About five years back I wrote that “many conservatives think having to co-exist, having to acknowledge the Other’s rights, is a violation of conservative safe space principles.” This hasn’t changed. Conservatives don’t have the moral fiber to co-exist with people who aren’t them. Denying co-existence and equal rights to the Other is their idea of a moral crusade. Or as Michelle Goldberg puts it, “How long can conservatives tolerate a political system that victimizes them by allowing Drag Queen Story Hour to exist?” Or where Miley Cyrus sings songs that celebrate being inclusive.
There’s an old saying that when you have privilege, equality feels like oppression, but this isn’t even that. Simply co-existing with drag queens doesn’t take away anyone’s privileges, unless it’s the privilege to discriminate, pronounce judgement and feel holier than thou. But that appears to be the hill many conservatives want to die on: tolerating people they disapprove of is oppression. Or as Ron DeStalinist puts it, “we’re creating a model for what a free society should be. Yes: freedom for you to not be constrained by government—all conservatives have always believed that—but also, freedom for you to live your life without having the pathologies of the Left imposed upon you from all the other institutions in society.”
When DeSantis says “you” he means conservative Republicans. He does not mean drag queens, gays, corporations that oppose him (points to Disney for pushing back some) or anyone who challenges party doctrine. By “pathologies of the left” he means support for diversity, support for gays or parents exercising their rights — something DeSantis pretends to be passionate about — to support trans kids or take their children to drag shows.
Likewise Fla. State Senator and Republican Clay Yarborough wants to ban schools from using kids’ preferred pronouns even if their parents approve because “you might have 19, 20 or 24 other kids in a classroom whose parents may not be OK with them being introduced to that.” One parent protesting that a film about Ruby Bridges tells kids “white people hate black people” was enough to trigger a school-district review.
Oh, and according to a Utah politician, considering social and environmental impacts when investing money is not only a pathology of the left, it’s Satanic.
Or consider the ongoing war against “wokeness.” Just as right-wing hack Chris Rufo turned CRT into a euphemism for anything he dislikes, woke, like cancel culture and PC before it, is a catch-all term for any criticism or actions that run counter to conservative desires. If this means lying about it, fine; Nikki Haley, for example, says CRT means “a little girl goes into kindergarten, if she’s white, you’re telling her she’s bad.” Some definitions of woke I’ve seen online resemble DeSantis in ranting about how the left is imposing it on conservatives; George W. Bush’s press secretary, Dana Perino, says “it could be a feeling, it could be a sense” so they don’t have to define it precisely.
Thus we end up with screams about how SVB went belly up because it was too woke, or how wokeness directly leads to persecuting Christians and white people, as in the Haley quote (the right-wing persecution complex has been around a few decades too). Or an argument by Florida Republican Blaise Ingoglia that as liberals cancel people, he wants to cancel the entire Democratic Party so Floridians can’t vote for it (hmm, is it possible he has ulterior motives?).
Right-wingers don’t want to share the country. They don’t want to tolerate people. They don’t consider The Other to be equal citizens. They’re a minority of Americans but they can do a hell of a lot of harm, even so.
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