SHORTER ANN ALTHOUSE. Good news! The voters don’t blame Republicans for Foley — they blame fags!
Althouse is talking about this NYTimes article. See if you can spot the issue with the reporting:
But in dozens of interviews here in southeastern Virginia, a conservative Christian stronghold that is a battleground in races for the House and Senate, many said the episode only reinforced their reasons to vote for their two Republican incumbents in neck-and-neck re-election fights, Representative Thelma Drake and Senator George Allen.
“This is Foley’s lifestyle,” said Ron Gwaltney, a home builder, as he waited with his family outside a Christian rock concert last Thursday in Norfolk. “He tried to keep it quiet from his family and his voters. He is responsible for what he did. He is paying a price for what he did. I am not sure how much farther it needs to go.” . . .
“The Republicans need to tighten up their ship,” said Wade Crane, a sign maker from Virginia Beach who said he usually voted Republican but had soured on the party in the last several months. “They need to stop covering themselves, using their power to protect themselves.”
Charles W. Dunn, dean of the school of government at Regent University, founded here by the religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, said that so many conservative Christians were already in a funk about the party that “the Foley issue just opens up the potential floodgate for losses.” The tawdry accusations, Mr. Dunn said, “give life” to the charges of Republican corruption that had been merely “latent” in the minds of many voters. . . .
Brian Courtney, a Republican-leaning sales manager attending the concert, said the Foley affair had led to “the kind of mudslinging one would expect to see at an election time like this.” He added that he was paying closer attention to the “values and character” of the candidates, and that he would probably vote Republican again. . . .
Rush Limbaugh devoted much of his airtime to the Democrats’ defense of President Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Sean Hannity focused on former Representative Gerry Studds, a Massachusetts Democrat who in 1983 admitted having sex with a teenage male page, won re-election and served several more terms with the support of his colleagues.
Still, many conservative churchgoers said that what stood out for them was not the politics but the individual sin. “It is not going to affect my vote because I don’t live in Florida,” said Scott O’Connell, a mechanical engineer who described himself as a fundamentalist. “But there is a bigger moral issue which I would say is the prism I view this through: I do not believe in homosexuality.”
David Thomas, a father taking his family to the concert, said that he, too, was leaning toward voting Republican and that the scandal only reinforced his conservative Christian convictions. “That is the problem we have in society,” Mr. Thomas said. “Nobody polices anybody. Everybody has a ‘right’ to do whatever.”
In an interview on Friday, Pastor Anne Gimenez of the 15,000-member Rock Church here said the scandal “doesn’t change the issues we are voting on,” like abortion, public expression of religion and same-sex marriage.
Yeah. That’s right. Only one woman quoted even though “dozens of evangelicals” were interviewed. And she’s the only pastor, so she’s speaking on behalf of her church, really. Steve Gilliard, whose site is acting up right now so I can’t link to the specific post, made a really good point about how this article’s bias toward male interviewees skews the data: women run the churches, men head them. And the women will go along with the male authority and let them speak publicly for them, but when they get into the voting booth, they’re going to remember that creepy guy in shipping who looks at their tits, or the inappropriate comments from the boss, or the leering, or the unwelcome pass. Sara Robinson at Orcinus put it this way in a post about why the Foley scandal, which doesn’t just involve one man’s predatory actions, but the coverup by authority figures whose whole schtick for years was that they were there to protect children from predators, hits evangelical women so hard:
And yet, even so: There is one — and only one — sin so heinous that it cannot be rationalized away by the authoritarian thought process. It is this: the leader’s main job is to protect his abused and terrified horde from personal harm (or, for that matter, any sudden negative change to their immediate status quo). A leader who wantonly allows one of his followers to intimately experience such harm breaks that contract. It is in that moment of betrayal that some followers come to their senses, and start looking for a reckoning.
It’s important to note: the betrayal must be an intensely personal breach that has a deep, immediate, life-changing impact on the individual follower. Fundies don’t think in abstracts. Big national debts, epic political prevarications, and other people’s suffering (even on a global scale) do not impress them. But there are plenty of authoritarian parents across the country who proudly sent a son or daughter off to war — and later received that precious child home under cover of darkness, in a wooden box, with minimal explanation. That’s the kind of personal and profound loss I’m talking about. For many of these patriotic parents, it was also the searing moment of deep betrayal that broke the spell and shoved them off in the direction of the Wall.
