Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


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A Gaslit Nation

I’m lucky to have been asleep during Trump’s primetime speech. Thank Goddess for different time zones. This let’s me give a lukewarm take on his bullshit.

Now, at this point, we’re all fully aware Donald Trump is a liar. So much of a liar that the usual drinking game of “Drink when the politician lies” becomes less of a wonky alcoholic indulgence and more of a suicidal cry for help. If you want to jump down the hole of endless Pinocchios, pick your flavor of fact checker: Yahoo, USA Today, Time, or just Google it and wade through the bullshit. Be sure to bring your wellies.

Look, I grew up on the Mexican border. When I went to Texas, I could see Juarez on the passenger side of the road. When I wanted to drive anywhere outside the border zone there was a checkpoint. We had names for each of the northern, eastern, and western checkpoints. The northern checkpoint we used the most often was mockingly named Checkpoint Charlie. WARNING YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE AMERICAN SECTOR. I’m also the type of woman Donald Trump is imagining (white, young, thin, fairly pretty) when he talks about protecting women from illegal immigrants.

I’m going to be honest. I was never afraid of illegal immigrants. Ever.

I was afraid of the checkpoints and ICE though. There were several times at the checkpoints when I would see Latinx people standing by their cars while they were inspected while I passed by unharassed. There is a mountain that straddles the border, and the spiral path leads past the stations of the cross to a shrine at the top. While my grandmother knelt at station 6, where Veronica is moved to compassion, I watched ICE escort a family back to the Mexican side of the border. If the wall, or steel slats, are built it will cut that sacred site in half, leaving compassion on one side of the border. And it won’t be on the American side.

I’m inordinately pleased that Sehkmet aspect Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer aren’t giving into Trump. It’s not appropriate. No matter how hard he tries to pin this on Democrats, the wall and the shutdown are a crisis of his own making. A cornered animal is at its most dangerous. That speech was the beginning of an active and aggressive gaslighting campaign. Stand firm and don’t give in.


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Project Blitz: Phase 1

Photo Credit: Hulu’s A Handmaids Tale

Ealier I wrote about Project Blitz and their playbook is online. Dominionists want Gilead. They’re working to get it with three stages of legislation. Just so y’all know, everything below comes from the playbook, link above. It’s their own words.

Phase 1 seems very straight forward. “Legislation Regarding Our Country’s Religious Heritage”. At this point, the very words seem like a dangerous double speak. The proposed actions at first blush seem very innocent and toothless. But they are part of an insidious framework. Phase 1 has 4 simple aspects, but it starts to lay the groundwork of some truely nasty shit. So let’s dig in.

First is are the display acts. They want “In God We Trust”, or some similar motto such as “God Enriches” or the Ten Commandments in classrooms, libraries, public colleges, universities, and government buildings, and optionally on liscense plates.  At first blush bills that propose this seem to have no teeth, all displays must be paid for with donations or with funds from private donors. No religious iconography or verbiage should be in schools, libraries, or governments. Just full stop, no. These are halls where the many become one in the eyes of the law. Dominionism and Christian Nationalism has no place there. Especially when you consider that people of color already experience disproportionatly negative outcomes in courthouses compare to white people, and that Dominionism claims that people of color are fundamentally lesser and full of more sin than white people. That’s how you perpetuate racism in the legal system, and it’s a human rights travesty as it is. It doesn’t need to be worse. Several states have laws in this vein, including Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

Civic Literacy acts are also part of the first phase. Again, this seems like a good idea, they define civic literacy as including familiary with “representative” documents of American heritage. Now I’m for improved civic literacy, but the representative options in the document are pretty exhaustive and school districts can select what they want to include or exclude. The best example is that the Articles of Confederation are completely ignored. This playing fast and loose with history leads to some bullshit like “the Civil War was fought over states rights” without adding the ending to that sentence “to own people as slaves”. There’s also a tenacious strain of Originalism that’s fed by this kind of education. It’s very easy to create an environment were people become dedicated to the idea that the US Consititution is this stable document rather than a living document. When you view the Constitution is viewed as a stable document, it’s easy to view non-cis, het, white, Christian men as less than human. Lastly, these acts say that civic literacy should start in high school. That’s a lot of elementary and middle school to lay some suspicious groundwork for document interpretation. Examples of states with this legislation: North Carolina, South Carolina, and California.

