Following his landslide loss in the election, Trump threatened to take his self-declared “movement” to the streets—a threat taken in earnest by his die-hard supporters, who warned of “revolution” and “civil war” were he to go down to defeat.
Which, of course, he did. Hillary Clinton garnered 391 electoral votes to Trump’s 147, and won the popular vote by 54.5%. The networks declared Clinton the winner early in the evening: NBC was first (at 5:27 p.m. eastern time), followed by CNN and CBS moments later. ABC was the outlier; the Disney-owned company did not declare for Hillary until 6:12 p.m.
At 5:46 p.m., Trump took to his usual media platform, Twitter, to declare that the election had been “rigged” and the result “stolen.” He urged his supporters to “let Crooked Hillary and her friends in the elite media know they can’t get away with this disgusting theft of your freedom!”
The first large pro-Trump demonstrations were reported in Atlanta, Georgia, whose 16 electoral votes went to Clinton by the narrow margin of 1.2%. Protestors, almost all of them white, massed on Peachtree Street. Police estimated the crowd size initially at 2,500, but it grew quickly, and by midnight, at least 25,000 demonstrators had blocked streets and highways, setting fires and smashing store windows. The downtown headquarters of Hillary Clinton for President were burned to the ground.
Protests across the country quickly multiplied, with the following cities reporting huge demonstrations by 2 a.m. Wednesday: Pittsburgh PA, Lawrence KS, Dallas TX, Frankfurt KY, Tallahassee FL, Cheyenne WY, Lincoln NE, Tulsa OK, Tucson AZ, Sacramento CA and dozens of others. Governors in 17 states called out their National Guards. The first casualties were reported in Council Bluffs, IA, where seven demonstrators and three policemen were killed in gunshot exchanges. By dawn on the day following Election Day, large parts of 142 American cities were in flames, and the death toll had risen to 360.
Throughout the night’s chaos, Trump kept up a steady barrage of tweets, some 176 by dawn. Here is a typical one, issued at 3.42 a.m.:
UNBELIEVABLE SUPPORT FROM ALL OVER AMERICA! DON’T LET HILLARY STEAL THIS! MARCH! SEIZE POWER!
By 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Trump had set up his own media headquarters at Trump Tower, where he broadcast continually on Twitter and Facebook. By then he had shed the dark suit and tie he usually wears for a military uniform. At 9:42 he announced the formation of a “Provisional American Government” (P.A.G.) because, he said, “Our existing government has failed, and proven it cannot defend the rights of the American people against the usurpations of power by Crooked Hillary Clinton and her aiders and abetters in both the Democrat and Republican parties.” Moments later, Trump announced he had appointed former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani to be “Minister of Defense” for the new government.
At a 10:15 a.m. press conference, Giuliani, wearing military-style garb similar to Trump’s, announced that the new Provisional Government was immediately beginning to draft men and women between the ages of 18 and 45 years “to form the backbone of a National Militia to ensure that Donald J. Trump is recognized as President of the United States of America.” Giuliani urged volunteers for the Militia to “gather up your guns and firearms and report to Trump Enlistment Centers” that had been set up overnight in dozens of cities and towns. By 5 p.m. that day, some two hundred thousand “Militiamen” had been inducted. Each swore an oath “to our sacred honor, to our country, and to President Trump.”
Meanwhile, Barack Obama—still the sitting President—addressed the American people in a broadcast at noon Wednesday that was covered by all the major television and radio media. He pronounced “a state of national emergency to protect domestic tranquility and the rule of law” and said that future demonstrations, if violent, would be met by “irresistible force.” The first major confrontation following his pronouncement occurred in Helena, Montana, where some 6,000 Trump supporters, most of them in western gear and carrying firearms, overwhelmed local police. Montana Governor Steve Bullock, asked by the Obama Justice Department to mobilize the state’s National Guard, refused. In turn, Obama, acting on a request from his Attorney-General, Loretta Lynch, ordered U.S. troops from Fort Missoula and Fort William Henry Harrison, two military installations in Montana, to Helena. By 3 p.m. the U.S. troops had fully engaged with the demonstrators, now joined by the Montana National Guard, which threw its support to the Trump camp. Full-scale fighting between the two sides erupted.
