Category Archives: Social Issues

Reclaiming the Moral Ground in the Kulture Wars

 

Mallory McMorrow a Michigan politician found herself deep in the culture wars after she defended the LGBTQ community. A Republican colleague accused her of wanting to groom and sexualize children. She issued a spirited defense. She said that hate would only win if people like her stood by and let it happen. She provided a blueprint for Democrats to navigate the thorny issues of sexuality in schools, race, gender identity, that Republicans like Ron DeSantis had been using to gain support and money from their supporters.

 

Lana Theis, a Republican state Senator said this, to her supporters in a fund raising message :

 

“Progressive social media trolls like Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake)…are outraged they can’t teach can’t groom and sexualize kindergartners or that 8-year-olds are responsible for slavery.”

 

McMorrow was justifiably angry, not only about her own treatment but all members of the LGBTQ community who are subjected to such vile hatred from the American right every day. McMorrow is upset at the Republicans who are weaponizing Christianity to target already marginalized people. She says of herself that she is a straight white Christian mother. But she was speaking for the marginalized LGBTQ community against the hateful attack from other white straight Christians. She wanted to reclaim her own identity and refused to let it be stolen by hateful others from her own group. She did this to break through the binary camps to express her own individuality that she would not allow to appropriated by hateful white Christians.

 

McMorrow was interviewed on Amanpour & Co. and said she wanted to “reclaim the moral ground” that others had tried to seize from her. That is how she believes liberals can win the Kulture wars. As McMorrow said, “We should not be attacking people just because they happen to be different. We can debate them; we can disagree with them; but we ought not to attack them with weapons of religion.

 

McMorrow also said,

“Christopher Rufo is one of those who has created moral panic culture wars of manufactured outrage. It started with critical race theory  and he said as much here in Michigan . He admitted there is so much power in attacking the LGBTQ community and the moral panic surrounding around sexuality. So it is the black community, the LGBTQ community, really any community that is targeted by this strategy.”

 

Targeting these people, she said, will not bring down inflation, or fix our infrastructure. The Republicans are playing on fear. She said, “Also it is not sexy to talk about policy when you can stoke fear and anger.

 

McMorrow emphasizes that this is not a Republican vs Democrat issue. She said she was elected in what was once Mitt Romney’s home riding because people did not want to hate the other.  Republicans who don’t want to hate Democrats voted for her!

 

Mitch McConnell said there were no policy issues in the mid-term elections. Just like there were none in the 2020 presidential election on the part of the Republicans. Their only platform was Trump! That is why they have manufactured Kulture War issues instead.

McMorrow acknowledged that people do not want to have sex acts described to very young children. But that is not the point. Even very young children see everyday that there are a lot of different people in the world that they are already meeting. Some families are different. Some have a mom and dad. Others have 2 moms or 2 dads or single parents or grandparent led families or a transparent. This is a fact. These people are there. You can’t wish them away. There is nothing wrong with openly discussing this, even at a very young age.

She says once we can meet like people we won’t have this fear mongering and the same language that we saw during de-segregation. Some people did not want their kids seeing black kids in school!

 

McMorrow says she has learned things from people like Father Ted Hespeller from Notre Dame who stood for some of the same values she stands for. He fought for many disadvantaged or marginalized people for much of his career. Martin Luther King was scorned by most white Americans at the time, though now that is often forgotten. Father Hespeller as a white man and head of a large institution took a big risk by walking with King. He was able to see his own privilege. He saw his neighbours being attacked, targeted and beaten and he wanted to reach out to them. That is the kind of faith McMorrow wanted.  Change is hard McMorrow says. We can recognize that but recognize our own place and reach out to help the marginalized and those who are being targeted. “How can we remind people that we all want the same thing at the end of the day? Those are the community family values that we all hope for our own kids.”

McMorrow thinks that this is how the Democrats might win the Kulture Wars. Simple, plain, real talk about families, neighbours, and friends. And how we can work together.  But maybe such hopes are pretty far-fetched. What do you think?

War is a very effective tool for firing up political support. That is just as true of Kulture Wars.

 

Toxic Masculinity; Toxic Femininity

 

 

 

When  recently I was frantically trying to see all 10 movies that had been nominated for best Picture, I never realized that the Oscars ceremony would so closely mirror the films and life. After they award show was over where Will Smith walked up to Chris Rock who was  introducing an award and made a poor joke about his wife I was amazed. It is amazing how much we can learn about life from art and about art from life.

 

I had noticed from the stunning film The Power of the Dog how masculinity could be toxic. Phil one of the two brothers in that film shows himself as a vessel of toxic masculinity when he mocks the “art” of Rose’ son Peter who he clearly sees as effeminate and weak. Later he comes to change his views, perhaps because of his own latent homosexuality. Then Peter is driven to extreme measures to protect his mother, much like Will Smith at the Oscars was driven to extremes to defend his wife from a perceived insult. This may have been brought on by the fact that  at a young age Smith saw his father beat his mother and always considered himself a coward for not defending her. At the Oscars he tried to be more manly and do better. Did he succeed or cruelly flop again?

I noticed that when at first Smith heard the poor joke about his wife that he was laughing and enjoying it. Then the camera switched to his wife who started laughing but quickly switched  to disapproval when she realized what was being said.  Did she communicate her disappointment to her husband? Did she goad him to act? That was not shown, but it was remarkable how quickly Smith’s manner change from jocularity to menace. It is also remarkable how quickly men can stoop to violence to defend the honour of their women. Do women like that?  Do they want their men to get violent in their defence? Sometimes it seems so. I was surprised to read 2 New York Times female writers  presumably, weak kneed liberals, say they thought Smith did the right thing?

I had just the day before watched the film The Tragedy of Macbeth. The tragedy was that Macbeth’s  wife goaded him into killing the king  and in doing so mocked his lack of courage. If that is not toxic femininity what is? When Macbeth hesitates to do the dirty deed she urges him to do it. This is part of what she said,

 

“When you durst do it, then you were a man;

…I have given suck, and know

How tender it is to love the babe that milks me:

I would, while  it was smiling in my face

Have pluck’d my nipple from his toothless gums,

And dash’d the brains out, had I sworn as you

Have done to this”

 

Then after he kills the king but still has doubts,  she mocks him and finishes hiding the evidence for him.

 

I realize that this entire Oscar  incident was coloured by the ugliness of a black man defending his insulted wife. Many a black man has been cruelly emasculated by such actions. Violence is deeply engrained in American and Canadian societies. This is true even in societies where black men react violently against other black men.  This is one product of centuries of oppression. Deep and persistent hatred has led to deep and persistent self-hatred. After all they learned it from their masters. What can be more cruel than that?

 

But to deny this painful and ugly fact, as we are urged to do by white supremacist pundits today, is to drive the hatred and resentment deeper where it can do even more perverted harm. Ugly truths must be faced. Denying them is not the way out. It just makes things worse.

 

What really bothered me about this incident at the Oscars was that about an hour or less later, when Will Smith won the award for best actor, and he stumbled through a tearful speech that included an apology to the Academy and fellow actors, but notably not Chris Rock, the audience erupted with applause.  What are the rest of us (including children who witnessed it) to think? Are we to think that violence is the answer to insults? That after all is the American way (with Canadians not far behind). Is this not how cycles of violence perpetuate themselves harming no one more than the victims turned aggressors?

 

Art can help us understand such questions, but it offer few clear and definitive answers.