Smart people saying smart things (10.17.18)

Smart people saying smart things (10.17.18) October 17, 2018

Tara Isabella Burton, “Christian nationalism, explained through one pro-Trump propaganda film”

The Trump Prophecy is not a good movie. In fact, it’s a terrible movie. But it’s necessary watching as a window into the world of Christian nationalism in America.

For now, for those outside the world of conservative white evangelicalism, that world may be nothing more than a curiosity. But it might not be for long.

Heather Anne Thompson, “An Enduring Shame”

Nina McCall was not necessarily representative. [Scott Wasserman] Stern’s research indicated clearly to him that the plan “disproportionately affected nonwhite women.” Not only was Nina white, but there were also black women who had the audacity to file lawsuits, such as Bettie May James from Texas, whom he perhaps could have profiled. But what elite reformers and medical professionals did to this unremarkable white girl from the middle of nowhere — neither an immigrant from New York City nor a black woman from the South — underscores one of Stern’s central points: that under the plan, to be poor and female, even if you were white, was to be perpetually vulnerable to criminalization, confinement, and control. Scores of interviews with women detained under the American Plan in Kansas, for example, make clear just how little evidence could constitute “reasonable suspicion” of an STI:

One woman, for instance, was arrested and examined for defending a friend from the police…. One woman owed rent to a former sheriff…; another was arrested after changing jobs, when her former boss vengefully reported her to the health officer. One woman was arrested after her car broke down…. One woman was forcibly examined after just being on a date with a man who was drinking.

Beth Allison Barr, “Why I am Speaking Out for Evangelical Women”

On the one hand, John Piper’s promotions of “godly patriarchy” on Desiring God has no explicit connection to the mixed reactions toward Christine Blasey Ford and the support for Brett Kavanaugh by conservative men and women. On the other hand, it has everything to do with it.  Attitudes like those perpetuated by John Piper create, sustain, and promote a culture of patriarchy in North American Christianity that advocates for submissive women and aggressive males. What saddens me the most is how these portrayals of manhood and womanhood are marketed (and I really do mean marketed) as the “biblical” standard for godly behavior.

Rachel Denhollander, “I’m a sexual assault survivor. And a conservative. The Kavanaugh hearings were excruciating.”

But the fact that all groups have this response is no excuse for what is happening now. Whether another community acts rightly is no excuse for our decision not to, and like I tell my own young children, “You are responsible for your behavior, and your behavior alone.” Right now, as a conservative, I am distressed about the behavior of my side of the aisle. Because it’s not that hard to respond properly to allegations of sexual assault. We simply need to realize it matters, then act like it.

While the right way to respond isn’t that difficult, the wrong response is devastating. I know what it is like to be the teenage survivor watching the way the world around me treated sexual assault survivors who spoke up.

Jia Tolentino, “One Year of #MeToo: What Women’s Speech Is Still Not Allowed to Do”

The underlying principle here is that the men who have been accused are the heroes, and that those who accuse them, and listen to the accusations, are the villains. This revanchism is not a sign of #MeToo’s overcorrection, or even of its success — it is merely evidence of its existence. This sort of backlash, as Susan Faludi wrote nearly thirty years ago, is “set off not by women’s achievement of full equality but by the increased possibility that they might win it. It is a preemptive strike that stops women long before they reach the finish line.”

When Ford spoke publicly, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in late September, she was unfailingly polite and deferential while being interrogated at length about a traumatic experience. She spoke like a woman who had understood since childhood that survival requires anticipating and accepting the displeasure of men. Kavanaugh, in contrast, who spoke after her, yelled and wept, behaving like a man whose entitlement had never before been challenged, and who believed that male power outweighs women’s personhood as naturally as a boulder outweighs a pearl. The hearing was a vivid illustration of the precise problem that #MeToo has helped to expose, and of the fact that many men consider the exposure of the problem to be the problem itself. At one point, Kavanaugh traded lines with an equally furious Senator Lindsey Graham about how the delay in his confirmation had put him “through hell.”

Talia Lavin, “How to Fight Back the Doom in the Age of Kavanaugh”

In such a context, hope feels counterintuitive: what evidence is there, after all, that things can and will change? There is more empirical data in support of paranoia, sorrow, and detachment than hope; the sea seems poised to swallow us, the great heat to devour what’s left, while the rich crow in their gilded fastnesses. It is an era in which scaling the mountain of bad news feels Sisyphean, a trudge that only ever leads to more horror, and any height scaled merely enlarges the landscape of cruelty in view. …

To live in a time such as this — in which children are separated from their parents and incarcerated; in which racism and spite and greed and theocratic zeal seem the only animating forces of our government — it is worth remembering that there have been worse and blacker times, and there were those, even then, who fought on in the bilious dark.


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