By nightfall, that scenario was played out in 34 States and 511 cities. At one point, CNN estimated that upwards of 200,000 individuals were actively “at war with each other,” with pro-Hillary Clinton protestors now taking up their own arms to combat pro-Trump activists. The death toll, CNN estimated, was “in the low thousands, and rising.”
At 1:15 a.m. on the Thursday following Election Day, Obama renewed his declaration of National Emergency and announced a 5 p.m.-9 a.m. curfew “in all areas of the country where active fighting is occurring.” Fighting continued throughout the next five days, with a defiant Trump leading his side’s efforts. Around noon on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in, tweeting that “Donald Trump apparently won the U.S. election but is having his victory stolen by the enemies of democracy.” Putin ordered Russian’s military forces to their highest alert level in 27 years. Troop concentrations were reported in eastern Silberia, opposite the Alaskan coast, and on Russian’s borders in Eastern Europe. Russia recalled its ambassador to the U.S. “for consultations.”
Exactly when the first dirty bomb went off in the U.S. has been difficult to ascertain, as multiple ones exploded more or less simultaneously in 30 cities on Thursday afternoon. ISIS immediately took credit. From his headquarters, Trump tweeted about “Hillary/Ryan/Obama dirty bombs! Disgusting! Jail her!” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sent 1,200 National Guard troops to seize Trump Tower and “remove Mr. Trump by any necessary means,” but by then, the luxury apartment building was being protected by some 20,000 Trump supporters, and the National Guard was unable to get through. Some 400 died in the ensuing battle.
As of today (Dec. 9), the situation has not been clarified. Fighting and killing have diminished, to some extent, but the animosity between pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces seems likely to grow. Meanwhile, just this morning, the Governors of Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Indiana and Nebraska released a joint proclamation, stating they are “in active discussions pursuant to a formal withdrawal from the United States of America, to join forces with the Provisional American Government under President Trump.” Where things go from here is anyone’s guess.
An evangelical preacher and a conservative billionaire walk into a bar…
It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but there’s no punch line, really, just a sort of nostril-pinching stench to the whole affair. The preacher would be Dr. James Dobson, founder of “Focus on the Family,” who said that gay marriage signals “the fall of western civilization,” who called Obama “one of the worst presidents in American history,” a “tyrant…reckless and defiant,” who said that women who suffer from domestic violence from their male spouses “deliberately bait [their] husbands until they hit her,” who caused a university professor to be fired for teaching evolution, who sided with Jerry Falwell that the issue of global warming “is a tool of Satan being used to distract churches”—–this same Dobson now claims to know personally that Trump “recently [has] come to accept a relationship with Christ and [is] now a baby Christian.”
Trump as born-again Christian? Look, anything is possible. Perhaps Saint Donald really did have a road-to-the-White-House moment, falling to to his knees, renouncing the rampant sexual rage that has fueled him all his life, and accepting Jesus into his heart. Perhaps—or maybe he simply realized that pretending to be a Christian was his only conceivable chance.
Do you believe him? Even if it’s true, is that really a recommendation to vote for him—or a reason not to? Personally, I think Trump is the most devious and manipulative candidate I’ve ever seen in American politics, including Richard Nixon. He will say anything, no matter how ridiculous, no matter how easily disproved, in order to gain the slightest advantage in this election. He has no core beliefs, no diehard principles, except to advance the cause of Donald J. Trump—which cause apparently includes the right to grab a pretty girl’s pussy.
In truth, the rock-solid evangelical wall of support for Trump isn’t as firm as it was just a week ago, before the “pussy” video was released. Yesterday there were scattered reports of defections by evangelicals from the Trump campaign. The editorial director of the major Christian publication, Christianity Today, even conceded that Christian “enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus Christ is Lord. They see that some of us are so self-interested, and so self-protective, that we will ally ourselves with someone who violates all that is sacred to us…”.
