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5 Issues Where Right-Wingers Are Crazier and Meaner Than Ever

The tide of progress causes some conservatives to regress in shocking ways.

There’s a certain expected rhythm to conservative thought as time pushes forward: Progressives push for change, conservatives resist, conservative views become outdated as everyone realizes how unfair they were, things change for the better, and conservatives begrudgingly accept the new order. That’s how it went with civil rights and women getting the vote. Even climate change denialists have started to adjust a little, with some admitting that it’s happening, even as they refuse to admit that humans have anything to do with it.

But once in awhile, having to be pulled forward with the tide of progress causes some conservatives to throw a fit and insist, instead, on regressing, often in shocking ways. Here are five issues where conservatives have, in recent months and years, taken a giant step backwards from where they had been before.

1) Immigration. Belligerent hostility to immigrants has been a bad look for a long time, since it’s so obviously racist in origin. Instead, the standard conservative talking point has been to praise “legal” immigrants while ignoring the fact that legal immigration is out of the reach of many. Meanwhile, they also offer to find compromise legislation that would allow some immigrants, particularly those who are minors, a chance to earn citizenship if they jump through a series of dazzling hoops. No one could accuse House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of being anything but right-wing, and this was his basic position. Worse, he wasn’t even particularly willing to defend that position — doing no real work to get even the most basic immigration reform moving.

Doesn’t matter, however, as Cantor lost a primary challenge to David Brat, apparently in no small part because Brat was able to paint Cantor’s lackluster support of legislation that would have only affected a small group of undocumented immigrants who were actually raised here as “amnesty”. That’s how much the Republican base has regressed on the topic of immigration. Even people who were raised here and may not even speak any language other than English are seen as some kind of major threat because of their family’s country of origin. The pretense that anti-immigration sentiment was reasonable and not racist has gone up in smoke, and the pure hostility to people just because of where they come from has come charging to the forefront.

2) Sexual violence. In the past four decades, relentless feminist campaigning on the issue of sexual abuse and rape has created some amount of consensus about what rape is and what it isn’t. Until recently, even the most belligerent rape apologist had to admit that “date rape” is a thing that actually happens in the real world and that no really does mean no. Sure, anti-feminists still try to deny the extent of date rape and argue that consent is more confusing than it actually is, but even they had to admit that clear-cut cases of non-consent amount to rape.

But ever since Obama started a White House task force to combat campus rape, suddenly we’re back in the '80s again, with conservatives trying to argue that women can literally be forced to have sex against their will and this somehow doesn’t count as rape. In a recent Washington Post column, George Will accused women of making up rape to gain the “coveted status” of “victimhood”. His evidence? A story of a woman who said, “No, I don’t want to have sex with you,” to her alleged assailant. But no apparently doesn’t mean no to Will, not if the victim knows her attacker and/or she doesn’t fight him off with violence. Similarly, both A.J. Delgado of the National Review and Stu Burguiere of The Blaze argued recently that because consensual sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol happens, all non-consensual sex under the influence should not be considered rape.

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