As I've been saying for months: I could care less that corporate Dem Terry McAuliffe lost his gubernatorial race. I'm not happy that the GOP-lite Virginia Democratic Party also managed to lose control of the state House. But the voters did decide to give the Democrats an ass-kicking last Tuesday in Virginia. As good as McAuliffe losing was the end of the political career of another corrupt Democrat, Machine-owned-and-operated New Jersey Senate president Steve Sweeney. Good riddance! Did the voters wise up to these crap politicians? I doubt it, since they replaced them with garbage at least just as bad, in most cases worse. So... why. On a granular level, several pundits have pointed to the issue that always works for conservative politicians: racial panic, which was, ironically, what Biden used to first get elected to the Senate in 1972 (busing).
On Friday, Bess Levin, writing for Vanity Fair, noted that "One of the most dominant features of the modern Republican Party is its love for creating moral panic over things that either (1) aren’t actually happening or (2) are positive developments but ones that conservatives insist will lead to the downfall of society. Whether it’s immigrants supposedly taking Americans’ jobs or paid parental leave turning fathers into 'doting dad[s],' the GOP has a long history of shamelessly trying to convince people that something very sinister is transpiring, and only Republicans can save them."
At the moment, the cause célèbre is the idea that liberals have stripped parents of a say in their children’s education, leading to terrible outcomes like kids being required to wear masks in the middle of a pandemic, curricula that includes accurate facts about America’s racist past and present, and-- and you may want to sit down for this because it’s extremely alarming-- the leaders of tomorrow being taught that the Holocaust did actually occur.
Of course, out here on planet Earth, parents haven’t been stripped of anything. Masks are required in schools where responsible adults want their staff and students to live, while only one state in the country has announced a vaccine mandate for schools, also in an effort to help prevent its constituents from getting sick and dying. (Incidentally, schools already required students to get a whole host of inoculations well before COVID-19 came along). And when it comes to talking about things like slavery, systemic racism, and the Holocaust, the parents who are against it simply can’t stand the idea that their children are learning that sometimes, white people do bad things. Meanwhile, there is nothing preventing parents from involving themselves in their children’s education in a reasonable way-- emphasis on reasonable-- or from pulling their kid out of a school if that’s what they decide to do.
Nevertheless, conservatives have whipped their base into such a frenzy over things like critical race theory, which most of them completely mischaracterize, and the coronavirus, which they also don’t understand, that parents have taken to violently airing their grievances as though their children have been subject to human rights abuses. Here’s a fun story from The New York Times:
It was only days after Sami Al-Abdrabbuh was reelected to the school board in Corvallis, Oregon, that the text messages arrived. The first, he said, was a photograph taken at a shooting range. It showed one of his campaign’s lawn signs-- “Re-Elect Sami”-- riddled with bullet holes. The second was a warning from a friend. This one said that one of their neighbors was looking for Mr. Al-Abdrabbuh. The neighbor was threatening to kill him.
Like many school board races this year, the one in May in Corvallis, a left-leaning college town in the northwest corner of the state, was especially contentious, swirling around concerns not only about the coronavirus pandemic but also the teaching of what Mr. Al-Abdrabbuh called the “dark history” of America’s struggle with race. Even months later, Mr. Al-Abdrabbuh, the chairman of the school board, is still taking precautions. He regularly speaks to the police and scans his driveway in the morning before walking to his car. He often mixes up his daily route to work. “I love serving on the school board,” he said. “But I don’t want to die for it.”
“I don’t want to die for it”? Is there a sentence that was less likely to be uttered by a school board member prior to the past year? Thanks, Republicans!