Count me in as one of those doubtful neighbors! It is patently clear that Trump is the antithesis of everything that evangelicals claim to believe in. It’s also patently clear that this hypocrisy doesn’t bother most of them in the least. Why not? Their “deep aversion to Hillary Clinton” is stronger than their aversion to Trump’s character. Well, to begin to fathom this, you might re-read my blog from yesterday, but really, there is no fathoming, no logical or rational understanding, to explain how allegedly God-fearing Christians can vote for a man so obviously devoid of moral character. There is, however, late-breaking evidence that evangelical women finally are seeing Trump’s true character and are “waking up” to the horror of his “locker room banter.”
We can only hope that increasing numbers of such evangelical women will whisper into their husbands’ ears that Trump really is a truly awful human being, and that even if they—the husbands—are inclined to support him, the wives are asking for a big favor this one time: please, honey, don’t.
Women are preferring Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by huge, unprecedented margins, while men prefer Trump, although by margins far less, according to data collected by fivethirtyeight.com.
|CBS News||Clinton +18||Trump +11|
|CNN||Clinton +14||Trump +4|
|Fairleigh Dickinson||Clinton +24||Trump +7|
|Fox News||Clinton +10||Trump +7|
|Google Consumer Surveys||Clinton +13||Trump +3|
|Ipsos/Reuters||Clinton +9||Clinton +5|
|Morning Consult||Clinton +6||Clinton +4|
|PRRI/The Atlantic||Clinton +33||Trump +11|
|Quinnipiac University||Clinton +20||Trump +12|
|Rasmussen Reports||Clinton +11||Clinton +2|
|USC Dornsife/LA Times||Clinton +9||Trump +14|
|YouGov||Clinton +15||Trump +2|
|Average||Clinton +15||Trump +5|
Why women are turning against Trump is pretty obvious, and it’s not only because Hillary stands to become the first woman ever to be elected (or even nominated) to be President of the United States, the ultimate smashing of the glass ceiling. It’s also because Trump is a moral, sexist pig, and just about every woman has had experience with that dreadful sort of man.
I’m not a woman, and it took me a while to understand what too many of them go through with respect to groping, leering, lecherous assholes. Decades ago, when I was a young, oblivious man, I was a short-order cook at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant in Brattleboro, Vermont. Several of my female friends were waitresses. As we lived in the same town twenty miles away, we used to carpool. One night, after work, I cleaned up the kitchen and went out to the restaurant area where the women were getting ready to leave. One of my friends, Wendy, seemed upset. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that a customer, a young man, had given her a really hard time. “When I asked him ‘What’ll it be?’, he said, ‘You, baby.’”
Well, I didn’t quite get why that was so upsetting, and I said so. That’s when all three of my lady friends gave me a lecture I never forgot about unwelcome sexual approaches towards them by men. We had a thirty-minute car ride back home, and on it, they poured out all of their buried angst, anger, frustration and grief.
I never forgot that. I think we men probably can’t fathom what it’s like—most of us, anyhow. We can try to be empathic, but it’s hard. But when women listen to Trump doing his vile thing on that infamous tape, they get it, bigtime. Trump is every pig who ever insulted them, groped them, said nasty things about them. He is every man who objectified them, saw them as nothing but pieces of meat, nice legs and great tits and awesome asses and grabable pussies. Women know, through long experience, about that kind of man, that if he’s that way with women, then he’s probably an asshole in other aspects of his life. And that is why so many of them have turned against Trump.
But questions remain. Why are there still millions of women who love Trump and will vote for him? Here, I’m no longer sure. Maybe they feel like his personal behavior, reprehensible though it may be, has nothing to do with what a President Trump would accomplish, were he to be elected. Maybe some percentage of them suffers from internalized misogyny, a form of self-hatred that can be difficult to discern within oneself. And, of course, there’s a particularly bitchy form of hatred for Hillary that comes from women. I can’t begin to fathom that one, but I know it’s out there.
But how about those men who will vote for Trump over Hillary? Here we have a trove of psychological complexity. Some of them will vote for Trump simply because he’s male, and they—being of the same moral character as Trump, talking about women the same way—identify with him. Certainly, many of these Trump men strongly support him because they loathe Hillary Clinton, which is a form of mental lllness in itself. Some of them respond to Trump’s vaguely-defined “authoritarianism” by which he portrays himself as strong and decisive. These are characteristics men like to think they, themselves, possess, and they like that kind of perceived strength in their leaders. Never mind that Trump’s “solutions”—to immigration, to ISIS and terrorism, to America’s complicated role in the world, to just about any issue you can name—are vague to the point of non-existent. Never mind that he would probably be a disaster with our allies. Men who would vote for Trump don’t analyze issues, they respond emotionally—and many of them are really still thirteen years old, psychologically, and want to do naughty things their parents forbade. Voting for Trump is the ultimate naughty thing they can do.
