Allen Hates Politics, Part 15
May 4, 2022
I hate Governor Ron DeSantis.
I would never think I would side with the international conglomerate media supergiant, but here I am, defending Disney. So, let’s all take a deep breath and have a quick moment of silence for all of their underpaid employees.
Okay, here we go.
In the newest Republican freakout: Disney’s gay agenda. Recently, Disney pledged its opposition against Florida’s “Dont Say Gay” bill, explained briefly as banning public school teachers from teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity. The right did not take this lightly. And even more worrisome, Floridian Republicans don’t care that their opponent is… Disney. Though one of Florida’s biggest economic contributors, Republicans have waged all out political war on Disney, defaming it on America’s most trusted source, Newsmax.
Florida’s lieutenant governor, Jeanette Nunez, said that they “want to make sure that we’re protecting the interests of Floridians, not necessarily of woke corporations that take their marching orders from Burbank.”
So how do they respond to Disney? A genius tactic. How about we kill the viability of Disney World?
Yes, indeed, Florida Republicans have decided that denying the existence of gay people is worth literal economic self-destruction. Good thinking, squad.
The question isn’t “what’s next?” How Disney might respond is entirely uncertain and at the same time, entirely volatile. In the mean time, we can discuss how Republicans convinced their base to throw their hatred against Disney, gay people and everyone besides Ron DeSantis.
I take a lot of inspiration from this Twitter thread I came across from Alexandra Erin.
Ms. Erin makes two main points:
- Republicans weaponize false equivalence to justify bigotry.
- False equivalences give “middle ground seekers” an easy cop out.
(and when I say “middle ground seekers,” I’m talking directly to self-proclaimed centrists.)
Republicans are savants at making absolutely abhorrent things sound reasonable to a very large population of people. For example, the grand theory that top Democrats are involved in a sex trafficking ring:
“Forty-nine percent of Republicans and 52% of people who voted for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election said Democrats are involved in the child-sex trafficking rings. And voters who consumed right-wing media were even more likely to believe it, such as people who get their news from conservative websites (58%) and those who trust Newsmax (56%) and One America News Network (54%).”
What should’ve stayed a really crude schoolhouse joke became right-wing mainstream, maybe even too mainstream. In fact, Republicans have taken this War on Grooming to legislation, manifesting into “Don’t Say Gay.” This bill is justified on the grounds that teachers who teach about sexual orientation or gender identity are sexualizing the children without their consent. Apparently, schools are “indoctrinating” students into the “gay agenda,” and this law is a form of “protection.”
It could not be more obvious that the entire point of the bill is to erase LGBTQ+ identities from education. But Republicans are able to evade the criticism by deflecting and equating the bill to something entirely different. This is, essentially, the false equivalence that’s common among many other Republican beliefs, such as that abortion is the same as killing a child.
In this case, Republicans start with a simple, unassuming statement: that adults should not prey on kids. That’s pedophilia. Obviously, it’s wrong. Then, they start moving the line a little bit forward. It turns from pedophilia to grooming. “We shouldn’t see kids as sexual objects.” Sure. “Oh, but gender and sexual preference is about sex! Like, it has the word “sex” in it! So teaching that to kids is literally the same thing as sexualizing them. And parents, not teachers, should decide whether they want their children to participate in this indoctrination!”
The more and more the line moves, the more right-wing activists have to assert that it’s the “same thing” as the original statement. At some point, they will lose supporters, but the strategy isn’t supposed to be airtight, it just needs to do enough to retain some supporters and convince others to not oppose the idea. “Pedophilia is wrong, right? Grooming is wrong!”
By equating these ideas to teaching about gay people, Republicans are able (or rather, brave enough) to say they aren’t bigots while also supporting bigoted laws.
But the more sinister effect is that it dampens opposition. People can excuse themselves from action by just accepting the lousy leaps of logic. By just lazily accepting the false equivalence, they absolve themselves of guilt, even though it’s clear as day that Republicans are trying to erase gay people from education. To explain further, let’s say there’s a cat on train tracks. A train is approaching. You are 50 meters away from the cat. You could run to the cat and save it, using up your energy. But if you don’t, you will feel guilty for not saving the cat.
Most people, under these circumstances, will run to save the cat. But if you have a good excuse not to, say, the cat has rabies, well then you can relinquish yourself of guilt if the cat dies, since it’s a reasonable cop-out.
So self-proclaimed centrists can just point to the easy, but idiotic logic that “Don’t Say Gay” projects and deny themselves of any wrongdoing when they say they aren’t opposed to its passing. “Moderation” can then be seen as a virtue, as the “vanguard of fact and logic” when instead it’s just playing into prepared talking points as the entire basis of their political views.
It’s a pattern similar to essentially any other culture war topic that the right-wing adores. Here are some other examples I could think of:
- “Abortion has killed more than the Holocaust.”
- “Vaccine mandates are like Nazi Germany”
- “Mask mandates are a denial of freedom.”
- “[Insert anything at all] is just like 1984.”
- “[Insert anything] is cancel culture, and cancel culture is just like Nazi Germany.”
- “Mr. Potato Head becoming gender-neutral is the end of freedom in America.”
- “Mass immigration is the liberals trying to import votes.”
I could keep going. The lesson to learn from “Don’t Say Gay” is that you should not be shocked. Every Fox News outrage is the same as the next one. It is just tactful lying, in the most sinister way possible. And they have weaponized language so handily that even the mention of certain words, like “woke” or “liberal” or “politically correct” or “cancel culture” or literally just the word “genders,” can stir their base to action. It is weaponized fear. It is weaponized hysteria. It is a weaponized delusion. And Republicans are so, so good at it.
In conclusion, I hate politics.