Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday News Items: How We Became Troll Nation; Men Need to Be Saved from Themselves; Trump Simply Casts Bright Light on What White Evangelicals Have Long Been, Etc.

Here are some bits and pieces of news commentary I've read in the last two days that I'd like to recommend to you. In the video at the head of the posting, Amanda Marcotte is talking with Cenk Uygur about her new book Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set on Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself. At Salon today, there's another video in which Marcotte says essentially what she says in this much longer interview with Cenk Uygur. I cannot spot a way to embed the Salon video with you, so I'm sharing this interview with Cenk Uygur. The portion of the video from 1:06 to 3:53 is the portion in which Marcotte explains the thesis of her new book: that's what I'm recommending to you.

Power, it seems, rests in the ancient and modern penis, and anxiety about losing that power is still being expressed. Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, rows over immigration, even climate change denial all carry a not-so-subtle subtext of the fear of a loss of virility, about not being allowed to stick it wherever you like. 
As a man, I find it baffling and infuriating that my gender is still mired in such a damagingly reductive self-definition. History is crowded with wise, subtle, complicated, brave and creative men, yet in the 21st century, we still seem to have not progressed past the penis-is-power way of looking at ourselves.

[G]iven the consistency with which white evangelicals as a whole have lent their support to Trump—and right-wing candidates and policies more generally—it’s far past time to own up to the fact that the image is, in many respects, the reality. 
Well-intentioned evangelical leaders may not like to hear that, but it remains the case that an overwhelming majority of evangelicals continue to support Trump and his policies. Sure, they may have issues with his moral center, or lack thereof, but they’re willing to overlook all this for the sake of political expediency, for promises of "religious freedom," and the hope of a judiciary stacked with conservative judges. 
This is because, at the end of the day, evangelicalism isn’t really about personal values but, rather, social and political conversion and control. Little has changed, in this sense, since the days of Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority (as Daniel Schultz rightly pointed out recently on RD). 
The Trump era, then, does not create a new problem for evangelicals and their image; it's simply casting a very bright light on what has always been there, at least for the past forty years or so. 

God picked Trump! 
Very few Evangelical Christians talked about how Obama was ordained as the nation's leader and deserving of total loyalty and support. And yet, God has now picked a president—a dirtbaggy one, according to Christian author Stephen Strang, the author of God and Donald Trump.

70% of evangelicals say their candidate having an affair won't change their support for them. 
During the Obama administration, the number was 30%. 

And isn't that interesting? I wonder what the difference in Obama and Trump might be, the difference that has made for such a radical reversal in white evangelical Christians' moral and political assessment of whether "character counts" — other, that is, than the fact that Obama is undeniably far more the model of a real Christian man than Trump is. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there  must be some other difference that's just not apparent to me right off the bat, which counts supremely for WHITE evangelicals as they look at these issues.

Hmmm. I wonder what that difference could possibly be. 

In advance of the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Ireland, Ireland's chief Catholic prelate, Eamon Martin, has stated that the Catholic church struggles with LGBTQ people and their families (pictures of them have been removed from ads for the World Meeting of Families) because people and families who fall short of the ideal present problems for the church. He thinks the church needs to work to find a way of welcoming people while not compromising the ideal.

Ursula Halligan responds: 

Could it be that the hierarchical church is struggling to find a language to relate to gay people because its theology of human sexuality is deeply flawed? 
It is worrying that while the hierarchical church struggles with itself over the LGBTI+ issue, it continues to treat gay members as second-class Catholics, depriving us of sacramental marriage and describing us as "objectively disordered" and our love as "intrinsically evil". 
Is it any wonder that the church struggles to find a language to relate to us when the language it already uses is so vile? 
The hypocrisy of this while preaching a Gospel message of love and justice is breathtaking.

Silly me, but I had thought all human beings — including priests and bishops, and Lord knows, we're aware of that in an unforgettable way now due to the abuse situation in the church — fall short of the ideal. The obvious problem here: straight Catholic couples, over 90 percent of whom flatly reject Catholic teaching about contraception, are never singled out in this way as problematic and falling short of the ideal.

A straight married Catholic couple using contraceptives can expect never to hear a sermon preached against them, or to lose a job if one of them works for a Catholic institution.

Only LGBTQ people and couples are singled out as demonstrations of broken people far from the ideal who are hard to welcome and fit into the Christian community. And that says a lot about the Christian community and something deeply wrong with it — not about us ostensibly "broken" people who don't meet the ideal.

The Trump administration will shift federal funding aimed at reducing teen pregnancy rates to programs that teach abstinence. 

Charles Pierce tweets a response to the preceding announcement: 

The headline alone for this TMP article is worth sharing (with apologies that the screenshot captures an ad I have no idea how to erase — I assure you I'm not hawking probiotics now):

James Cameron, TPM, 19 April 2018

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