At any rate, we don’t know how this election is going to turn out. The polls are irrational: Fivethirtyeight.com gives Hillary an 83.5% chance of winning now, but just two months ago, she and Trump were neck to neck, and even a month ago, just before the first debate, he was closing in on her. So who knows? Something might happen: Hillary’s health, some email revelation, an asteroid strike on Chappaqua. I don’t think so, but you never know.
Still, I suspect Hillary will win (you probably do, too), and when she does, it will be the women of America who will have elected her. As for those men—look, I like men, I am a man, I identify with men, I like to drink in bars, I like going to ball games, I like gyms and lockerrooms, I curse and swear like a sailor. I “get” the guy thing…to a point. Where I break ranks with my gender is when they’re so stupid, so willfully ignorant and irrational, that they think with their peckers instead of with their brains. And that’s how Trump males roll.
Retro Cellars is a good winery and they make good Petite Sirah, with both a Napa Valley and a Howell Mountain appellation. I always gave them pretty high scores: generally low 90s, and always with a Cellar Selection recommendation. Petite Sirah is, of course, a very particular wine; you have to be in the mood for this rather heavy, full-bodied variety. With winter fast approaching, it’s a great choice for full-bodied stews and roasts. Anyhow, Retro sent me two new 2012s to review, so here we go.
Retro 2012 Petite Sirah (Napa Valley), $40, alcohol 14.5%. It’s nice to think that I would have known this was Petite Sirah even without actually knowing it (which I did), because of the color. There’s no other California wine this black, and I do mean black, with an utterly impenetrable core. Even at the rim, there’s barely any color, maybe 1/32nd of an inch of garnet. The wine smells as dense as it looks, offering up heaps of blackcurrants, with hints of espresso, violets, unsweetened dark chocolate, grilled meat bone and graphite, with a jacket of sweet, toasted oak. In the mouth, no surprises! Big, luscious, thick in tannins, huge in blackcurrants, with a spicy finish. Serious wine, mind you, port-like for a cold winter night, if a little soft. Yes, the tannins are formidable. But they’re sweet, ripe tannins, not the numbingly hard kind, so I wouldn’t mind drinking this wine tonight. Still, it will age for many years, not necessarily getting “better” (whatever that means), but shedding sediment and seemingly gaining sweetness. Score: 93 points.
Retro 2012 Old Vine Elevation Petite Sirah (Howell Mountain), $50. They call it “Elevation” because it’s the mountain wine, as opposed to the regular Petite, which is from Pope Valley. The official alcohol is 13.4%, but it doesn’t taste delicate, the way a 13.4% Pinot Noir would. It’s a big wine, drenched in 100% new French oak for thirty months. That’s a lot of wood, but the wine handles it deftly, because the fruit—blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants—is so incredibly concentrated. The tannins are bigtime, too. There are all sort of complexing tastes: anisette, dark chocolate shavings, charred beef, prosciutto, and exotic spices: cinnamon, clove, pepper, cardamom. How is it different from Retro’s Napa Valley Petite Sirah? It’s not really. A tad more intense, more focused, better structured. Well, those are the sorts of things you pay extra for. In this case, an additional ten bucks is worth it. Interestingly, 60% of the blend comes from the Park Muscatine Vineyard, which dates to the 1890s, which must also account for the wine’s unusual depth. It’s terrific to drink now with something rich, like short ribs, and it will age for at least twenty years, softening over time as it sheds sediment. Score: 94 points.
Political parties in America are remarkably hardy. They have proven themselves to be adaptable to the most far-ranging circumstances. The Republican Party has gone through many crises since its founding (in 1854). It has enjoyed periods of near-monopolistic control (1860-1912) and periods when it seemed like an endangered species (1932-1952). The party has swung from far right to moderate and back again, depending on the exigencies of the moment. Currently, it’s undergoing what David Gergen calls “a civil war” between its rightwing extemists and more “moderate” traditionalists. Democrats are enjoying this particular battle—I certainly am!—but before we break out the champagne we should keep in mind that this GOP is wily and will likely regroup after Trump’s defeat.
