Tuesday, July 28, 2020


I think we've all followed this story with a mix of amusement and horror:
A Houston doctor who praises hydroxychloroquine and says that face masks aren’t necessary to stop transmission of the highly contagious coronavirus has become a star on the right-wing internet, garnering tens of millions of views on Facebook on Monday alone. Donald Trump Jr. declared the video of Stella Immanuel a “must watch,” while Donald Trump himself retweeted the video.

Before Trump and his supporters embrace Immanuel’s medical expertise, though, they should consider other medical claims Immanuel has made—including those about alien DNA and the physical effects of having sex with witches and demons in your dreams.

Immanuel, a pediatrician and a religious minister, has a history of making bizarre claims about medical topics and other issues. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.

She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. And, despite appearing in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress on Monday, she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by “reptilians” and other aliens.
If a Democratic presidential challenger -- never mind a president -- gave credence to a person like this, every Democrat in Washington would be pressed to disavow the endorsement. As far as I know, no Republicans are being asked about Trump's retweet.

Dr. Immanuel's speech has been removed from Facebook and Twitter. That means, of course, that on the Trumpist right the party line is that she's a hero and a free-speech martyr.
Immanuel’s video was embraced by the Trumps, conservative student group Turning Point USA, and pro-Trump personalities like Diamond & Silk.

Is this the future of the GOP?

Okay -- maybe it's farfetched to imagine Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy embracing the notion that endometriosis is caused by sex with demons. But the party continues to move in an anti-science direction. Consider the possible next senator from the state of Kansas:

And if you think Kobach has become too much of an extremist on many issues to win, even in Kansas, please note that he's being heavily bankrolled by tech billionaire Peter Thiel.

In a few years, will opposition to mandatory vaccines be the default Republican position? As late as 2008, the Republicans ran a presidential candidate who acknowledged the problem of climate change and proposed to address it; now it's all but unthinkable for an ambitious Republican to recommend taking the climate seriously. So why shouldn't we imagine that vaccines are next, because freedom?

What's appalling about this is that Republican abandonment of science hasn't lost them any respect among the political elite. Mainstream journalists don't treat Republicans as fringe-dwellers, even though more and more of them are.

As the GOP blocks climate action, rejects vaccines, and increasingly flirts with crackpottery such as QAnon, mainstream media figures still treat Republicans as responsible governing partners. How far do Republicans have to go before it's generally acknowledged that they're unfit to hold office? Do they have to start talking about demon sex? Would they be shunned even then?

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