Category Archives: Politics

The cancel culture bogeyman and self-censorship too!

“Cancel culture” is the new culture-war bogeyman on the right, but the concept is not new. Ranting about how cancel culture is repressing people is no different from blaming political correctness. In both cases, the point is that perfectly legitimate viewpoints are being suppressed or driven to the intellectual dark web because oppressive liberal/feminist/woke orthodoxy won’t stand for any dissent (more discussion here). Even Harry and Meghan criticizing racism in the royal family is cancel culture.

A lot of it is just a convenient means to feed conservative audiences their dose of rage-ahol, convincing them they’re under siege. For instance, Fox News has been whining non-stop about Dr. Seuss books being pulled for racist imagery but they do it without showing the controversial images which would undermine their case. Right-wing rape apologist Mike Cernovich says conservatives should cancel liberals by untruthfully reporting liberal organizations as hate groups — with the subtext that when liberals criticize right-wing groups, they’re just lying. Ross Douthat likewise sees an opportunity to bash liberals — don’t they realize Dr. Seuss Enterprises choosing to stop publishing books is exactly like the government banning James Joyce’s Ulysses? No, it’s actually not.

For others it’s discomfort that the rules for what was acceptable have changed so much from 50 years ago — you can’t tell a funny racist joke any more without people judging you, even though you’re totally non-racist! There’s some of this in Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s whining that “nobody listened to me.” when she demanded her local library stop a Drag Queen Story Hour: they listened, they just didn’t agree (see this related post).

Which brings me to pundit Bari Weiss’s recent piece in the Deseret News (not linking to her, but you can google it) about the terrible plague of self-censorship sweeping America due to the liberals. The days of the tolerant left committed to free speech are gone and self-righteous woke types are now imposing orthodoxy on everyone (which is apparently totally different from Weiss’s own efforts to cancel critics of Israel). Just look at letters she receives saying things like ““I never thought I’d practice the kind of self-censorship I now do when pitching editors, but these days I have almost no power to do otherwise,” a young journalist writes. “For woke-skeptical young writers, banishment and rejection awaits if you attempt to depart, even in minor ways, from the sacred ideology of wokeness.”

As I said in the first link in this post, that’s meaningless without specifics. Departing from wokeness could in theory mean anything from “I had to lie that I was non-binary and pansexual or I wouldn’t get the assignment” to “I always use rape jokes as ice breakers but suddenly editors say it’s offensive!” Having read complaints by people who think it’s PC to not use the n-word, I’m skeptical without specifics. And I’m extremely skeptical this is primarily a left-wing problem rather than Weiss cherry-picking. Is wokeness more oppressive than a Southern Baptist church yanking its minister’s license for supporting Biden on social media? Efforts to pull gay-themed books from school libraries?

As LGM points out, self-censorship is a part of everyday human existence, not something forced on people by the left. My best friend and I self-censor around each other because our politics are wildly different. People routinely self-censor at work, and this is often a good thing: having someone publicly discuss their female coworkers’ physical appearance or send out a press release identifying a new executive as a former Knockers waitress (there’s no such restaurant) — better guys like that should self-censor. Nor is it a good idea for an evangelical to witness to a colleague who doesn’t want to hear it, or an atheist to make fun of a coworker’s religious views. If a couple of people, at work or away from it, are enthusiastically discussing baseball or D&D, breaking in to tell them how stupid their hobby is — well, self-censoring is just courtesy in that case.

For many people, these issues are hierarchical. Guys who think they have the right to harass women without being called to account for it. Christian conservatives who feel entitled to judge, but not be judged in turn. Anyone who thinks their status entitles them to punch down but shrieks about PC or cancel culture when someone punches back up. Wokeness, right or wrong (and I’ve heard a few stories about people whose “woke” positions do not convince me) falls on the side of the marginalized and the fringe dwellers. That, much more than any actual power to cancel anyone, makes some people feel threatened.

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NC Republicans: Sexual harassment is fine, but not disloyalty to Emperor Trump

My state Republican Party has censured Sen. Richard Burr for his pro-impeachment vote? But multiply accused sexual predator, NC Rep. and Trump toady Madison Cawthorn? Him they’re fine with. No surprise, just look at all the right-wingers who defended Brett Kavanaugh. Cawthorn claims that It’s All Political, he’s also been accused by fellow students from Patrick Henry College, which is ultra-conservative. As Fred Clark details it’s not a typical Christian college. This Twitter thread provides more detail.