My younger readers might not understand how the Republicans got into their current predicament, so let me tell you about the last 45 years. When Richard Nixon ran for re-election in 1972, he realized he had no hope of winning the Black vote, which is essential to capturing the big cities of America. Therefore he developed “the southern strategy,” a thinly-disguised appeal to racism below the Mason-Dixon line. It worked; the Solid South, formerly Democratic, turned Republican, and remains that way.
The appeal to whites, particularly white males, continued throughout the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. The latter was not an especially conservative Republican, although he had to play nice with evangelicals (whom he disliked personally) and anti-abortion types (with whom he and his wife, Barbara, disagreed). Around this time—the late 1980s and early 1990s—the Republican Party made a fateful decision: it cast its political lot with evangelicals, to put together the coalition that elected George W. Bush twice. But in so doing, it empowered the fringe Christian right, who actually raised to power insane men such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Mike Huckabee.
These people, the most extreme rightwingers, were emboldened enough during Bill Clinton’s presidency to impeach him. Fortunately, the American people—even many Republicans—realized that the right had vastly overreached. They continued to support Clinton by great majorities, which is why the Senate eventually failed to convict him. But the rightwingers had proven their power; they were just getting started. For the last twenty years, they’ve been busy little bees, taking over state houses and state legislatures; and their consistent message has been one of hatred against Democrats—a hatred that went on steroids with the election of our first Black President, Barack Obama.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the biggest problem with the Republican Party is that it doesn’t have the courage to stand up to the evangelicals. Many if not most clear-thinking Republicans believe that evangelicals are nuts. Donald Trump, for example, knows that the world was not created 6,000 years ago. He knows that Adam and Eve didn’t play with dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden, and that the Grand Canyon was not created by Noah’s flood. He knows that the world with all its marvels wasn’t made in six days, and that science is the best way to explain and understand the universe. In his private moments (and perhaps a tape recording will surface), he, like most wealthy New Yorkers, thinks that evangelicals are redneck rubes he would never invite to his and Melania’s parties.
And make no mistake, it has been evangelicals who have driven the Republican Party off the cliff. They’re ignorant, yes, and stubborn as mules, and they celebrate their own lack of education. But they vote, and have provided the tipping point in electing Republicans for several decades now, so they have to be courted. People like Donald Trump have to pretend to respect them. But this merely emboldens the evangelicals even more: it makes them think they’re more powerful and numerous than they really are. That, in turn, causes them to raise the stakes: no on abortion, no on gay rights (despite what the Supreme Court says), no on a separation of church and state, no on taxes for billionaires, no on science, no on climate change, no on diplomacy—no on the very things that, if enacted into law, would actually benefit them and their families. It’s been a question on the Left for years: how come these Republicans vote against their own interests and the interests of their parents and children?
The answer is simple. Their thinking process is so messed up, by the superstitions and malice of their religion, that they’re no longer capable of sane decision-making. That’s a terrible thing to accuse them of, I know. I have evangelicals in my family. They are wonderful people—they’d give you the shirt off their back. They give to charity, they generally are good parents, they are loyal patriots who love their country, they are law-abiding citizens. Let’s give them their due.
But when it comes to intellectual clarity, they are a most diseased demographic. Their rejection of science indicates something seriously wrong with their frontal lobes. This is not a disease caused by germs or viruses or accidents; it is a self-inflicted mental sickness. But humans have free will. Nobody can force somebody else to be rational.
There’s probably a rock-solid 20%-25% of the American public that’s evangelical and isn’t about to change. What the Republican Party has to do, if it wants to live, is clean house, and the first thing to get thrown out must be evangelicals. This will cause an uproar, for sure, especially in the reddest of the red-state Bible belt: Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, etc. The preachers will go insane and so will their pet congressmen. Limbaugh will be foaming at the mouth, and fox “news” will go on a rampage, especially the Vaticanistas like Hannity and O’Reilly. David Gergen’s “civil war” might just erupt for real and manifest itself in riots. But it has to be done. These evangelicals are a cancer on the Republican Party, as they are on the country, and as with any cancer, the only way to help the patient survive is to excise it.
