Pop Goes The Political Culture Week of June 25
By Rebekah Kuschmider, MPU co-host
The United States of Liberal America is kind of on fire this week and we at the More Perfect Union are also on fire. The news about Anthony Kennedy retiring has caused yours truly to turn into a raging prochoice feminist gorgon who wants to turn MAGA Twitter trolls to stone. DJ is bashing his head against the wall over news that Trump is considering leaving the World Trade Organization. Kevin is on the ground with his local House candidate trying to flip a swing district. And Greg is playing his saxophone.
Greg is also a generally happier person than Kevin, DJ and I.
We’ll be convening to discuss this week’s hard news tomorrow night but until then, here’s the news that’s not fit to ‘cast!
Keep Sweet: I have a mild obsession with fringe religions. The FLDS, the Quiverfull movement, Scientology, if it’s a religion from which people need to literally escape, I have probably read a memoir by an escapee.
Many fringe religions dictate rigid gender roles based on the most classical definition of patriarchy: that men are closer to their conception of god and, therefore, women must submit to the will of men in all cases. Women coming out of these communities will talk about their constant struggle to adhere to this principle, fighting their own sense of self-preservation or common sense to do what men tell them. When they ask for help or advice from clergy or family members, they’re admonished not to antagonize the men in their lives.
In the world of the FLDS, the phrase for this is “keep sweet”. It was originally meant as an attitude all church members were supposed to aspire to in order to be closer to their god but in modern times, it’s meant to remind women to “keep sweet” to the men in their lives and not argue with them in any way. They’re told that failing to submit to the authority of the guys telling them to keep sweet can result in punishment in both this life and the afterlife.
Experts in psychology will also tell you that this is a line of reasoning used by abusers as well. They tell their victims that the victims just need to be nicer if they want to stop the abuse.
Why am I talking about this? Because every damn mention of civility this week has sounded like “Keep sweet” to me. Like some higher authoritarian leader is telling me not to engage in dissent because it antagonizes the powerful who are then entitled to heap abuse on my un-sweet head and I will deserve it for being so unsubmissive to them in the first place.
Fuck. That. Noise.
Dissent is a constitutionally approved tool of the political minority in this country. All of us are entitled to voice our dissent without editing ourselves in the process. There is room for passion and swearing as well as room for the coldest and most clinical of analysis. Anyone telling you to change your methods of dissent is telling you to keep sweet because it serves their purposes, not because it will serve your own.
Fight the power in your own words. Civility not required.
He Who Laughs Last: In classic bully form, Trump has been out trying to hurt feelings and gin up anti-media sentiment at various campaign rallies. The late night hosts have gotten a share of his ire. Unlike the leadership of the GOP, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien aren’t afraid of the Small Fingered Vulgarian in Chief. The three of them teamed up to make a video that basically says “Trump who?” and reminds us that sometimes it really is important to laugh it off.
Trivia: For everyone who followed the Red Hen saga and asked “Will this lead to every restaurant in DC asking for your voter registration info before letting you have a table?”, have no fear! Anyone of any political stripe can get a table in the nation’s capitol because there’s a law on the local books prohibiting restaurant owners from refusing patrons service. The District of Columbia considers political affiliation a protected class, just like gender, race, religion and sexuality. So you can wear a MAGA hat into any DC eatery and get a table and a meal. Whether or not you get a side of saliva added to it remains to be seen. There are a lot of immigrants, people of color, women, and LGBTQA folks working in restaurants in this town so be forewarned.
Anchor Babies: The Republican party has long been looking to limit immigration of all kinds. Their latest tactic is putting babies in internment camps but that’s not the first time babies have been on their radar. A few years ago, they railed against “anchor babies”, suggesting that pregnant were coming into the US to give birth so their child would be granted birthright citizenship and the whole family would have a stronger immigration claim. Trump himself raged against these actions saying“We have to start a process where we take back our country. Our country is going to hell.”
He’s dropped the anchor baby talk to complain about chain migration instead – he does love a good buzzword – but that doesn’t mean anchor babies aren’t a real thing, as the Washington Post reported this week:
While Trump rails against U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, his Florida properties have become a playground for birth tourists from Russia’s upper crust. The Daily Beast has discovered several companies are advertising rentals in Trump properties to expectant Russian parents. While the Trump Organization does not directly profit from subleases of privately owned condos, it does benefit from Russian patronage of the nearby Trump International Beach Resort. (The Trump Organization did not return requests comment.)
I would say we should expect to hear a xenophobic screed about this on Trump’s Twitter feed but if you replace “Russian” with “Croatian”, this is kind of like Melania’s story. She took it a step further and married the owner of a Trump Property but not everyone is willing to sacrifice their dignity that way.
Tune in Monday when we drop the new podcast episode so you can hear all the real debate without the ha…oh, who am I kidding? We’ll be hating on the news like it’s out job. Don’t miss it!