Of course to understand the civic documents fully, you need context. Then look no further than the Religion in Legal History acts. Not only does it endorse a presentation of the role of religion in the Constitution in the courthouses, it has some sketchy af readings. The required readings include the Northwest Ordinance. Now I have some personal history with the Northwest Ordinance. When I was taught the Northwest Ordinance in elementary school, I was told that it promised that the US government would treat all Indigenous peoples well (it didn’t) and that it outlawed slavery (only in the states it formed). I believed the teachers because I was in elementary school, and that’s what you do. So when I found out about how the Indigenous peoples were treated, and that the Civil War was fought over slavery, my world view took some strong hits. It’s not just that either, it’s also that the talking points in the playbook deliberately play lipservice to the “civil rights” in the Northwest Ordinance while at the same time reiterating over and over the “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind” part of Article 3.We’re meant to see the “civil rights” and ignore the emphasis on the Christianity. Not to mention, unlike the previous civic documents, this selection of historical documents should be taught early, at their recommendation.  To my knowledge, no states have legislation of this flavor on their books.

Lastly is the Bible Literacy acts. They claim that these are elective courses for students in high school about the history and literature of the Old and New Testaments. This includes “the influence of the Old or New Testament on law, history, government, literature, art, customs, morals, values, and culture”.  While the fill-in the blank act says the course “must be taught in an objective and non-proselytizing manner that does not attempt to indoctrinate students” there’s a lot of wiggle room for peer pressure and guest speakers to act inappropriately. It does also say that schools may offer a couse based on the books of a religion or society of a non-Christian one. But let’s be real, when was the last time you saw a high school class in Arkansas or Arizona about Islam? They also claim that so many of the American historical works can’t be understood with out understanding the Bible. Or that one can’t have a proper appreciation of literature without understanding the Bible. Which is funny, I can appreciate Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses without having read the Quran. I can also fully enjoy Into the Badlands (which is based off of the Journey to the West) without a full understanding of Buddhist mythology. It’s almost like we can enjoy art, beauty, and philosophy without needing a religious framework to do so. States with this flavor of legislation include: Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia.

These are all things that seem simple, innocuous, and because they focus on education, they often slip under the radar. But if you mold the minds of the young, its hard to break the patterns of thinking later. This happens at the state level, where people traditionally pay less attention, so push back when they come to your state with legislation like this.

Up next: Phase 2 “Resolutions and Proclamations Recognizing the Importance of Religious History and Freedom”.

 


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Facing the Inevitable with Rage

CW: Kavanaugh, Christofacism

The moment that Brett Kavanaugh began his angry tirade during the Blasey Ford hearing, I knew that he was going to be confirmed. I knew that our stories didn’t matter, whether we screamed them in elevators or courageously asserted them in Congress or even if a Senator read them into the record for posterity. No matter what we did to protest and no matter how concerning Kavanaugh’s record of sexual assaults, or drinking habits, or suspicious debts, or lack of qualifications, or lack of judicious temperament; he was going to be confirmed and the Christofascists would celebrate this as a win and mock and humiliate the victims.

I wanted to be wrong. That’s why I didn’t write about it, because I wanted so badly to be wrong. To see Kavanaugh step down, and some equally horrible Christofacist take his place. Because that meant having hope that things could still get better. Sitting here, braced with gin I’m prepared for it to get worse.

Honestly, I don’t know where we go from here. I do know that some of the ideas floating around about loading the Supreme Court are more reactionary than proactive. And while reactionary feels good, it isn’t always good in the end.  Loading the courts is a Christofascist game, after years of campaigning on the issue of judges, they have it down to an art form and have the infrastructure to support their goals. We don’t, so we can’t realistically expect to play by their rules and win. But we can figure out how to go around their rules, I know we’re smart enough.

More immediately, what I can recommend is this: 39 states elect judges at some level, 38 of those have elections for high court positions. While I’m still uncertain about the safety of the upcoming elections (given that no one has improved ballot security), judicial positions get low coverage and low turn out; so our efforts to elect progressive, Democrat, or liberal judges might actually make a difference for the judiciary.

