The final skirmishes of the culture wars

A couple of years ago, after the death of Hiroo Onoda, we were reminded about how, for some people, World War II didn’t actually end in August, 1945, after the United States unleashed the only recorded deployments of weapons of mass destruction in world history. Between relatively slow-traveling news and a simple refusal to admit that you might have been wrong, it’s not uncommon for those who have lost a war, to be reluctant in admitting defeat.   

And, to some degree, they can be forgiven.  Wars are innately political machinations: you don’t need an outright declaration of hostilities to fight against someone with whom you disagree and neither a cease-fire nor a formal peace treaty will magically negate the anger, resentment, and similar sentiments that led to the war in the first place.  

And that’s not even getting into the relationship with what economists call “sunk costs” and the all-too-human tendency of continuing on a losing path simply because of the amount of resources spent already so stopping now would just be an admission of having wasted those resources.  

I mention this because there was an interesting article yesterday in the Christian Science Monitor about evangelicals sticking with Donald Trump in this election.  

For as long as the loosely-bound groups of Christians collectively known as the “religious right” have been politically active, there have been two central themes of their politics: racism and sexism.   The racism part is straightforward: whether we’re talking about support for Bob Jones University or opposition to the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, you could hear evangelical Christians arguing against anything that might level the political or economic playing field for those of us who, by accident of birth, have darker skin.  

The sexism part is a bit more pernicious.   It teaches that women are little more than temptresses and baby incubators.   It’s the catholic teaching that women are either virgins or whores with little else.   And it manifests itself in opposition to just about anything that teaches that human sexuality isn’t dirty.   Of course, the Roe vs Wade decision in 1973 was a catalyst and they refer to themselves as “pro-life”.  

If there was ever a more misleading term to describe a political position, it’s “pro-life”.  When my (now ex-) wife was pregnant with our first child, I went with her to several ob-gym appointments.   At one such appointment, the doctor referred to the clump of cells growing in her uterus as a parasite.  That’s exactly what he was at the time.  Sure, it was human DNA in the cells of that parasite, but he was no more human than my toenail clippings.   

If you oppose a medical procedure that has been demonstrated to be safe, and which can effectively rid your body of an unwelcome parasite, you’re not pro-life.   Sure, there are times when it’s not absolutely necessary to have the procedure, but there are times when it is.   The rest of the time, there’s a spectrum that ranges from “don’t do it” through various shades of gray to “yeah, it’s a good idea to do it.”  Your own mileage may vary.  But instead of “pro-life” perhaps a better description is “unable to trust women to make their own decisions.”

That doesn’t quite fit on a bumper sticker, I’ll grant you.  

In recent years, the religious right has branched out and opposes gay rights too.   Of course they would.   Letting gays and lesbians participate in society means tacitly acknowledging that people out there have sex for reasons other than baby-making.  And since it’s such a dirty, sinful act, why would they unless they were possessed by the devil?

But time after time after time, their efforts to control human sexuality have been rebuffed: by the people, by the courts, by the medical community, by humanity.  The culture wars are over and, to put it bluntly, they lost.  

The last few holdouts have thrown their support to Donald Trump because he has given a voice to their racist and sexist anger.  He has said exactly what they want to hear on topics that matter to them.  So what if he brags of sexual assault?  It — like all matters related to rape culture — fits into their narrative of the male dominating the female, sexually.  Even if he can say or do things that they might otherwise find abhorrent, he’s still pro-life.   

They’re really showing exactly what cards they have in their hands when they do this.  

I have long maintained that the Republican Party needs to excise itself of the demons of the religious right.  It’s my hope that that will actually happen after this coming election.  

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