Saturday, September 17, 2022


In a post about GOP governors' stunt shipments of immigrants, titled "What Happens When a Party Rejects Humanity?," New York magazine's Sarah Jones writes:
The conservative movement’s deep history of racial prejudice suggests that the GOP’s turn toward inhumanity is inevitable and irreversible. Once crossed, some lines cannot be uncrossed. Republicans take their marching orders not from elder statesmen like Mitt Romney but from racist demagogues like Tucker Carlson, who said on Thursday’s broadcast of his show that Martha’s Vineyard would need “shantytowns” to house its new residents. Carlson isn’t going away, and neither is the racism that animates the Republican Party. Anyone still seeking a reasonable governmental partner in the GOP is setting themselves up for personal disappointment and political failure.
I share Jones's outrage, as well as her sense that the GOP and the conservative movement are irredeemable. But I'm having trouble with her headline.

As far as I'm concerned, it was clear that the right had rejected humanity a long time ago -- sixty years ago, obviously (though the segregationist hatemongers were mostly Democrats then), and certainly two decades ago, when the public learned about the Bush administration's embrace of torture. If you lurked at right-wing sites back then, and for many years afterward, you know that the rank-and-file right loved the idea of torturing Muslims.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to bring back "a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding," to the delight of his voters. But it never happened. Trump became much more focused on cruelty to immigrants. With the passage of time -- and because Trump himself expressed disdain for the Bush administration's wars -- Muslim-bashing became somewhat less popular on the right. Rank-and-file Republicans didn't hate Muslims any less, but they were distracted by their hatred for Mexicans and Central Americans.

So while the particular form of inhumanity we're seeing now from Ron DeSantis and other Republican governors won't disappear anytime soon -- there'll be much more trafficking of immigrants, especially between now and Election Day -- we'll eventually see fewer of these events. It won't be because right-wingers have suddenly developed a conscience. It'll happen because they'll get bored with the current cruelties and decide to turn to new ones, or maybe old ones they haven't tried in a while. The soullessness is constant, but the specifics will change someday.

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