March 29, 2023 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Josh Hawley paves the way for outlawing ‘woke’ speech
In rightwing politics, Audrey Hale is now a radicalized trans terrorist.
Josh Hawley, of Missouri, has demonstrated that he’s one of the most dangerous men in the United States Senate. He took to the floor Tuesday, the day after a shooting massacre in Nashville that left three 9-year-olds and three adults shot to pieces. He said he would introduce a resolution condemning the massacre as a hate crime.
“I call on every member of this body to condemn, in the clearest of terms, this hate crime against this community in Nashville,” he said. “I will introduce a resolution explicitly condemning this massacre as the hate crime that it is. I’m calling on this body to condemn hateful rhetoric that leads to violence – against hateful rhetoric against religious believers, religious institutions, religious communities that leads to violence. This isn’t speculation. This is a tragic fact.”
Superficially, this seems unexceptional, almost familiar, as Hawley is borrowing from liberal discussions about condemning hate crimes that have been committed in places like Pittsburgh (Jews), Charleston (Black people) and El Paso (Hispanics). Not only that, because this is Hawley speaking, who’s one of the most daring and ambitious voices in rightwing politics, it almost looks like he’s joining the liberals.
What he’s doing is what merchants of rightwing politics do. They do not want to solve problems. They do not want to help people. The government is for neither. The government is for controlling people, especially outpeople, which is to say, people on the margins of our society. But to do that, the world must be turned upside down, backwards and prolapsed. To some degree, Hawley’s succeeding.
He’s one of the most dangerous men in Washington.
Fact is, the massacre of believers is committed by white men, almost totally, according to a new study of 58 religious massacres over 10 years by the International Commission to Combat Religious Racism. Many “openly declared their intent to protect the white race or to ‘defend’ their country against non-white, non-Christian ‘invaders,’” said Danielle Boaz of the Public Religion Research Institute.
In an opinion piece for the Religion News Service, Boaz said the study found that shooters were hardly “lone wolves.” They were part of a “larger conspiracy.” In half of the cases, Boaz wrote, “the perpetrators attacked or planned to attack more than one site. In total, nearly two-thirds of the cases involved a series of attacks, multiple perpetrators and/or affiliation with an extremist group.”
But the conspiracy is bigger than that.
The study found that support for the “arguments that are fueling racially motivated attacks on places of worship” are “overwhelming” among so-called Christian nationalists, meaning people who believe God gave them America to dominate everyone else in God’s name.
Boaz said the study found “10 percent of Americans could be classified as adherents of Christian nationalism and that nearly 20 percent are sympathizers.” Of white evangelicals, she said, “almost two-thirds are either adherents (29 percent) or sympathizers (35 percent).”
“Large segments of the population refuse to believe white supremacy is an issue in the United States today,” Boaz said, and “many of them appear to share the beliefs of the perpetrators of these attacks.”
That’s a tragic fact.
But for Hawley to succeed, he must turn tragic facts upside down, backwards and prolapsed. White Christians, many already believing America is being invaded by nonwhite, non-Christians, are the “real victims” of “hateful rhetoric that leads to violence … against religious believers, religious institutions, religious communities.”
In the dead Nashville shooter, Hawley has found his evidence.
The Nashville police chief said Audrey Hale was transgender. Whether that’s true is still an open question. Whether that matters to the investigation is, too. Nothing I have read about the massacre mentions her identity outside the police chief’s statement.
But that doesn’t matter to the people Hawley’s talking to. Rightwing politics already foams over trans issues. Trans people are already monsters. Audrey Hale adds a new layer. Trans people are now adherents to a radical ideology, akin to jihadism, that turns them into murderous terrorists. “This isn’t speculation. This is a tragic fact.”
Hale does more than that.
In rightwing politics, liberal values and democratic politics are already suspect, if not criminal, because they undermine the status quo or, in the case of gender politics, “the natural order of things” in which men are men and women are women. They change things using rhetoric to persuade a majority, in the case of gender politics, that trans people are real people with equal rights and freedoms.
In rightwing politics, things would be better if they shut up.
What better way to stop people from criticizing “the natural order of things” than by condemning “hateful rhetoric that leads to violence,” as Hawley put it? What better way than by outlawing what people say and how people say it in schools in the name of protecting kids against the brainwashing and indoctrination of “woke” teachers?
The government isn’t for helping people.
It’s for controlling people.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.