I find that I disagree with John Scalzi

In a recent post, John Scalzi explains he blogs less about politics than he used to because “there are only so many times you can say “The political right in the United States is unambiguously all-in on bigoted authoritarianism and white supremacy and has no interest in helping any American, just in punishing some of them” before it gets tiring, both to say and to hear.” And because “so performative that engaging with it is also performative, and a furtherance in distributing the original performative messaging.” Performative, in this context, meaning that it has no purpose other to feed the rageaholics and keep them opposed to everything even slightly left of center.

My disagreement is not with whether Scalzi himself should blog about politics. That’s up to him.  And yes, it’s tiring to see the same bullshit recycled over and over. The lies about how schools are letting kids use litter boxes rather than toilets refuses to die. Right-wing ass-hats parrot the same misogynist bullshit over and over again, hence my titling my book Undead Sexist Cliches — misogynists and sexists won’t let the bullshit die.

And yes, a lot of it is performative. I resist linking to a lot of crap because it’s pure performance. The congresspeople giving out AK-15 lapel pins (oooh, look at him trigger those libs!). Whatever stupidity Tucker Carlson says in tonight’s show. Whatever idiocy Trump just claimed he believes in. Or pushing book-banning bills in Congress that have no chance of passing

But I disagree with Scalzi’s conclusion. For one thing, we’ve tried the “just ignore them, don’t give them publicity” and they didn’t wither away. Misogyny, for example, remains a far-right recruiting tool. Staying silent makes it that much easier for them to win new converts (admittedly the people prone to convert probably aren’t reading my book or this blog). And the more people speak pro-Nazi bullshit openly, the more people feel free to quote Nazis with approval or be openly fascist.

That’s one reason we’re in such a mess now. It’s been 30 years since Rush Limbaugh (followed by Ann Coulter, Fox News and others) began pumping out right-wing bullshit at a level rarely seen before. What we’re seeing now is a generation of right-wing politicians who’ve been marinating in that stuff since the last century, both the “performative” style and the substance. In the words of  IF Stone, they’re smoking the hashish Limbaugh and Coulter peddled to others.

Which is to say performative politics isn’t pure performance. I have no doubt Limbaugh really was as racist and misogynist as he seemed on the air. Tucker Carlson’s motives in moving steadily to the batshit right are money and success. Nevertheless, I’m inclined to believe his misogyny and racism are sincere; at a minimum he’s obviously comfortable promoting them. DeSantis’ crackdown on schools is performative (as is his sudden interest in Christian/Catholic-based testing) — he’s putting on a show for parents who’d prefer not to have their kids get the idea racism is bad or gay is okay — but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a homophobe on a bigot. And regardless of what’s in his heart, his policies hurt people. Here’s another example.

Likewise, Minnesota State Rep. John Jasinksi saying legalizing pot is bad because it means all the money spent on drug-sniffing dogs was wasted. That’s some grade-A bullshit but busting people for pot (mostly poor and POC, of course) or seizing their assets does serious damage.

So I’ll keep writing.

You can read more of my work about misogyny in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

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