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The divisive, destructive culture wars of right wing extremists is increasingly bizarre. Their social and legislative agenda has moved way beyond past conservative, pro-business, patriarchal control. It is no longer about small government, low taxes, unregulated free markets, militarism and anti-communism Their agenda has become completely crazy.
The right-wing plutocracy (Koch brothers, et.al.) started all these culture wars as a divide and conquer tactic. It served their political agenda to divide liberal from conservative, black from white, immigrant from native, urban from rural, union from non-union and religious fundamentalists from everyone else.
But in recent years all this division has gotten out of control. It has metastasized into a virulent cancer that is destroying our society. In 2016, the GOP became the MAGA party of hatred, racism, bigotry, nativism and violence. It is now a party completely taken over by ignorant, irrational, anti-science, conspiracy-believing extremists who seem to have no political objective except chaos and destruction.
Who will gain from destroying all respect for the legitimacy of our elections? Elections have never been perfect. But even when tainted by corruption, the peaceful transfer of power has been a major hallmark of our country.
Who will gain from the increasing presence of guns and violence everywhere in our society? Or the increasingly violent rhetoric that is our public discourse? How many children have to die before we finally take action?
Who will gain from the ideological and political gridlock that prevents any action on many obvious, pressing problems? Who gains from ignoring climate change, or water pollution, or the destruction of public schools, or the exorbitant cost of health care, or the growing economic inequality in our country? You may think I am being overly alarmist. But every day the news has stories of completely ridiculous, but dangerous, craziness from the right wing extremists.
The right-wing obsession with transgender people is emblematic. As is typical of right-wing actions, ignorance is the foundation. In this case ignorance of biology, genetics and a toxic belief in anti-science religiosity. The result is state laws discriminating against transgender people (especially children), limiting access to related health care, and needlessly making their lives more stigmatized and difficult Transgenders create no problems for our society. They are a tiny percentage of the population. They do not harm other people. They simply want the freedom to be themselves.
For the right-wing nuts the right to carry a gun, which kills and maims many thousands every year is sacrosanct. But the freedom to be different must be controlled.
Public education is another wedge issue. By definition, real education will increase the knowledge and understanding of students. It will expose students to new, different, and sometimes disturbing, information, experiences, ideas and ways of thinking. You cannot “protect” children from the real world and have them become educated.
Pushing “parental rights” legislation to control and limit what students “learn” is antithetical to good education. Granting parents the right to meddle in the instructional methods and curriculum of schools is a recipe for chaos, division and failed public schools. No one wins from perpetuating the ignorance and prejudice of a minority of parents.
Case in point is the news story on a Florida school principal being forced to resign because Michelangelo’s statue “David” was part of a sixth grade lesson on Renaissance art. Some prudish parent called it “pornography.” Seems to me if 12 year-olds don't know what the human body looks like, we have much bigger educational problems than a little nudity.
Clearly the right wing's purpose is not to “protect” children or to prevent liberal “indoctrination” It is to ensure children are indoctrinated into group think of the right wing ideologues.
Republicans say they oppose “government overreach” and support individual liberty. But this doesn't extend to the freedom to read. According to PEN America (advocates for freedom to write and read),Texas in 2021-2022, banned 801 books. Most dealt with racial history or sexual identity. Duval County, Florida banned 176 including a biography of Rosa Parks. Other Republican controlled states are doing the same.
Texas banned the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. This case provides insights into Republican foolishness. It is a novel about former Texas Rangers doing a cattle drive in the late 1800s. Wikipedia says the “novel explores themes of old age, death, unrequited love, and friendship.”
But one of the main characters is a prostitute (OMG “Sin in River City”). The Republican state legislator pushing the ban hadn't read the book. Actual knowledge is never a prerequisite with these clowns. I suspect few school children would be interested in reading this book. So banning the book is unnecessary and silly. T
he real problem with banning books is that those students with the interest, ability and maturity to enjoy better novels are denied access. We should be encouraging these students to higher achievement not restricting them. They certainly shouldn't be restricted because of some self-appointed moral vigilante or some pretentious, pandering politician.
On the public health front Republicans in North Dakota and Tennessee have enacted laws preventing medical licensing agencies from sanctioning doctors for inappropriately prescribing hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin for COVID. These drugs have not been approved by the FDA for this purpose. But politicians, like Wisconsin's Ron Johnson (and social media), are still spreading lies about these quack cures.
Republican opposition to mask mandates and vaccines has resulted in Republicans dying of COVID at much higher rates than Democrats. Florida and Ohio had 76% higher death rates. Across the country Republican majority counties had more deaths.
There is a resurgence of illegal child labor in our country. The U.S. Department of Labor recorded a 37 percent increase in 2022. Many violations involve minors working too many hours or too late on school nights. An estimated 500,000 children work as migrant farm laborers in slavery like conditions. But Republican controlled states are busy weakening child labor laws and gutting enforcement. R
epublican controlled Idaho, Utah, South Carolina, Mississippi and Oklahoma now allow executions by firing squad. In response to the latest school shooting, some Republicans are saying children should be trained on using forearms to defend themselves.
Obviously right-wing ideologues are out of control. In too many places, on too many issues, the inmates are in charge of the asylum.
When are the American people going to stop electing these idiots?