The Excesses of Antiracist Education

In my last column I tried to describe part of the current controversy over race and K-12 education — the part that turns on whether it’s possible to tell a fuller historical story about slavery and segregation while also retaining a broadly patriotic understanding of America’s founding and development.

 

In this column I will try to describe the part of the controversy that concerns how we teach about racism today. It’s probably the more intense debate, driving both progressive zeal and conservative backlash.

Again, I want to start with what the new progressivism is interested in changing. One change involves increasingly familiar terms like “structural” and “systemic” racism, and the attempt to teach about race in a way that emphasizes not just explicitly racist laws and attitudes, but also how America’s racist past still influences inequalities today.

In theory, this shift is supposed to enable debates that avoid using “racist” as a personal accusation — since the point is that a culture can sustain persistent racial inequalities even if most white people aren’t bigoted or biased.

Still, this kind of vision would, on its own, face inevitable conservative resistance on several grounds: that it overstates the challenges facing minorities in America today; that it seems to de-emphasize personal responsibility; that it implies policy responses (racial quotas, reparations) that are racially discriminatory, arguably unconstitutional and definitely threatening to the white middle class.

But the basic claim that structural racism exists has strong evidence behind it, and the idea that schools should teach about it in some way is probably a winning argument for progressives. (Almost half of college Republicans, in a recent poll, supported teaching about how “patterns of racism are ingrained in law and other institutions.”) Especially since not every application of the structural-racist diagnosis implies left-wing policy conclusions: The pro-life and school choice movements, for instance, regularly invoke the impact of past progressive racism on disproportionately high African-American abortion rates and underperforming public schools.

What’s really inflaming today’s fights, though, is that the structural-racist diagnosis isn’t being offered on its own. Instead it’s yoked to two sweeping theories about how to fight the problem it describes.

First, there is a novel theory of moral education, according to which the best way to deal with systemic inequality is to confront its white beneficiaries with their privileges and encourage them to wrestle with their sins.

Second, there is a Manichaean vision of public policy, in which all policymaking is either racist or antiracist, all racial disparities are the result of racism — and the measurement of any outcome short of perfect “equity” may be a form of structural racism itself.

The first idea is associated with Robin DiAngelo, the second with Ibram X. Kendi, and they converge in places like the work of Tema Okun, whose presentations train educators to see “white-supremacy culture” at work in traditional measures of academic attainment.

The impulses these ideas encourage take different forms in different institutions, but they usually circle around to similar goals. First, the attempt to use racial-education programs to construct a stronger sense of shared white identity, on the apparent theory that making Americans of European ancestry think of themselves as defined by a toxic “whiteness” will lead to its purgation. Second, the deconstruction of standards that manifest racial disparities, on the apparent theory that if we stop using gifted courses or standardized tests, the inequities they reveal will cease to matter.

These goals, it should be stressed, don’t follow necessarily from the theory of structural racism. The first idea arguably betrays the theory’s key insight, that you can have “racism without racists,” by deliberately trying to increase individual racial guilt. The second extends structural analysis beyond what it can reasonably bear, into territory where white supremacy supposedly explains Asian American success on the SAT.

But precisely because they don’t follow from modest and defensible conceptions of systemic racism, smart progressives in the media often retreat to those modest conceptions when challenged by conservatives — without acknowledging that the dubious conceptions are a big part of what’s been amplifying controversy, and conjuring up dubious Republican legislation in response.

Here one could say that figures like Kendi and DiAngelo, and the complex of foundations and bureaucracies that have embraced the new antiracism, increasingly play a similar role to talk radio in the Republican coalition. They represent an ideological extremism that embarrasses clever liberals, as the spirit of Limbaugh often embarrassed right-wing intellectuals. But this embarrassment encourages a pretense that their influence is modest, their excesses forgivable, and the real problem is always the evils of the other side.

That pretense worked out badly for the right, whose intelligentsia awoke in 2016 to discover that they no longer recognized their own coalition. It would be helpful if liberals currently dismissing anxiety over Kendian or DiAngelan ideas as just a “moral panic” experienced a similar awakening now — before progressivism simply becomes its excesses, and the way back to sanity is closed.

Why are conservatives pro-life?

No they’re not.

They’re pro-birth.

Once that kids pops out of its mom, they’re on their own.

Because clearly this is how Jesus would’ve liked his followers treating the poor and downtrodden, by shitting on them and blaming them for their poverty, whilst doing nothing to actually help them escape the trap of poverty.

“For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or ‘Sit here at my footstool.’ Have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”-James verse 2:2-4

Perhaps conservatives need reminders? 15 Bible Verses About Helping the Poor You Need to Know (luke1428.com)

9 Quotes From Jesus On Why We Must Help The Poor – THE BORGEN PROJECT (borgenmagazine.com)

It’s sad when Pagans like me, have values more closely related to Jesus, than actual self-proclaimed “Christian traditionalists”. That’s just sad.

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A lot of typical liberal backwards logic posted in these replies so far , based on emotional response and excusing selfishness.

The answer to your question is explained with the word conservative…..to conserve , to protect something important from harm or destruction. We protect the innocent unborn who are unable to speak for themselves because of their situation. Protect the sanctity of life from its beginning and its will to survive. Preserve and protect traditional values when so many want to destroy them out of ignorance. We stand for individual liberty , but not at the expense of snuffing

… (more)

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Thanks for the A2A. I think it’s a misnomer that is common. We’re so used to having conservatives in this country that we forget they are mostly gone. But let’s go with your question.

