Smart people saying smart things (12.30.20)

Smart people saying smart things (12.30.20) December 30, 2020

David Dark, “Why are Republicans sticking with Trump? Peer pressure—and we’re all susceptible to it”

We need to make sure we are not letting deferential fear do our thinking for us. This is the challenge even when we are not confronting an attempted coup involving elected officials and political appointees refusing to concede after a presidential election. It appears before us in myriad settings throughout our lives: the pressure to keep the peace that is no peace, the pressure to play along. The problem here is civil obedience. Our presumed consent functions as a free pass for abuse.

Charlie Dates, “We out: Why our church is leaving the SBC”

When did the theological architects of American slavery develop the moral character to tell the church how it should discuss and discern racism? When did those who have yet to hire multiple Black or brown faculty at their seminaries assume ethical authority on the subject of systemic injustice?

How did they, who in 2020 still don’t have a single Black denominational entity head, reject once and for all a theory that helps to frame the real race problems we face?

I had to tell my church I was wrong. There is no such thing as “the Old Southern Baptists.”

Conservatism is, and has always been, the god of the SBC.

Elizabeth Jemison, “The Long Road to White Christians’ Trumpism”

A look at history, though, reveals that the forces of Trumpism — with its racism and sexism — run deep through white American Christianity. From the antebellum defense of slavery to postemancipation attacks on Black rights, many white American Christians have long defended racial hierarchy. In researching my book, Christian Citizens: Reading the Bible in Black and White in the Postemancipation South, I realized that white Christians after the Civil War invented many of the arguments that are now used by Christian Trump supporters. White Southerners argued that the Bible demanded that they oppose Black civil and political rights in favor of white men’s power because equal rights were a new political idea that conflicted with biblical teachings. They created their own echo chamber of white supremacist Christianity where they claimed that no Black Christians nor any white Christians who endorsed racial equality deserved their attention.

Rebecca Solnit, “On Not Meeting Nazis Halfway”

In fact the whole Republican Party, since long before Trump, has committed itself to the antidemocratic project of trying to create a narrower electorate rather than win a wider vote. They have invested in voter suppression as a key tactic to win, and the votes they try to suppress are those of Black voters and other voters of color. That is a brutally corrupt refusal to allow those citizens the rights guaranteed to them by law. Having failed to prevent enough Black people from voting in the recent election, they are striving mightily to discard their votes after the fact. What do you do with people who think they matter more than other people? Catering to them reinforces that belief, that they are central to the nation’s life, they are more important, and their views must prevail. Deference to intolerance feeds intolerance.

Fintan O’Toole, “Trump has unfinished business. A republic he wants to destroy still stands”

Democracy is not just about voting – it is a system for the rational articulation of ideas about the public good. Trump set out to lay waste to that whole system, from the bottom up, poisoning the groundwaters of respect for evidence, argument and rationality that keeps it alive.

The power of his instinct was that he knew how to tap into a hatred of government that has been barely below the surface of American culture since before the foundation of the US.

That instinct proved sufficiently well attuned that he got nearly 75 million votes in November, even while his malign incompetence was killing his own people. He got those votes, moreover, having made it abundantly clear that he would never accept the result of the election unless he won. They were votes for open autocracy.

This is his legacy: he has successfully led a vast number of voters along the path from hatred of government to contempt for rational deliberation to the inevitable endpoint: disdain for the electoral process itself.

Melissa Gira Grant, “Nick Kristof and the Holy War on Pornhub”

Women’s rights groups teamed up with religious right groups to shut down Craigslist’s and Backpage’s ads for sex work. All this was accomplished by religious right groups marketing themselves as anti-trafficking groups who were invested in protecting women and children from abuse. Meanwhile, their approach led to police abuse of sex workers under the guise of anti-trafficking raids and “rescues,” while also dismantling sex workers’ efforts to work independently and protect themselves. This isn’t fighting human trafficking: In some senses, it has increased the likelihood of exploitation and violence.


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