While some in the United States are chomping away at our rights, others are attacking our democracy from within. What are they afraid of?
First published: July 2022.
Questions to the right wing of American politics and those religions that are forcing their beliefs on all of America:
- What about women making decisions about their own bodies scares you?
- What about transgender people scares you?
- What about gay people scares you?
- What about people whose religious views are not yours scares you?
“Scares” is the only word I can think of that fits these questions. For example, why are you so afraid of women that you think you know better than they about their health care? Or about who loves who they choose to love?
Religion certainly can’t be driving your views, can it? After all, in the United States, people are free to follow whatever religion they choose. It’s there in the very First Amendment:
It’s one of the main reasons this country was created and fought for through the years. And I know that you love this country.
How are you affecting my or others’ religions?
For one thing, abortion. It is allowed by some religions. But by outlawing abortion you take away rights from those religions that believe differently than you. I know, I know – “All” the Supreme Court did was put the decision on allowing abortions into State hands. And then certain States do the dirty work for them. Boggles my mind. (Hmm, would the conservatives on the Court have sent it back to the States if Democrats controlled a majority of them?)
And what about the case of the 10- year-old who suffered major traumas in her life before she was 10 (rape, pregnancy, refusal of her state to allow abortions even in her type of case, the abortion itself.)? Think about how that young girl will be affected for the rest of her life. Her views on sex, pregnancy, men, among other things, will likely be driven from this experience. She, I hope, will deal with these monster thoughts so she can have a “normal” life.
For many conservative officeholders and TV talk show hosts, they immediately said she was a fake, a made-up story to sell the other side’s “narrative.” (Hmm, projecting much?). By the way, if she hasn’t seen it already, she will at some point read about those attacks from conservatives and talking heads. That will affect her, too.
I know a particular trans person pretty well. She (as she is now called and is) is a good person and, in fact, is a more alive person since her decision to transition to female. Her confidence is up. Her mood is up. She is no longer tormented by who she really is. She is proud of it. So, why does that torment you so much? She is living her best life. You’re not in her life. She isn’t affecting your life. And, she’s a happier human being. Who opposes that?
Gay men and women.
A clear majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. Many of us have attended weddings of friends or family who are gay. In my experience, that particular wedding was one of the most joyous I’ve ever attended. And the two men being married couldn’t have been happier then or now.
So, how does that affect you? Again, happiness is a result. You don’t want people to be happy? A majority of Americans do, thank goodness, so let’s hope legislators will respect happiness. And freedom for people to choose to be who they are with whom they choose to be.
Personally, I could care less what religion you practice, or don’t practice. I have questions about most religions, including my own. But that’s why we study. Why we discuss. To me, that’s part of religion – to discuss and learn about yourself and others. To learn about where we are right, or wrong. To grow.
I’m not naïve. I get that evangelicals live strictly by their interpretation of the Bible. Fine with me. I don’t agree with many of their positions myself, but I’ll defend their right to practice that religion, as long as it doesn’t intrude on other religions or people’s beliefs.
I’m certainly no religious scholar but from what I read, the term “evangelical” comes from the Greek word euangelion, meaning “the good news” or the “gospel”. Thus, the evangelical faith focuses on the “good news” of salvation brought to sinners by Jesus Christ. I’m sure it’s more complicated than that but that’s fine, too. Be an evangelical. It’s your right as an American.
It’s my right not to agree with you. And the right of millions of women too. And millions of gays and trans. Heck, we can disagree just to argue and learn from each other. But that's not what is driving those who oppose abortion today.
I know women who say that the Republican Party must hate them because of the policies the party has adopted. I get it. And that’s the party’s right, too. And it’s our right to vote against that party – that, too, is what America is all about. And for those votes to be counted completely and accurately.
So, I’ve vomited a lot of thoughts that roll through my mind. Though I’m not sure I made my point.
To be clear, my point is an old one:
This is a free country. This is a country whose founding belief was freedom. The very first Amendment lays out five freedoms: speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government.
It’s what we all love about this country. It’s why so many others want to live in this country.
Yet, there are those among us who are erasing some of those rights. And if we don’t stop them, the whole American Experiment crumbles.
Last thought for today: While some, including some members of the U.S. Supreme Court, are chomping away at our rights, rights that Court had affirmed in the past, others are attacking our democracy from within.
Primaries are being won right now by men and women who want to change the way we vote and the way those votes are counted, putting more power in the hands of craven politicians than fair-minded career (non-political) officials and democracy-loving citizens.
The global environment is changing right now. We thought we needed to protect that for our children and grandchildren. But now we need to protect us too.
Our democracy is being threatened. The Great American Experiment is on the block.
It is amazing to me that there are those among us who want to destroy the America we all know and love for such selfish reasons.
America was created to be the exact opposite of what some seem to be craving.
— AUTHOR —
▫ B. Jay Cooper, Former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Also headed communications offices at the RNC, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yale University.
- Text: This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 1 August 2022, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Unsplash/Belle Collective. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)