It was not originally a Republican position. The Eastern Republican Party had little to do with the position that was mostly a Catholic one.

Then, in short, the Republicans saw how they could attract more voters (they were theminority party at the time) if they found a way to include Southern Democrats better than the Democrats did. Post-Civil Rights Act.

So they did, and along with the Southern Dems came a whole bu

 … (more)

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They aren’t.

If they were, they’d support a strong social security and welfare state, adoption as an alternative, universal maternal care and paid maternal leaves, good schooling and good sexual education and cheap contraceptives. Oh, and they’d oppose death penalty.

Being pro-birth is not being pro-life.

1.4K
4
179
179 comments from Alexander Finnegan and more

Not all conservatives are pro-life. Here in the US, pro-life is a position that has been adopted by the Republican Party. A conservative supports a party that represents the best chance of delivering the greatest number of conservative policies. He/she believes, overall, that conservative principles are best for the country and of the two major parties, the Republican Party is best positioned to deliver . Like all political affiliations, left and right, members agree with some of the positions and disagree with others.

Now if you asked, “Why does the Republican Party adopt a pro-life position?”

 … (more)

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The easy answer in American politics is that of the culture war.

After WW2 in the West, there was a general feeling among intellectuals of the right and the left that there was something wrong in the modern world that had led to so much death and lost of human life. That the ideas, beliefs and principles that had driven the west since the time of the enlightenment were fundamentally flawed. Looking for new solutions, you started to begin to see the left and right diverge.

On the left you began to see a push towards what is today called postmodernism. This was a collection or set of ideas that em

 … (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

They aren’t. They are anti choice. The “pro life movement” is founded in two things the right excells at. Men telling women what they can and can’t do and religion telling people what they can and can’t do. Science isn’t behind the anti choice movement, a great deal of philosophy isn’t behind anti choice, and the Bible itself is completely silent on the subject of abortion (unless you count the times God commands the Israelites to cut babies from their mother’s wombs as pro abortion) but the right is anti choice. They don’t care about a childs’ quality of life as long as the women pump out tho

 … (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

During the Reagan administration, one of his political advisors named Karl Rove, you may remember him, worked on political strategy with Reagan. Remember that Reagan made Nixon’s strategy of switching the Republican party’s voter base from primarily urban to rural. It was determined that rural voters could be made to respond to a wedge issue of abortion. That started the Republican love affair with saving fetuses. Meanwhile, the US infant mortality rate soared and is to this day a scandal that is getting worse; proof that Republicans don’t care about babies; they only care about votes.

Abortion

 … (more)

22
1
12
12 comments from Samuel Liu and more

They aren’t.

They are pro-forced birth.

If they were authentically “pro-life”, they would oppose both war and the death penalty. They would work to reduce the more than 50% of our discretionary spending that goes to the Pentagon. They would support programs that provide healthcare and nutritional support to impoverished communities. They would support universal healthcare as a basic human right. They would support measures to reduce and mitigate climate change, which could kill millions in the future.

The fact that such measures are almost universally OPPOSED by conservatives puts the lie to the

… (more)

6
3
3 comments from Daniel Black and more
Why is it so hard for people who are pro-life and pro-choice to see the other side’s view?
To all the pro life people out there. Why is it that pro life people preach that life starts at conception but they are more angry at late term abortions? Do they think there is a difference between a 12 week abortion and a 40 week abortion?
If pro-life conservatives truly value and respect the constitution, why don’t they legally support pro-choice policy and support their pro-life beliefs by praying for the mothers? Isn’t that the best of both worlds?
How do pro-choice people view pro-lifers?
Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Why?
What do pro-choicers not “get” about pro-lifers?
Why do some pro-life women have abortions and profess to still be pro-life?
As a liberal, do you understand why conservatives are pro-life and against abortion?
If pro lifers don’t support the right to abortion, why don’t they just not get one and leave the ones that do alone?
Why should I be pro-choice or pro-life?
Ask question

Once that kids pops out of its mom, they’re on their own.

Because clearly this is how Jesus would’ve liked his followers treating the poor and downtrodden, by shitting on them and blaming them for their poverty, whilst doing nothing to actually help them escape the trap of poverty.

“For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or ‘Sit here at my footstool.’ Have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”-James verse 2:2-4

Perhaps conservatives need reminders? 15 Bible Verses About Helping the Poor You Need to Know (luke1428.com)

9 Quotes From Jesus On Why We Must Help The Poor – THE BORGEN PROJECT (borgenmagazine.com)

It’s sad when Pagans like me, have values more closely related to Jesus, than actual self-proclaimed “Christian traditionalists”. That’s just sad.

7
5

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

A lot of typical liberal backwards logic posted in these replies so far , based on emotional response and excusing selfishness.

The answer to your question is explained with the word conservative…..to conserve , to protect something important from harm or destruction. We protect the innocent unborn who are unable to speak for themselves because of their situation. Protect the sanctity of life from its beginning and its will to survive. Preserve and protect traditional values when so many want to destroy them out of ignorance. We stand for individual liberty , but not at the expense of snuffing

… (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

Thanks for the A2A. I think it’s a misnomer that is common. We’re so used to having conservatives in this country that we forget they are mostly gone. But let’s go with your question.

