Season’s greetings, Americans!
Yes, it’s that wonderful time of the year—where religiously-based haters and zealots while about how THEIR own religion is not the only one in America, that there are hundreds of faith traditions in this country. The whine about the “War on Christmas” has been heard throughout the years.
Religiously-based haters have used THEIR religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people; one case in point is the recent case before the US Supreme Court, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, whereby a web-design company refused to create a wedding website for same-sex couples. (https://www.bostonreview.net/articles/the-new-faith-based-discrimination/?utm_source=Boston+Review+Email+Subscribers&utm_campaign=2fb3d76592-newsletter_12_14_22&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2cb428c5ad-2fb3d76592-40728217&mc_cid=2fb3d76592&mc_eid=a96ac50b25)
There have also been cases where, in certain states, LGBTQ+ people could be discriminated against in medical care, on a “religious” excuse. (https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-health-and-wellness/1-8-lgbtq-people-live-states-doctors-can-refuse-treat-rcna39161) The US Department of Health and Human Services, under “President” Donald whatshisface, issued a “refusal to care” rule, wherein health care providers receiving federal funds may refuse to provide medical care, insurance, or information, due to THEIR religious or moral beliefs—so, if an EMT or doctor could refuse care to a person due to their sexual orientation or their need for an abortion. (https://www.aclu.org/news/religious-liberty/patients-needs-not-personal-beliefs-come-first-in-health-care) (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/04/medical-religious-exemptions-doctors-therapists-mississippi-tennessee/478797/)
All of this is to support one specific religious system, the evangelical Christian worldview which condemns same-sex marriage and affection, women’s reproductive rights, or scientifically-based sex education. The religious-right political movement, supplied with vast amounts of campaign money, remains powerful enough to push such laws through state legislatures, no matter how they affect people in real life. However, the pushback against these laws remains strong; voters in Kansas, a conservative state, voted in a referendum against an amendment that would have denied abortion as a right in that state. (https://www.npr.org/sections/2022-live-primary-election-race-results/2022/08/02/1115317596/kansas-voters-abortion-legal-reject-constitutional-amendment)
Have these anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+ activists EVER considered that THEIRS is NOT the ONLY religious tradition, that OTHER religious groups have different ideas about same-sex love and when a fetus becomes a person? Of course not; it’s the act of a dominant religious body kicking against any challenge to their dominance. It’s the same with other areas of society, social, economic, what have you; corporations utilize their hired politicians and press against workers organizing unions, racists terrorizing racial and ethnic minorities daring to campaign for their civil and human rights. And, as part of the campaign against these usurpers, the dominant group cobbles together some noble philosophy or theory to justify their dominance and repression of the insurgent groups; one such is the “objectivism” exposed by Ayn Rand, and the “religious exemption” excuse to justify anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.
And, of course, these once-dominant groups wish the groups they have oppressed—people of color, women, workers, LGBTQ+s, etc.—would either be quiet and acquiesce, or disappear; and we can pretend this, situation of corporate-theocratic dominance is the best of all possible worlds. The aforementioned groups are showing NO interest in rolling over and playing dead, but are continuing their fights for their rights and very existence.
A now-common phrase has been “stochastic terrorism,” which means “the public demonization of a person or group resulting in a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose statistics cannot be predicted.” (https://www.dictionary.com/e/what-is-stochastic-terrorism/) The phrase is new, but the idea isn’t; the media and public officials have long known how to direct verbal abuse towards their enemies, hoping some deranged person would attack them, since THEY don’t have the guts to do the violence themselves; the Red Scares after the World Wars, after which progressive and reform movements—Socialist Party, the IWW, the CIO, activists for African-American Civil Rights—were slandered, imprisoned, lost their jobs, and were assaulted. We have the same phenomenon with the rightist media and activists slandering election officials doing their jobs accurately; schools and libraries daring to have books discussing Gay and African-American issues; school kids questioning their sexuality and their gender identity; and drag performers acting out a venerable art. I’m always pleased, however, when there is resistance to all this verbal and physical abuse. Trust me, verbal abuse is as bad to a person’s psyches as physical abuse is to their bodies; we can’t have any of this “sticks and stone” thinking, and damn sure no more “turn the other cheek.”
As we enter the New Year—after recovering from our New Year’s Day parties—let us remember what we have accomplished is the far and recent past, recognize the struggles ahead of us, and remember that we can defeat them, as we have done more often than not in the past year.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! Slava Ukraini! America will be free! Happy New Year!