He always said that Heaven was just a Dallas ‘modeling agency’

He always said that Heaven was just a Dallas ‘modeling agency’ October 2, 2023

• Here’s a wild story that seems to get wilder every day. Gabrielle Hanson is running to become the MAGA mayor of Franklin, Tennessee, hoping to win the office through a Fox-friendly campaign of extreme anti-gay and pro-gun rhetoric.

Hanson’s candidacy got off to a rocky start after local news station NewsChannel5 Nashville began investigating photos of supporters Hanson posted on her campaign site. Turns out these were pictures from a Chicago women’s event and the women pictured had no idea who Hanson was.

The Chicago connection raised questions about Hanson’s residency. Do she and her husband live in Tennessee or Chicago? The answer seems to depend on who’s asking. More investigating by NC5’s Phil Williams turned up Hanson’s arrest record in Dallas for promoting prostitution and her prior use of an alias both there and in Florida (something Hanson denied, under oath, thereby perhaps committing perjury).

I haven’t even yet mentioned the photos of Hanson’s husband dancing in nothing but an American flag Speedo at a 2008 Pride event in Chicago.

Phil Williams recently posted a compilation of his reporting on Gabrielle Hanson/”Julie Newhouse” and the story so far.

The cumulative effect of these stories is hilarious and makes watching the whole thing seem like an infomercial for corruption and hypocrisy, “But wait … there’s more!” It seems with Hanson, there’s always more:

• I want you to say a name, out loud. It can be almost any name — a person or place or sports team or institution of any kind. But what I want you to do is to say it with as much disdain and contempt as you can muster. Not just hostility, but exasperation — a heaping dose of “Ugh, not them again!” Think about it like “Jerry” “Newman,” only without any of the playful undercurrent of that Seinfeld running gag.

I want you to invest this one word with a universe of grievance and resentment. Say the name as if this one entity was responsible for ruining your childhood and killing your dog. Say it so that everyone can hear the italics.

Practice. In your initial efforts, you’ll probably manage a 6 or a 7. Kick it up to a 10. Don’t worry about going over the top or taking it too far. There is no too far. You want to spit out this name like its a curse or an imprecation and as though just pronouncing its syllables causes you physical pain.

Got the general idea? OK, good. This is how conservative white people always say the word “Oberlin.”

This is strange to behold, because Oberlin is simply a liberal arts college in Ohio and it hasn’t in any way directly affected these people’s lives. They didn’t go there. They don’t know anyone who went there. But yet they resent the place with an intimate, deeply personal hatred.

My theory is that this goes back more than 100 years — that Oberlin is still hated and being punished for committing the Unforgivable Sin: Being right about something obvious and basic before most others were right about it.

Why do conservatives obsessively despise Oberlin? Because, as Andrea L. Turpin writes, “The first coeducational college in human history was also biracial, at a time when the possibility of interracial marriage, known as miscegenation, really freaked out the average white American. It is difficult to communicate how extraordinarily radical that was.”

As Turpin notes, Oberlin was then an explicitly evangelical institution, but this “radicalism” quickly got it “farewelled” from respectable evangelicalism. (That’s not how white evangelicals tell this story. They like to say Oberlin is apostate, rejecting its earlier convictions for evil secularism. But they didn’t jump; they were pushed.)

This enduring resentment for Oberlin’s having been prematurely right while most were still wrong also accounts for why Reasonable Centrists eagerly swallow every new urban legend right-wingers invent about the place. It’s why they speak this name as a self-evident punchline, congratulating themselves for being savvy enough to understand why it’s mirthlessly amusing.

See also: “No matter what the laws might be, you would honor yourself for doing it.”

What is the statute of limitations for Oberlin’s crime of prematurely being right? I dunno, but we’re not there yet.

Richard Beck is right about “moralistic therapeutic deism.”

That phrase, from Christian Smith, has become a buzzword among Very Online Conservative White Christians who have turned his description into a slogan. This has had the weird result, as Beck notes, of causing them to advocate that religion should never be “therapeutic” — that it should, apparently, be bad for you, that it should make you miserable, less healthy, and less whole.

That’s a very weird thing to call for all because they’re unwilling to do what Beck does here and note that Smith just made a poor choice of words.

• The title for this post comes from Guy Clark’s “Let Him Roll,” (paraphrased as a tribute to Gabrielle Hanson).


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