Remember to make sure you’re registered in time. These sites can help: Rock the Vote, Vote Save America, and Vote with Me. Apps like Smash the Vote are helpful too.


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The Wandering Bible and Use of Resources

I had to take some time off from writing because the Kavanaugh news was getting to me and I took my Masters exam yesterday and I needed to prepare for that (I passed by the way!). So I’m back and trying to get back on my normal schedule.
Today is “Bring your Bible to School Day” to celebrate religious freedom. Christian groups on campus pray (although, in my experience as the president of a Pagan college group neither I nor any of the non-Christian religions were invited to join); and a cluster of men in cheap suits hand out New Testament/Psalms/Proverbs Bibles outside my building.  They forcefully press the Bibles into students hands, the students feel uncomfortable so they don’t put the bibles in the garbage or recycling bins next to the men. So they take them into the large lecture halls in my department and leave them there. Of course, no one else wants them. When I go to the lecture halls throughout the day they Bibles move from desk to desk, abandoned.

Normally I can ignore the Bibles. They irritate me a bit; I think the money spent on the money could go to feed the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, helping the sick, or helping the children being separated from their families. But who am I to tell a camel how to go through the eye of a needle?

But this time, I was really bothered. The men handing out Bibles were asking us to pray for Kavanaugh.

I can’t. I’m a survivor and I can’t light a candle for Kavanaugh. I can’t support him in any way. Especially when the FBI doesn’t even do their due diligence and interview Dr. Ford.

This is our daily reminder that we can’t ignore Kavanaugh, we can’t ignore the machinations of the Christofascists in America, and we can’t stop resisting.

This


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Screw Brett Kavanaugh and the cross he rode in on

BrettKavanaugh-CSPAN

Content Note: Christofascism

I’m writing this on the eve of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, and I’m reminded of Fascism: a warning. Secretary Albright’s book is a bitterly difficult book to read, but a necessary one for anyone interested in political Shadow Work. She describes fascism not as a political ideology, but as a method of seizing power. While Brett Kavanaugh may not be the exact flavor of White Evangelical Christian that is oh-so-fashionable in the current administration, he is a good little Christofascist and the first mature product of their long game. Brett Kavanaugh will compliantly support this administrations’ grabs for power. As if that weren’t immediately obvious from Kavanaugh signaling that he would be against indicting a sitting president.

Christofascists use Christianity as a cudgel to consolidate and abuse power. American White Evangelical Christians aren’t unique in this, they’re just the ones doing it here. At a baseline level, Kavanaugh’s record worries. If this were a normal presidency, with a president who behaved according to our norms and institutions, I would focus on specific issues (although I still wouldn’t want him anywhere near the Supreme Court). Combined with the Mueller investigation and the appalling behavior over the Merrick Garland nomination, I don’t want the GOP to have the opportunity to choose their own judges.

All that said because this isn’t normal, I’m specifically worried about how Kavanaugh’s personal religious life will impact his rulings. Because the personal is political. State-run media outlet Fox News is already touting Kavanaugh as someone who will defend the “most sacred right” to religious freedom. The more radical (but still well read) Religion News claims Kavanaugh will do his job to “apply the law objectively, without regard to his personal views….he understands that our founders believed deeply in religious liberty and that the Constitution they wrote protects the free exercise of religion”.  Now, I’m a Pagan and a Witch, I believe all sorts of woo. But you will never be able to convince me that Kavanaugh knows exactly how the founding fathers felt about the freedom of religion, and I will bet all my student loans that the founders did not use the definition that we use today.

Further, the political is personal and the personal is political. Much like systemic racism makes “white” the perceived default race; White Evangelical Christianity makes “Christian” the perceived default religion. I very much doubt Kavanaugh, who was the chair of the Federalist Society’s religious liberty practice group, has the self-awareness to see that. After all, the Federalist Society is the incubation tank for baby Christofascists who want to be judges with they grow up.