It was not originally a Republican position. The Eastern Republican Party had little to do with the position that was mostly a Catholic one.

Then, in short, the Republicans saw how they could attract more voters (they were theminority party at the time) if they found a way to include Southern Democrats better than the Democrats did. Post-Civil Rights Act.

So they did, and along with the Southern Dems came a whole bu

 … (more)

4

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

They aren’t.

If they were, they’d support a strong social security and welfare state, adoption as an alternative, universal maternal care and paid maternal leaves, good schooling and good sexual education and cheap contraceptives. Oh, and they’d oppose death penalty.

Being pro-birth is not being pro-life.

1.4K
4
179
179 comments from Alexander Finnegan and more

Not all conservatives are pro-life. Here in the US, pro-life is a position that has been adopted by the Republican Party. A conservative supports a party that represents the best chance of delivering the greatest number of conservative policies. He/she believes, overall, that conservative principles are best for the country and of the two major parties, the Republican Party is best positioned to deliver . Like all political affiliations, left and right, members agree with some of the positions and disagree with others.

Now if you asked, “Why does the Republican Party adopt a pro-life position?”

 … (more)

2

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

The easy answer in American politics is that of the culture war.

After WW2 in the West, there was a general feeling among intellectuals of the right and the left that there was something wrong in the modern world that had led to so much death and lost of human life. That the ideas, beliefs and principles that had driven the west since the time of the enlightenment were fundamentally flawed. Looking for new solutions, you started to begin to see the left and right diverge.

On the left you began to see a push towards what is today called postmodernism. This was a collection or set of ideas that em

 … (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

They aren’t. They are anti choice. The “pro life movement” is founded in two things the right excells at. Men telling women what they can and can’t do and religion telling people what they can and can’t do. Science isn’t behind the anti choice movement, a great deal of philosophy isn’t behind anti choice, and the Bible itself is completely silent on the subject of abortion (unless you count the times God commands the Israelites to cut babies from their mother’s wombs as pro abortion) but the right is anti choice. They don’t care about a childs’ quality of life as long as the women pump out tho

 … (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

During the Reagan administration, one of his political advisors named Karl Rove, you may remember him, worked on political strategy with Reagan. Remember that Reagan made Nixon’s strategy of switching the Republican party’s voter base from primarily urban to rural. It was determined that rural voters could be made to respond to a wedge issue of abortion. That started the Republican love affair with saving fetuses. Meanwhile, the US infant mortality rate soared and is to this day a scandal that is getting worse; proof that Republicans don’t care about babies; they only care about votes.

Abortion

 … (more)

22
1
12
12 comments from Samuel Liu and more

They aren’t.

They are pro-forced birth.

If they were authentically “pro-life”, they would oppose both war and the death penalty. They would work to reduce the more than 50% of our discretionary spending that goes to the Pentagon. They would support programs that provide healthcare and nutritional support to impoverished communities. They would support universal healthcare as a basic human right. They would support measures to reduce and mitigate climate change, which could kill millions in the future.

The fact that such measures are almost universally OPPOSED by conservatives puts the lie to the

… (more)

6
3
3 comments from Daniel Black and more
Why is it so hard for people who are pro-life and pro-choice to see the other side’s view?
To all the pro life people out there. Why is it that pro life people preach that life starts at conception but they are more angry at late term abortions? Do they think there is a difference between a 12 week abortion and a 40 week abortion?
If pro-life conservatives truly value and respect the constitution, why don’t they legally support pro-choice policy and support their pro-life beliefs by praying for the mothers? Isn’t that the best of both worlds?
How do pro-choice people view pro-lifers?
Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Why?
What do pro-choicers not “get” about pro-lifers?
Why do some pro-life women have abortions and profess to still be pro-life?
As a liberal, do you understand why conservatives are pro-life and against abortion?
If pro lifers don’t support the right to abortion, why don’t they just not get one and leave the ones that do alone?
Why should I be pro-choice or pro-life?
Ask question

 

Short answer:

From Roe v Wade, January 1973, until roughly 1979, conservatives, including and especially evangelicals, were virtually silent on the decision. Six years and not a peep, at last in opposition. The Southern Baptist Convention actually issued a statement of support for Roe (which they have since repented of). In the late 70s, a man named Francis Schaeffer, an otherwise brilliant theologian and apologist, who really thought the ruling was an execrable legal decision (with which I personally concur), joined forces with the Republican party to bring attention to the abortion issue. Recent medicine and science had made major breakthroughs in the area of when human life—“personhood”— began, and Schaeffer sincerely felt abortion on demand was equal to the Holocaust. *

Meanwhile, another issue was stewing among the right: Bob Jones University and hundreds of so-called “Christian academies,” private schools set up to skirt anti-segregation laws, were about to lose their tax exempt status under the Carter (Democrat) Justice Department because of their racist policies (no interracial dating allowed-Bob Jones U.-for example). With Republicans still smarting from the Nixon Watergate scandal, they needed an issue that would galvanize conservative evangelicals—what would go on to become the “Moral Majority”—in opposition to Democrats. Problem was, at this time, most evangelicals, especially southern ones, still tended to vote Democrat. The idea was to use the Bob Jones and Christian academy cases, but that proved problematic as racial tensions were finally ameliorating somewhat in the aftermath of the turbulent 60s. Bob Jones was TOO polarizing.

