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Thoughts on Life, Love, Politics, Hypocrisy and Coming Out in Mid-Life
Saturday, January 21, 2017
The Trump/Pence Assault On LGBTQ Equality Is Already Underway
Most voters - including those who voted for Der Fuhrer and Mike Pence - know little about Pence's anti-LGBT extremism. In some ways he is more frightening than Trump himself other than the fact that he may be less likely to start a world war. And given Der Fuhrer's promises to the Christofascists, Pence now is seemingly being given free rein to launch a major assault on LGBT rights in ways that range from Trump cabinet nominees, almost all of whom have a documented anti-LGBT history, to the likely passage of the disingenuously named "First Amendment Defense Act" that will legalize anti-LGBT discrimination across the board. How bad things will get is hard to know, but I have numerous friends quickly working on their dual citizenship as a fall back safe guard. A piece in Huffington Post looks at the assault that has already begun. Here are highlights:
I’m not going to sugarcoat this at all. We are in for a full-blown assault on LGBTQ rights the likes of which many, particularly younger LGBTQ people, have not seen. Progress will most certainly be halted completely, likely rolled back. And it’s already underway.
First, forget any of your thinking that Donald Trump is from New York City, probably has gay friends, sent Elton John a congratulatory note on his civil union in 2005, used the term “LGBTQ” (in pitting gays against Muslims at the Republican National Convention, when he vowed only to protect us from a “hateful foreign ideology”) or any other superficial things you may have read or heard.
Ronald Reagan was from Hollywood, and he, too, had many gay friends, including legendary actor Rock Hudson. Reagan even came out against an anti-gay state initiative while he was governor of California. But once Reagan made his pact with the religious right leaders in his 1980 successful run for the presidency ― for him, among them was Jerry Falwell, Sr., for Trump it’s Jerry Falwell Jr.― he had to bow to them if he wanted to get re-elected in 1984.
Earlier in the year, before Mike Pence was chosen as Donald Trump’s running mate, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, using Trump’s analogy of running a business to explain how he’d run the country, told HuffPost’s Howard Fineman that the vice president of the Trump administration would really be the “CEO” or “COO” ― or, the president of the company ― while Trump would be more like the “chairman of the board”. . . .
Mike Pence is perhaps one of the most anti-LGBTQ evangelical Christian political crusaders to serve in Congress and as governor of a state. Long before he signed the draconian anti-LGBTQ “religious liberty” law in Indiana last year, he supported “conversion therapy” as a member of Congress, and later, as a columnist and radio host, he gave a speech in which he said that marriage equality would lead to “societal collapse,” and called homosexuality “a choice.” Stopping gays from marrying wasn’t biased, he said, but was rather about compelling “God’s idea.”
As I‘ve written over and over again throughout the election campaign ― as the media had bizarrely and irresponsibly portrayed Trump as “more accepting on gay issues” ― Trump met with religious extremists, and made promises to them. He promised he would put justices on the Supreme Court who would overturn marriage equality (and the list of 20 candidates he has offered, certainly fit the bill), which he’s consistently opposed himself since 2000. He promised that he would sign the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which would allow for discrimination against LGBT people by government employees and others.
Trump has said he would overturn what he saw as President Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders, and those could include Obama’s orders on LGBTQ rights, such as banning employment discrimination among federal contractors.
Mike Pence, as Dominic Holden at Buzzfeed points out, has already said that he and Trump plan to withdraw federal guidance to the states issued by the Obama administration protecting transgender students
If Trump treats the presidency the same way he treated the GOP convention in Cleveland, he’ll make gestures ― like giving Thiel a role in his administration or using the initialism “LGBTQ”― that will feed the media notion that he is somewhat pro-LGBTQ, while giving the nuts and bolts of halting or rolling back progress on LGBTQ rights to others.
If Trump is thus as hands-off on LGBTQ issues as president as he was at the RNC, letting people like Pence ― again, possibly the most powerful vice president ever ― get his way, along with people like Carson, Blackwell, Gingrich and likely many others, you can bet that the assault on LGBTQ rights is already underway. It’s only a matter of time before we know the full magnitude. And that’s why we must pull ourselves out of grief, get fired up, and begin the fight right now.