Among fundies, the most common perpetrators of these betrayals are parents — particularly fathers — and pastors. As the most intimate authorities in their followers’ lives, they’re at close enough range to inflict the kind of high-impact personal damage that’s necessary to create the first crack. Many of the ex-fundies I know made their break in the aftermath of sexual abuse, ruinous financial treachery, public humiliation, or power grabs that threatened their marriages or children. They saw, in devastatingly vivid color, what their leaders were capable of. Their endless loyalty was shattered, because they realized it was not being returned in kind.
Such betrayals break through because they offend several of the follower characteristics Dean lists. The betrayed follower is no longer bound to submit to or give loyalty to an unworthy authority. Nor are they bound by the rules, because the authority charged with enforcing them has broken them. (While this was forgiveable in the abstract, in this case the consequences are too personal and acute to ignore.) They are brought face-to-face with the contradictions and hypocrisies in a shocking and unforgiveable way. Having felt the sting of the leader’s aggression, they may realize the true cost of aggressively defending that leader — and thus become more acutely sensitized to intolerance, bullying, and mean-spiritedness.
Perhaps most importantly: having their own boundaries so heinously violated makes them suddenly aware (as most authoritarian followers are not) that they have their own legitimate emotional, physical, and social needs; and that they deserve to have those needs respected and met. Once that self-awareness is awakened, the soon-to-be-ex fundie can be seen making a beeline for the Wall.
. . .
As my theory predicted, the perpetrator was a conservative male in a position of authority, and the issue was sexual abuse. The Foley affair touches maybe a few hundred familes of pages and former pages, and a handful of members of Congress. Even so, it fits the above picture closely, because it’s the kind of betrayal that every parent, no matter what their political persuasion, feels absolutely viscerally. We know, in our bones, that most of us would commit bodily mayhem on someone who attempted to molest our kids. It violates our most primal instincts, and awakens our will to righteous violence like few other threats in the human experience.
It may be even more acute for women — and most especially, women in the red states. Blue-state women tend to be more worldly and educated, more aware of their rights, and thus more skilled in dealing with the world’s ample supply of creeps. They also spend most of their time dealing with blue state men, who tend to be a bit more egalitarian in their habits (though, as anyone who watched Dateline last night knows, are apparently no less prone to move in on a 13-year-old if they think they can get away with it).
Red-state women are the ones who have to deal most intimately with overentitled authoritarian men who regard women as their property. They get to call cops who will decline to take reports or refer for prosecution; face down bosses who think that sexual access comes with the paycheck; and live their lives in the company of men — even those in their own families who should know better — who will do whatever it takes to convince themselves that “I know him — he’d never do that” and besides, “she had it coming.”
In this hostile environment, the only defense a woman has is bind herself to the contract that defines the conservative view of male-female relationships. She gives a man her devotion and submission. In return, he promises to provide for and protect her and her children — even at the cost of his own life. That’s the honor code “traditional families” live by, and the only safety women in authoritarian systems have.
These guys broke that contract. Conservative women put their trust in guys like Hastert. They gave him their devotion and support. According to the code, these guys were honor-bound to put themselves on the line for the women and children under their protective care. But when the bad guys came to town — the very same bad guys they’d been specifically hollering about for decades as the number one reason that we all absolutely must submit to their protection — our chicken-livered heroes were nowhere to be found.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall, I suppose.
And polling bears out Sara and Steve and contradicts the Times article: just look at those numbers. 79% said that Republicans were more concerned about their own position than the safety of the pages; 47% said the Democrats were in more in line with their own moral values, while only 38% said the Republicans were.
- Conservative Christians Flex Their Political Muscles by zuzu May 15, 2006
- Christian Nation no more by Trailer Park Feminist July 12, 2007
- Who Killed George Tiller? by Jill June 1, 2009
- XXXtian Babes: Behind the counter at an Evangelical bookstore near you by Jill September 20, 2008
- Making a career out of telling women not to have careers by Jill November 15, 2010