Smart people saying smart things (6.30.22)

Smart people saying smart things (6.30.22) June 30, 2022

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Trump might have to be prosecuted to save American democracy, an expert on authoritarianism argues”

What happened with January 6th — my reading is that he was kind of throwing everything at the wall. He was getting Michael Flynn to try and have martial law or a military intervention. And that implies violence. He was trying electoral manipulation through the Georgia secretary of state and all over the country. And none of that worked. So he did the nuclear thing calling everybody in and inciting them to go and assault the Capitol. And that’s because he truly believes that violence is a way you can change history. To say that it was just a grift — it was certainly a grift, but that’s only part of it. The thing about autocrats today is that they’re all corrupt, but they’re also violent. They use all of these tools at the same time. So we can’t isolate one and say that January 6th was just about this or just about that. It was everything. It was a process of months and it culminated in violence.

Jill Filipovic, “When the Terrorists Win”

The Klan vested its authority in Christianity. They saw broad support from white Southern “redeemers” — the white supremacists who were determined, in the wake of the Civil War, to make the Confederacy great again. And they succeeded, at least partly. White supremacist leaders took over across the South. They instituted laws that disenfranchised African Americans, and pushed Blacks out of positions of economic influence, out of public office, and out of public life. This reign of political terror last roughly a century, and it, too, was an explicitly Christian project.

Lyz Lenz, “This Is How We Fight”

I witnessed a man try to kill people and in response, people told me I should be nicer.

You can’t politely smile hard enough for the state to give you your rights back. You cannot be sweet enough to protect yourself from violence. You cannot dress in a dress pretty enough. You can’t be blonde or white enough to protect you from what is coming.

The day my community showed up to protest our loss of bodily autonomy, I saw a man try to kill us. And he got away. Because of Iowa’s laws protecting drivers who hit protesters, it doesn’t seem like any charges will be filed. Also, our mayor put out a statement casting doubt on the protesters and city council has been quiet. The local news as framed the issue as an “altercation.” As if pedestrians telling a truck not to kill them is a both sides issue.

Rebecca Traister, “The Necessity of Hope”

Insisting on hope does not equal a call to dumb cheer, empty aphorism, and baseless optimism. That is the kind of garbage disregard for reality that landed us here. Fatuous overconfidence is what permitted those in power to tell those with their hair on fire that their fear was theatrical, unhinged, overdramatic.

Which is why we must retain the clarity of today’s horror, and never let anyone tell us that things are better than they are. Start with the presumption that your worst fears reflect reality and then learn from those who are already well acquainted with the world we actually live in. There are plenty of people who have not been blind to this country’s long backward motion, to the fact that restrictions have been tightening and rights have been dismantled.

Adam Joyce, “How Christian centrists acquiesce to America’s broken political system”

Second, a transpartisan framing of Christian politics profoundly mischaracterises the state of the American right and underestimates it as a threat to political democracy. It is rare that Christian centrists create a false equivalency between the two parties. However, they primarily frame political commitments through issue-based agreement with either ideology, with parties acting as a container for identity-formation and groups of individuals who take specific stances on issues. This individualises a reality that requires a historical context and analysis of institutional power.

Even before the rise of Trumpism, the events of 6 January 2021, and the grip of white Christian nationalism on the Republican base, the Republican Party’s explicit intertwining of racism, nationalism, and long-standing embrace of conspiracy theories has not only helped drive asymmetrical polarisation over the last four decades, but has become inimical to democracy itself. While Trumpism embodies a more immediate and existential threat to democratic elements of US politics, there are deeper and longer structural causes that have led to this moment.

(tldr version of this essay from Atrios)

Robyn Pennacchia, “PSA: Throwing Trans People Under The Bus Will Not Help Democrats Win Elections”

“Vote for us because we’ve done stuff for you and stood by you” is a much easier sell than “vote for us and maybe we’ll get to your shit later, but also the only other option is fascism, so you’re a terrible person and a fascist if you don’t.” This does not mean that the latter argument is not reasonable, it’s just that it is tougher to make. It also sows division and resentment and sourness among people who should be allies.

At some point, we have to realize that Republicans are just not acting in good faith. If Democrats roll over on something over right-wing criticism, they’ll just find a new thing to go after, and they’ll keep doing it over and over again, because it works.


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