In Freudian psychoanalysis, there’s a defense mechanism, called reaction formation, “in which emotions and impulses which are anxiety-producing or perceived to be unacceptable are mastered by exaggeration (hypertrophy) of the directly opposing tendency.” (Wikipedia) One example of reaction formation is Stockholm Syndrome: when a hostage develops intense, positive feelings for his or her captor/s. Another is when closeted homosexuals bash gays; Roy Cohn was a classic example, but so have been any number of outed Republican politicians, such as Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, the disgraced, homophobic former Republican Senator from Idaho, who was caught soliciting in a men’s room.
Reaction formation is something politicians sometimes do when they’re afraid they’re on the losing side of an election and they want/need to distract attention from their losing positions and perhaps convince themselves they’re doing okay. Such was the case in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, where the op-ed page could be used in a Psych 101 class, so filled was it with different kinds of reaction formations. But first, a little background.
Nate Silver’s highly respected fivethirtyeight.com website has had Hillary Clinton on a real roll lately. Since the first Presidential debate, her chances of getting elected have soared, from 54.8% to 78.8% as I write (Thursday afternoon). This is clearly scary for Republicans. It is information that is “anxiety-producing or perceived to be unacceptable” for them, and therefore must be hidden by “the directly opposing tendency,” which is to rachet up their attacks on Democrats. The psychological hope, I suppose, is that WSJ readers (who tend to be conservatives) will be reassured that the Republican Party is sticking it to Democrats—even as that Republican Party is headed towards near-certain doom in the election.
So what do we find on the op-ed page? A deplorable basket of stuff that’s really phony, even for the Wall Street Journal. Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a bumpy ride!
Aleppo is Obama’s Sarajevo, by Daniel Henninger. A desperate smear of the President by a dreadfully partisan columnist. Henninger is actually trying to pin the Syrian war on Obama, which nobody believes except for red state ignoramuses and neocons. This is in line with Trump’s love-fest for Putin. Henninger will never admit that George W. Bush caused the Syrian war to happen when he criminally invaded Iraq and caused chaos across the Middle East.
The FBI Treated Clinton With Kid Gloves, by Noel Francisco and James Burnham. To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, “Enough with the frigging emails already!” Nobody cares. That manufactured scandal’s shelf life ended weeks ago, but here’s the Wall Street Journal, desperately reaction-formationing this smear. Sad, really sad. The atmosphere in the Journal’s editorial room must be near suicidal.
ObamaCare’s Meltdown Has Arrived, by Andrew Ogles and Luke Hilgemann. The paper could have published this two years ago, one year ago, six months ago, three months ago—wait a minute, they did! Republicans have consistently lied about ObamaCare’s success in insuring tens of millions of Americans. This “meltdown” myth is so transparently fake, you have to wonder why the Journal felt yet another attack on the Affordable Care Act is needed at this time. But then, that’s the essence of reaction formation: the actual choice of behavior doesn’t matter. What counts is coming up with something, anything to deflect the pain of something as “anxiety-producing and unacceptable” as Trump’s crash in the polls.
And here, in a way, is my favorite, from the ever-dependable Karl Rove:
Trump Sorely Needs a Debate Win. Ole Karl must have had a really bad day if this is the best he could come up with. My little dog, Gus, could have told me that!
See the pattern? The Wall Street Journal is panicking. The center is not holding. Republicans see the handwriting on the wall—the disaster they have foisted upon themselves—and the only thing they can do about it is bury their heads in the sand and come up with ludicrous avoidance behaviors to mask the pain. Unfortunately, as Freud himself warned, reaction formation solves nothing. It merely pushes the anxiety down deeper, where it can manifest itself in truly harmful ways.
This is what Pence said in the early 1990s: “Homosexuals are not as a group able bodied. They are known to carry extremely high rates of disease brought on because of the nature of their sexual practices and the promiscuity which is a hallmark of their lifestyle.”