Trump/Pence: Vulgarians at the Gate
As one friend noted on Facebook, within an hour of the swearing in of Trump/Pence, both the White House and Department of Labor websites have been scrubbed clean of references to LGBT civil rights. The completely expected start to a uniformly anti-LGBT government is clearly underway even as "friends" who voted for these foul individuals chat "sore loser" or "give him a chance" to those of us who are rightly fearful of the future. The rage I feel - and rage is the correct term - towards these individuals is hard to quantify. The coming assault on LGBT rights means nothing to them as white, heterosexual Christians because it doesn't effect them directly. Their rights and sense of safety - at least for now - remain intact, so why care. Frighteningly, its the same mindset that held sway in 1930's Germany. The worse part of it all, to me is the normalizing of the reprehensible and manner in which deviancy is being defined downward with the "godly Christian" crowd cheering it on. As I noted myself in a Facebook post, I am seriously beginning the process of checking out the steps involved in securing dual citizenship in my mother's birth country - "just in case." Two pieces in Salon look at the disturbing happenings. Here are highlights of the first that looks at the vulgarity that is now acceptable:
You see grown men wearing t-shirts printed with dick jokes. You hear parents shouting obscenities at the television during a football game, while their children throw food at one another. The woman behind you on the commuter train discusses the intricacies of her sex life on her cell phone. Right-wing commentators freely use terms like “libtard” and “cuck” to ridicule their ideological opponents, and then complain about “political correctness.” You watch as the Republican presidential nominee brags about the length of his penis, and is then caught on tape boasting about “grabbing women by the pussy” without their consent. Similar to tax policy, the admission soon becomes subject to partisan debate, then quickly forgotten.
These are but a few of the sights and sounds now normal in an increasingly coarse and crude culture. . . . . Once a culture permits the previously unthinkable, the next logical move is tolerance of something even worse. A leader should challenge the audience, seek to inspire ambition for improvement, and offer an aspirational model for emulation. Trump’s vulgarity, in the Latin sense and the more contemporary meaning of crudity, comforts people at their basest urges, biases and fears. As President Jimmy Carter, a decidedly sophisticated leader, especially by comparison, said of the new President, “He makes people feel good about their prejudices.” . . . “It is fine if you remain uninformed and uncultured,” he might as well be whispering into the ears of his devoted followers.
One definition of “vulgarian” is an “unrefined person with newly acquired power.” The surreal, science fiction image of Trump taking the oath of office with his hand on the Bible represents a triumph for the coarsest and crudest elements of American culture. . . . . The White House is now occupied by a narcissistic drama queen who fails to adhere to any standard of basic decency, whether they are admonitions against mocking disabled people or taboos against the objectification of women. . . . Trump will enforce the same degradation of public standards from the most powerful office in the country.
The second piece looks at the ugliness and bigotry of the base of support of Trump/Pence. Here are excerpts:
Like many campaign slogans, MAGA [Make America Great Again] can mean a great many things. To a young white male who identifies with the alt-right and Richard Spencer, for example, it is code for making America white and “culturally pure” again; to an evangelical Christian, it stands for making America devout and dogmatic again; to a blue-collar worker in the Rust Belt, it means making America a manufacturing powerhouse again.
And then there’s someone like Christopher von Keyserling, a local Republican politician in Connecticut who was recently in the news after being arrested for pinching a woman in the genitals. According to reports, von Keyserling got into a political argument with the victim at an unnamed town facility in early December. After saying “I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct,” and calling the woman a “lazy, bloodsucking union employee,” he proceeded to reach from behind her, “place his hand between her legs and pinch her in the groin area.”
People were quick to note the disturbing parallels
between von Keyserling’s behavior and President Donald Trump’s, as described to Billy Bush in 2005. In this Trumpian world, von Keyserling thought that he could be as vulgar, sexist and indecent as his party’s leader — who managed to win the election even after admitting to conduct that appeared to fit the definition of sexual assault.
“Make America Great Again” can mean many things, but it is ultimately a slogan that appeals to the politics of reaction. Whether it’s a white supremacist longing for the time when the white race dominated without shame or guilt; a bitter old man reminiscing about the days when all women were ladies; or a Christian fundamentalist who idealizes the period before Roe v. Wade, birth control and Charles Darwin, they are united in their reaction and collectively feel like victims of the modern age. Needless to say, women, people of color and LGBT people are much less inclined to romanticize the “good old days.”
