Extinguishing Elise Stefanik's pernicious gaslighting is only the beginning

Extinguishing Elise Stefanik's pernicious gaslighting is only the beginning
United States Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-New York) (screengrab).

Like everyone else in the House Republican conference, New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has done her share of inciting white political violence. While the House debated recently additional aid for Ukraine, the No. 3 Republican chose during her allotted time to rail against the president for “the invasion at the southern border.”

That “invasion” plays a small role in the larger story of “the great replacement” feared by right-wingers to such a degree that one of them, Payton Gendron, took matters into his own hands last week and shot to pieces 10 Black people at a supermarket on Buffalo’s eastside.

So it’s with irony, you could say, that Stefanik stood at the podium after the massacre to “take a moment for my home state of New York:"

Our nation is heartbroken and saddened about this horrific loss of life in Buffalo. This was an act of pure evil and the criminal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
It is not the time to politicize this.
We mourn together as a nation.

Actually, it’s gaslighting.

This is what gaslighting looks like.

The Democrats, she means to say, should not politicize white political violence by seeking political ways of preventing future acts of white political violence after the House GOP spent virtually all its time inciting white political violence, resulting in white political violence.

If they do, she means to say, how will the nation heal?

It’s perfect gaslighting. I have to say.

But don’t fall for it.

***

White-power terrorist has a point?

From NBC News:

Two days after a white gunman opened fire and killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store, teacher Elizabeth Close began her high school ethnic studies class in Austin, Texas, by reminding her students about a new state law that requires her to provide balanced perspectives on 'widely debated and currently controversial issues.'
Close told her students that under the law, one of several recently implemented across the country that limit the ways teachers can discuss racism and current events, she was obligated to inform them that there’s more than one way to view Saturday’s mass shooting.
On one hand, she explained that authorities are investigating the killings as a racially motivated hate crime carried out by an 18-year-old who reportedly wrote of his belief in a conspiracy theory that white Americans are being 'replaced' by people of color through immigration, interracial marriage and integration.
'But I’m also supposed to tell you that that’s just one perspective,' Close recalled telling her students. 'Another perspective is that this young man was out defending the world — or his kind — from being taken over.'

***

“The real issue”

When I write about religion, good or bad, someone somewhere explains “the real issue.” Get rid of religion. Get rid of the issue.

I don’t know what planet these people live on. It’s not Earth. Religion, good or bad, has been part of human affairs since humans organized themselves enough to warrant use of the term “human affairs.”

There once was a certain renegade cache, a certain poise and swagger, to being anti-religious. That fad peaked in the early aughts with the late Christopher Hitchens and his copycats. It wasn’t a set of beliefs, he said. Religion was a mental illness verging on totalitarianism. Standing against religion wasn’t offensive. Hitchens made it seem noble.

This is what people allude to when they explain “the real issue.”

Even if I agreed that religion is the problem, anti-religion isn’t going to solve it. Hitchens never spoke for a majority of people. He knew that. That fact was the reason his atheism got attention at all. It ran against the grain of the majority, especially white evangelical Protestants.

Atheism may be the opposite of theism in the abstract. Not in this world, though. The opposite of conservative religion – especially authoritarian religion, like white evangelicalism – is liberal religion.

Liberal religion makes room for all the other religions. It tolerates other traditions. It makes common cause. God contains multitudes. Liberal religion also wants a wall between church and state, because a state religion is the worst thing a liberal religion would ever face.

It’s conservative religion – especially authoritarian religion, like white evangelicalism – that longs to tear down that wall. It longs to replace moral systems competing for the attention of people who have not yet questioned authoritarian religion. It longs to replace freedom of and from religion with their own view of the “Christian moral order.”

Atheism or agnosticism or “none” can’t fight that.

Liberal religion, whatever that might be, can.

It always has.

***

“Christian moral order”

Jacky Eubanks is running for state representative in Michigan. On Facebook Thursday, she said. “I had the honor of being interviewed by Catholic journalist Michael Voris with Church Militant Church Militant/St. Michael’s Media discussing conservative Catholic values.”

Here’s an edited segment of that interview.

Bottomline: If you have premarital sex, you deserve punishment.

Voris: You're a faithful Catholic, meaning you believe everything the church teaches.

Eubanks: Yes.

Voris: You see that the use of contraception is against natural moral law? It’s destructive? It’s a doorway to abortion?

Eubanks: Yes.

Voris: The left is becoming completely uncorked, losing their minds. They're saying [post-Roe, right-wingers are] coming after your gay marriage next or coming after your birth control after that, and everything else. Well, you know what? Yeah, absolutely.

Eubanks: Yes.

We need to make a plain statement of fact, which is that the reason why the West is great is because Western civilization's underpinning is Christianity.

You cannot have a successful society outside of the Christian moral border.

Things like abortion, and things like gay marriage, are outside of the Christian moral order.

They lead to chaos and destruction and a culture of death, which is what we're seeing today.

We've abandoned the Christian moral order as a nation.

Voris: How do you answer the local press person who might be your age and just sees you as some loony that you want to take away your birth control?

Eubanks: I guess we have to ask ourselves, would that ever come to a vote in the Michigan state legislature and if it should. I guess I would have to say then that [birth control] should not be illegal.

People believe that birth control is better, because you won't get pregnant and you won't need to have an abortion.

But I think that it gives people the false sense of security in believing they can have consequence-free sex.

And that's not true and it's not correct.

Sex ought to be between one man and one woman in the confines of marriage and open to what you open to life. Absolutely.

***

“To sacrifice for us”

Republican Kandiss Taylor is running for Georgia governor:

The First Amendment, which is the right to worship Jesus freely – that’s why we have a country. That’s why we have Georgia.
Our founding fathers came here and destroyed American Indians’ homes. Their land – they took it. Look at what they went through, the Native Americans, to sacrifice for us – to have the freedom we have today.

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