(A Disaster for Women and the Environment)
By Dr. Joseph A Palermo
Professor, Historian, Author
In Texas, Governor Rick Perry, the Religious Right, and their Republican allies, following Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis’s courageous filibuster last week, are literally working overtime to criminalize women’s reproductive rights.
The state that purports to be so “pro-life” it must kneecap women also happens to be the repository of the most efficient and voluminous state-sanctioned killing machine. There have been 500 executions (and counting) in the Lone Star State since 1982.
Like Texas, Republican-controlled states simply cannot contain their misogyny and have launched crusades to curtail women’s reproductive rights. In the so-called red states, the GOP, responding to the clout of the Religious Right, is hell bent on rolling back rights that a generation of women struggled for decades to win.
There’s plenty of blatant hypocrisy to point out with these moves — the most glaring, of course, being the political party that claims to be against “big government” wants the government to control as many uteruses as possible — but what is often most irksome about these right-wingers is the patina of religiosity they ascribe to their assaults on both women and LGBT people.
A Brief History Lesson
Ronald Reagan did the nation a lasting disservice by bringing into our politics the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons of this world.
The GOP of the Reagan era looked to the Religious Right as a counterweight to the role labor unions played in the Democratic Party. Someone had to lick all those envelopes and knock on all those doors. It didn’t take long to understand that along with a veiled “Southern strategy” of racial politics, being anti-abortion and anti-gay reaped political dividends.
Thirty years later this Reagan coalition is still going strong. You can see it in the House of Representatives, the states, and elsewhere, hammering away at the same misogynistic and gay-bashing agenda.
That was pretty much Reagan’s strategy in 1980 and 1984– and it worked like a charm in 2004, giving the nation four more glorious years of the worst president in American history.
The Flat-Earth Society
There are other areas where the rise of the Religious Right and the Republican politicians it elects means pending disaster.
They never seem to tire of lecturing us about how abortion and gay marriage are against the laws of nature and God. Yet I never hear them utter a word about Monsanto and other poison/food corporations routinely ripping apart the DNA of plants and animals to create life forms that never could emerge in the known Universe.
If there exists an issue that deserves the wrath of those believers, I would think that corporations contaminating the DNA of the world’s food supply without giving a shit about the potential long-term consequences should raise a little alarm normally aimed at women and gays.
Isn’t screwing around with combining the genes of a flounder with a tomato, or a bacterium with corn, an “abomination?” The world’s wheat supply might be succumbing to irreversible genetic pollution as Monsanto’s executives boost their bottom line through increasingly reckless actions.
Like it our not, we’re about to have the long-term “study” about whether these new Franken-crops are “safe” for the environment and for people — studies the corporate food sector has avoided or quashed. The only problem is that by the time we understand the long-term effects of this genetic contamination it will be too late to do anything about it.
Super weeds, super insects, super bacteria and other “super” organisms which have adapted to genetically modified plants will grow stronger than ever and are starting to crop up. The nice folks at Monsanto are absolutely giddy about the prospect of selling more herbicides and insecticides to deal with the resilient critters they’ve unleashed.
Like the fossil fuel industry and global warming, or Wall Street and the “real” economy, it’s a perfect example of corporate power and the maniacal drive for profits destroying the society they tell us they care so much about.
And the Religious Right apparently believes all of this unnatural destruction of God’s good earth is fine– so long as the women folk know their place and them gays can’t get hitched.
The Republican majority of the Supreme Court, seeing that demography is working against its ideological brethren, legitimized voter suppression laws that everyone knows will adversely affect Latinos, African Americans, young people, and the working class.
When coupled with the January 2010 Citizens United ruling, which opened up the floodgates to campaign slush funds and unlimited corporate money to flow into our already money-drenched politics, the Shelby County decision fits Citizens United like a tight bookend. Both these egregious decisions will make it more difficult to dislodge the Bible thumpers from wielding political power.
The Road Forward
Whenever the Roberts Court presides over a case that pits corporations against consumers, workers, or environmentalists, you can bet that most of the time the corporations will come out on top.
In working to stop Monsanto, or the fossil fuel corporations, or Wall Street from pursuing short-term profits against the long-term interests of planet Earth and its inhabitants, the courts in the United States, at this juncture, seem to be rendered useless.
With giant, immortal corporations capturing regulatory agencies, our politics, and the judicial system, the only alternative is vigorous and prolonged citizen action against them.
People who care about the planet are going to have to redouble their efforts, organize and demand that people and institutions divest their holdings from Monsanto, ExxonMobil, and other death-defying monsters.
It will be a long and tough fight but there really is no alternative. The mobilization of people against the new attacks on women’s rights, like we have seen in Texas recently, points the way forward.
…This article has been abridged with pithy pics added. You can read Dr. Palermo’s full piece here.
Before earning a Master’s degree and Doctorate in History from Cornell University, Professor Palermo completed Bachelor degrees in Sociology and Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz and his Master’s degree in History from San Jose State University.
An Associate Professor of History at California State University–Sacramento, Professor Palermo’s most recent book is The Eighties.
He’s written two other books: In His Own Right: The Political Odyssey of Senator Robert F. Kennedy; and Robert F. Kennedy and the Death of American Idealism.