The Trump campaign has accelerated the disintegration of public morality, and now the Trump administration threatens to shatter much of the progress that has been made over the past several decades, and return us to the bad old days.
Decent, moral people should be very, very afraid of what the future will hold if these forces are allowed to prevail.
Posted by Michael-in-Norfolk at Saturday, January 21, 2017 No comments:
Labels: anti-gay jihad, Donald Trump, dual citizenship, embrace of ignorance, emigration, fascism, Mike Pence, normalizing hate, normalizing the reprehensible, vulgar
Friday, January 20, 2017
Frighteningly, LGBT Rights Are All Too Easily "Reversible"
Many "friends" who voted for Der Fuhrer and forever linked themselves to Hillary Clinton's aptly described "basket of deplorables" who made up Trump's core base continue to deliberately close their eyes to what they have done to their LGBT friends and family members. Whether or not they can bring themselves to be honest about the consequences of their vote, LGBT rights are now very much at risk. At least for a number of years until the aging angry white voters of the GOP base die off and are replaced by LGBT-friendly Millenials and the younger generations that follow them. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at why I and many others are fearful of the future and have even had thoughts of emigrating (the husband and I have not ruled this option out). Here are article highlights:
On Wednesday, Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson asked President Obama a question that’s on many LGBT Americans’ minds: What’s going to happen to our rights under President Trump and his cabinet? . . . . In response, the outgoing president put a brave face on—but maybe too brave of a face.
“I don’t think it is something that will be reversible because American society has changed; the attitudes of young people, in particular, have changed,” Obama said.
He went on to predict that “there are still going to be some battles that need to take place,” particularly around transgender rights, but that pro-LGBT attitudes among “young people of Malia [and] Sasha’s generation” would ultimately carry the day.
But how much has American society really “changed” during his tenure? At the press conference, the president referred to a “transformation that’s taken place in our society” around LGBT rights. But was it an irreversible “transformation” after all? Not quite.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that anti-LGBT sentiment will be an enduring feature of the American cultural and political landscape. And there are no guarantees that the progress the Obama administration has made cannot be turned back.
According to Gallup, just under 30 percent of Americans still believe that same-sex sexual relationships—not even marriages, mind you—should be illegal. Over a third oppose same-sex marriage and 37 percent maintain that “gay or lesbian relations” are “morally wrong.”
Transgender bathroom rights nearly divide the country in half. Taken together, those statistics show a fairly stable cohort of homophobic and transphobic voters who will continue to shape electoral politics for decades to come, even with a rising generation of more tolerant young people entering public life.
[P]olitical advances in LGBT equality don’t necessarily translate into social acceptance. As The Daily Beast has previously reported, several key measures of anti-LGBT bullying in U.S. high schools only fell by about 2 percent per year between 2005 and 2015, per data from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
According to annual polling commissioned by GLAAD, nearly 37 percent of non-LGBT respondents said in 2015 that they would be uncomfortable with their child having an LGBT history lesson in school.
When a shockingly large percentage of Americans still can’t even handle a same-sex couple kissing on the cheek, it’s hard to buy into the notion that there’s been a radical “transformation” of our society since 2008. And although certain of Obama’s pro-LGBT changes would be easier to retract than others, none of them are written in stone.
Undoing marriage equality would be an ordeal—and it would be hugely unpopular—but it’s still possible if President Trump follows through on his Supreme Court picks and the right cases come along.
By contrast, pro-LGBT protections enacted through executive orders—like anti-discrimination protections for federal contractors—could be quickly and easily eliminated.
Correspondingly, attacks on LGBT rights—such as the ratification of the First Amendment Defense Act—could be easily initiated as The Daily Beast’s Tim Teeman and Jay Michaelson have reported.
Military milestones could crumble as well. Trump’s Secretary of Defense Pick General James Mattis notably did not send any signals that he would undo the Obama administration’s reversal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which banned lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from serving openly in the military.
But in response to a question about the recent advances in transgender military service, Mattis’ future Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump said last October that the military is getting “politically correct” and it’s “ridiculous.