Andrew Cuomo’s accusers now number three. Nothing of a Harvey Weinstein/Trump/Cawthorn level, but Monica Hesse argues that’s still a problem: “The point is that this scandal, more than anything, exemplifies the calculus that a typical female employee encounters every day in casual workplace sexism — the tiring, unsettling, nagging, self-doubting calculus: Is this wrong? Or am I wrong?” Regardless, I’m pleased Democrats and cracking down instead of ducking the issue. And if you’re curious about Cuomo’s nursing-home-and-COVID scandal, click here.

Richard Barnett, the Sedition Day Republican rioter who put his feet up on Pelosi’s desk, is shocked and appalled that he’s not been released on his own bond. A lot of the rioters were cocky like that. And the FBI just arrested a Trump appointee as one of the seditionists.

How the right spread the lie that the Sedition Day riot was antifa. I suspect people’s willingness to believe It Wasn’t Us counts a lot too. Or there’s lying pus-bag Tucker Carlson, who dismissed the plot to kidnap the Michigan governor as the work of “right-wing vagrants.” Which would be trivial but I’ve seen several Trumpites on FB complaining we shouldn’t make a fuss about the sedition day plotters because they were incompetent. And Hawley and Cruz seem concerned about investigations targeting anyone higher up.

Dr. Jill Biden’s coffee habits.

The Trump Virus has been bad, but this year’s flu-season has been a non-event.

How QAnon went mainstream. Oh, and now that Trump obviously didn’t get installed as president last Thursday, that crackpot theory is suddenly a government psy-ops operation (at the link, Paul Campos accurately describes the root beliefs as “the kind of magical thinking that gloms onto ordinary legal texts and interprets them like Cabalists on meth.”) Republicans however, have made it politically correct in their party to pretend Trump won (“The enemies of freedom are employing their most sinister weapon: facts and reason!”).

The decision by various states to open up completely is more horrifying because we’re so damn close to being able to do it safety. But here’s some brilliant thinking by Arizona State Rep. Joseph Chaplik: Mask mandates are dumb because we survived AIDS without them. AIDS is not, of course, spread by breathing … But Texas Governor Glenn Abbott is out to ban tech companies from blocking people because of their politics (that Trump was banned for lying and stirring up an insurrection will go unstated). And then there’s his management of the power grid

Right-winger Josh Bernstein thinks it should be tougher for people to vote. Much tougher. But then, the entire Republican Party is now anti-democracy. One Republican attorney says the party is at a competitive disadvantage without voting restrictions, as if that justified them (and I’m sure for him it does). And even when we win, they think we should lose: Moscow Mitch is working with the Republican-dominated Ky. State Legislature to change the law so that the Democratic governor won’t pick Mitch’s replacement. And Marjorie Taylor Greene claims metal detectors in Congress are the real voter suppression.

Sen. Mitt Romney proposes a new welfare plan. Right-winger Oren Cass decides this is a terrible idea because it won’t fix the root causes of poverty. As noted at the link and here, police don’t solve the root causes of crime and medicine hasn’t solved the root causes of disease, but right-wingers like Cass are fine with that.

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They came for Dr. Seuss and I did not speak up …

Some Dr. Seuss books are being pulled from circulation due to racial stereotyping (Arabs riding camels in turbans, black figures in grass skirts). It was a decision by the copyright holder and doesn’t require the books be burned, pulled off library shelves, etc. Nevertheless the right wing is once again freaking out over cancel culture. Except, as others have noted, when conservatives try to ban LGBTQ books from library shelves — that’s totally different! Of course, it isn’t, but Republicans aren’t going to tell their voters that. For that matter conservatives have hated and sometimes tried to pull some of Seuss’s books from library shelves, such as The Lorax and The Butter Battle Book.

It’s okay to let women characters be evil without a redeeming backstory, one writer says.

Missing the point: The Handmaid’s Tale is not a warning against women’s liberation.

