I’ve mentioned few times before my favorite recent Chris Rock observation concerning modern politics, but it bears repeating once again:
“Kids always act up the most before they go to sleep. And when I see the Tea Party and all this stuff, it actually feels like racism’s almost over. Because this is the last—this is the act up before the sleep. They’re going crazy. They’re insane. You want to get rid of them—and the next thing you know, they’re fucking knocked out. And that’s what’s going on in the country right now.”
I look to that passage frequently as a way of taking solace in the news, especially when (to paraphrase Charlie Pierce), the Methlabs of Democracy known as our state governments begin to cook up their newest batch of blue crystal crazy. Despite how it might appear at times on this blog, I do try my best to keep the big picture and more or less ignore the more blatant acts of trolling that dark red legislatures puke up from time to time. However this one out of my old home of Tennessee piqued my interest:
The bill, SB 234, still bars Tennessee teachers from discussing any facet of “non-heterosexual” sexuality with children in grades K-8. But the newest iterationalso includes a provision requiring teachers or counselors to inform the parents of some students who identify themselves as LGBT.
The exact political viability of measures like this is irrelevant. This law could pass, or it could again be effectively lobbied out of existence due to the attention it is receiving from the internet, but it would be a mistake to view this as a serious attempt by the bills author to change the law or even to strengthen his own base of support. This law and it’s equally insane headline-grabbing counterparts in other states are a not-so-subtle threats to the progressive community in this country. We should start to conceptualize these “ideas” not as acts of trolling, but as serious acts of violence.
The “we’re under siege” mentality of the white Christian conservative is, and always has been, the most dangerous and uncontrollable force in American politics. Whenever the unbridled rage of the white working class and poor receives direct encouragement from established conservative power centers (like the church or big business), the rest of us who do not see this democracy as a mere pretext for continuing White Christian supremacy face real tangible violence. Today’s daily assault of insanity from the Red States are no different.
Sadly too many of us, particularly moderates who falsely believe that these people can be reasoned with (or that the insanity is a bipartisan phenomenon) simply do not understand the reactionary mind. This is an area in which I have some personal experience, having done two tours of duty living in the deep south as a liberal. The self-identified christian conservative of today does not intend to negotiate with people they see as having achieved power in an illegitimate manner or even as innately sub-human. They intend to accumulate as much influence as they possibly can, and utilize that authority in order to exact revenge on those they perceive to be a threat to their way of life.
The sadistic methods of using the law as a punitive device against minority groups has become a trend in recent years as the Bush era of confident conservatism gave way to it’s current iteration of extraordinary paranoia. Whether it’s using policy to place children who are perceived to be gay in Tennessee at risk of serious injury at the hands of their family or the ritualistic humiliation of people receiving state aid during this time of economic hardship, the “ideas” of Conservatives have continually been centered around a concerted effort to effectively extort non-crazy people into taking the “middle ground” of just eliminating the facilities and resources that are supposed to serve the public. Policymakers in these communities do not care how much people suffer as a result of these laws and regulations, because inflicting harm is the entire point of what they are doing.
However this is not just about policy.
Despite whatever idiotic and ahistorical thesis that Ben Shapiro tries to justify with his usual word vomit of angry prose, the fact of the matter is that the right wing in the country has and will continue to be the home to hardcore domestic terrorists and their allies. The strength and number of hate groups always correlates with times when conservatives are out of power, and the current hysterical pro-gun rhetoric from the NRA has long abandoned any pretense of defending any other position than outright violent sedition against political movements with which they disagree. These are not folks to be reasoned with, and left of center politicians have a real threat of violence over their heads that their counterparts are more then conscious of when negotiating policy measures (the Tea Party summer of 2009 with people showing up to public forums with assault rifles being a prime example of this).
We could easily dismiss whatever novel and creative way to make life miserable for people that they despise as simply stupid, or remember that they are effectively becoming less and less democratically influential after each election. However this attitude of passive ignorance to the problem that these people pose is at least premature, and at worst is an act of appeasement. The Bill O’Reilly’s of the world know that their time of unchallenged influence is going to end soon, and instead of accepting that fact (or evolving) they have instead chosen to burn down this experiment in self-government. They have facilitated their own apocalypse, and they fully intend to carry it out with the most collateral damage possible.
These are not trolls, idiots, flat-earters, or any other derisive analogy that you have heard (or that I have undoubtedly repeated). These folks in elected and appointed positions of power throughout Red State America are fanatics, pure and simple. We should regard them with disdain and seek (as Paul Ryan warned his own supporters) to delegitimize them at every point. They, through legislation and administrative policy, have signaled that they intend to target anyone who opposes them with a level of violence that should be unacceptable in any society, much less one that supposedly prides itself on representing the truest form of democracy and respect for human rights. It is time to speed up the end of their influence through exposing the depravity of their ideals.