With Mike Pence as Vice President, Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, and several more Supreme Court vacancies on the horizon, a Trump administration will only be limited by its own restraint when it comes to LGBT issues.
But even though LGBT advances are all too “reversible,” President Obama was spot-on about one thing: the vast majority of young people support full equality. Last April, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that Americans aged 18 to 29 support transgender rights by a two-to-one margin, with Americans over 60 opposing them by the same margin. And according to Pew, over 70 percent of millennials support same-sex marriage.
The only catch is that millenials aren’t voting where it counts and older voters are. . . . . that means that LGBT progress might only be inevitable because death is also inevitable. But unlike death, LGBT advances are definitely reversible.
Let's hope many of the anti-LGBT whites who voted for Trump and Republicans find themselves without healthcare coverage and they will have unwittingly hastened their own demise and indirectly assisted in protecting LGBT rights. That would be ironic justice.
Virginia Anti-Transgender "Bathroom Bill" Killed in Committee
With America entering a national nightmare today, there is a scarcity of positive news for LGBT Americans, especially in light of the who's who of homophobes that have been nominated by Der Fuhrer for his cabinet. But there was piece of welcomed good news out of Richmond yesterday: Del. Bob Marshall's bathroom bill that targeted transgender individuals and would have required public school personnel to "out" LGBT students to their parents was killed in committee. Remarkably, the committee was GOP controlled so the take away is that despite the batshitery underway in Washington, DC, Virginia Republicans did pay attention to the self-inflicted economic damage North Carolina suffered as a result of the passage of HB2. The bill's patron, Bob Marshall, has a bizarre obsession with LGBT Virginians and has publicly stated that he'd love to drive us from Virginia. Marshall isn't "conservative" - he's just plain mentally disturbed. The Washington Post looks at yesterday's welcomed development. Here are excerpts:
A Virginia lawmaker blasted fellow Republicans as “disgusting” cowards Thursday for rejecting his bill to regulate the use of bathrooms and locker rooms in schools, highway rest stops and other government-owned buildings.“You campaign one way and come down here and kill things silently,” Del. Robert G. Marshall (Prince William) fumed at members of a GOP-controlled House subcommittee after they used an unrecorded voice vote to dispatch with his bill.
Marshall had proposed legislation similar to what passed with great controversy in North Carolina last year. . . . . He softened the measure somewhat as the House General Laws subcommittee took it up in an afternoon hearing, proposing an amendment to strike the word “original” from the legislation. The amendment would have allowed those who undergo sex-reassignment therapy or surgery and who have their birth certificates changed to reflect that to use the bathroom associated with their gender identity.
Marshall said the purpose of the bill was to protect women and girls from predatory men who might pretend to be transgender to gain access to areas where women are undressed. . . . Dubbing his bill the “Physical Privacy Act,” Marshall bristled at its more common description as the “bathroom bill.”
A handful of conservative and liberal activists testified for and against the measure. Then, with no discussion among the subcommittee’s five Republicans and two Democrats, Del. Barry D. Knight (R-Virginia Beach) moved to lay the bill on the table. The action kills the bill unless the subcommittee reverses itself within a week’s time, Marshall said.
Marshall had never expected the bill would become law, at least not under Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who had vowed to veto it if it got to his desk. But he hoped to pressure Republican leaders to let it get to the floor of the House.
Republicans aren't avoiding controversy - they have simply finally awoken to Marshall's insanity and want nothing of it. Chalk a defeat for the hate merchants at The Family Foundation who I am certain had a hand in this bill.One of the most vocal conservatives in the General Assembly, Marshall has often accused Republican leaders of killing his social-issue bills to avoid controversy.
An Open Letter to Trump From the US Press Corps
Sadly, the American media has been failing in its duty to expose lies and untruths for well over a decade and a half. The consequences have been horrific: the Iraq War that set the stage for ISIS, Republican obstructionism for the entire presidency of Barack Obama, and now the election of Donald Trump, a vulgar, narcissistic bully who my late maternal grandmother would have deemed to be white trash with money, as president of the United States. Now, faced with continued attacks by Trump and his allies in the fake news industry - think Fox News and Breitbart for starters - the US Press Corps has issued an open letter to Trump and his fellow would be fascists. The letter sounds great and it would be wonderful if the press delivered on its threats to Trump. Given the press' past failings, I will not be holding my breath. Here are excerpts:
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT ELECT:In these final days before your inauguration, we thought it might be helpful to clarify how we see the relationship between your administration and the American press corps.
