I feel like I’m trapped in a decades-long episode of “The Twilight Zone” where I am the only one who can see the monster on the wing of the airplane, and that monster is the Republican Party.
It’s hard to overstate how extreme Republicans are. To the average person, the political conversation is an ongoing tussle between “the right” and “the left.” The media, frustratingly, reinforces this idea by failing to call out the totally wild-ass and dangerous ideas of the political and religious right (largely one and the same) and instead framing issues as if “both sides” have equally reasonable positions.
They don’t. Not by a long shot.
I taught writing at the University of Michigan for eight years. I taught my students how to vet sources and how to determine what viewpoints to bring into an essay, including how to handle opposing viewpoints. If you’re writing an essay about, say, marriage equality in the United States, it would be prudent to include the fact that there are people who oppose LGBTQ+ people being allowed to marry. You do not, however, need to include the views of the Westboro Baptist Church who believe that LGBTQ+ people are sub-human. You don’t owe hate a platform.
Sadly, most of our major news networks don’t appear to have gotten the same lesson. In the era of Trump, with racists newly energized by hate being platformed at the highest levels of government, instead of calling this out as fucking insane and wrong and abhorrent, CNN and other outlets hired Trump sycophants who normalized the Trump administration’s extremism.
And even after Trump is exposed as a disgraceful criminal on the daily, even after he tried to overturn the 2020 election and incited a violent insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, even after Republicans have made clear that their end goal is to literally dismantle democratic elections in the U.S. and establish a totalitarian Christian government, even NOW mainstream media does the “both sides” bullshit.
At the most, they portray the extreme platform of Republicans as a little nutty, not totally and wildly dangerous. Right wingers have been screaming about “liberal bias” in the media for decades whenever they were called out for their extreme views. Sadly, the media decided that placating these people was more important than telling it like it is.
If you’re not paying close attention (and, truly, life in the United States, with its emphasis on working as much as you can before you die and maybe squeezing some time in with your family on the weekends, is not conducive to widespread political/governmental literacy), then you might not have noticed the way extreme positions are now being mainstreamed.
Abortion is a good example. Republicans oppose abortion in all instances, no exceptions.
Republicans want to see women and doctors jailed. They want to police every pregnancy, every sexual relationship. LGBTQ+ people have known about that game for a long time. You’ll remember that sex between two people of the same sex was criminalized all over the country. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that oral and anal sex were crimes and the majority opinion was VERY homophobic and gross. That case wasn’t overturned until the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision.
While following the Republican journey rightward, I have warned over and over again that they would not stop at LGBTQ+ people. And now here they are, gleeful with the overturning of Roe v. Wade screaming “lock her up” at everyone with a uterus. They’ve already made clear that they want to ban birth control. Remember Hobby Lobby? Yeah, fuck that place. You don’t need puffy paint that badly.
As the debate rages on about removing all books with LGBTQ+ characters from libraries and schools, about banning gender-affirming care, about overturning the 2015 marriage equality decision, about drag queen story hour being child abuse, don’t lose sight that the people screaming about these things are out of their minds. They are not reasonable and should not be amplified.
Alas, they are amplified. The best way to shut them up is to elect people who believe in the full equality and humanity of LGBTQ+ people. And that just happens to be part of the Democratic Party’s platform.