that churches will keep emptying out, and that Christianity will become an ever more tribal identity. The secular country that emerges might be increasingly free, anxious, and unpredictable—less prayer in schools, more shamans in the Capitol. Why should we assume, though, that these trends are irreversible, and that most of today’s Americans are beyond the reach of a message that has reached so many for so long? Earlier periods of secularization in America have given way to periods of Christian renewal. Is the next Christian revival just around the corner? It seems hard to believe—but, surely, not impossible.


Vox, which specializes in such “explainers.”

Vox, Nicole Narea, Li Zhou, and Ian Millhiser, 27 Mar 2023: America’s unique, enduring gun problem, explained, subtitled “The factors that lead to tragedies like Covenant School are deeply ingrained in US politics, culture, and law.”

A key point was a 2008 Supreme Court decision that (in spite of that “well armed militia” bit in the second amendment) allows individuals their right to possess a firearm. The Vox writers note that “As a matter of textual interpretation, this holding makes no sense.”


Washington Post, Paul Waldman, 28 Mar 2023: Opinion | On guns, conservatives are winning. This nightmare is the result.


The Washington Post, 27 Mar 2023: The Blast Effect, subtitled “This is how bullets from an AR-15 blow the body apart”

With 3D images.


Joe.My.God, 28 Mar 2023: Scalise: The Answer To School Shootings Is Prayer

He’s had plenty of time to solve school shootings with prayer. Maybe prayer simply doesn’t work? Maybe “thoughts and prayers” are just an excuse to do nothing, and blame massacres on “God’s will”?


Christian love.

Right Wing Watch, Peter Montgomery, 27 Mar 2023: Religious-Right Figure Steve Turley Celebrates Uganda Legislation Criminalizing Homosexuality

As this article notes, “U.S. religious-right groups have been partnering for years with their African counterparts to inflame anti-LGBTQ sentiment and promote anti-LGBTQ legislation.”


Right Wing Watch, Kyle Mantyla, 28 Mar 2023: Stew Peters Says Uganda’s Harsh Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Is ‘100 Percent Awesome’

Stew Peters is “a far-right broadcaster who has built a media network featuring white nationalists and Christian nationalists.”


A new conspiracy theory:

NY Times, Tiffany, Hsu, 28 Mar 2023: He Wanted to Unclog Cities. Now He’s ‘Public Enemy No. 1.’, subtitled “Researchers like Carlos Moreno, the professor behind a popular urban planning concept, are struggling with conspiracy theories and death threats.”

This is the idea of the “15-minute city” where commuting and traffic and air pollution would be reduced by arranging things so that most urban dwellers could walk or bike-ride to everything they need. (As in central Manhattan, say.) But there seems to be no innovation, no attempt to solve a problem, that paranoid conservatives won’t imagine is some kind of conspiracy theory against them.

Driven in part by climate change deniers and backers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, false claims have circulated online, at protests and even in government hearings that 15-minute cities were a precursor to “climate change lockdowns” — urban “prison camps” in which residents’ movements would be surveilled and heavily restricted.

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