It will come as no surprise to you that we see the relationship as strained. Reports over the last few days that your press secretary is considering pulling news media offices out of the White House are the latest in a pattern of behavior that has persisted throughout the campaign: You’ve banned news organizations from covering you. You’ve taken to Twitter to taunt and threaten individual reporters and encouraged your supporters to do the same. You’ve advocated for looser libel laws and threatened numerous lawsuits of your own, none of which has materialized. You’ve avoided the press when you could and flouted the norms of pool reporting and regular press conferences. You’ve ridiculed a reporter who wrote something you didn’t like because he has a disability.
All of this, of course, is your choice and, in a way, your right. While the Constitution protects the freedom of the press, it doesn’t dictate how the president must honor that; regular press conferences aren’t enshrined in the document.
But while you have every right to decide your ground rules for engaging with the press, we have some, too. It is, after all, our airtime and column inches that you are seeking to influence. We, not you, decide how best to serve our readers, listeners, and viewers. So think of what follows as a backgrounder on what to expect from us over the next four years.
Access is preferable, but not critical. You may decide that giving reporters access to your administration has no upside. We think that would be a mistake on your part, but again, it’s your choice. We are very good at finding alternative ways to get information; indeed, some of the best reporting during the campaign came from news organizations that were banned from your rallies.
Off the record and other ground rules are ours—not yours—to set. We may agree to speak to some of your officials off the record, or we may not. We may attend background briefings or off-the-record social events, or we may skip them. That’s our choice. If you think reporters who don’t agree to the rules, and are shut out, won’t get the story, see above.
We decide how much airtime to give your spokespeople and surrogates. We will strive to get your point of view across, even if you seek to shut us out. But that does not mean we are required to turn our airwaves or column inches over to people who repeatedly distort or bend the truth. We will call them out when they do, and we reserve the right, in the most egregious cases, to ban them from our outlets.
We believe there is an objective truth, and we will hold you to that. When you or your surrogates say or tweet something that is demonstrably wrong, we will say so, repeatedly. Facts are what we do, and we have no obligation to repeat false assertions
We’ll obsess over the details of government. You and your staff sit in the White House, but the American government is a sprawling thing. We will fan reporters out across the government, embed them in your agencies, source up those bureaucrats. The result will be that while you may seek to control what comes out of the West Wing, we’ll have the upper hand in covering how your policies are carried out.
We will set higher standards for ourselves than ever before. We credit you with highlighting serious and widespread distrust in the media across the political spectrum. Your campaign tapped into that, and it was a bracing wake-up call for us. We have to regain that trust. And we’ll do it through accurate, fearless reporting, by acknowledging our errors and abiding by the most stringent ethical standards we set for ourselves.
We’re going to work together. You have tried to divide us and use reporters’ deep competitive streaks to cause family fights. Those days are ending. We now recognize that the challenge of covering you requires that we cooperate and help one another whenever possible. So, when you shout down or ignore a reporter at a press conference who has said something you don’t like, you’re going to face a unified front.
We’re playing the long game. Best-case scenario, you’re going to be in this job for eight years. We’ve been around since the founding of the republic, and our role in this great democracy has been ratified and reinforced again and again and again. You have forced us to rethink the most fundamental questions about who we are and what we are here for. For that we are most grateful. Enjoy your inauguration.
