There are so many hateful campaigns being waged by conservatives these days it is difficult not to be astonished and dismayed. They appear to have become utterly intolerant of all who don’t see things exactly as they do. Passage of all these repugnant steps would bring us much too close to the kind of government we fought a revolution against.
Look at just these few examples:
- Indiana tried to block federal funds for Medicaid care at Planned Parenthood.
- Florida now requires drug tests for welfare recipients.
- Georgia police can now require citizenship papers on demand.
- The Tennessee governor vetoed LGBT anti-discrimination legislation.
- Several states have enacted laws against collective representation by workers.
- The Maine governor removed a labor mural from the statehouse.
- Rand Paul wants to lock up people who go to hear radical speakers.
- It may soon be legal to carry a gun on campus in Texas.
- There are numerous bills whose only purpose is to prevent same-sex marriage.
Planned Parenthood has become a favorite whipping boy of those who don’t really care about abortion. If they did care, they would work with others to bring the numbers of abortions down, which they are not doing, not to mention exhibiting some little concern for the thirteen thousand living babies that die every single day of easily treatable conditions. Ah, but most of those babies are brown, so they aren’t really important. Nor are these good folks capable of understanding that 97% of Planned Parenthood’s services are not for abortion, or that PP does not use any federal funds for abortion anyway. What Indiana and other states are doing is punishing the mostly poor people who need PP’s services.
Blatant racism is alive and well in Florida, which now requires drug tests for welfare recipients. I say this because I’m convinced that white conservatives believe all welfare recipients are people of color, and therefore naturally lazy and criminal. Some say so for the record. Should all legislators be similarly tested, keeping in mind that alcohol is also a drug, the most damaging one? Should they be tested for tobacco addiction? Should they be investigated for marital fidelity, or to assure they’ve kept their fingers out of the till?
When whites become a minority, we should hope that people of color don’t treat us as we do them. Otherwise, we’ll all have to carry our birth certificates around with us, which one must do in Georgia now, but only if you are suspiciously brown. The laws requiring that people of color carry special papers around with them in Georgia and other states are purely racist, and are no different from old laws from apartheid South Africa and elsewhere.
Conservatives rejoiced when Wisconsin was finally freed from the crushing burden of union representation. All those worthless teachers and public servants. What can they be thinking? The post-WWII era, in which unions represented the large majority of workers, were the most affluent we have ever experienced. This representation has now eroded, along with incomes, whereas inequality of income has increased radically. The era of abundance conservatives promised when the rich got richer is nowhere to be seen; the opposite has happened.
Texas and other states continue to work hard to be sure we carry loaded weapons around with us, including at colleges. I have taught college, and it would terrify me to know that some hothead kid had a loaded gun in my class. Given the various slaughters of people by deranged gunmen (almost always men), who easily get automatic weapons whose only purpose is killing people, and which are almost impossible to get in civilized countries outside our borders, it’s very hard to see this as desirable. What exactly is the difference between a gang member with a loaded weapon and some angry hothead with a loaded weapon? This is not militia for national defense; this is insanity.
Rand Paul, the new darling of the right, thinks we should arrest all people who go to hear “radical speakers”. Who is a radical speaker? Someone who preaches that all people who hear radical speakers should be arrested, or someone like, say, MLK, who roused millions of his countrymen to disobey the morally abhorrent discriminatory laws of the time? Who is going to decide whether a speaker is radical enough to require arresting the audience? Some self-appointed conservative? Do you want to live in a country where someone can tell you who you can and can’t listen to?
Then there are the various proposed punitive laws whose only purpose is to prevent any of the 3%-5% of people who are not heterosexual from enjoying the same rights as everyone else. Such things as deportation of half a couple who have been together for decades, disallowing someone from visiting a life partner who is gravely ill in the hospital, or taking away a partner’s financial security in old age because they aren’t allowed to marry. Conservatives may not like it that there are some 300-million people worldwide whose sexuality is not just exactly like their own, but what can be said of a democracy that allows such discrimination against minorities?
What will be left of our beloved democracy if all these things become the law of the land? Conservatives need to think more carefully about what they are saying.