Enter:

Dead babies. LOTS of them. Nothing shocks the conscience like garbage bins full of dead fetuses and late term aborted babies. But how to motivate Protestants? Frankie Scaheffer, Francis’ son, told NPR,

… The very fact that the Catholics were talking about this meant that maybe it’s wrong, because Catholics can never be right about anything. … Theoretically, because the Catholics were against abortion at first made Dad very suspicious of the issue. …

But his suspicion of it was also mirrored with people like Jerry Falwell and [Pat] Robertson and these other guys who at first said the same thing when he came to them. … Their whole reaction was: “What do you mean? That’s a Catholic deal. Why would we take a stand on that when we believe in contraception and all these other things? Isn’t that part and parcel of the same deal?”

So in the early days of the pro-life movement, most of the religious leaders … didn’t want anything to do with what Dad was doing, because they said: “That’s a Catholic thing. We’re all about Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with the Savior. Why would we want to be sidetracked on this stuff?”

If it had gone slightly differently, we would have had a completely different history of the United States at this point. There would have been no Ronald Reagan, no George Bush, no religious right, no evangelical groups to back these people. It was on a knife edge there in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Could have gone either way.

And I think the reason why the pro-life movement took off and became huge actually had nothing to do with abortion. It became huge because it was, “We’ve got to draw the line somewhere against all this secular encroachment on our religious culture founded by Puritans.” …

A lot of people were just waiting to draw the line somewhere against this rising tide of secularism they felt encroaching on their space. They wanted to fight back. No one had showed them how, because you had to have an issue around which to coalesce, and abortion was a handy issue.

I think what proves my point is the way similar issues have been used subsequently. I mean, what does gay rights have to do with abortion? Nothing. So why are the same people fighting about that and using the same techniques? What does health care reform have to do with euthanasia? Nothing. Why are they using the same thing?

Because the secular culture is going to take your children away; they‘re not going to heaven with you. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere. We have to fight back, so you pick a handy club with which to beat the society around you into submission. …

And if Dad had come down the pike and written a book and passionately had a series of seminars saying that we have to stop our kids listening to rock ‘n’ roll, and we’ve got to get an amendment in the United States Constitution saying, you know, anything with a drum beat has to be made unconstitutional, it may sound crazy, but it could have been that. …

God In America – Interview: Frank Schaeffer

“We sat down with [Rep.] Jack Kemp [R-N.Y.], [Vice President] Gerald Ford, the Bush family, [Ronald] Reagan and other people, and they said: ‘We’ll help you. We believe in this. Just make sure we keep getting elected and we’ll roll Roe v. Wade back.’ …” (Ibid.)

What was a moral issue, a religious one, now became political. I am pro-life (ALL life, and for maintaining that life well after birth). I believe abortion on demand is a grievous evil. I have MUCH to question about the actual “pro-life” beliefs of the Bushes, Kemp, Falwell, Reagan, et. al., at the beginning; they obviously didn’t give much of a damn prior to meeting Schaeffer. But their scheme worked. It has taken almost 40 years, but the seed planted by the Moral Majority is showing fruit. The Right now has the chance to overturn Roe. But I recognize that in a kind of twisted way, the adoption of abortion as a moral/political shibboleth (along with gay rights) set the stage for the pursuit of a kind of Christian “sharia law” to be enshrined in our judicial process. Too many people on the right will say they want strict Constitutionalists on the bench, but what they really want are jurists who will interpret the Constitution through the lens of the Bible. Even as a pro-life, if liberal leaning, Independent Christian, this scares the bejesus out of me.

*Highly recommended article: Harvard Law Journal concludes: The preborn child is a constitutional person

Behind the Scenes: Picturing Fetal Remains

Science Is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost

Republicans don’t care about Police, Veterans, Unborn as People, only as Props

Former police officer, and current Democratic Congresswoman, Val Demings took Jim Jordan to task over his hypocrisy on police. John Iadarola and Ana Kasparian discuss on The Young Turks.

“Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) was midway through an impassioned speech on Tuesday accusing Republicans of using police officers as “pawns” in their efforts to amend a hate-crime bill when Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) interrupted to object.”

Why is everyone so concerned about Tucker Carlson and the “Great Replacement” theory of ‘white genocide’ which seems to be taking over the Republican party?

The “Great Replacement” theory is something that has been talked about for a while in Europe and is a big deal there. I know as I have friends and relatives who talk about it and use it as a way to justify limiting immigration. So it is not a nothing thing.

Tucker is leading the charge and expect to see more of the ‘replacement’ theory in the future and most of all for him and $$, he and the Murdochs will get viewers on this one

The changing demographics of the US, Trump’s decisive loss, the diversity of the Democratic party and the stroking of white angst, mean people like Tucker are going to be pounding this more and more in the future.

In Europe the debate is a struggle, some countries are openly against any form of immigration like Hungary and even the UK’s Brexit turn is clearly at least in part to limit immigration.

The Great Replacement or white genocide theory is something you all can look up but basically it is a fear of being out populated by non white, non Christians though you could put in anything in the US other than white evangelicals are not welcome.

In my circle, if you are not Republican for instance you are a baby killer so it can become extreme and this is just the latest in a multi century nativist approach in the US that will be rearing it’s head up again and again.

Ultimately the importance to the US will be to use this to limit immigration which is what it has done in Europe. That I don’t see changing in fact ‘replacement theory’ will gather steam in the US in the next few years and will become one of the next code words for anti anything other than white evangelical Christians.