The irony is that, had the press corps (and the mainstream cable news networks) followed these standards from the first day Trump announced his candidacy, he would not have won the 2016 presidential election. Indeed, he would not have won the GOP primary. I hope the press corp does what it claims it will do going forward. It has much to atone for and will likely be judged most harshly by future historians. With freedom of the press likely to soon be at risk, just maybe these media types will at last do their jobs.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Log Cabin Republicans Beg Trump To Keep Obama’s LGBT Non-Discrimination Executive Order
For years I have equated being gay and a Republican - or, worse yet, a Log Cabin Republican ("LCR") - as being somewhat akin to be a Jew in 1930's Germany who supports Hitler and the Nazi Party. All of the LCR's whining about changing the Republican Party from within has always been a pile of bullshit and, in my view, a symptom of lingering internalized homophobia. Having been in the GOP myself and a City Committee member for 8 years, the GOP simply is simply NOT susceptible to change from within. Only successive electoral defeats will bring change. Now, with the election of Der Fuhrer, change from within is even more remote. So now we see the LCR begging Trump to not rescind the pro-LGBT executive orders put in place by Barack Obama. Seriously, what did these cretins expect to happen if Trump was elected? But for the harm that will be done to others in the LGBT community, the LCR members deserve whatever misfortune that may befall them under the Republicans they worked to elect. Their beg letter to Trump is here. Here's a brief summary of the contents:
At the present time, there is no federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. States have a pastiche of laws and gubernatorial executive orders—some prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and some only on the basis of sexual orientation, while 28 states have no statutes protecting members from the LGBT community from discrimination at all.For FY2016, $1.8 trillion contract dollars were awarded in states that have no state-level non-discrimination protections for gender identity/expression, with $1.7 trillion of that total going to states that also have no protections for sexual orientation.
More than 61% of the 26 states that received $50 billion or more in federal contracts in 2016 have no employment non-discrimination laws explicitly covering sexual orientation, and 65% lack laws covering gender identity.
Of the 20 states with the most EEOC complaints, only five have nondiscrimination protections covering sexual orientation and gender identity.
The lack of formal, federal non-discrimination legislation allows the LGBT Non-Discrimination Executive Order to address the plight of the nearly four in 10 (38%) LGBT employees who were “out” at work who reported harassment and discrimination in the past five years, compared to only 10% of LGBT employees who were “not out.”
At the present time, there is no federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Executive orders prohibiting discrimination against minority communities have a decades-long history with support from both Republican and Democratic presidents.
Federal prohibitions against gay discrimination have been a matter of United States policy via executive order since 1998,and were maintained in the administration of Republican President George W. Bush.
The amended executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity has been a matter of realized policy for nearly two years. Maintaining the LGBT Non-Discrimination Executive Order is not only right, but popular: 68% of Americans support workplace protections for LGBT individuals.
Maintaining the LGBT Non-Discrimination Executive Order would send a strong signal that President Trump is the “real friend” to the LGBT community that he vowed to be while campaigning for the presidency.
I'm sorry, but the LCR's have been living in a frigging fantasy world. Now, it seems they are about to receive a harsh wake up call.
Trump and Militant Evangelical "Masculinity"
A friend sent me a link to a piece in Religion & Politics that may help explain why 81% of evangelical Christians voted for a man who is the antithesis of what true Christian values should be. Indeed, it looks at the sickness that has overtaken conservative Christianity in general and created a reality where hatred of others and fear of anyone different - the "other " if you will - has supplanted any message of love and kindness. Oh yes, we hear the self-congratulatory, falsely pious "godly folk" talk about "love" of others, but when their actions and rhetoric are examined, it is almost invisible in practice. Instead of being a force for good - I have my doubts if Christianity has actually ever been truly a force for good - conservative Christianity has become one of the great evils in the world today. Only fundamentalist Islam is a greater evil given its adherents willingness to use murder and physical violence. Yet both fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam at their core have hatred of others at their core and a bizarre view of masculinity. Here are article highlights:
Yes, there were Supreme Court appointments and fears about religious freedom to consider, and a longstanding alliance with the Republican Party to contend with. But even so, how could the self-professed “Moral Majority” embrace a candidate who seemed to flaunt his own cruelty?The truth is, many evangelicals long ago replaced the suffering servant of Christ with an image that more closely resembles Donald Trump than many would care to admit. They’ve traded a faith that privileges humility and elevates the least of these for one that derides gentleness as the province of wusses. Having replaced the Jesus of the gospels with an idol of machismo, it’s no wonder many have come to think of Trump himself as the nation’s savior.
