Last December, disturbed by the rising tide of hate speech, I wrote a piece titled “Now is the time for moral courage.” Sadly, there was none of that to be found in Connecticut’s Republican Party, and very little in the national GOP. Two months later, in February, I went to a coffee with my state legislators and asked them the same question, and they sat mute as I was told to “be quiet” and “stop talking.”
As we have watched one group after the next be insulted, as I — and other Jewish journalists — have experienced a massive uptick in anti-Semitic hate speech, as I’ve spoken to teachers and librarians in the course of my work as an author and heard them discuss the very real “Trump effect” in their schools, my representatives have remained silent, choosing to put party partisanship over country, civility, and all that is decent.
The New York Times created a very effective graphic showing what it actually took for Republicans leaders to disavow Donald Trump.
I listened to last week’s debate on the radio while being driven back from LaGuardia. When Trump threatened to jail his political opponent if elected, my driver and I had a simultaneous “What the heck?!” moment. We were driving past familiar landscapes, but it felt like uncharted territory — unless you’ve studied history and world affairs.
Yet still, silence. Or even worse, we get sexual assault apologists, like Daria Novak. “As a woman, I am offended, of course. But I also know that men talk this way, sometimes, in male locker room braggadocio. Let’s acknowledge that and get over it,” Novak said.
No, Ms. Novak. We’re not going to “get over it.” Because this “locker room talk” excuse is the grown up version of “boys will be boys.” It’s the same misogynistic culture that we saw in full flower at the Yale fraternity attended by several U.S. Presidents. It’s the same ridiculous “alpha male” garbage that Eric Trump subjected us to in trying to legitimize his father’s predatory behavior. Now before you start with the “but Bill Clinton . . .” Bill isn’t running for president. This GOP strategy of blaming a qualified woman running for office for her husband’s sexual indiscretions is just . . . antediluvian.
Here’s another thing that’s antediluvian: that it took the patriarchal elders of the GOP this long to denounce Trump. It wasn’t the racism. It wasn’t the refusal to denounce the KKK, or the anti-Semitic attacks on reporters. It wasn’t his attacks on Muslims or refugees. It wasn’t calling for a foreign government to hack his opponent. It wasn’t his dangerous views on nuclear proliferation or his war criminal outlook on torture and bombing civilians. It wasn’t his unconscionable attacks on Gold Star parents. It wasn’t his consistent misogyny. It was, finally, the incontrovertible truth of his vile nature toward a married woman. Now, at last, the patriarchal elders renounce Trump “because we have daughters.”
This, my friends, is why the GOP has such a “woman problem” — because once again, they are putting the responsibility for all of this on us girls.
Hello Patriarchs? What about your sons? You should be renouncing Trump because he is such a reprehensible example of a man. You should be repudiating “locker room talk” and talking to your sons about how important it is to treat women with equality and respect. Unless, of course, that isn’t your policy position — and there’s the rub, isn’t it?
Watching men of alleged faith who have been lecturing the rest of us about “family values” for decades attempting to gloss over Trump’s sexual predation for political expediency has been truly stomach turning. I find myself nodding in agreement with conservative commentator George F. Will, who writes of the faith community, “Some of its representatives, their crucifixes glittering in the television lights, are still earnestly explaining the urgency of giving to Trump, who agreed that his daughter is “a piece of ass,” the task of improving America’s coarsened culture.”
Connecticut Republicans, apparently living in the same lack of reality zone as their presidential candidate, claim that their embrace of Trump won’t impact downstream races. Good luck with that. And I hate to say I told you so.
Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. A former securities analyst, she’s now an adjunct in the MFA program at WCSU (and as such is an AAUP member), and enjoys helping young people discover the power of finding their voice as an instructor at the Writopia Lab.
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