Along with Disney allegedly cheating writers of their royalties, they’re able to keep 80 percent of revenues from streaming material by claiming it’s just home video.

Disney’s Kevin Feige says moviegoers will be able to follow films even if they don’t catch the Disney+ streaming shows. The Mary Sue tries to argue that’s a mistake.

Bad research is never a good thing. But when you’re a serious scholar claiming Korean “comfort women” raped by Japan were voluntarily prostituting themselves, we’re talking seriously bad shit. From working on Undead Sexist Cliches, the researcher’s willingness to imagine consent where none exists is depressingly familiar.

A couple of women bought a small-town Alaskan paper. Then came COVID.

One of my fellow Atomic Junk Shop bloggers argues that no, Soul is not racist because it transforms the black protagonist.

A Star Wars enthusiast tries to find a copy of the original cinematic version without Lucas’ umpty-zillion changes. It’s nigh impossible.

A new online dictionary traces the history of science fiction terms.

Is coverage of the pandemic focusing too much on OMG New Strains! and not how well the vaccines work? More here.

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I didn’t know we were under martial law!

But according to false prophet Jeff Jansen, “the military is in charge of our nation right now.” So his prophecies Trump would win are true, because the military will remove Biden from the White House and install God’s favorite soon.

Republicans still claim that the Sedition Day attackers weren’t really Republicans. One right-winger who was in  the mob that day is adamant Trump conservatives get credit. Another texted his ex, sent her photos and videos of the assault and told her she was a moron for doubting Biden stole the election. She turned him in.

Unfortunately, Republicans’ belief that “their” country has been stolen by Jews/gays/blacks/Democrats/liberals/feminists/trans/Muslims — is widespread at the state and local level. Much as they say they love American, Republicans hate the real America where they’re forced to share with other people. Tucker Carlson does his bit, claiming there’s no proof the insurrectionists were white supremacists while Black Lives Matter is full of black supremacists.

Ted Cruz fled Texas for Mexico. AG Ken Paxton escaped the cold in Utah. Pundit Adam Serwer says one reason Republicans prioritize culture-war issues is that it helps them get away with running Texas as a failed state — sure, they’ve known for a decade this could happen, but they’re punching down at gays, isn’t that enough?

A couple of foreign policy wonks suggest the U.S. chill rather than try to compete with Moscow and Beijing around the globe.

Sure, Rush Limbaugh was a misogynist, bigot and homophobe, but the NYT’s Frank Bruni still says journalists shouldn’t say so.

Lovely. The CPAC right-wing conference had a scheduled speaker who believes Judaism is a fake religion, Hebrew is a fake language … He’s been disinvited by a lot of vile people haven’t.

Even one dose of Trump virus vaccine helps protect us, according to a British study. As Paul Campos said, we should be celebrating.

Max Boot says those who supported incompetent former president Trump have no grounds for criticizing Biden. A-OC and others say if Dem Senator Joe Manchin can support Trump’s cabinet picks, it’s disturbing he draws the line when Biden nominates women of color.

My state’s lieutenant governor, Mark Roinson, likes saying anti-Semitic crap.

Clarence Thomas thinks we should restrict voting by mail regardless of whether there’s any fraud.

A federal judge greenlights California’s proposal to impose net neutrality. Illinois has eliminated cash bail, which often left poor defendants in jail for months because they couldn’t put up the money.

The destruction QAnon wreaks on families.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo accused of sexual harassment.

Madison Cawthorn, seditionist, harasser and liar.



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Stoicism, forgiveness and other links

Some years back I posted about pundits who insist death and suffering are good for us. That thinking is still around: faced with last week’s snowpocalypse, Mayor Tim Boyd of Colorado City TX brushed off constituents asking for help: “only the strong survive” so stop asking for handouts! A few years earlier, Trump-worshipping Rush Limbaugh took the same tack in response to the Trump Virus: why can’t people be stoic like the Donner Party?

So it’s no surprise Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has apparently been prioritizing vaccine delivery to well-connected communities. When called on it, he said critics should shut up or he’d just yank that county’s entire supply.

