19 August 2015

Radical reactionaries

It's easy to dismiss Republican rhetoric as merely rhetoric, but sometimes people mean what they say, and it's necessary to consider what the results would actually look like if they kept their promises.

Republican rhetoric on abortion runs to euphemisms ("personhood", "protecting the unborn"), and so forth, calculated to avoid any direct references to the people (pregnant women) whose self-determination would be abrogated by their plans.  When they're confronted by specific questions, though, the mask can slip, as it recently did with Mike Huckabee (found via Republic of Gilead).  He was asked about an actual current case in Paraguay in which a 10-year-old rape victim was refused an abortion due to the strict laws in that devoutly Catholic (that is, backward) country:

"Let nobody be misled, a 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible, but does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child?" he asked..... Huckabee added later, "When I think about one horror, I also think about the possibilities that exist and I just don’t want to think that somehow we discounted a human life..... Let’s not compound the tragedy by taking yet another life."

If there is no exception for a 10-year-old rape victim, there will be no exception for anybody, ever.

Huckabee has also said that, as President, he would make abortion de facto impossible by "acting as if zygotes have Constitutional rights", which also would eliminate at a stroke any exceptions for rape, incest, etc., since actual, born persons who were conceived as a result of such acts have the same Constitutional rights as everybody else.  (This could only pass muster in the courts if they had been thoroughly stacked by the wingnuts.  Courts are supposed to consider the intent of laws, and it's unlikely that the authors of the Constitution intended its provisions to apply to blastocysts.)  He has even talked about using the FBI and federal troops to suppress abortion, effectively turning the culture war into an actual civil war.

Huckabee is an extreme case, but far from alone.  As I discussed here, Rubio and Walker (who are among the top contenders for the Republican Presidential nomination) have also taken radical, no-exceptions stands against abortion.  After their victories in 2010 and 2014, Republican state legislators passed many stringent abortion restrictions.  The worst of these have been stopped by the courts, but a Republican President would mean two or three more Scalias on the Supreme Court, and the end of Roe v. Wade and any constraint on anything which that President and Congressional Republicans chose to do to enact religious taboo into civil law.

Abortion is not rare.  There are 700,000 to 800,000 abortions per year in the US.  Other Republican policies, such as opposition to certain forms of contraception and to effective sex education, would greatly increase the number of unintended pregnancies and therefore the demand for abortion.  Outlawing abortion would create a huge underground industry of illegal abortion clinics, sleazy and dangerous (as prohibition has made drugs, prostitution, and in earlier times alcohol sleazy and dangerous) -- perhaps even restrictions on travel as women tried to get the procedure in other countries where it remained legal.

Pregnancy due to rape is not as rare as people like Todd Akin think, either.  There are at least 30,000 such cases in the US per year, of which about two-thirds are aborted.  It's now clear that if the Republicans got their way, there would be no exceptions for these.

Republican success on abortion policy alone would mean a vast, radical transformation of American society.  If half the population lost one of the most fundamental freedoms of all -- the freedom to control their own reproduction -- the US could no longer claim to be a free country in any meaningful sense.  It would be a massive-scale intrusion into private life by government diktat, a totalitarianism worthy of Lenin.

Add in their efforts to strip away gays' recently-won equality and freedom, to obliterate separation of church and state, to crush freedom of expression in cases like blasphemy and pornography (while declaring money to be speech in Citizens United), and to effectively eliminate long-standing safety-net programs like Social Security -- and the US would practically cease to be a modern country and degenerate into a weird crypto-theocracy, with the state enforcing religious values at odds with the inclinations of most of the people.  It would be very different from the country we know today.

Could this actually happen if they won the Presidency?  In theory the checks and balances built into our system ought to prevent much of it, but given how hysterical and extremist the Republican party has become since 2009, if they were to keep Congress while winning the Presidency and thus ultimately the Supreme Court -- well, no system of government is perfect.  Even ours can only work properly if a critical mass of the people running it understand and defend its principles.