Welcome America to the next version of culture wars that are gradually engulfing the world. On the opposite side you are going to have ‘American’ values which will be about evolving values which are inclusive and moving towards secularism and away from religion and race and even European culture as a background.

Much will be made of this in the future but now that Tucker has introduced this and Murdoch’s son has provided tacit endorsement, it matters not that it is considered also anti-semitic by the ADL, what matters is Republican voters will gladly embrace this as their next theory to support in the wake of Trump losses which mean even more voter suppression and an increasing reliance on those Trump/McConnell judges and SCOTUS to ‘protect’ them in the future.

What Has the Pro-Life Movement Won?

Donald Trump gave us a Supreme Court that could overturn Roe v. Wade. But the fight against abortion may leave the current G.O.P. behind.

The pro-life movement’s multidecade strategy, up to and including its fraught bargain with Donald Trump, appears to have succeeded. Thanks to the Trump White House and Mitch McConnell’s Senate, there is now a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, vetted by conservative legal activists and committed to principles of constitutional interpretation that seem to require sweeping Roe v. Wade away, or at least modifying it into obsolescence.

Yet instead of preparing to claim victory, in the last two weeks part of the anti-abortion movement has fallen into an acrimonious debate over a radical proposal — from the Australian philosopher and Notre Dame professor John Finnis, in the journal First Things, arguing that unborn human beings deserve protections under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The political implication of Finnis’s argument is that the pro-life movement’s longtime legal goal, overturning Roe and letting states legislate against abortion, is woefully insufficient, and in fact pro-life activists should be demanding that the Supreme Court declare a fetal right to life.

Finnis is not the first person to make that case, but the controversy it’s incited this time has been more intense, and in one sense strangely timed: An apparent hour of victory seems like an odd moment to fall to Twitter wrangling over a constitutional claim that most conservative jurists, from Robert Bork to Antonin Scalia, have consistently rejected.

But abortion foes actually have good reason to feel unsettled and uncertain rather than triumphant. First, there is the strong possibility that the 6-to-3 conservative court does not have a majority of justices who particularly want to apply their principles to something as fraught as abortion, as opposed to the comforting blandness of administrative law. Between the popularity of Roe in polling and the fear of liberal backlash and potential court-packing, some combination of John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh may decide to follow the rule of institutional self-protection rather than their principles, or find ways to make only the smallest-possible edits to the court’s existing abortion jurisprudence.

Indeed, right now there’s a case pending with the high court that would put Roe to a test: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involving a Mississippi ban, with limited exceptions, on abortion after 15 weeks (when the fetus is pear-size and kicking tiny legs) that a district court struck down. Yet the case has been pending since September, suggesting that there may not be even four justices — the number required to take the case — who are ready to issue a controversial ruling. And pro-life skeptics of the conservative legal establishment are already citing Dobbs to suggest that the just-overturn-Roe strategy might be poised to fail again.

This isn’t the only reason for pro-life unsettlement. The movement also has to be aware that even if its long-running legal strategy is about to succeed, its strategies and prospects in a post-Roe world are uncertain at best — an uncertainty that shadows other conservative policy debates, like the argument over Mitt Romney’s proposal for a monthly child benefit, as well.

Americans have deep qualms about abortion, and amid the general liberal turn of the last few decades, polling on the issue has been remarkably stable: Support for Roe coexists with support for restrictions and regulations that Roe does not permit, the country splits almost evenly over whether to identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” and most Americans fall into a conflicted middle ground.

This means that while overturning Roe would probably prompt a pro-choice backlash in reaction to the court’s decision, there would be ample opportunities, in a world where abortion is returned to the democratic process, to make a pro-life case.

But the anti-abortion cause is closely linked to a culturally bunkered Republican Party and a weakened religious right, it has few media megaphones and weak financial backing, and a lot of the country just seems not to want to think too much about abortion and to punish the party that forces it to do so. So it’s extremely easy to imagine the end of Roe leading to a little more state regulation over all (mostly limitations in the second trimester, along the lines of many European countries), but then for the few states that go further to find themselves boycotted and besieged, leaving the goal of ending abortion nationwide as far away as ever.

Especially because the plausibility of that goal depends on whether the pro-life movement can prove — through very literal policy demonstrations, not just rhetoric — that it can protect and support the pregnant women who would no longer get abortions in the world that it desires. The pro-choice side insists that these women’s independence and well-being and equality depends on a right to end a life that, were it wanted, would be called by name and celebrated with ultrasound photos on the fridge. Against that argument the anti-abortion movement needs more than just the ultrasound photo: It needs to prove the pro-choice premise wrong.

The movement’s wiser leaders know this. Last year, for instance, The Atlantic’s Emma Green profiled Cheryl Bachelder, the former chief executive of Popeye’s and a rare pro-lifer in the C-suite world, who was working with other anti-abortion leaders “to brainstorm all the community support systems that would need to be stronger in a world where abortion is illegal: mental health services, addiction-recovery programs, affordable child care.” Green also reported that the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, has been compiling a database of state resources for pregnant women in preparation for the hoped-for end of Roe.

But, of course — as Green noted with dry understatement — actually getting a major expansion of social services in states that might conceivably ban abortion would require a different Republican Party than the one that exists today.