Indeed, white evangelical support for Trump can be seen as the culmination of a decades-long embrace of militant masculinity, a masculinity that has enshrined patriarchal authority, condoned a callous display of power at home and abroad, and functioned as a linchpin in the political and social worldviews of conservative white evangelicals. In the end, many evangelicals did not vote for Trump despite their beliefs, but because of them.
THE ROOTS OF THIS ideology can be traced back to the 1970s, a decade in which evangelicals began to stake a new claim on politics and culture. As they mobilized around “family values” issues, defining masculinity and femininity was central to their task. James Dobson was one of the earliest and most influential proponents of this effort. . . . . To wit, men like to “hunt and fish and hike in the wilderness”; women prefer to “stay at home and wait for them.” More significantly, “men derive self-esteem by being respected; women feel worthy when they are loved.”
He saw this as a crisis of gender, but also as a threat to national security. For the sake of the nation, a “call to arms” was needed, a reassertion of the “Judeo-Christian concept of masculinity” in the face of feminists’ “concerted attack on ‘maleness.’”
To understand how changing gender roles could imperil the nation, the politicization of evangelical Christianity must be placed in the context of Cold War politics, and against the backdrop of the Vietnam War.
Evangelicals staunchly opposed communism, and their reasons for doing so were many: communists were anti-American, anti-God, and they threatened God-given rights and the integrity of the family. A strong military was necessary to ward off the communist peril, and strong men were essential to a strong military.
But the rising generation caused reason for concern. Young men sporting long hair and flowered shirts dodged the draft, shunned authority, and shirked their duty to protect America from the threat of global communism. The Vietnam era would emerge as a pivotal moment in the relationship between American evangelicals and the U.S. military. . . . . evangelicals who supported U.S. military action in Vietnam came to hold the military itself in high (and often uncritical) esteem.
Evangelicals like Dobson responded with a clarion call to turn back the tide of impending chaos by reasserting moral absolutes and reestablishing a “Christian civilization.” Defining and defending distinct gender roles was at the heart of this effort, providing conservative evangelicals a clear identity against secularists, feminists, and other liberals.
Reflecting the unsettled times, Promise Keepers called for a new Christian masculinity, an alternative both to the “softer,” modern version they found lacking, and to the “macho” version they feared had become outmoded. Their solution: the archetype of the “Tender Warrior.”
Authors like Steve Farrar, Gordon Dalbey, and Stu Weber—all white evangelical men—pioneered this “Tender Warrior” motif. Significantly, all three looked to Vietnam for the source of masculine identity. . . . In words that would echo through the movement, Weber insisted that God himself was unmistakably “the Warrior of both testaments.” Forget “gentle Jesus, meek and mild”—Jesus was “the ultimate man.”
WITH DEMOCRATIC President Bill Clinton sending the military on “emasculating” peacekeeping missions, and with debates raging about women in combat and gays in the military, the crisis only deepened. Before long a new slate of books on evangelical masculinity appeared, offering instructions on how to raise properly masculine sons in a “feminized” culture. Abandoning any lip service to “tenderness,” these books championed an unabashedly aggressive, testosterone-driven masculinity.
In 2001 Dobson himself joined the growing outcry against a “war against boys” in America. In his Bringing up Boys he again he criticized a “small but noisy band of feminists” who attacked “the very essence of masculinity.” He derided “feminists and other social liberals” who wanted to make boys more like girls, and men more like women—“feminized, emasculated, and wimpified.” Bringing up Boys found a receptive audience, quickly selling more than a million copies.
Also in 2001, Douglas Wilson’s Future Men insisted that boys must be raised to be warriors. Central to Wilson’s “definition of masculinity” was the concept of dominion . . . Women’s role was a passive one: women yearned to be fought for. They possessed something “wild at heart,” but it was “feminine to the core, more seductive than fierce.” . . . . Aggression was “part of the masculine design”; men were “hardwired for it.” Attempts to pacify men only emasculated them: “If you want a safer, quieter animal, there’s an easy solution: castrate him.” Yes, “a man is a dangerous thing,” he wrote, but the very strength that made men dangerous also made them heroes.
It is not difficult to imagine how evangelicals, steeped in literature claiming that men were created in the image of a warrior God, might be receptive to sentiments like those expressed by the late Jerry Falwell, in his 2004 sermon “God is Pro-War.” In fact, surveys demonstrate that traditionalist evangelicals are more likely than other Americans to approve of U.S. engagement in a preemptive war, support military action against terrorism, and condone the use of torture.
