Sunday, August 26, 2018

What Good Conservatives SHOULD Be Doing...

I recently read, in more than one place, a nominally anti-Trump conservative saying in exasperation, "What SHOULD we be doing that we're not doing? Assassinating Trump or his supporters!? Cussing out Trump supporters?!"

Now, of course, they're generally doing this not because they were looking for ideas (at least by all appearances) but to justify their lukewarm, milquetoast non-response to the Trump disaster. But setting that aside for a minute, it's not an unreasonable question. I'm entirely sure there are some genuine Never-Trumpers who need ideas on what they can be doing.

So, I'm just going to brainstorm some ideas about what they should be doing has conservatives who say they are opposed to this Administration. And I say, "THEY" specifically on purpose. Because of the anti-media mania that has been enflamed by Trump, but existed before him, the MAGA-types simply aren't listening to rational voices on the left or in the mainstream/moderate world. They NEED to hear from fellow conservatives for us to even have a chance to reach out to them. "Liberals" are just part of the vast left wing media conspiracy out to ruin the country, so we can't be the ones who stop the Trumpians.

So, given that, consider what George Will has done by way of an example of responsible conservatism.

1. He left the Republican party and registered as an Independent.

Boom. Just left. Good on him! That's a significant step.

If Trump or someone like him had been the Democrat candidate to receive nomination in a presidential race, I would certainly step away from that party. I get that there is something to be said for staying within a Party or a group to try to effect change from within, but by the time you have a Trump-like aberration overtaking your party, that time to work from within has passed.

2. He actively encouraged conservatives to vote against Trump. And this coming election, he has said conservatives should vote against the Republican candidates. He saying publicly and loudly and often that conservatives need to own the responsibility in this and do their part to actively make the GOP lose races, to make it abundantly clear that the trunk wing of the party is being repudiated and rejected by conservatism.

Of course, it goes without saying that conservatives should quit funding GOP causes. The GOP has to KNOW that they can't go down the Trump-type path, that it will only result in the complete destruction of the party. The only significant way of doing this is for them to lose and lose big, now.

I'm not saying you have to support the Democrat candidate. Send support to third party candidates if you want. Do write in votes. The thing is, the GOP needs to suffer losses to know that the time for the MAGA-types is long gone. They MUST be thrown on the trash bin of history.

Those were two steps taken by Will. But I can think of at least one other...

3. Repudiate every hint of racism every single time it raises its head in the party or out of this Administration. Any slight hint that Latinos are rapists and murderers... Any hint that an immigrant being involved in a crime is a sign of an immigration crisis because Mexicans are criminals and M13 members... Any hint of Nazis and KKK and racist groups representing conservatism. Letters to the paper, to elected representatives, to your church, religious or community groups... speak out, loud and often.

The MAGA-types (which does include at least some portion of overt racists and actual Nazis) need to know that they are NOT welcome in the party or in conservative circles. They are not feeling that heat/peer pressure now.

Again, hearing it from liberals/progressives is not going to win them over. They need to hear it from good conservatives. Now, I get that you may be reluctant to go down that path... you might be willing to cut them some slack and give them the benefit of the doubt ("maybe they meant that Mexicans are rapists in a positive sense...??")

That time has past.

Y'all have a credibility problem on racial issues. Stop being defensive about it, recognize it, own it, and take steps to fix it.

Stop saying things like "but I have black friends, I'm not racist!" and just own that y'all have a problem. And reject it at every turn strongly clearly unequivocally. You have to go overboard on this one.

Stop the anti-immigrant rhetoric. Reject it when your conservative friends engage in it. Correct them. Strongly.

Stop the anti-Muslim rhetoric. Reject it when your conservative friends engage in it.

Stop the anti-black rhetoric. Quit complaining about football players respectfully and peacefully taking a knee in protest. Quit complaining about BLM. Just stop it. There may be a time, down the road, to critique these approaches, but that time is not now, and the people to do that critique are not old white conservative men.

You're only making the perception of racism worse with your criticism of these groups.

There's three great steps to start.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Responsibility for the Oppressors, not Blame for the Victims

I've read it again (this time at Stan's blog)... another person who doesn't understand that it's not acceptable to blame the victim and to not set all responsibility for a person's bad behavior on the one that's behaving badly.

Stan appeared genuinely puzzled about the school that got into trouble for posting a sign up to greet the students that read...

"The more you act like a lady, the more he'll act like a gentleman."

Stan's questions are the typical ones...

"I guess her message is that no one (male or female) has any impact on how people treat them and shouldn't concern themselves with that? I hear her complaining that girls should not act like a lady? I am assuming she did not read the implied, "And you guys -- the more you act like gentlemen, the more she'll act like a lady"? I'm missing it ... entirely."

The ONE thing he's getting right is that he's missing it. Entirely.

Imagine a sign on the school walls as the kids walk in the first day of school...

"The less you act like a fundamentalist Christian, the less likely that you'll be beat up."


"The more you act like a straight guy, the better the homophobes will treat you."

or, what if the sign had read,

"The more you wear clothes that show your ankles or (Allah forbid!), your calves, the more you'll be treated like a slut."

The problems with the sign are...

1. It promotes rape and rape culture. You may not understand that it does (apparently Stan doesn't, given his befuddlement) but it does. Stop promoting rape culture. Stop defending rapists. This is what people like Stan are doing, by their admitted lack of understanding. Again, I GET that maybe he truly doesn't understand that it does that, but I'm helping him and his tribe out by letting you all know that it does.