Over the last month, for instance, many socially conservative Republicans have been critiquing Romney’s proposed family benefit on the grounds that it might lead to more nonworking single mothers. This a reasonable worry, but it’s definitely the case that making abortion illegal would lead, in the short run, to more women raising kids in difficult circumstances. (The long-term cultural effects are a separate question.) And then it’s also the case that family grants like the Romney plan have been shown to reduce abortion rates when used in European countries.

Put these realities together, and you get a conclusion that most Republicans have not internalized. To restrict abortion in a just and sustainable way, to reduce both the personal hardship of parenting and the incidence of illegal abortion, you probably need some kind of policies like Romney’s plan no matter what the consequences for work incentives or single motherhood. More unintended births to poor women in the near term are a necessary price of pro-life victory — with the lives of the babies themselves the reason that price is very much worth paying.

These realities can seem very remote from the legal theorizing involved in the 14th Amendment debate. Suggesting that judges should endorse an anti-abortion reading of the Constitution solves none of the pro-life movement’s immediate problems. If today’s Republican-appointed jurists are too politically timid to merely return abortion regulation to the states, it’s much harder to imagine them ever issuing a sweepingly pro-life ruling that, under current alignments, would risk attempted nullification from many liberal state governments. And an academic argument over the 14th Amendment’s original meaning hardly helps the pro-life movement address the immediate social-welfare questions it will need to answer should Roe fall.

However, there is a way in which the 14th Amendment argument and the questions raised by Bachelder’s brainstorming or Romney’s family plan are actually closely linked. For a long time the core pro-life position — not that abortion should be a little more regulated or a little more culturally disfavored, but that it should be truly forbidden in almost every case — has been a symbol and an abstraction: an idea that Republican presidents can very notionally support, a cause that judicial appointees can benefit from without directly endorsing, an ideal that Republican state legislators can invoke without having to compromise their libertarian principles to make it real.

But now, with the pro-life movement hovering in a strange limbo between a longed-for victory and another judicial defeat, the question looms up: Is anti-abortion sentiment notional or real?

If it’s mostly notional, then a betrayal by Roberts or Gorsuch won’t change much about conservative judicial politics. If it’s mostly notional, then even the end of Roe will change abortion politics only at the margins and in deep-red states.

If the end of abortion is a real goal, though, then yet another defeat at the Supreme Court should prompt a radical reassessment of the movement’s existing Federalist Society and G.O.P. alliances.

And a victory at the court should likewise widen the pro-life imagination well beyond Republican politics-as-usual, toward an all-options-on-the-table vision of how public policy could make an abortion ban feasible, popular, enduring.

In either scenario, there is something to be said for a pro-life movement that talks less in the language of partisanship and proceduralism and sounds more like the utopian and not simply conservative cause that its logic ultimately requires it to be.

In this sense, saying “yes, the Constitution that protects ‘persons’ should protect the hidden and helpless person in the womb,” and “yes, we will pay whatever price in spending and social support that this principle requires” are not contradictory positions: They are the same argument on different fronts.

It’s hard to imagine a future where a Supreme Court imposes the full pro-life position on an unwilling country. Whatever its constitutional merits, the 14th Amendment idea requires that public opinion be moving in its direction first.

But there is an imaginable future where making arguments that stress that the pro-life movement really means it, that the lives of children and their mothers together matter more than any other principle, is part of what finally persuades the country to choose life.

 

The Life and Death of a Woman-Hater

Rush Limbaugh made the G.O.P. the party of misogyny.

When the conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh died on Wednesday of complications from cancer, he ended a decades-long career as one of the most malignant and sadistic figures on the right.

His contributions to contemporary conservatism encouraged members of the Republican Party base to be meaner, smaller and more vulgar. He anchored his banter with a steady stream of invective, by turns promoting xenophobia, racism, homophobia and misogyny, teeing up a ready-made audience for the cruelty politics of Donald Trump.

But perhaps one of Mr. Limbaugh’s most significant and longest-lasting impacts, and one that will persist even if the party returns to a post-Trump “normal,” stemmed from his loud opposition to women’s rights: He was the right wing’s misogynist id.

His belligerent chauvinism was key in making the Republican Party the party of anti-feminism. Cracking open his slobbering hatred of women allows insight into his success, as well as the perversion of the party he championed.

Mr. Limbaugh burst on the national scene in the late 1980s during a national anti-feminist backlash and as the Republican Party was completing its turn away from libertarianism and toward the religious right. While he often gave rhetorical nods to the “pro-family” traditional values of the Moral Majority, he didn’t adopt its veneer of propriety — he was positively

But perhaps one of Mr. Limbaugh’s most significant and longest-lasting impacts, and one that will persist even if the party returns to a post-Trump “normal,” stemmed from his loud opposition to women’s rights: He was the right wing’s misogynist id.

His belligerent chauvinism was key in making the Republican Party the party of anti-feminism. Cracking open his slobbering hatred of women allows insight into his success, as well as the perversion of the party he championed.

Mr. Limbaugh burst on the national scene in the late 1980s during a national anti-feminist backlash and as the Republican Party was completing its turn away from libertarianism and toward the religious right. While he often gave rhetorical nods to the “pro-family” traditional values of the Moral Majority, he didn’t adopt its veneer of propriety — he was positively lascivious in his rhetoric, using ugliness and shock to promote embittered and unvarnished sexism, and he saw a world of opportunity in the party. Republicans, in turn, saw opportunity in him.