Next, forgiveness. In a post from a few years back, Fred Clark discusses Matthew 18, which says if a fellow Christian sins against you, you should confront them quietly and privately. Clark points out this is used as a get-out-of-jail-free card: You can’t report my assault to the cops/the papers, you have to keep it between us! Or in the case of the authors of Selling Satan, that they shouldn’t publish an investigative report on fake Satanist and Christian con-man Mike Warnke because Matthew 18! Clark: “One important thing about both of these teachings of Jesus is that they’re about conflicts between two, and only two, people. Both of them get quite a bit more complicated when there’s a third party involved. “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek,” Jesus said, “turn the other also.” But what if they strike someone else? “If another member of the church sins against you,” Jesus said, “go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.” But what if the other member of the church sins against someone else? You can’t turn someone else’s other cheek. Nor can you require someone else to do so.”

In other news:

Biden revoked Trump’s Muslim travel ban, but there’s more Trump immigration policy to undo.

Fred Clark explains QAnon is old antisemitic wine in new bottles.

Lindsey Graham continues toadying to Trump.

Trump attorney Lin Wood, meanwhile, is facing disciplinary action for his lawyering in Trump’s defense. His solution: dox the State Bar.

Some members of the Southern Baptist Conference are pushing against its rigid conservative doctrine. Conservatives are pushing back.

Biden’s Interior Department nominee, Deb Hyland, isn’t a fan of mining and oil drilling on public lands. Conservatives are pushing back against her, too. And several states want to make protesting fossil fuels a criminal act; in Michigan even if they’re merely arrested on a construction site it could be ten years in prison.

Last week I said that not speaking ill of the dead meant Rush Limbaugh’s admirers would get to paint him for history. Case in point, Gov. DeSantis (yes, again) lowering state flags to half-mast to honor a man he says “connect with his listeners across the fruited plain — the hard-working, God-fearing and patriotic Americans who were and are the subject of derision and ridicule by the legacy media.” Apparently he’s fine when the media spread derision and ridicule for gays, women and people of color because that was Limbaugh’s stock in trade.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger came out against Trump. Some of his family are shocked that he would judge a great Christian man — doesn’t Kinzinger know we are all sinners? And don’t accuse them of hypocrisy because “we are not judging you. This is just our opinion!”

Right-wing shitbags are still claiming persecution is coming. One troll I argued with recently insisted that Biden keeping the National Guard in Washington was clear sign Biden was ready to become a tyrant. There are good reasons they’re still there — the threat isn’t over. And they’re still downplaying the Sedition Day assault.

“Listening to a panel of thinky conservatives talking about the imagined ideology behind cancel culture and you’d think that racism and sexism were ideas invented by millennial progressives to punish people with true ideas for speaking.” — Will Wilkinson

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Everyone knew (and other undead sexist links)

“One of the worst things about experiencing gender discrimination, hostile work environments and sexual harassment over the many years of my career was that I was usually believed. ” — TV writer Marti Noxon on how the abusers she dealt with were an open secret on their TV shows but nobody did anything (I think this post of mine is relevant). Noxon doesn’t reference Joss Whedon in her column, but others have — including Michelle Trachtenberg, who was 15 when she was on the show (and says a rule developed never to let Whedon be alone with her). Eliza Dushku weighs in too.

Noxon also has some good suggestions for shows (I’d say any organization) dealing with problems of this sort. No alcohol or drugs on the set. Interview people who leave the show to find out if there were problems. Have a succession plan in place so that your star/show-runner isn’t indispensable. Because it’s not enough to take abusers and harassers down, we have to block whatever vulnerabilities in the system let them get away with it.

Here’s another system that let them get away with it. Allegedly the Lincoln Project did too (male/male in this case). Influential evangelical Ravi Zacharias got away with abuse for years, leaving some of his followers questioning what he taught. This is probably wise. For reasons why, Fred Clark discusses his admiration for abusive monster John Howard Yoder’s writing and having to ” try to separate the truths they taught me from the lies I might also have learned from them.”

Testosterone levels are not a practical way to screen out trans-women from women’s sports.

“I don’t get why, when I recently made an appointment with a pediatric ophthalmologist, the nice young woman who helped me had to ask — just “to be sure” — if I was indeed the policy holder for my daughter’s health insurance.” — Fernanda Santos on experiencing the way society treats single women.

