From "Subhuman Mongrel" To "Jim Crow" Laws: Conservatives Can't Stop Fighting Lost Cultural Battles

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

It may be the shortest month of the year, but the right wing packed February's 28 calendar days with two notable, and bigoted, defeats.

Between campaigning with Ted Nugent in the wake of the conservative columnist and National Rifle Association board member denouncing President Obama as a "communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel," and a Republican-led efforts in mostly red state houses to protect religiously-motivated business owners who refuse service to gay customers, conservatives vigorously volunteered for duty to fight their favorite cultural wars this month. Except these are battles they have already fought and lost. Over and over again.

Obama's an historic monster ripping liberties away from citizens and deliberately driving the country into ruin? He's a "piece of shit" "gangster" surrounded by Nazis, as professional name-caller Nugent insists? Voters have already rejected that dark premise, twice, easily propelling Obama to two electoral landslide victories.

Gays don't deserve the everyday rights and protections as fellow Americans because they might infringe on Christians' "religious freedom"? As openly gay athletes are cheered while breaking down new barriers, as activists string together a prodigious record of court victories in favor of marriage equality, and with poll after poll showing a deepening acceptance of gay Americans, particularly among young voters, the foolhardy attempt to unleash new discrimination ended as a resounding failure in Arizona this month.

And yet....

Cheered on by pockets of the right-wing media, and led by outrage-obsessed Fox News, some conservatives can't admit defeat. They can't move on. They cannot admit the country has turned away from their intolerant preaching about Obama and gays, among others. Fueled by divisiveness, and increasingly unconcerned with public policy or even the remnants of a Republican legislative agenda (remember those?), hardcore conservatives time and again retrench and then unfurl their failed cultural war battle plan. It's a blueprint drawn up by conservative media voices who benefit from the manufactured outrage. For right-wing carnival barkers, these recent controversies equal content. For conservative leaders and Republicans, the controversies equal dead-end excursions.

It's a truly ceaseless cycle. February simply presented the sequence in vivid, stark contrast, with the Nugent debacle immediately followed by the Arizona gay bias, public relations calamity.

I mean, who invites a hate jockey like Ted Nugent to campaign with you in public? The still-mystifying maneuver by Texas Republican Greg Abbott, who wants to be governor of the second most populous state in the union, spotlighted how casually conservative treat Obama name calling, and how deeply rooted their irrational loathing for the president runs.

Indeed, after five years in office Obama's far-right detractors seem to grow more aggrieved by the president's supposed sins and crimes. Their denunciations become even more hysterical, and take up more time and energy, despite the fact Obama will never appear on another American ballot.

Trying to legitimize anti-Obama hate speech (calling the first black American president a "subhuman mongrel") clearly falls well outside the mainstream of American politics and represents a political loser; a cultural war lesson Abbott and the GOP learned this month. Again.

Meanwhile, the pendulum in favor of gay rights has swung so far and so fast in this country it's hard to keep up with the endless court victories activists have won as state after state, for instance, dismantles barricades for same-sex marriage, a domino effect triggered last summer by two Supreme Court  decisions that signaled the end to the right-wing attempt to codify discrimination.

That's not so say important challenges don't remain. (See ENDA and legal job discrimination.) But the recent winning streak has been impressive as it becomes increasingly evident a true shift in American opinion is unfolding; a shift towards widespread equality and inclusion for gays.

It's against that backdrop that conservatives decided to wage another culture war under the dubious "religious liberty" banner, insisting Christian merchants should be able to deny services to gay customers? The right-wing media helped champion a cause that even Fox's Kirsten Powers wrote would institute "homosexual Jim Crow laws," permanent discrimination where shop owners could pick and choose who they served based on what the owners found to be offensive. Why? Because operating a business and treating everyone fairly is tantamount to "fascism," declared Fox's Tucker Carlson.

Not surprisingly the short-sighted campaign was widely denounced, to the point where Arizona's two Republican senators, the GOP-leaning Chamber of Commerce and the National Football League joined forces with gay activists to urge Arizona's governor to veto the bill. (She did.) Meaning, there was virtually no established, political will to fight this battle because it was predestined to fail.

Yet just as with this month's Ted Nugent Republican fiasco, there doesn't seem to be voices of reason within the conservative movement who can persuades radical players from publicly waging unwinnable and narrow-minded fights. There are no voices powerful enough to dissuade people from broadcasting hateful messages under the guise of "religious freedom" legal maneuvering.

No matter how many times the right-wing launches campaigns to portray Obama as an un-American traitorous foe, and no matter how many times they push to depict gays and lesbians as unworthy of American freedoms and protections, those culture wars and going to lose every time. Voters have broadcast that message for years now.

Yet somewhere right now right-wing activists, inspired by their far-right pundits, are busily plotting their next (and doomed) cultural war offensive.   

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.