Let’s see how my thesis of yesterday might inform some of today’s news.
- How Republicans don’t want to solve problems, they want to stomp the floor to protest people they feel threatened by;
- How Republicans define crime;
- Shifting the goal posts over Hunter Biden;
- GOP targets researchers of misinformation; why would that be?
- How Muslims and Ethiopian Orthodox parents also object to LGBTQ content.
NYT, Jamelle Bouie, 24 Jun 2023: Republicans Serve Up Red Meat for a Reason
Bouie begins by listing the 13 people running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
With this many candidates, you might assume that Republicans were fighting over a broad range of different ideas and competing solutions to the nation’s most serious problems, of which there are more than a few. But they aren’t. Instead, Republicans are studiously focused on the fever dreams and preoccupations of right-wing media swamps while showing an almost total indifference to the real world.
Example: the wildfires and what they mean about climate change, which Republicans either think is a hoax, or a left-wing conspiracy, or an incidental issue requiring no action on their part. On gun violence, child poverty, mental health care, very little in the way of proposed policies. Yet,
Ask the Republican presidential candidates about the “woke mind virus” or gender-affirming care, on the other hand, and you’ll hear an endless stream of comment and condemnation, all to the deafening applause of Republican voters. Which gets to the issue.
Red meat is what Republican voters want. And even Trump — who will say anything to win the approval of a crowd — is a little shocked by it. “It’s amazing how strongly people feel about that,” the former president said this month, referring to critical race theory and transgender issues. “I talk about cutting taxes, people go like that. I talk about transgender, everyone goes crazy. Five years ago, you didn’t know what the hell it was.”
With an aside about why George Wallace became a fierce segregationist. The essay concludes with Wallace’s explanation, and Bouie’s conclusion.
“I started off talking about schools and highways and prisons and taxes, and I couldn’t make them listen,” [Wallace] said. “Then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.”
If Republican politicians have nothing to say of substance, it is because Republican voters don’t want substance. They want to stomp the floor.
Comment: I gather there are some religious conservatives who simply don’t ‘believe’ in climate change either because of their distrust of educated ‘elites’ or because they truly believe God will take care of everything, and so they feel no responsibility for doing anything to ameliorate what many of us see as a global threat. This would be part of the belief in outlandish myths, which happens in this case to be self-serving; they think themselves off the hook. More to the point, railing about the blacks or the transgenders exhibits precisely the kind of tribalism that dismisses everyone outside the tribe as a dangerous other, a threat to survival. Republicans do this all the time.
NY Times, David Firestone, 27 Jun 2023: A Handy Guide to the Republican Definition of a Crime
If you think Republicans are still members of the law-and-order party, you haven’t been paying close attention lately. Since the rise of Donald Trump, the Republican definition of a crime has veered sharply from the law books and become extremely selective. For readers confused about the party’s new positions on law and order, here’s a guide to what today’s Republicans consider a crime, and what they do not.
I’ll list his key points, with just a bit of [elaboration].
- Not a crime: Federal crimes. [Because the DoJ has been weaponized by the Democrats and can’t be trusted, Republicans imagine.]
- Crime: State and local crimes, if they happen in an urban area or in states run by Democrats. [With examples of Republicans excoriating Democrat-run cities and states]
- Not a crime: Any crime that happens in rural areas or in states run by Republicans. [Despite the statistics]
- Crime: What they imagine Hunter Biden did. [A Republican fantasy, about foreign business deals, devoid of any evidence.]
- Not a crime: What Hunter Biden will actually plead guilty to.
- Also not a crime: What the Trump family did. [Despite the vast evidence]
- Crime: Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
- Not a crime: Donald Trump’s mishandling of government secrets.
- Crime: Any urban disruption that occurred during the protests after George Floyd was killed.
- Not a crime: The invasion of the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
- Crime against children: Abortion and transgender care.
- Not a crime against children: The possession of guns that kill them.
Comment: in short, pure tribalism, even mob mentality of the mafia variety. Everything the family does is excusable; everything the other side does is a crime.
From a week ago:
Salon, Gabriella Ferrigine, 20 Jun 2023: “Whataboutism”: GOP immediately rushes to “shift the goal posts” over Hunter Biden plea deal, subtitled “Trump-appointed U.S. attorney reaches deal Hunter Biden after Trump refused lawyers’ advice to avoid own charges”
A classic rhetorical ploy.
“Now that Hunter is pleading guilty to three crimes, the goal posts will be shifted from ‘the president is stopping DOJ from prosecuting Hunter’ to ‘the president made DOJ offer this plea deal to Hunter,'” Moss predicted. “And on and on the circus will continue.”
And before that:
NY Times, 29 Jun 2023: G.O.P. Targets Researchers Who Study Disinformation Ahead of 2024 Election, subtitled “A legal campaign against universities and think tanks seeks to undermine the fight against false claims about elections, vaccines and other hot political topics.”
This isn’t the first time; Republicans and the NRA got a law passed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dickey_Amendment) to prevent the CDC from collecting data about gun violence.
On Capitol Hill and in the courts, Republican lawmakers and activists are mounting a sweeping legal campaign against universities, think tanks and private companies that study the spread of disinformation, accusing them of colluding with the government to suppress conservative speech online.
The effort has encumbered its targets with expansive requests for information and, in some cases, subpoenas — demanding notes, emails and other information related to social media companies and the government dating back to 2015. Complying has consumed time and resources and already affected the groups’ ability to do research and raise money, according to several people involved.
“I think it’s quite obviously a cynical — and I would say wildly partisan — attempt to chill research,” said Jameel Jaffer, the executive director of Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, an organization that works to safeguard freedom of speech and the press.
Note how the studies are about the spread of disinformation, and the accusers think is about the suppression of conservative speech.
Comment: In general, conservatives live by ideology that they don’t want challenged by inconvenient facts. Thus the rejection of any science their disputes this or that outlandish myth that forms the core of that or this tribal identity.
Why wouldn’t anyone want to know how disinformation — things that are not true — is spread, and how to prevent it? Because some, apparently conservatives, are committed to the spread of disinformation.
And of course all of this isn’t only about Christians in the US.
Washington Post, 27 Jun 2023: Hundreds of Md. parents protest lessons they say offend their faiths, subtitled “A crowd of mostly Muslim and Ethiopian Orthodox parents wants the state’s largest school system to exempt their kids from LGBTQ content”
Hundreds of parents demonstrated outside of the Montgomery County Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday demanding that Maryland’s largest school district allow them to shield their children from books and lessons that contain LGBTQ characters.
The crowd was filled largely with Muslim and Ethiopian Orthodox parents, who say the school system is violating their religious rights protected under the First Amendment by not providing an opt-out. Three families have filed a lawsuit against the school system.
All of the ancient religions are born of ancestral environment morality, Savannah morality, and are uncomfortable with the variety of options in the modern world, and behaviors that they think might threaten propagation and survival of their own tribe. It’s an imposition to them to deal with the fact that different people do exist in the world. What are religions to do? Some religious groups would shield their children from knowledge about the outside world. (The ultra-orthodox Jews in New York City seem to be among the worst; there was a host of articles about how poorly they educate their children, some months back. (Here’s one.))
This is why conservatives are so dead-set against ‘globalism.’ They don’t want their kids to be exposed to other peoples and other ways of life, for fear of diluting their own tribe’s identity and survival.
Eventually, humanity might grow up to identify the entire race as a ‘tribe,’ all of whose members are to be regarded as equally worthwhile. But I doubt this will happen any time soon. It’s too easy to slip back into primitive, local, thinking.
And that’s enough for today.