Why do women have wide hips? According to an incel, hips are handles that make it easy for men to rape them, which proves rape is natural. Another incel advocates a twisted version of communism where men control the means of reproduction, which is to say women.

Sexist/racist writing advice: “Make your Latino family more Latino. Like have them make tamales for Christmas.” “Wrote a Desi character into my show and an exec said: ‘she seems too regular, I wanna see her be really fucking Indian'” “I once had someone outright tell me as a woman I couldn’t write realistic men and I was too young to write believable older women.”

According to his classmates at Patrick Henry College, newly elected NC congressman Madison Cawthorn was a notorious campus sexual predator.

“Mental health experts have recently begun to explore the connection between public acts of violence and misogyny, which is a connection many women already knew existed, and that is why their skin runs cold when they hear someone calling, Oh, Naaaaaaancy.” — Monica Hesse on the Jan. 6 men hunting Nancy Pelosi.

Support for the fossil fuel industry may be that it represents a performative masculinity.

The Pentagon delayed promoting female generals for fear of pushback from the Trump administration.

To wrap up with, Tennessee conservative Rep. Jerry Sexton has filed a bill that would give fathers the right to veto a woman’s abortion. They don’t have to present DNA, simply sign an affidavit that they’re the father and present it to a court; if the court accepts it, the woman faces penalties if she goes ahead. Reading the bill’s text and about paternity rights in Tennessee, it strikes me that there’s a)nothing that says a rapist can’t do this; b)the father’s name doesn’t automatically go on the birth certificate, which sounds as if it won’t, for example, obligate him to pay child support (I’m not an attorney so this is only a guess).

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Rush Limbaugh has passed beyond this vale of tears … which he helped make more miserable.

I won’t gloat over Rush Limbaugh’s death, but I have no qualms speaking ill of the dead.

J.D. Vance is shocked — shocked — that people are being cruel towards “a man who changed media forever,” but Limbaugh didn’t change it in good ways. He spread misogyny and racism and called tween Chelsea Clinton the White House dog. When Democrats were in power, government was a threat to American freedom. When Republicans were in power, anyone who said government was a threat to our rights was the real threat. He was an all-out Trump supporter. As Erik Loomis points out, his hypocrisy included being a drug user who denounced drug users and a sexual sleaze who slut-shamed (more on hat). He helped push America into a nation that could elect Trump.

And he had no qualms with being cruel towards the dead. He celebrated Kurt Cobain’s passing, mocked AIDS victims — so let him die as he lived.

The alternative is to allow people like Josh Hawley to paint Limbaugh as a champion of the oppressed rather than the oppressor. And as Fred Clark says, speaking ill of the dead is how we warn other people they’re on the wrong path: “To refuse to speak ill of the dead when that is what their lives deserve is, according to Dickens, to withhold grace from others who are still living as the Marleys and Limbaughs lived. To refrain from celebrating the death of Rush Limbaugh is to consign Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson to inexorable damnation.” Not that I think Carlson or Hannity will change, but the point still stands.

So here’s a few of Limbaugh’s deep thoughts that I included in Undead Sexist Cliches:

Rush Limbaugh claimed worrying about football players getting concussions is “chickifying” men.

Limbaugh blamed feminism for male violence and school shootings.

He claimed feminism only exists so ugly women can have power (not a new idea in antifeminism)

He argued that men are innately violent and therefore it’s women’s duty to put their lives on hold and tame them with marriage.

“You can do anything, the left will promote and understand and tolerate anything, so long as there is one element,” Rush Limbaugh said in 2016. “Do you know what it is? Consent. If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it’s perfectly fine. Whatever it is. But if the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police.” He means this as a bad thing. He also claims that “no means yes if you know how to spot it. Seduction used to be an art, now of course it’s ‘brutish’ and ‘predatory'” adding that he’s fine with men doing whatever it takes to get laid.

He hates the idea of birth control allowing ““no responsibility, no consequences sex.”

When Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke said the university’s mandatory student health insurance should cover birth control, Limbaugh said “she wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception,” ergo Fluke was a prostitute.

The world is not lessened by his passing, not one iota.


