Conservatives spent the week howling that the public reaction to Caitlyn Jenner portends the apocalypse. Again? (More)
Just so you know, we’re facing an apocalypse. Again. At this point I should quote Riley Finn’s remark when he learns that his girlfriend Buffy Summers is actually Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
When I saw you stop the world from, you know, ending, I just assumed that was a big week for you. It turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse.
For the record, Merriam-Webster doesn’t give a plural for apocalypse, perhaps because the first full definition (“an imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in a messianic kingdom”) is a one-time only event. But the more common meaning (“a great disaster, a sudden and very bad event that causes much fear, loss, or destruction”) allows the idea of multiple such events, and Wiktionary gives the plural as apocalypses.
I’m not sure if conservatives think Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover photo will trigger a “cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil,” or if they think it’s just “a sudden and very bad event that causes much fear, loss, or destruction.” I doubt if even they know. But they know it’s really, really bad:
Across social media, blogs and talk radio this week, conservatives painted an apocalyptic view of America. They said they felt frustrated and increasingly isolated by the country’s sudden recognition and even embrace of transgender people. They see it as immoral and foreign. They drew comparisons to two grimly futuristic novels, George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
“People feel like they’re under siege and that the terms of the debate are now you either applaud it or you’re a bigot,” said William J. Bennett, education secretary in the Reagan administration. “It’s like American culture is being dragged kicking and screaming not only toward acceptance but approval.”
“When did this get legs? When did this start being taken seriously?” talk radio host Rush Limbaugh asked his millions of listeners on Tuesday’s program. “We should not be lionizing this. We should not be encouraging this.”
For the record, this “got legs” quite awhile ago. A New York court ruled that Renée Richards could play women’s professional tennis in 1977. In 2004 the International Olympic Committee began allowing transgender athletes to participate in their identified gender, and USA Track and Field followed a year later. The LPGA began allowing transgender women to compete in 2010, the same year President Obama appointed transgender woman Amanda Simpson to be a Technical Advisor at the Commerce Department, the same year students at the College of William and Mary elected a transgender woman as their homecoming queen. A California high school chose a transgender homecoming queen in 2013. So did another high school in California this year and a high school in Utah. Transgender women ran for Congress in Florida in 2010, and in Nevada in 2014.
Oh, and both of those women ran as Republicans.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but conservatives who claim to be shocked and appalled by the public’s response to Caitlyn Jenner have obviously spent far too much time talking to each other. The Daily Signal’s Sean Fieler thinks the societal acceptance of transgender persons happened because conservatives “opted out of the debate.” But the truth is, they simply lost the debate. Right wing writers like Fieler and Kevin Williamson can rage away all they want, but the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association – both of whom include doctors who actually deal with transgender patients – have long accepted reality.
So do the increasing number of Americans who personally know a transgender person. That is the “national movement” that Fieler says never happened, probably because he doesn’t yet know any transgender people. So we’re back to conservatives thinking their circle of like-minded friends is representative of all Americans. And when Realworldia intrudes on their bubble … cue the apocalyptic ravings.
And speaking of ravings, The Atlantic’s David Graham worries that Hillary Clinton’s bold stance on voting rights will be bad for voting rights:
But whatever its merits, Clinton’s gambit also poses a political paradox. While Clinton’s proposals might lead to a fairer landscape for voters overall if enacted, the very gambit undermines itself. Because she’s the Democratic frontrunner, she is able to put the issue on the national agenda like no one else—as the last 24 hours have shown. But because she’s the Democratic frontrunner, she’s also likely to make the issue so politically toxic that no Republican will be willing to touch it. Since the Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, some Republicans – most notably Representative James Sensenbrenner – have voiced a desire to restore the law. Clinton’s proposal, of course, would push farther than that. If Clinton keeps speaking up, it’s likely to keep any Republicans from sticking their heads up to agree. (The Democratic push is even being funded by George Soros.) And without voting-rights reform, it’s difficult for Democrats to turn out enough voters to secure the majorities necessary to overcome their opposition.
Oh, and Democrats who duck fundamental issues like voting rights because they fear the GOP backlash … shouldn’t bother to run for office at all.
Good day and good nuts