This brand of militant masculinity also helps explain the lack of outrage on the part of many evangelicals when it comes to Trump’s character issues.
Ominously, though, there is a fine line between merely speaking of brute force and enacting violence. Less than a month after the election, a 28-year-old white man shot up a D.C. pizzeria with a military-style assault rifle. He said he was in search of a child sex slave ring linked to Hillary Clinton, which turned out to be a hoax generated by fake news reports. Chillingly, he cited one of his favorite books, Wild at Heart, in a post-arrest interview with The New York Times.
What makes a strong leader? A virile (white) man. And what of his vulgarity? Infidelity? Bombast? Even sexual assault? Well, boys will be boys.
Trump appeared at a moment when evangelicals feel increasingly beleaguered, even persecuted. Issues related to gender—from the cultural sea change on gay marriage to transgender bathroom laws to the Hyde Amendment and the contraceptive mandate—are at the center of their perceived victimization. The threat of terrorism looms large, American power isn’t what it used to be, and nearly two-thirds of white evangelicals harbor fears that a once-powerful nation has become “too soft and feminine.”
In Donald Trump, they have found the leader they have been looking for.
In my view, these people are mentally disturbed and pose a clear and present danger to America and the world. Frighteningly, Trump has nominated many such religious extremist to his cabinet. The truth is that these are not nice and decent people. They harbor a sickness and hate filled core that needs to be eliminated.
FBI, 5 Other Agencies Probe Covert Kremlin Monetary Aid to Trump
On Friday Donald Trump, perhaps the most unfit individual to every be elected president, will be sworn into office. Meanwhile, the American people still don't know whether or not Trump and/or his campaign staff collaborated with Russian officials to influence the election outcome or whether or not Russian money was used to finance attacks on Hillary Clinton. Trump, of course has denied any complicity, but then again, Fact Checker found that 76% of Trump's campaign statements were untrue. Plus, Trump denied mocking a disabled reporter even though it was all captured on video. Now, McClatchy is reporting that the FBI and five other federal agencies are investigating to determine if Russian funding was behind anti-Hillary and pro-Trump activities. In short, the investigation has gone beyond only the Russian hacking efforts to actual monetary involvement. Then, of course, there is the continuing concern about Trump's potential respectability to Kremlin blackmail efforts. And people wonder why I plan to dress all in black on Friday! Here are highlights from McClatchy:
The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said.
The agencies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence, the sources said.
Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.
On Jan. 6, the director of national intelligence released a declassified report that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an influence campaign to “undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process,” damage Hillary Clinton’s election prospects and bolster Trump’s. The campaign included the hacking of top Democrats’ emails and fake news distributed by Russian sources.
The president-elect, who will be inaugurated Friday, has said he believes Russia was involved with the hacking, and he has called allegations that he or his associates were involved a “political witch hunt” and a “complete and total fabrication.”
Trump's presidential transition team did not respond to a request for comment about the inquiry.
U.S. intelligence agencies not only have been unanimous in blaming Russia for the hacking of Democrats’ computers but also have concluded that the leaking and dissemination of thousands of emails of top Democrats, some of which caused headaches for the Clinton campaign, were done to help Trump win.
The BBC reported last week that the joint inquiry was launched when the CIA learned last spring, through a Baltic ally, of a recording indicating the Russian government was planning to funnel funds aimed at influencing the U.S. election.
The BBC reported that the FBI had obtained a warrant on Oct. 15 from the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing investigators access to bank records and other documents about potential payments and money transfers related to Russia. One of McClatchy’s sources confirmed the report.
Susan Hennessey, a former attorney for the National Security Agency who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said she had no knowledge as to whether a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant had been issued in the investigation of Russian influence. However, she said such warrants were issued only if investigators could establish “probable cause” that the target was a foreign power or its agent and that the surveillance was likely to produce foreign intelligence.
At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July, Trump’s campaign associates successfully changed the Republican Party’s platform to weaken a provision advocating more military support for the Ukrainian government in its fight to defend itself against the Russian-backed incursion in Crimea.
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