We don't know how much damage these radical reactionaries could do if they won more power, and we need to make sure we never get the chance to find out.

[Personal note:  Today is the ninth anniversary of this blog.]


Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Congratulations on 9 years of informative and delightful posts.

Re: Abortion in the U.S., this is the most up-to-date info I found.

Americans are pro-choice; but as one would suspect, the differences on abortion are regional. The less religious areas of the country are more supportive of a girl's or a woman's right to choose than are the more religious areas.

Also, abortion rates are declining.

Want fewer abortions? Then allow more access to birth control. That's not rocket science, but for some pols, Santorum, for example, birth control "is just wrong." Happily, Santorum is going nowhere in presidential politics, but people who think like him and who have political influence are intent on imposing their religious-based ideas on all girls and women.

As I've said countless times, state mandated pregnancies are just as evil as state-mandated abortions. The idea of freedom as it applies to this issue eludes the extremists who believe blastocysts deserve the same "rights" as a raped 10-year-old child. What is more barbaric and anti-child than that?

19 August, 2015 05:49  
Blogger Ahab said...

Happy 9th anniversary, Infidel!

It's chilling to watch the struggle for reproductive rights go backwards in the U.S. Clinic closures, calls to defund Planned Parenthood, states cutting Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood, burdensome laws, and the Hobby Lobby decision are making it even more difficult for women to secure contraception and abortion services. The anti-abortion Religious Right shows no signs of slowing down, meaning that pro-choice activists must stay vigilant. This extends into politics as well.

Ugh. This is why I named my blog Republic of Gilead...

19 August, 2015 07:18  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: Thanks for the links. It's striking how views on abortion correlate with religion, with non-religious people being the most tolerant and fundies the least. Religion remains the core of the problem.

Unfortunately almost no Republican candidate these days dares to get to the left of Santorum on this issue. Some of them may be less than sincere, but we shouldn't take the risk when the clearly pro-choice Hillary is available.

Ahab: They seem to be doubling down on this now that they've (mostly) accepted that the battle to stop gay marriage is lost. We need to hold our own politicians accountable and demand that they defend abortion rights and Planned Parenthood without equivocation.

19 August, 2015 16:49  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

This is really screwed up Infidel, but you are talking about REALITY here ... I know damn well that if the GOP get's anymore power, regardless of even how "moderate" of a Presidential candidate one may be portrayed as, they will have certain obligations to taint womens rights to choose unfortunately, I have NO DOUBT (this GOP of today is very anti- American too). I see what is happening first hand here in Texas is why, it is getting crazy here man ... we have these cult type groups (I AM NOT exaggerating) who are working around the clock in this state to make trying to get any abortion related services (including contraceptives) as difficult as it can get, they are using tactics like requiring these places to have all kinds of new rules/ codes and restrictions, cloaked in so called "concerns for womens health" ... and the whole pro- life thing here is so hypocritical even, which I wont get into here ... BUT ... they have recruited and hired the best of the best at twisting law and words to try to sugar- coat what they are actually doing (long story). I remember a few years back this young lady who was first real nice to me, after she found out I was pro- choice started drilling me (I broke off talking to her anymore) ... she had the nerve one day to say that my views on choice is saying that I condone to killing children ... I told her that she is NOT looking at the whole picture and she is too young and only listening to one side of the issue (religious) ... she was about 24yo I believe. First place I have children and grandkids too and love them, and I like kidz ... so the idea of me condoning to killing children is dumb and frankly insulting, I let her know that straight up. But you wouldnt believe what is currently going on in Texas over the last couple years as far as finding back doors to make it difficult to get here. And I'll tell ya another thing Infidel ... this NEW governor Abbott we have ... makes Perry look liberal ... believe me, I know too much about this guy, that no one is talking about. You know damn well especially in a state with our population what would happen, and having the large poor and immigrant populations we have. I leave it there ... Thanx for the read ... and congratulations on your blogging anniversary deal too. ... Later guy