In all the articles about the nomination are Christofascist dog whistles, the loudest of which are “religious liberty” and “religious freedom”. Let’s be honest when Christians say that, they mean “religious liberty for us” and “religious freedom for religions like ours”; not for anyone else. Those whistles ring loud and clear for Trump supporters. But there is a second set of whistles for the rest of us, where well-known conservative groups say Kavanaugh isn’t conservative enough. The Federalist has an article like this. Large media outlets like Slate report on how the American Family Association, the National Review, and the Human Coalition are lukewarm on Kavanaugh.

This supposedly ambivalent response to Kavanaugh is just as dangerous at the blatant support of Kavanaugh. He only seems conservative in comparison to the literal shit storm raging around us. This fire is not fine. This isn’t a moment when we should sit down and take the “lesser evil”. This is a moment when we should realize the lesser evil is a greater evil hiding behind a bland mayo exterior.

And by his own actions, Kavanaugh is definitely a Christofascist mess.

His origin story in the Federalist Society set Kavanaugh up to be a religious crusader, and he was even before he sat down at the White House or on a bench. Kavanaugh did pro bono work on Good News Club v. Milford Central School and in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, both cases that focussed on students ability to have Christian after-school groups and student-led prayer at football games. Where someone puts their unpaid pro bono hours is a good indicator of what they value.

Some may point a third pro bono case where Kavanaugh worked to change the zoning for a synagogue that wanted to build in a residential area. At first glance, this may seem like a sign of equitable religious tolerance. But consider for a moment, Evangelical Christians and hyper-conservative Catholics have an affinity for Judaism because they expect the Jews to kick start the apocalypse. So his defense isn’t unexpected. Further, this case was in the 1990’s and since then we’ve seen White Evangelical churches popping up in residential areas like daisies. Correlation is not causation, but it does cast suspicion.

On the bench, his stance on four cases are equally suspicious and concerning.

Priests for Life v. United States Department of Health is one of the most well known of Kavanaughs cases, and likely to be covered more in depth during the confirmation hearings. I will point out this nugget of joy though regarding the birth control mandate regulations that “substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion because the regulations require the organizations take an action contrary to their sincere religious beliefs (submitting the form) or else pay significant monetary penalties”.

The Archdiocese of Washington v. WMATA focuses on proselytizing on public transport. The Archdiocese of Washington wanted to put an ad in the public buses at Christmas time that said: “Find the Perfect Gift” with shepherds following the Star of Bethlehem. WMATA rejected the ad, and the Archdiocese sued. The case hasn’t been settled yet, but during oral arguments, Kavanaugh called the ban “pure discrimination” and odious to the First Amendment.

In Boardley v. Department of the Interior, the National Park Service stopped a man from passing out Christian material at Mt. Rushmore. Currently, a park official has to issue a permit for those types of activities. Boardley didn’t have a permit, and when the National Park Service made him stop he claimed that they were limiting his ability to exercise his religion. Kavanaugh was in the majority agreeing that “the regulations in their current form are antithetical to the core of First Amendment principles.”

Last is Newdow v. Roberts, atheist activist Michael Newdow sued Chief Justice Roberts over the phrase “so help me God” in Obama’s first inauguration, as well as the prayers delivered by Reverend Warren and Reverend Lowery. Kavanaugh responded with “stripping government ceremonies of any reference to God or religious expression…would, in effect, ‘establish’ atheism”. While that particular quote demonstrates a fundamental inability to understand or empathize with the 26% of Americans who aren’t Christian there’s a worse one. “In our constitutional tradition, all citizens are equally American, no matter what God they worship or if they worship no god at all” however, they “cannot dismiss the desire of others in America to publicly ask for God’s blessing on certain government activities and to publicly seek God’s guidance for certain government officials”.

Let that sink in for a moment. Kavanaugh just tried to say we’re all equally American, but some Americans religion supersedes the religion of everyone else. Pair that with the rest of his rulings, and Kavanaugh doesn’t look like a Christofascist. He is one. This is very bad for Americans who aren’t the specific flavor of Christianity that’s in vogue when Kavanaugh makes his rulings.

There’s a lot to discuss about Kavanaugh. But by any and every metric, he’s a bad judicial pick for Americans, America, and the American dream. And you should call your Senator because this shouldn’t be allowed to stand.