Mikkel Danielsen has another big story about Trump out today, but that’s about as noteworthy as a rainy day in Denmark. He’s billed as Berlingske’s USA Correspondent, but for all practicaly purposes Danielsen is now their Trump correspondent. It gets tedious. There’s an actual American president out there right now who’s even less popular than Donald Trump and who’s blundering from catastrophe to catastrophe with nary a peep from Berlingske’s man in Washington. Maybe one day the folks on Pilestræde will realize Ole Puddinhead is just as ripe for criticism and derision as his predecessor.
There was also a Berlingske piece a few days back that I thought worthy of inclusion as part of the larger debate on how we talk about immigration. The story was about a Danish citizen being forced out of the country due to complications in immigration law. It’s a complicated story, but it’s useful reading for anyone who wonders why so many people (like myself) get so pissy about the blurring of lines between legal and illegal immigrants, and on the naked stupidity of so much immigration law. It’s the legal migrants (like myself, and like the subject of that article) whose lives are often mashed to pulp by the grinding cogs of immigration law that we bend over backwards to try and follow, while illegal immigrants, who simply can’t be bothered to follow the law, get coddled.
But I’d like to address the problem of the “thoughtful” left (and the “establishment” right), based on the following segment from a PBS News Hour panel discussion last Friday.
A long interview with the state senator, Mallory McMorrow, precedes this clip (the entire program can be seen here): she was given precisely the kind of fawning treatment one would expect from PBS. The “attack” that she was responding to was a fundraising email sent out by another female Michigan legislator, Lana Theis, a Republican. It’s only on screen partially, for a matter of seconds—just long enough for the newscast to emphasize a single passage: “Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can’t teach can’t groom and sexualize kindergarteners.”
The rest of the email is ignored in the newscast, although it provides some useful context.
From what we can see of the email, Theis notes that in her opening invocation for a session of the Michigan senate, she included an expression of concern about “our children’s safety.”
She goes on:
Several of my Democratic colleagues were so offended, they walked out!
Our children are under assault in our schools – the last place we should be worried about them.
– Gender-bending indoctrination, confusing them about their identities
– Exposure to appropriate sexual content, stealing their innocence
– Race-based education – Crititical Race Theory – pitting children against each other
These are the people we are up against. Progressive social media trolls like Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can’t teach can’t groom and sexualize kindergarteners or that 8-year olds are responsible for slavery. They believe that we, as parents, do not have the right to help our children navigate their adolescence or their education…
That’s all I could skim off the video, by pausing and transcribing the visible text. A cursory search of the web turned up many articles expressing outrage about the email but none of those I browsed provided the full text. For all I know the email went on to say that all Democrats are cannibals and pedophiles. That’s certainly the impression one would get from PBS Newshour’s coverage.
The host of the program, Amna Nawaz, asks Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart about “the accusations.”
“Right. I’m going to ignore the accusation, because it’s a lie,” answers Capehart. “And it’s a lie that far right Republicans have been hurling at Democrats to cow them.”
Florida legislators passed a bill to prohibit sexual teaching to kids in kindergarten and the first through third grades. The left dishonestly labeled it the “don’t say gay” bill and doubled down on the urgency of teaching 5-8 year-olds about sexuality. Similar scenes have played out, and are playing out, around the country, including (apparently) in Michigan.
It’s not a “lie” that Democrats are outraged by efforts to stop the sexualization of American children. Whether that makes them “groomers,” literally or metaphorically, is a question of semantics: all they really want is to allow teachers to talk with 5-8 year-olds about sex. That’s nasty enough not to require hyperbole. If you yourself want to talk about sex and sexuality with children still struggling with the alphabet, I’d suggest that you’re the outlier.
And as for Republicans “hurling” this “lie” at Democrats to cow them, that’s an interesting take. I’d say Republicans are milking this issue because it works for them.
In any case, Capehart then launches into rhapsodic praise of McMorrow for forcefully asserting that she was a white, straight, Christian, suburban mom, and how dare anyone accuse her of not caring about the children, etc, etc.
She wasn’t accused of not caring. She was accused of harboring inappropriate cares.
Capehart praises another local politician for telling a sponsor of “anti-LGBT legislation” in his state that “it’s because of people like you that friends of mine decided to leave the state because they no longer—they didn’t feel safe.” (And no, of course he doesn’t provide any information about the “anti-LGBT legislation” in question, such as what it contained or why it would make anyone feel so unsafe they had to flee the state, nor do Nawaz or Brooks press him for specifics.)
Capehart concludes by expressing his longing for more people like these two pols to stand up for the usual potpourri of groups under assault by “the straight, white, cisgender, usually male person who is attacking them.”