21 August, 2015 04:01  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

BTW ... the photo you used at the top gets the message across well ... oddly though with my twisted thinking ... the first thing that came to mind looking at it was .... thinking of an old school car thief showing a coat hanger and saying that he will never commit a car theft again and go back to jail ... being that back in the day, you used a clothes hanger to pop the lock on the door, then wired it {: ) ... I mean ... I should know eh? {: )

21 August, 2015 04:10  
Anonymous Zosimus the Heathen said...

Probably the scariest reactionaries I've ever encountered (online at least) have been ultraconservative types (who're usually Catholic as well, for some reason) who think that everything that's happened in Western society since the Enlightenment (or hell, with some of them, the Renaissance) has all been a terrible, terrible mistake, and that the only way to reverse society's supposed decline is to go back to the Middle Ages. Really, how can you even argue with people like that, given how utterly alien their values are compared with most people's? (It's perhaps not surprising that many of these individuals now seem to have jumped on the whole ridiculous "neoreactionary" bandwagon (and the more I look at what the neoreactionaries believe, the more they strike me as the Western, Christian equivalent of Islamofascists*).)

Re the current Republican Party's seemingly unceasing efforts to ban abortion and contraception, one irony of history this always makes me think of is the fact that Nicolae Ceausescu attempted to do the same thing in Romania, back when he was running that place. Sort of hilarious that a bunch of fundamentalist wackjobs should have something in common with a godless Communist! (Another irony I've noticed is that the aforementioned neoreactionary crowd seems to include both pick-up artists and puritanical Christian fundamentalists in its ranks. Sort of odd that a bunch of people whose lives revolve around pursuing meaningless, no-strings-attached sex should be so willing to forge an alliance with people who want to do everything in their power to outlaw everything that makes casual sex possible!)

Not sure what the current situation regarding reproductive rights is here in Australia. I don't think there're too many restrictions regarding contraception (and I don't think that's a situation that's likely to change anytime soon), although abortion's a bit of a murkier issue. From my limited (and probably outdated) knowledge of the subject, I gather that the abortion laws here vary from state to state, with many (if not all) states only allowing the procedure under certain circumstances. That said, I don't think anywhere bans it outright, and I also gather that what rules there are aren't enforced very stringently. It also seems to be a bit of a political non-issue, even with the current ascendancy of our own Christian Right (a bit of a scary thing!).

*Both movements also seem to attract a lot of life's losers, from what I've noticed!

21 August, 2015 05:18  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ranch Chimp: That's another good point. If a Republican becomes President, in some ways it hardly matters which one of them it is -- any Republican would be beholden to the party and obligated to deliver red meat to the knuckle-dragger base in hopes of getting re-elected.

Most of the states that have Republican-dominated governments have been imposing harsh abortion restrictions. They're now not so much "laboratories of democracy" as "laboratories of theocracy". People need to wake up to what guys like Abbott are doing and realize that this is what the party really stands for.

The coathanger is a pretty versatile instrument. It deserves to become the Republican party symbol as well.

21 August, 2015 05:20  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Zosimus: Those who explicitly condemn the Enlightenment are just carrying the broader reactionary movement's stance to its logical conclusion and being honest about it. Everything about the latter reeks of the Dark Ages even if they try to disguise the odor.

What fundies and Communists have in common is a totalitarian attitude toward the masses (Communism functioned a lot like a religion, anyway). What the kind of PUAs you're talking about have in common with the fundies is an attitude that women are inferior creatures that need to be dominated and controlled. That's enough to make them feel comfortable with the fundies. If they aren't comfortable with women having the same sexual freedom they claim for themselves, I don't consider them genuine libertines.

Unfortunate to hear that the Christian Right is a problem in Australia too. My impression is that it's still less pervasive there than here in the US, but I admit I'm not speaking from a great deal of knowledge. All one can do, in either case, is work to defeat it.

21 August, 2015 05:40  

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