It’s a staple, and I believe accurate view on the left that right-wingers are big on projection. They actively work to restrict voting rights, but complain that Dems are engaging in voter fraud. They wreck the lives of workers while accusing Democrats of destroying the working class. They complain about being persecuted for religion while doing their best to gut everyone else’s religious freedom. Herein, two examples
First, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. He’s acquired a reputation as the Great Dark Hope of the religious right, though he doesn’t seem that different to me than every other theocratic authoritarian swarming around since the 1980s. In an article for Christianity Today, Hawley argues that European and American society have been shaped too much by the views of the heretic Pelagius that we can achieve salvation through individual effort, which is the basis for Western individualism (I’m not an expert on Pelagius, but I find this argument tenuous). “But here is the irony,” Hawley writes. “Though the Pelagian vision celebrates the individual, it leads to hierarchy. Though it preaches merit, it produces elitism. Though it proclaims liberty, it destroys the life that makes liberty possible.” Because of Pelagius, liberals believe (to quote one Supreme Court decision) that “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
Well, yes, the search for God or meaning without God, should be up to each individual. But for Hawley, that leads us to the paradox he complains about: if freedom means having choices, “then people with the most choices are the most free. And that means the rich.” And the richer and more successful you are, the more God must love you. Pelagian individualism teaches us to celebrate the wealthy and the powerful which is why we’re now a hierarchy run by the elite where people at the bottom have crappy lives. We need to rebuild a culture that celebrates the working class and offers opportunity to all.
This is standard Republican boilerplate: an elitist (he’s a banker’s son whose education costs ran to half a million, according to this New Republic piece) ranting about elites and glorifying the little people. But then why is Hawley a Republican? The party does everything it can to gut protections for workers, protect payday lenders, make it harder for students to get out of student-loan debt, even from scam schools… I’m not really seeing a lot of support for the working class there. Hawley says he wants insurance companies not to discriminate against pre-existing conditions but that’s not the policy he supports. Nor does he seem to care that a lot of regular Americans are pro-choice and pro-immigration.
And his arguments about the evils of individualism (I suspect Hawley would be happier with anti-life) is bullshit. Yes, unfettered individualism can led to a lot of people getting screwed over, but hierarchy doesn’t just arise from that. A lot of hierarchy is directly opposed to individualism, a belief that people’s place in life is assigned by birth, by class, by caste. The divine right of kings. Aristocracy. Jim Crow. Slavery. The belief women simply shouldn’t be treated as equals. All anti-individualism and all of them reinforcing hierarchy. And as these things still have support on the right (Former Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist once wrote about the positive benefits of the divine right of kings compared to democracy), again, why is Hawley a Republican? He’s in a party that supports precisely the things he claims to hate.
The we have projectionist #2, right-wing blogger Christopher Cantrell. In a recent post, he argues women don’t belong in the “public square” because they whine so much. When men disagree, they trade insults and biting wit; when women are insulted, they complain about it, saying someone’s a racist or a rape apologist. How wimpy! Women will destroy the public square with their whiny demands for safe spaces!
First off, calling someone on their racist or sexist (or homophobic/transphobic/disabled-phobic or whatever) isn’t weak and isn’t about hurt feelings. Discrimination is a moral failing and a wrong, and it’s perfectly justifiable — and I think necessary — to label it. Of course, a lot of modern conservatism celebrates the right to be a racist, sexist shitbag; scumbag conservative Dave Daubenmire, for example, laments that he’s denied the right to say the N-word. He’s not alone. So it’s not surprising Cantrell gets huffy about it.
And second, conservatives do exactly what Cantrell complains about. They whine about how being criticized oppresses them. And right-wingers love the idea of safe spaces, but define it as the freedom to keep women and minorities out of the public square.
Curiously enough, I managed to refute Cantrell’s bullshit without once engaging in insult. But it was tempting.