are you taking over, or are you taking orders?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rick Perry's Ad

Dear readers, another Republican has come out of the closet. That's right: Rick Perry has decided that he's not afraid any more, and has to let a deep secret be known: he's a privileged, homophobic ass.

Not exactly a revelatory statement. The video really is just a desperate ploy by Perry, previous not-Mitt Romney Republican frontrunner to remain relevant in an election campaign that has long since shot him in the knee and left him for dead by the side of the road. This video is absurd, and awful, and seemingly just the sort of thing that should be ignored and pushed to the side in a supposedly civilized society like ours. But, as I wrote a few weeks ago, that is not a viable option.

See, the reason why this video has resonated so much is not simply because of its blatant bigotry, but instead because its warped view of reality is one that is at the forefront of rightwing policy. Sikivu Hutchinson, one of my absolute favorite writers and someone EVERYONE needs to be reading, put it perfectly:

In American politics, patriotism, race-baiting and faith-based pandering are the last refuge of a scoundrel.  And this political season militant GOP appeals to white Christian evangelicals have veered into neo-Cold War hysteria. One of the most powerful scenes in Orwell’s 1984 was when Party member O’Brien succeeds in brainwashing protagonist Winston Smith into believing that 2+2 equals 5.  The Religious Right has been practically virtuosic in its 2+2=5 mass doublespeak; convincing mainstream America that Christians are the new minority and that commie pinko “secular progressives” (Bill O’Reilly’s preferred “smear”) are at the helm of a socialist conspiracy.

That's right, folks. In the United States, the nation with the highest percentage of Christians in the population in the world, the Jesus-lovers are now a minority and the homo atheist socialists are in control. At least, that's what the Republicans would like you to believe. Personally, I wish with all my might it was true, but that's just me.

Christian nationalism is very much a thing, people. The Ricks Perry and Santorum would like nothing more than our country to become a theocracy, with Pat Robertson at its head. They may not have poll numbers of any relevance, but they have still been elected, in some cases repeatedly, and they have many, many allies in Congress and other branches of government.

I don't think I have to tell you what would happen if they actually managed to be elected to higher offices. They all hate non-straight people openly, hate non-whites a smidge less openly, and if Perry's record as Governor of Texas is any indication, have itchy trigger fingers and plenty of weapons for them. Their platforms are the old fascism of the 30s and 40s wearing new faces. We can deride them, and we should do that, but we must not let that derision stop us from taking these people seriously. They have the capacity to make things awful for all of us, not just make our brains drip out our ears with their inanity.

1 comment:

  1. By "United States, the nation with the highest percentage of Christians in the population in the world" I couldn't tell if you were referring to total number of Christians compared to other nations, or Christians per capita. Syntax makes it sound like the former, but the latter would be the only one relevant to discussing minorities. And the United States is not the nation with the highest percentage of Christians per capita in the world. Most of South and Central America are higher, and even some first world countries like Spain and Italy are. (source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2122.html).

    But that's not really the issue I wanted to bring up. The two things I wanted to bring up are that religion, rather than denomination, might not be a fair way to define groups, and that even if people are technically part of a majority, there are a number of things that can lead them to still feel like a minority. Let me explain.

    While Christians are not a minority in the US, I think it's understandable why many of them might feel like a minority from their perspective. Even with a high percentage of our population being Christian, there is very little unification among the different Christian denominations in the US, which is different from many other nations that are predominantly one denomination. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses might be Christian for example, but they probably don't divide "us vs them" in terms of Christian and non-Christian, but rather their particular denomination vs all others. From that perspective, they are a minority.

    I think something else that might be at play here is human nature to notice differences much easier than similarities. Or perhaps loss aversion bias? Even if you are in a group that is roughly equal from the other group or in a group that is the majority, it is possible to still feel like a minority when the other group(s) are vocal, especially when issues are very polarized. And let's face it, a lot of the issues that are commonly associated with Christians are pretty polarized in the United States. If we take a stereotypical Christian nationalist: republican, creationist, anti-abortion, 10 commandments displayed in government buildings kind, it is easy (for me at least) to imagine that person having a hard time being able to go a day without hearing or being reminded of messages that run counter to those views. Even among fellow Christians, it is common to hear other views. There are many evolutionist Christians, and democrat Jesus-lovers, after all.

    Finally, even if they are not a minority, it's still possible for individuals to feel, and even be, persecuted. Rather than take a "there's a lot of you, so you have no right to feel persecuted" kind of mentality, I think it's important, not to mention productive, to be cognizant of their feelings of persecution and to acknowledge that their feelings are valid. In my experience, people tend to be much more open to criticism when you acknowledge their feelings first.

    Now, as far as the "itchy trigger finger", remark, is that really fair? I doubt that many pro gun supporters support those laws because they want to shoot people. Even if their reasoning is flawed, I think the intentions of the vast majority of them is because they believe that less gun control is safer. I'm sure there are some people out there that actually have itchy trigger fingers, but to imply that those who are against tighter gun control regulation are necessarily those types is disingenuous and only serves to make the issue more polarized.