And this is what he said as recently as last year, when as Indiana’s governor he tried to ram through the nation’s most discriminatory anti-gay law, which he lied about with Orwellian doublespeak when he pretended it was designed to guarantee “religious freedom” rather than its true purpose, pure-and-simple Christian gay bashing in that red Bible belt state.
Look, the real “high rates of disease” in America are found in the Republican Party—where the disease of homophobia has assumed epidemic-like proportions and represents a clear danger to our health and freedom.
And not just homophobia: its handmaiden, misogyny, also has swept through the GOP. The reason the two sicknesses are so often intertwined is because the men (mainly white, uneducated and angry) who hate gays also believe in a Biblical place for women: barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. They are threatened by strong, progressive women (like Hillary Clinton). There are, unfortunately, many women who hate gays too. They tend to be Bible-thumping Christians, like Mrs. Pence, and do not have the intellectual capacity to understand that their Bible stories are largely myths that, however inspiring, never happened, and have no place in a secular, Constitutional democracy, which is what America is. These same women who hate gays tend also to subscribe to their husbands’ views that women should be subjugated to men: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord,” it says in Colossians 3:18, which goes on to add:
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of every woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God….”.
Onward Christian soldiers! And for all those Sharia-fearing Christians who are so intolerant of the burka, here is the New Testament’s rule for women when the Rapture comes: “…any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head …For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair.”
They said it in the Bible, folks!
Pence’s homophobia is lifelong and stubbornly resistant to cure. His master’s homophobia is of more recent acquisition. Trump never had the reputation as a gay basher, and he’s downplayed gay issues in this campaign—at least, from his own lips. But that hasn’t stopped him from making whoopee with homophobes like Pence and the crowd at Liberty University and all the other haters. What causes a heretofore tolerant New Yorker to come down on the homophobic side of the fence? Trump looked around, realized that in order to get elected President he needed the support of a group of people he had mocked all his life as redneck rubes—evangelical Christians—and suddenly discovered his inner homophobe.
So much for principles!
Incidentally, it’s not only Christians who have a medieval attitude towards women and gays. So do many Orthodox Jews. I once made friends with a young Chasidic man, of the Lubavitch persuasion, who introduced me to his friends in Berkeley. I got to know their chief rabbi and actually studied with him. After a year or so, I became troubled with their group’s reputation as being virulently anti-gay, so I had a little chat with Rabbi. I asked him what he thought about all the “death penalties” in the Old Testament, of which there are dozens.
For instance, Exodus 21:!7: “’Whoever curses his father or mother shall be put to death.”
“So, Rabbi,” I asked, “does that mean that if a little kid has a temper tantrum and says to his father or mother, ‘Fuck you!’ that kid should be murdered?”
“Of course not,” Rabbi smiled indulgently. “It’s a metaphor.” And “a metaphor” is how he described every death penalty I described to him—some two dozen in all. Until, that is, we came to the most infamous Torah death penalty of all, Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” And being “an abomination,” of course, it is punishable by death: preferably stoning in the public square.
“So do you agree with that, Rabbi?”
Here, Rabbi seemed a little uncomfortable. Instead of calling it “a metaphor” he shifted in his seat and tried to change the subject, but intrepid journalist that I was, I wouldn’t let him.
“So, Rabbi, again, does that mean you believe gay people should be killed?”
“Look,” Rabbi finally said. “It’s not going to happen until Moshiach” [the Jewish Messiah] “returns to Jerusalem and institutes Jewish law. So nobody has to worry about such things for a while.”
Well, the problem here, of course—as it is with radically religious Christian Republicans—is that “the thought is father to the deed.” I for one don’t want to keep my fingers crossed and hope that the Messiah never comes, so that gay people will not be executed. Nor do I want Christian homophobes to come anywhere close to the levers of power, for haters like that have judgments so clouded by superstition and resentment, they can’t be trusted to make any decision affecting millions of Americans.
And yet, here’s Mike Pence, potentially a heartbeat away from the Presidency, with his violent attitudes towards millions, possibly tens of millions, of LGBTQ citizens, including children. Which is why I use language that is admittedly immoderate—but moderation in the pursuit of human freedom is never a virtue. Pence, take your Christian homophobia and shove it!