Mr. Limbaugh’s sexist provocations were myriad. He argued that women shouldn’t be allowed on juries if “the accused is a stud.” He claimed that “feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.” (He wasn’t entirely wrong about that last bit — feminists do indeed want to live in a society where women have equal rights and equal access to resources and power regardless of how men rate our attractiveness. For Mr. Limbaugh, though, this was a mark against us.)

He really hit his stride when Bill Clinton ran for office. Mr. Clinton was accompanied by a feminist wife whose biography — a successful lawyer, an advocate for women’s and children’s rights, a woman who kept her own name and identity after marriage — often set off unhinged emotional outbursts from many Republicans, including Mr. Limbaugh.

Attacking Hillary Clinton in some of the ugliest terms possible became Mr. Limbaugh’s bread and butter, a guaranteed crowd-pleaser that sustained his show through three decades. He helped build a cottage industry of Hillary-hate, insisting Mrs. Clinton had a “testicle lockbox” — a theme that, during her first presidential campaign, surfaced among opportunistic vendors selling Hillary nutcrackers.

As Mr. Trump would later, Mr. Limbaugh had Mrs. Clinton, and the conservative public’s insatiable appetite for attacks on her, partly to thank for his success. And like Mr. Trump, Mr. Limbaugh then further wielded his huge platform to threaten and denigrate smart, ambitious, politically involved women.

In 1992, Mr. Limbaugh introduced the term “feminazi,” a pejorative he assigned women who spoke out for their own rights generally, and for abortion rights specifically. It was his preferred term, he said, for “women who are obsessed with perpetuating a modern-day Holocaust: abortion.”

Girls were not spared his ire. Mr. Limbaugh told viewers of his television show in 1993: “Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is also a White House dog?” And he held up a photograph of Chelsea Clinton, who at the time was just 13 years old. Two decades later, as he established a steady patter of racist and misogynistic hate aimed at Barack and Michelle Obama, Mr. Limbaugh took to calling Mrs. Obama “Moochelle,” reinforcing the idea that women are only as valuable as their looks — a rule that he did not seem to apply to men.

That Mr. Limbaugh’s fortunes grew with this kind of extreme and schlocky rhetoric, could not have been lost on conservative politicians. The victories of the civil rights and feminist movements in the 1960s and ’70s had forced a great reorganization in American politics, with the Republican Party seizing opportunities for growth among whites angry about progress toward racial equality, and among men who resented women’s changing roles and growing power in the workplace, society and the family.

Mr. Limbaugh was the ur-character of this new kind of conservative Republican: one who spoke out loudly for traditional values — which in this case meant male authority over women — as well as the cultural, political and economic dominance of whites. But unlike many Republican politicians, he eschewed dog whistles and code words in favor of unvarnished bigotry. His talk radio show soon became the most popular in America, riding a wave of white male resentment as well as helping to stoke it.

Aware of his reach, Republican politicians began competing for his listeners’ votes. That meant firmly solidifying themselves as opponents of women’s rights, privacy and progress.

As much as moderate Republicans may have publicly, at least occasionally, wrung their hands over Mr. Limbaugh’s boorishness, they were happy to support his politics. Perhaps the best case study of Mr. Limbaugh’s grotesque efforts happened in 2012, after Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, testified before Congress to urge mandatory coverage of contraception in the Affordable Care Act, which many congressional Republicans opposed.

Mr. Limbaugh gleefully spent days maligning Ms. Fluke on his show. “It makes her a slut, right?” he said. “It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

Mr. Limbaugh offered to buy women at Georgetown aspirin to put between their knees. “Feminazis,” Mr. Limbaugh luridly admonished them, “if we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

This from a man who had been detained at an airport with a prescription, not in his name, for Viagra, a sexual aid typically paid for by health insurance, and who trumpeted the importance of traditional family values before he died childless and on his fourth marriage to a much younger woman.

But this is not surprising. Mr. Limbaugh promoted double standards that punish women (and gay men) for sexual activity while applauding straight men for the same; he excused cruelty by white men as entertainment while feigning outrage at any hint of incivility and impropriety from those speaking out against it. Mr. Limbaugh’s fans and defenders have carried on these hypocrisies after his death, admonishing critics for speaking ill of a man who used to hold on-air celebrations of AIDS-related deaths.

Different kinds of sexism reinforce one and other. There’s hostile misogyny, the sort advanced by men like Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Trump berating women with sexist slurs, or, at the most extreme, in men who beat, rape and kill women and girls. And there’s benevolent misogyny, which clothes itself as chivalry and tradition and which stereotypes women as uniquely moral and pure.

But for benevolent sexism to be effective in enticing women to participate in their own subjugation, hostile sexism has to be a looming threat. This is where Mr. Limbaugh played such an important role in American conservatism: He gave voice to the malicious misogyny that was always at the foundation of conservative anti-feminist policy.

Indeed, Mr. Limbaugh was so blatantly racist and sexist that he made the race- and gender-based hostilities of mainstream conservatism look more reasonable by comparison. He made hostile misogyny so normal on the reactionary right that Donald Trump, who shocked uninitiated liberals, sounded downright familiar to anyone tuned into right-wing radio.

No wonder the attempts in 2016 to kneecap Mr. Trump’s candidacy by pointing to his disparaging comments about women and his boasting about sexual assault were largely impotent. In Rush country, that’s daily entertainment.

