One of the most repeated comments on my recent article on Subway’s partnership with Michelle Obama was about control. Many conservatives who were angered by my piece argued that the “government” (Mrs. Obama) is trying to “force” them to do something they don’t want to do. The majority of conservatives who wrote responses are convinced that our first lady suggesting we eat better is tantamount to fascism, socialism, and many other isms.
Oddly, when I researched this article, I discovered overwhelming evidence that it is in fact not the left, or Mrs. Obama, who are trying to force Americans to do anything. The party of “smaller government” is inserting itself all over the place, and not just here. To be clear, I do not believe all conservatives agree with the things their party is doing, or trying to do, in order to control Americans. The ones who commented on the Subway article, however, need to understand the truth.
Domestically, conservative politicians are trying to control everything from a woman’s right to choose to a teacher’s right to educate. We have conservatives who demand religious freedom for their own religion, yet deny it for others. And we cannot forget the attempts to control the LGBT community. Globally, conservatives have publicly supported Vladimir Putin’s draconian and dangerous polices regarding his own LGBT citizens, and championed the horrific bill in Uganda. Let’s look at some of the ways many on the right are trying to force their own beliefs on their fellow Americans.
Texas schools have adopted a “creationist curriculum” that misrepresents evolution. The materials provided to school children call fossil history “sketchy,” and state evolution is “dogma” and an “unproven theory.” Students are told that leading scientists dispute both evolution and the age of the Earth. The state charter program sponsoring this “creationist curriculum,” Responsive Ed, receives over $80 million in taxpayer money. The Texas government is paying a charter program to force kids to learn that people and dinosaurs walked the Earth together, carbon dating is a myth, and evolution isn’t true.
(Quick side note, because I know someone will bring this up: The word “theory” has a completely different meaning as it relates to science.)
In Louisiana, creationism is also being forced on school children. The Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008 allows creationist materials into classrooms, under the pretense of helping students review “theories” in an “objective manner.” The Discovery Institute, a creationism think tank, helped write the 2008 bill which has been called “an assault against scientific integrity.”
Fundamentalist Christians are not paying for this, taxpayers are. Atheist taxpayers, Buddhist taxpayers, progressive Christian taxpayers, Wiccan taxpayers, agnostic taxpayers. Parochial schools are allowed to teach religion as part of their curriculum because they are funded by parents – parents who pay tuition. Public schools are not supposed to be able to do this, but the strong arm of the conservative party has forced schools to teach religious dogma on our dime.
Being LGBT in America is much easier than being LGBT in, say, Uganda. Here, you cannot be jailed for being LGBT, or executed by the government. You can, however, be discriminated against because, again, some right-wing Christians believe it is their right to do so. Recently, some businesses have run afoul of anti-discrimination laws in their states because they refuse to cater to the LGBT community. Many conservatives are claiming that we – LGBT allies – are “forcing” these businesses to violate their religious beliefs by holding them to the same standards as any business. No, but what is happening is that the majority of the religious right is trying to force the LGBT community to accept discrimination as a normal occurrence.
This happens because the majority of conservatives believe being LGBT is a choice. They do not believe anyone is born LGBT, they believe that someone would choose a lifestyle that almost guarantees bullying, hate, bigotry and discrimination. Many right-wing Christians think that the entire LGBT community decided one day to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. And since it’s a choice (it really isn’t), it’s okay to try to force LGBT individuals to change, to conform to some very narrow parameters, and it’s perfectly lovely to refuse them service in a pastry shop.
Our last look at control relates to women. Yes, I know Mike Huckabee thinks some guy named Uncle Sugar controls our libido (or some such nonsense) but the truth is, it’s conservative politicians who want to truly control women. Over the past few years, we have seen an attack on reproductive freedom that is unrivaled since Roe V Wade. South Dakota is a perfect example of this.
In 2011, South Dakota’s legislature passed a series of bills specifically aimed at making it next-to-impossible for a woman to receive an abortion. There is only one abortion clinic in the entire state, and in order to exercise her right to choose, a South Dakotan woman must jump through a lot of hoops.
She must consult with her own doctor (provided she has one), visit an anti-abortion “pregnancy crisis center,” and then wait 72 hours before she can have an abortion. If she doesn’t live near Sioux Falls – the location of the only clinic in the state – she must then figure out how to get there. And in 2013, South Dakota’s Republican governor, Dennis Daugaard, approved a measure to make the wait even longer. Now, weekends and holidays don’t count toward the 72-hour waiting period.
We all know how many on the right feel about contraception. Rick Santorum, former U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate, publicly said that states should have the right to ban contraception. To his credit, Santorum is against all contraception, including condoms. Most conservative politicians and pundits usually leave condoms out of the discussion. Both Mike Huckabee and Rush Limbaugh seem to have a problem understanding how women’s contraception works. Huckabee believes it has something to do with our libido, while Limbaugh thinks it works like Viagra.
A party trying to force people to follow religious dogma. A party trying to force an entire segment of our society back into the closet. A party trying to force women to carry pregnancies to term – no matter what – and at the same time attempting to keep them from having access to contraception.
Michelle Obama is simply suggesting we could eat better. She is not forcing anyone to do anything. In stark contrast, many conservatives are trying to force Americans to worship their deity, believe their myths, hate who they hate, and stay pregnant from puberty to menopause. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems the control party leans right, not left.
Image via Politically Preposterous