...Last month, soon-to-be Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin suggested he’ll ban books written by acclaimed author Toni Morrison. On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that the GOP will “soon unveil a Parents’ Bill of Rights,” a thing that is obviously not necessary but plays well on Fox News. On Thursday, Senator Josh Hawley tweeted, “It’s time to turn back Joe Biden’s effort to shut parents out of their kids’ education” and then told Laura Ingraham that “the Biden administration [is] trying to use the FBI to silence parents” (it’s not). On Friday, Representative Jim Jordan simply wrote on Twitter: “The Republican Party is the party of parents.” Which is a bit rich coming from the subject of this CNN story from last year:
Tito Vazquez says he still remembers the day three decades ago when, as a wrestler at Ohio State University, the doctor he’d gone to see about a bloody nose insisted on examining his genitals. He also recalls how one of his coaches dismissed his immediate complaint. “‘I have nothing to do with this,’” Vazquez quoted the assistant coach saying, as he effectively ended the conversation and went on with wrestling practice.
That coach, Vazquez says, was Jim Jordan, now an Ohio congressman and an influential voice in Republican politics, perhaps best known for his pugnacious defense of President Donald Trump during the recent impeachment proceedings. Vazquez is one of six former OSU wrestlers who told CNN in recent interviews that they were present when Jordan heard or responded to sexual misconduct complaints about team doctor Richard Strauss. Eight others say Strauss’s inappropriate behavior was an open secret in the athletic department and that Jordan, among others, must have known about it.
...[W]e’re sure the parents of Ohio State wrestlers are big Jim Jordan fans.
Ironically, Jordan's biggest booster to become leader of the House Republicans, is unindicted sex trafficker and pedophile Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
Yesterday, John Pavlovitz wrote that "There are few things that confound and infuriate Conservative Christians quite like the simple, clear, unadorned words of Jesus as documented in the Bible they so loudly and frequently claim to love, believe in, and live by. It’s almost miraculous:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
When you’re part of an antagonistic movement built almost exclusively on a self-righteous battle posture: on a theology and politics that require an enemy, an adversary, an encroaching danger, a culture war foe to be defeated—the idea of being a peacemaker really pisses you off. MAGAs don’t like peace. They refuse to coexist with it. They cannot abide it. It’s not a compatible idea.
Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Matthew 25:45
The poor, the outcast, the hurting, the hungry, the homeless, the lonely. Jesus said he literally inhabits the most vulnerable among us, and that the way we treat them is the way we treat Jesus himself. That’s a really disturbing reality, when you spend so much of your time denying people healthcare and cutting social programs and assault voting rights and legislatively attacking people for their sexuality or their nation of origin or their pigmentation. The news that according to Jesus, you devote a great deal of your life treating Jesus like garbage-- tends not to be received too well.
For God so loved the world… John 3:16
The world. God loves the world. That includes the planet, the climate around it, the resources within it, the disparate humanity and expansive life upon it. No America First. No “Go back where you came from” nationalistic bluster. No, “Don’t Tread on Me” middle-finger defiance. If you so love the world as God does, you fight for diversity, you welcome immigrants and foreigners, you demand environmental responsibility, you want more people to have voices, not fewer. When America becomes your world-- you’re opposing God.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Matthew 26:52
That’s the part of the oft-quoted story that gun-loving Christians never want to read: the part where Jesus reprimands his disciple who uses a weapon to defend him, reminding him and those listening, that his people will not be a people of retributive violence, that they will be those who shun force and turn the other cheek and resist harming others and de-escalate conflict. That is a really hard truth for the NRA, God and Guns, Come and Take It crowd, who really want Jesus to be cool with their instigating, posturing bloodlust-- and who have to hear straight from Jesus that he isn’t.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
Loving your neighbor. Jesus says unequivocally that this is the priority and the point, and the way we show our love for God: the way we treat other human beings. When Conservative Christians realize that this includes their Muslim neighbor, their transgender neighbor, their Jewish neighbor, their Liberal neighbor, their uninsured neighbor, their undocumented neighbor, their black neighbor-- they usually don’t react very well. When you aren’t able or willing to practically or tangibly extend love to such a vast portion of your neighbors in any meaningful way, that is a difficult theological pill to swallow.