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Links from a failed (so far) revolution

First off, I have to say that when I heard Trump in the impeachment video last week, it was the first time I’d heard his whining, malevolent voice since last year. I haven’t missed it.

Turns out a lot of the Sedition Day attackers had severe financial problems. And some of them were very dangerous: “In a text message, Mr. Caldwell suggested finding a boat that “could handle a Potomac crossing” and could carry a “Quick Response Team” with “heavy weapons” to militia members already at the Capitol.”

Trump’s lawyers and allies say impeaching him after he’s out of office is unconstitutional. But they also claimed impeaching him in office was unconstitutional. Go figure.

Contrary to Republican claims, Trump did not react with horror to the terrorist attack — he was pleased. Why wouldn’t he be? As the NYT shows, it was the logical outcome of two months refusing to accept he lost. And large numbers of prominent Republicans, from Gingrich to McConnell, were down with that. Despite which, Trump supporter Jonathan Turley insists Congress can’t possibly have grounds to impeach Trump. Newt Gingrich, who cheerfully impeached Clinton, dismisses the very idea of the trial as a “tragic, pathetic joke.” Sen. Rick Scott thinks it’s a waste of time, but assures us the assault on the Capital was Very Bad — despite which, he voted to overturn the election after the attack.

Under fire from his party, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey says the Jan. 6 insurrection was a put-up job by Trump’s enemies. Then he tried to walk it back with the press: “I have many flaws. Being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue are at least two of them. I regret the words I chose, and I apologize for my insensitive comments.” But the issue isn’t whether he controls his emotions, it’s claiming a total bullshit theory is true.

“Put up job” is, however, the standard lie that sedition supporters are going with.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy begged Trump to call off the rioters. The ass-hat former president’s response was that Vanilla Isis just cares sooo much about the election!

“Donald Trump’s entire adult life consists of nothing but an endless series of mulligans for his endless series of fuckups, including many brazenly criminal ones. Indeed Trump’s life is the ultimate monument to upper class white male privilege, which is why his supporters love him so much. ”

As I mentioned in a previous post, some QAnonites think Trump will be inaugurated as president March 6. Trump’s out to make bank off the suckers. He’s also briskly shifting money from his campaign to his businesses. Cynically, I suspect Ali Alexander of the Stop the Steal campaign is keeping an eye on the bottom line when he vows the fight will not end.

Right-wing extremists are now pushing for Georgia secession.

Marjorie Taylor “Greene is the proof-of-concept for a vision of politics where public servants can live in their own cartoon universe so long as enough constituents are willing to live there, too.”

“I know it would be politically suicidal for Republicans who don’t want the GOP to be what it is now to stand up to Greene (or Trump) — but Republicans regularly demand courage of others.

Florida plans to crack down on protests. Will it be even-handed? I’m sure it will be as even-handed as their efforts to restrict voting. In Arizona one lawmaker wants to give the legislature the right to reject election results they don’t like.

Pro Publica says given the previous reaction to right-wing extremists, it’s not surprising the Sedition Day attackers thought they’d be free of consequences. One of which turns out to be turning on each other and wondering who’s going to snitch on whom?


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Conservative suddenly discovers that belligerent rhetoric is bad, if it comes from Democrats

