Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, April 02, 2021

The Party of Family Values

The increasingly tawdry and grotesque story of Trump Mini-Me Matt Gaetz -- here's an update -- is just the latest in an unending, continual, predictable, depressing, ugly and yet darkly comical procession of Bible thumpers and political champions of "traditional" sexual morality who are publicly exposed as total hypocrites. 


I can't say whether Republican politicians are more likely than Democrats to be the subject of sex scandals in general, if you include sexual harassment -- Andrew Cuomo needs to resign, BTW -- but some kinds of scandals are only possible for so-called social conservatives. It isn't a scandal that Pete Buttigieg is gay, but it was a scandal that Sen. Larry Craig engaged in homosexual activity. It's not that big of a deal if a liberal politician has an affair or gets divorced, but it was indeed a big deal when Newt Gingrich was outed as having an extramarital affair with a woman 23 years his junior while he presided over the impeachment of Bill Clinton.


The idolatry of the former guy is enough to prove that they don't really mean it. When I call Gaetz Mini-Me I mean that in all respects.* I'm not an expert in the psychology of this, but Jay Michaelson had some thoughts back in 2017 --  even before the saga of Jerry Falwell Jr. and the poolboy, or one you may have missed, Ravi Zacharias, who was eulogized by Mike Pence, or Donald Foose, or many others. Michaelson notes that he had easily uncovered 17 recent preacher sex scandals just with a little googling. So here's his analysis:

[O]ur blasé attitude toward clerical sexual philandering minimizes the serious harms it causes: primarily to the victims, but also to sexual and gender minorities who are persecuted in public precisely because these conservative Christians are wrestling with their own demons in private.

And that is the point that’s usually missed when the mainstream media covers religious “hypocrites” or “perverts” or whatever. It’s also missed when anti-LGBT and anti-women religious conservatives are described as “haters” or “bigots.” They’re not haters—they’re fear-ers, and the people they’re most afraid of are themselves.

There is a direct line from the religious hysteria over trans people in bathrooms to religious people hysterical over their own wayward libidos. It’s well known that the most homophobic people are also the most aroused by homosexual stimuli—this has been established in a variety of studies, some measuring arousal with ingenious devices attached to the “straight” men’s penises. Psychologically, this is what Freud called “reaction formation”—essentially, projecting your psychological baggage onto someone else.

But conservative Christianity is institutionalized reaction formation. Socially, culturally, and theologically, it drums in the message that sex is bad, that you are bad for wanting it, and that people who say they want it are even worse than you. This is not true for liberal Christians (or Jews or Muslims); but it is true for almost all conservative Christians (or Jews or Muslims).

And that of course brings up the case of Robert Aaron Long, who murdered 8 people in Atlanta including 6 Asian women and blamed it on psychosexual torment created by his conservative Evangelical church. Of course in this case it was also bound up with a racist component, although it's not entirely unique in that respect. What is really sad is that these people are a fervent, monolithic voting bloc, and they vote for politicians who claim to champion their "values" while doing everything possible in office to harm their economic interests and life opportunities. 

There is also a conversation to be had about this in the context of the anti-abortion movement, but I'll save that for later.


* Don't forget about the late Roy Cohn, Donald Trump's lawyer, who was a gay man who persecuted gay men. Also J. Edgar Hoover.




Don Quixote said...

The most damning thing Michaelson writes, IMO, is: “But conservative Christianity is institutionalized reaction formation.”

It is a preposterous religion, and so it appeals to hypocrites and charlatans. I consider that the good people I know who happen to be Christian are good people in spite of their Christianity, not because of it.

Michaelson also makes the point that conservativism is the problem, not so much religion itself. Reactionary Jews, reactionary Muslims, reactionary Christians. All unhappy people who won’t on their own unhappiness, and so seek to make others as tortured and miserable as they are. They won’t admit they have a problem, and their “solution” is to hide their sickness by pointing the finger at others. As they say, point one finger and you have three pointing back at yourself.

mojrim said...

My only complaint, habibi Cervantes, is calling all this "christianity" on any level. Both Mohammad and Christ were revolutionary figures in their time and it's quite doubtful the latter would have conscienced how these people interpret his gospel. Say what you like about the Covenant of Abraham, the Covenant of Christ has but one law: love thy neighbor as thou love thyself. Because that's a back breaking demand the Council of Nicaea larded the gospel with old testament argle bargle that is clearly at odds with the core ideology. That's how we get cherry picked bullshit from Leviticus.

White, american baptists (and their theological progeny) have taken it to another level entirely, morphing into a whole new breed of nationalist pagan. Try these on for size*
1. America was created by god to protect Israel and prepare for the return of christ.
2. America is a unique, divinely inspired, beacon of liberty and hope to the world.
3. The constitution is a divinely inspired document which can only be interpreted with a bible.
4. George Washington was directed by god in defending and leading the republic.
5. Slavery was an unfortunate necessity in bringing christianity to africans and africans to america.
6. God rewards virtue and punishes vice in this life, so capitalism.

If this country survives two more centuries these people will worshipping Washington as the Allfather, with Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams as the great teachers. Together, they established the great nation before ascending to heaven where they watch over us, sending us divinely inspired leaders in time of need. Their holy symbols are the bison, the bald eagle, and the M-16. They're not christians, they're the White Church of America. I truly wish this was satire.

*If you think I'm exaggerating you need to get out more.