2. It blames the victim instead of holding assailants responsible for their own bad actions. (You'll note that there were no signs up in school that said, "Guys, you can't grab a girl's breast just because you find the clothes she's wearing too sexy..." The blame/responsibility was solely on women.)

3. It's an arbitrary standard created by the guys who rape and harass

. Who says what "acting like a lady" means? Is wearing a skirt that shows your calves too "slutty..."? How about if only your ankles are showing... does THAT mean you're a "slut" and not a "lady..."? Is dating too many guys in one year not "lady-like..."? What IS the right number? WHO gets to make that call? Why is it the rapists and the men who are telling women what's "too sexy..." or "too unlady-like..."?

4. If you turn that around to any other group, or at least, a group that you're part of - "Don't act too much like an evangelical or you might get beaten up...!" - it probably becomes more obvious that it's blaming the victim for the bad behavior of aggressive Others for acting in a way that The Others find disagreeable or that invites the Others too abuse, molest or otherwise harm the victim.

Try that out. Maybe you can see how it's so wrong-headed.

The message we should be sending out to any potential abusers is not, "If those people act a certain way... it's kinda understandable when you molest, abuse, harass them..."

Rather the message should be...

"It doesn't matter if a young lady wears a BIKINI to school,
It doesn't matter if she shows up only wearing a thin layer of wet toilet paper clinging to her breasts and covering her pelvis...
that does not give you the right to leer, harass or molest her.
It is not a sign that she's any less a lady
or inviting abuse of any sort!
Don't be a moron, dudes, get your crap together!
You are responsible for YOU."

So, there's the problem, Stan, and folk like Stan. YOU are responsible for YOU. If I get up today and feel like wearing pink flip flops and a tiara, that does NOT give homophobes the right to harass me because they think I'm gay or transgender. If YOU get up today and decide to put a big cross pin on your leisure suit and carry a large King James Bible around with you, that does NOT give atheists the right to belittle you. If a woman or teen-aged girl is wearing clothes that she finds fits her mood and comfort level, it is NOT A SIGN THAT SHE IS LESS A LADY because some abusers might find it "too sexy."

We must not give the rapists and their abusive brethren the power to make that call.
We must not blame the victims and lend support to the rapists.

Because, truly, that is what this sort of message does, and surely Stan and his brethren don't want to do that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

This Is Not Normal. Nor Is It Acceptable

To the good conservative people out there...

Just the facts that we know:

1. Trump makes false claims regularly (and at an ever increasing rate), at a rate unheard of ever in the office of the presidency. This is not disputable, it's demonstrable. Look it up if you doubt it.

2. This president has cheated on all of his wives. All of them. He's boasted about it. He's unrepentant about it. The man has no honor as it relates to any of his wives.

3. This president has boasted about sexually assaulting women and ogling half naked teenaged girls. He's laughed about it.

4. This president's defenders say that this is "normal locker room talk" and just how guys talk when they're alone. This is just not the case (neither I nor my friends have ever engaged in such behavior... not my progressive friends now, not my conservative friends when I was a younger man). To the degree that it IS the case, that SOME men (boys, really, whatever their age) engage in such oppressive and damaging talk does not make it acceptable.

5. What this president has said about making false claims and playing to people's worst nature by telling lies...

"The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole."


"I'm the first to admit that I am very competitive and that I'll do nearly anything within legal bounds to win. Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition."

He plays people like a conman, preying on their ignorances and thinks of this as a benefit.

6. What this president has said about greed...

"Now, I’ll tell you, I’m good at that – so, you know, I’ve always taken in money, I like money. I’m very greedy. I’m a greedy person. I shouldn’t tell you that, I’m a greedy – I’ve always been greedy. I love money, right?"

7. Along these lines, we know that this president and people he surrounds himself with, like Paul Manafort, are greedy hedonists. They are ostentatious in their hyper-consumption. They, no doubt, think of this as a moral or practical good. But the words that traditionally have been used to describe golden toilets and million dollar wardrobes (millions of dollars on their clothes... let that sink in! MILLIONS of dollars on their clothes!) is Greed, Hedonism, Debauchery.

Traditionally, these have been considered great grievous sins, NOT morally good.

8. The people around this man have secretly recorded him and each other. They are fundamentally suspicious of one another, and for good reason, it would appear. They are simply not trustworthy people and each of them appears to recognize it.

This recording of your co-workers and "friends" is not normal and must be happening for some reason.

...I could go on, but I think the point is clear: This administration, from its pathetic, lying leader to many of its top players are peopled with hedonistic, greedy, self-centered people who are willing to lie on a regular basis.

This is not normal. This is not good.

The only term I can think to describe what we are seeing and have seen is depraved, debauched. Sick.

Come on, conservative friends: You KNOW that people can make mistakes and get sucked into believing wrong things... that you can surround yourself with bad people who are thinking poorly and you, yourself, be influenced by such bad company. It is a well-worn conservative truism: You are known by the company you keep.

You KNOW this.

Set aside the politics for just a minute and look at what we know. Facts like what I've listed and so many more... isn't it possible that you've made a mistake? That you find yourself defending the wrong man, the wrong people... people who are genuinely hedonistic and debauched... and that you've simply got swept away in the heat of things (and no doubt, with good intentions on your part) and got behind a cadre of thugs and liars who simply aren't worth defending?

I know conservative religious folk believe in the notion of repenting... of admitting a mistake and turning away from that mistake.

Brother and sister conservatives who are defenders of this administration... isn't it time to turn away from that mistake?