So Mandalorian actor Gina Carano posted that Democrats hating someone for their political views and publicly criticizing them is no different than the Nazis whipping up hatred against the Jews in 1930s Germany. For which she’s now been fired.
This is a seriously dumbass argument.
First off, being criticized for supporting Trump or working in his administration — or firing people who participated in the Sedition Day insurrection — is not the same as condemning someone for who they are, which is what happened in Germany. And it wasn’t just Hitler’s rhetoric; anti-Semitism has been around for centuries. Germans didn’t need much incentive to turn on Jews or turn a blind eye to them losing their rights and eventually being incarcerated and killed.
And if she’s really that concerned about dehumanizing language, has she looked at the 21st century Republican Party? The party that equates Muslims with terrorists? Is becoming more and more blatant about anti-Semitism? For the past two decades conservatives have branded liberals and Democrats as anti-God, anti-American, terrorist lovers; in the Trump era we’ve been labeled as agents of Satan, possessed by demons and of course Satanic pedophile cannibals under the Qanon theories. Just a month ago Trump was whipping up the Sedition Day crowd with stories about how liberals were stealing his wonderful, miraculous victory, and stealing “their” country away from them.
Not to mention specifically violent rhetoric. “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.” Sarah Palin’s crosshairs political ad. Greene talking about the need to shoot Pelosi. Trump always letting his voters know he’s fine if they attack his opponents, then the whole Jan. 6 attempted coup (Carano apparently spread the stolen election myth in her social media). There are lots more examples. But whenever someone brings them up, Republicans squeal about how they’re being oppressed — how can anyone suggest their slightly hyperbolic passionate political speech could make anyone violent?
So if Carano is only now worried about harsh political rhetoric and its dehumanizing effect — and apparently not about literally violent rhetoric from our side — sorry, she’s lying to us or to herself. I’ve been seeing this kind of bullshit for years. The guy who told me in 2005 that Christians were as persecuted as Jews in 1930s Germany (I pointed out that Bush won the election partly on the basis of being so Christian — not something any Jews pulled off in Nazi Germany). The claims during the Obama years that Christians would be stuffed into FEMA concentration camps. The more recent shrieking that if Biden wins Christianity will be destroyed in America, Christians will be shot, etc., etc.
As C.S.Lewis said, it’s an appealing lie because thinking your enemies are monsters justifies you refusing their requests. Sure, the feminazis say they want equality but if their real goal is to seize all the power and enslave men, well, there’s no point in making any concessions, right? For the more extreme cases who feel they’re losing “their” country, the other side’s evil justifies striking first — you’re a hero, just like Han shooting Greedo!
I would actually be open to figuring out whether what people say on social media or at least some of what they say should be off-limits as grounds for firing. But that’s not the case right now, and treating Carano as a singular unique person who shouldn’t be fired if her employer dislikes what he said — well that’s not the hill I’d die on.

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The horse race thing

One of the most annoying things the media does is focus on the horse-race aspect of politics. Who’s the front-runner? Has Candidate A’s “gaffe” affected their chances? Has the president/senator/governor’s new policy hurt him with the voters? Never mind whether the policy is good or bad, helps or hurts. Don’t worry about whether the gaffe indicates deep-seated racism rather than just a fumblemouth. What matters is strictly how it affects the polls. Or how it might affect the polls.

It was the late 1990s when it first sunk in how useless this was. I forget the specifics, but there was a major news article about whether Texas Gov. George W Bush’s recent initiative meant he was no longer the front runner for the Republican nomination. Despite the fact he hadn’t even announced his run. Despite the fact it was more than a year, IIRC, before the election. Which made the article meaningless. But way easier than detailing the effects of the policy. Writing about government takes work; writing about the horse race or personality conflicts is relatively easy and doesn’t take much research. And if your predictions are wrong, hey, nobody’s going to be too pissed.

The past year or so, I’ve noticed something equivalent on the left-wing blogs I follow. To wit, endless speculation about where this country is headed and how bad it’s going to get. It’s more serious than handicapping the elections, but I’m starting to think most of it is just as vacuous. In the past few months I read posts speculating Trump might quit before the election, might quit after he lost, might just retire to Mar-a-Lago to sulk, might simply sit in the White House and refuse to leave, might proclaim martial law. Or that Biden and the Democrats would eagerly try to reach across the aisles and let Republicans block them at every turn.

Now I’m seeing speculation about Marjorie Taylor Greene and whether she’ll run in 2024 and whether she could win if she ran. I’ve heard the same speculation about Trump’s kids. I’ve read (and linked to) lots of speculation about where the Republicans will go post-Trump (and where Trump will go post-presidency) It’s beginning to feel less like “we need to prepare for the next coup attempt” (we certainly do) than a reflexive “aaah, what’s going wrong next?” kind of panic reaction. It’s understandable; the past four years have been all about the U.S. going in horrifyingly unexpected directions, as W did 20 years ago (I don’t think anyone predicted the U.S. president would claim the power to detain any individual indefinitely without trial, based on his personal assertion, and that the government would largely let him get away with it). But I’m not sure speculating about who the Republican front runner will be in 2024 actually prepares us.


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