Republican Representative Matthew Gaetz’s rant at a July 23 Turning Point USA Student Action Summit got me thinking about mean people.
Gaetz called pro-abortion rallies, “Just disgusting. But why is it that the women least likely of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb! These people are odious on the inside and out!” Gaetz’s glib diatribe ignores and insults attractive pro-abortion women and delivers a slap-in-the-face to, “5 foot 2 inch 350 pounds,” less physically fortunate on either side of the issue.
A decade back, sentiments such as Gaetz’s were anathema in civil discourse and virtually unheard of from a member of Congress. Then, candidate Donald Trump mocked a handicapped journalist, and urged MAGA supporters to take dissenters out on stretchers, vowing to pay their legal bills! Slander and lies became Trump’s trademark. The kid gloves were off.
Rush Limbaugh seems to have pioneered “trash talk” on the airwaves. Today, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Alex Jones, and Fox personalities take sadistic satisfaction in publicly lying about and insulting any with whom they disagree. On January 6, 2021, their rage acted out in terrifying, graphic form.
The touchstone of Mean Ultra-Right-Wing rhetoric is an assumption that some humans are superior and others inferior. Throughout human history, from the Stone Age to the Space Age, this paradigm predominates. More recently, class conflict and revolutionary nationalism were cornerstones of Benito Mousseline’s Fascist regime. Adolf Hitler proclaimed the superiority of a fair-skinned, blond, blue-eyed, Aryan race. Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, physically handicapped, and others who did not look or behave according to this model were “subhuman.”
Today, under the banner of a “Christian Nationalism” terrifyingly reminiscent of Italian Fascism and German Nazism, some challenge America’s Democracy! The very Mean People who stridently defend the Second Amendment are intent on jettisoning the First!