Who are these straight, white, cisgender, “usually male” people? Capehart doesn’t say. The legislator being discussed is a woman, and she’s neither “attacking” gays or lesbians or bisexuals or trans people or blacks or Latinos, nor calling for attacks on them. Nobody is. What’s being attacked are policies and initiatives and legislation.
Nawaz then points out that this is all under the umbrella of what we call “the culture wars” and observes that McMorrow “was actually right.” She then turns to New York Times columnist David Brooks—the Times’s token conservative, and about as representative of America conservatism as he is of figure skating—and says “a lot of those ideas are very Q-Anon, dangerous, conspiracy-theory related that used to be fringe. We still call it fringe. Is it still fringe?”
Brooks laughingly says he wouldn’t still call it fringe because there are “tens of millions of people” who are still “affiliated” with Q-Anon.
(No source is provided for that surprising statistic, nor is one requested by Nawaz or Capehart. This is PBS, darling, we can’t have people questioning things, it’s simply not comme il faut.)
He then goes full limp noodle and emphasizes that a lot of these “crazies”—whom he identifies by tossing off the phrase “pizzagate, grooming, all that stuff”—can’t be called fringe, but he himself “can at least say it’s crazy. It’s lunatic. And it’s not only lunatic. It’s barbarically lunatic.”
He explains that that’s what McMorrow was responding to—the barbaric lunacy of these “crazies”—and that he found her response compelling.
Good old David Brooks, standing up for conservative values like teaching kindergarteners about sex.
Then he slides into the culture war aspect of things (although being the proper, upright, buttoned-down type he is, naturally first explains that he himself prefers the phrase “culture differences” to “culture war”).
You can see the whole thing for yourself, but his basic premise is that throughout the western world, “values are shifting.” A study proved it. People like him—”urban, educated”—share those shifting values, but not everybody does. (Implication: the people who don’t share these “shifting values” are uneducated yokels.)
The debate on things like when it’s appropriate to start teaching children about sexuality needs to happen, you see, but not with all “the crazies,” not with all those “gotcha moments” at school board meetings. The hyperpoliticization is a problem. We have to have a discussion, not a fight.
THE LEFT: We want teachers to discuss sex with little kids.
THE RIGHT: The left wants teachers to discuss sex with little kids.
THE LEFT: That’s a disgusting and dangerous and crazy mischaracterization: it’s barbaric!
Nawaz says that even at the national level, a lot of these crazy ideas are getting bounced around, and shouldn’t Republicans at the national level repudiate them? (Her assumption appears to be that the desire to teach 5-8 year-olds about sex and sexuality is a sensible idea requiring no defense.)
Well, Brooks says, they’re not gonna repudiate them because they’re popular.
(They are indeed: most observers concluded last fall that their popularity is what put Glenn Youngkin into the Virginia governor’s mansion.)
Brooks then blames Trump for the devolution of American politics into tribal identity warfare, and says that’s why we’re caught in this “doom spiral” of political values as soap opera. (This also ties into a separate segment about January 6th and Marjorie Taylor Greene.)
Nawaz takes that and runs with it, basically saying, yes, we’ve seen how this leads to dehumanization of one’s opponents, which can lead to more violence.
And nobody’s head explodes.
This polite little panel has just spent five or ten minutes characterizing at least half the country as deranged and barbaric lunatics—”white, straight, cis-gender men” in particular—and the host wraps things up fretting over the possibility of violence ensuing from people dehumanizing their political opponents.
These white, straight, cis-gender, barbarically lunatic men: don’t they know it’s dangerous to dehumanize people?
I guess we’ll find out in November.
I don’t always have a chance to keep up with the wild and wooly comments section of this blog, but I do sometimes get quite pointed and direct feedback from Herself.
“I read your last few posts,” she told me this morning, “and I think the whole German chancellors thing was a little over the top.”
I had noted in Friday’s post that I considered the political efficacy of a German chancellor telling French citizens how to vote was a questionable gambit… and threw in what I thought was a funny meme to underscore the point: a picture of Hitler and friends in front of the Eiffel Tower, with the text “Please to vote correctly, bitches.”
Herself didn’t think it was funny; she thought it was “cheap.”
I disagree, but lest anyone out there think I was making a direct comparison between the hapless Olaf Scholz and the maniac Adolf Hitler: I wasn’t. I was having fun with the the idea that anyone, anywhere, would think it was a smooth political move to have a German chancellor try to influence the French electorate.
Also, with respect to the whole “crossing the streams” thing in the same post: I was just having fun with Ghostbusters, a movie in which three white guys attack a giant marshmallow monster by merging the rays from their weapons. I was not making a direct comparison between Marie Le Pen and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man; nor was I suggesting that the German, Spanish, and Portuguese heads of state were in any way analogous to the trio of Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Egon Spengler.
They are each in their own way much more comparable to Louis Tully.