Conservative Fantasies: Boogeymen and Groomers

  • Robert Reich on the resurgence of anti-science fundamentalism, recalling again that Scopes trial;
  • A 60 Minutes interview with the founders of Moms for Liberty, which apparently did not go well;
  • How Trump and his follows believe in dystopian fantasies;
  • Short items about laughing behind the back of their own voters; Charlie Kirk and Deuteronomy; how mumbling will lower prices; furbies; and how things would be bad if Biden did them, but just fine if Trump did them;
  • A link to Connie Willis latest round-up;
  • And a Facebook argument against atheism.

The famous Scopes Trial in 1925 was mentioned in the first piece I posted about two days ago, here, and now it’s mentioned again, even more prominently, in a piece today by Robert Reich.

AlterNet, Robert Reich, 5 Mar 2024: Opinion | Inside the resurgence of anti-science fundamentalism in America

Reich begins by discussing the Alabama IVF ruling and legislation on similar issues in other states, with contraceptives and abortion pills possible next targets.

We’ve been here before. In the early twentieth century, some state legislatures relied on the Bible to dictate what their citizens could and couldn’t do — resulting in notorious trials such as Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, which began July 10, 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee.

Reich describes the trial in some detail, citing specific exchanges between Bryan and Darrow. And then finishing the piece,

In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Epperson v. Arkansas that bans on teaching evolution contravene the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because their primary purpose is religious.

Those were the days when the U.S. Supreme Court was a bulwark against the fundamentalist right and could be counted on to buttress the wall between church and state.

But there seems little chance that the current Supreme Court will deem unconstitutional the pregnancy criminalization prosecutions coming from states whose highest courts have defined “children” to include fetuses, fertilized eggs, and embryos.

Also at Robert Reich: Back to the trial of John T. Scopes, subtitled “The resurgence of anti-science fundamentalism in America”


I missed this! I think we decided to skip 60 Minutes, which we usually watch, last Sunday in favor of watching one more movie with major Oscar nominations (Nyad).

Media Matters, Olivia Little, 5 Mar 2024: The Moms for Liberty 60 Minutes interview was such a disaster that their allies are scrambling to do damage control

This concerns an interview by Scott Pelley with two co-founders of a right-wing “parental rights” group called Moms for Liberty. Apparently it did not go well.

It’s likely that Moms for Liberty was expecting standard media coddling, because the moment 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley began asking even softball clarification questions, co-founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich visibly fumbled.

At one point in the interview, Descovich asserted that “there are rogue teachers in America’s classrooms right now,” followed by Justice repeating a classic Moms for Liberty talking point: “Parents send their children to school to be educated, not indoctrinated into ideology.”

Pelley asked, “What ideology are they being indoctrinated into?”

Descovich jumped in with a non-answer, “Let’s just say children in America cannot read.”

Instead of dropping the question, Pelley highlighted their evasiveness and continued to ask, “What ideology are the children being indoctrinated into?” No answer.

What did they mean by “grooming”? They couldn’t answer. Later, they went on right-wing media to accuse CBS of bias. Of course. The Media Matters piece concludes,

Despite these protests from right-wing media, 60 Minutes showed that it took minimal prodding for Pelley to unmask Moms for Liberty’s façade and expose the group’s strategy for what it is — loudly repeating empty talking points about right-wing boogeymen like “critical race theory” or accusations of “groomers” in schools, all intentionally crafted to mobilize its extremist base. However, the illusion is shattered when its leaders are pressed for details because their boogeymen aren’t real.

And that’s been my impression of them, and the similar group One Million Moms, in that they repeatedly, hysterically, complain about things they don’t understand. They are paranoid, and frightened.


Similarly, Republican believe so many things that aren’t true, but which appeal to their fears and paranoia.

NY Times, Paul Krugman, 4 Mar 2024: Trump Is Running on Dystopian Fantasies

This keys off the incident the other day in which Tommy Tuberville of Alabama made fun of Joe Biden eating ice cream in New York “while the rest of the city is afraid of crime and migrants.”

Reporters and readers were quick to point out that according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2021 Alabama had a homicide rate more than three times as high as that of New York State, and, as Bloomberg’s Justin Fox notes, New York City is among the safest big cities in America. Tuberville has become known for getting crossed up on the issues, but his comment illustrated two larger aspects of our politics.

More to the point, says Krugman:

I’m always struck by the extent to which today’s right-wing politics is driven by a grim, dystopian image of America, especially American cities, that just isn’t grounded in reality.

A lot of this seems to reflect perceptions that congealed long ago and haven’t been updated to reflect the ways in which urban America has changed for the better. New York really was a dangerous place a few decades back: There were 2,262 murders in 1990. Last year, however, with the pandemic-era bump in crime rapidly receding, there were only 391 — still too many — and early indications are that violent crime is continuing to fall.


Short items. Just headlines.

Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 5 Mar 2024: “They frankly laugh behind the backs of their own voters”: How Republicans bamboozle rural whites, subtitled “In ‘White Rural Rage,’ Paul Waldman and Thomas Schaller reject the narrative that treats Trump voters like children”

Right Wing Watch, Kyle Mantyla, 4 Mar 2024: No, Charlie Kirk, Our Form Of Government Was Not ‘Directly Inspired By Deuteronomy’

Washington Post, Philip Bump, 5 Mar 2024: Americans are confident Trump’s plan of [mumbling] will lower prices

LGBTQNation, 25 Feb 2024: Schools are accommodating “furbies” with litter boxes in bathrooms, rightwing pundit claims, subtitled “They have ‘heard stories’ about furbies in schools using litter boxes, and they want it to stop.”

MediaIte, 25 Feb 2024: ‘Debate and Switch’: Jimmy Kimmel Gets Trump Supporters to Reveal Blatant Hypocrisy in Wild Segment (i.e. if Biden did it, it’s a scandal; if Trump did the same thing, it’s just fine — on video!)


Speaking of mumbling,

Here’s another Connie Willis daily summary of Trump craziness posted by Lou Anders on Facebook. Including a list of his recent mumbled words and phrases.


Another Facebook post argument against atheism:

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