There is an interesting piece up at Salon by Andrew O’Hehir, “Welcome to the new Civil War,” where he discusses the neo-Confederacy elements in our culture that are trying to turn back the clock on women, gays, God and guns, drawing parallels to the Lincoln administration (through the eyes of the film “Lincoln”).
We’ve just emerged from a presidential campaign that exposed how hardened our political and cultural divide has become, and how poorly the two sides understand each other. Part of the Republican problem, in an election that party thought it would win easily, was that those who felt a visceral disgust toward both the idea and the reality of President Barack Obama simply could not believe that they didn’t represent a majority. As many Republicans are now aware, the party now faces an existential crisis. It’s all very well to go on TV and talk about attracting Latinos and downplaying cultural wedge issues. But the activist core of the Republican Party is neo-Confederate, whether it thinks of itself that way or not. It isn’t interested in common cause with Mexicans or turning down the moral thermostat. Just ask Rick Santorum: What it wants is war.
In the recent “fiscal cliff” negotiations, which ended (of course) in yet another short-term stopgap measure, most congressional Republicans, having sworn a blood oath never to raise taxes on their millionaire patrons, were content to let the nation slide into chaos and catastrophe rather than reach a compromise with the president they have consistently depicted as a socialist renegade or alien interloper. It was like a third-rate farcical reprise of the great congressional struggle depicted by Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner in “Lincoln,” when the defeated and embittered Democrats of 1864 fought a rear-guard action to defend slavery, in defiance of not just history, morality and basic human decency but also tactical judgment and common sense.
And as we’ve seen with the war on women (womb-controlling legislative efforts around the country, rape apologists, and media blowhards like Rush Limbaugh), the desperate gay-bashing by professional anti-LGBTs even as losses mount as civil equality advances — the Right’s efforts are nearly bunker-mentality, and the neo-Confederacy has leaned heavily on misogyny and racism (and guns) as its teddy bear, a security blanket. They are in full emotional meltdown, and that is when these movements are probably the most toxic — and dangerous. They are not just Joe Blow crazies down the street. They populate school boards and legislatures, and aren’t going away any time soon, because those scared of losing their culture to homos, uppity women and fast-breeding people of color can and will vote to preserve what they have. And as we’ve seen, do everything in their power to suppress the votes of those groups threatening that culture.
Small gains and challenges are meaningful
My friend Rep. Patricia Todd (D), the first (and only) out gay member of the Alabama state legislature, has managed to carve out a successful, groundbreaking career there, breaking down barriers in a state that has a long way to go. We need to remember and support folks doing the tough sledding in the Red states where the neo-Confederacy is trying to hold fast to its cultural norms. The fact is even here, they are being continuously challenged.
In this session Rep. Todd is introducing a bill to repeal the state’s 1992 sex education law. This retrograde bit of business requires schools to teach that homosexuality is illegal (it is, nominally, on the books there) and that “abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of lawful marriage is the expected social standard.” [cont’d.]
Photo via Dan Gaffney, Facebook