This has all worked out well for the Republican Party, which benefited from Mr. Limbaugh’s misogyny as much as it was shaped by it. Take Mr. Limbaugh’s attacks on Ms. Fluke, who became a national figure in the first place because Republicans held a hearing on contraception and then allowed only men to speak. She testified before a Democratic committee a week later, about Georgetown’s policy of refusing to cover contraception in its student health plans.

Even students who had been prescribed contraceptives to treat medical conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome, Ms. Fluke said, were denied coverage because the insurance company argued they might be using the drugs to avoid pregnancy. That’s when Mr. Limbaugh took to the airwaves to demean her. He was met with great outrage.

The outrage, though, was directed largely at Mr. Limbaugh, and not at the Republicans whose party once embraced family planning (George H.W. Bush was so passionate about the issue he was nicknamed “Rubbers”). A few Republicans gently clucked their tongues at Mr. Limbaugh’s vulgarity, but the party pressed on with its anti-contraception policy agenda anyway.

Republicans lined up behind Mr. Limbaugh’s basic premise: that contraception is permission for female promiscuity, the public shouldn’t pay for it and employers have a right to refuse women health care if they believe it would enable female immorality. His loyal base seemed frankly ebullient that someone had put a promising young woman in her place by sexually humiliating her on a national stage.

For feminists, Ms. Fluke was a hero. But a few years after her testimony, the Supreme Court held that an employer who objected on religious grounds could be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health care plans cover contraception. Democrats won the news cycle, but Republicans won the game.

Mr. Limbaugh didn’t create right-wing misogyny or hate speech. But he did more than his part to reinforce and expand it. In 2017, a man in Mr. Limbaugh’s viciously misogynist mold was installed in the presidency even after calling women pigs and dogs, and even after he was caught on tape boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.

Mr. Trump is out of the White House, and Mr. Limbaugh is dead. But the animus that animated the Limbaughian, Trumpian public remains, and the misogyny that financed Mr. Limbaugh’s plush lifestyle, padded his $85 million a year salary and won him a Presidential Medal of Freedom will be difficult to unwind.

In the aftermath of a disastrous presidency, some Republicans may think they’re choosing between being the party of Trump and Limbaugh, the party of unapologetic hatreds and white resentment, or of being the party of Ronald Reagan, the party of freedom and family values.

But the two have long been intertwined, aiding and abetting each other. When the Limbaughs and the Trumps of the party offered their fans rank chauvinism and abject bigotry, they created more space for family-friendly sexism to be built into conservative policy.

That is Mr. Limbaugh’s legacy: not his crass language, but his militant anti-feminism, and how effective he was at ensuring that misogyny translated into policy. The Republicans who say they want their party back from the carnival barkers of bigotry need to reject more than profane words and an uncouth political aesthetic. They need to turn away from the ugly ideology that undergirds it all, which was always foul, whether or not the language was polite.

 

If President Trump starts a new political party, The Patriot Party, after he leaves office, what impact will this have on the Republican Party?

Absolutely catastrophic in the short term. The result would be somewhat similar to the effect Teddy Roosevelt had on the Republican Party when he broke with Taft in 1912.

I estimate Trump’s control of the Republican electorate at about 40%. He has control of what I call the talk radio wing. They’ve been motivated by immigration and white nationalism, white grievance, “they will take our guns” nuttery and/or anti-SJW “own the lib” stuff since the 1990s.

The rest is, give or take –

  • 20% traditional Reagan conservatives (e.g. Mitch McConnell) who actually care about conservative small government dogma & philosophy but believe in democracy
  • 20% evangelical Christian conservatives (Ted Cruz), mainly single issue focused on abortion and anti-LGBTQ (styled as “religious freedom”). They are prone to support an authoritarian if he wins and does what they want.
  • 15% country club pro-business, pro-privatization G.W. Bush, McCain, Romney, lite-conservatives, also believe in democracy.
  • 5% moderate Kasich, Murkowski, Collins types. Also believe in democracy.

(So over half the Republicans don’t really gaf about democracy, in large part because they can never be convinced that votes from people or places they don’t approve of are legitimate voters)

The election would *mostly* be between Trump and Biden/Harris. The Republican nominee would be a Cruz or Rubio type, kind of irrelevant, the way Taft was in 1912.

Trump would get decent amount of electoral votes and the Republican Party would get disastrously pasted in the House and Senate as a result of splitting the Republican coalition.

The ratio of Republicans to Democrats Trump would pull would be probably 5 to 1. He would pull a few Tulsi Gabbard types from the Democrats but destroy the Republicans by taking that talk radio set away from them, which is at least a third of their party and probably closer to 40%.

In a bad-case scenario for the GOP, the map would look something like this:

I gave:

  • Trump the states which in 2020 voted for Trump with 60% or more and had at least 2 points stronger Trump margin in 2020 than in 2016.
  • Democrats any state where they won at least 45% of the vote in 2020, in which a 10–15% drop in the Republican share would be catastrophic. I see no Clinton-Biden state in which Trump would strengthen Republican chances or be able to win himself.
  • I gave Republicans the rest – states where they won both 2016 and 2020 and Trump declined a bit or stayed even with 2016, and Democrats failed to get over 45%. Iowa was right on the bubble at 44.9% so I counted it a tossup.

Republican senate and House seats would be lost like crazy. The Republicans would recover after the Trump effect wore off like the way the Bull Moose Party faded out without Roosevelt. But in the short term, 4–8 years, it would be very very bad for them.