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“Islamophobic Ballots And Bullets”: What Is It About Tennessee That’s Made It The American Capital Of Islamophobia?

I hope there’s not something strange in the water in the Fourth Congressional District of Tennessee. This is the place represented in the U.S. House by the Conservative From Hell, Scott DesJarlais, the hard-core antichoice Family Values man with a record of having sex with patients and encouraging wives and lovers to have abortions.

But now it turns out DesJarlais wasn’t the strangest person on the 4th district ballot in 2014: independent candidate Robert Doggart (he got six percent of the vote) has been arrested for conspiring to firebomb a Muslim center in New York. Here’s the report from Claire Wiseman of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:

Robert Doggart wanted to burn Islamberg to the ground.

In a plea agreement filed in federal court April 29, the Signal Mountain resident and former District 4 congressional candidate admitted he spent months gathering weapons and plotting an all-out assault on the small Muslim enclave in Delaware County, New York.

“We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace,” he wrote in one Facebook post.

Doggart’s plan seems to have been based on the fear that Islamberg residents were themselves planning a terrorist attack, though local law enforcement say no such plan exists. The town is the headquarters of Muslims of America.

It “must be utterly destroyed in order to get the attention of the American people,” Doggart wrote in a February Facebook post.

Federal agents became aware of Doggart’s plan in early 2015 and began surveillance. A local judge authorized a wiretap on March 15, according to a criminal complaint.

In recorded calls with a confidential source located in Texas, Doggart said he planned to travel to New York for “reconnaissance” in early April. He planned to check out the buildings he hoped to burn. But he told the source he would also bring his M-4 assault rifle with him “just in case,” according to the complaint.

I like this part:

He is facing a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison after a plea to interstate communication of threats. He was put on pre-trial release two weeks ago after his attorneys told Magistrate Judge Susan K. Lee he had weaned himself off painkillers and stopped using alcohol while in the Hamilton County Jail.

Yeah, if there’s anything more dangerous than a regular old Islamophobic nut with shootin’ irons and kerosene, it’s a drugged-up, hootched-up Islamophobic nut with shootin’ irons and kerosene.

I don’t know what it is about Tennessee that’s made it the American capital of Islamophobia (a GOP primary in a district adjoining the 4th was almost completely dominated by hysteria about a mosque under construction a while back). But it’s not even funny any more.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 19, 2015

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Domestic Terrorism, Islamophobia, Tennessee | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In Conflict With A Man’s Interests”: More Proof That The Religious Right’s “Family Values” Obsession Is Really About Misogyny

One of the great self-justifying myths of the conservatives is that their support for traditional gender roles is not rooted in misogyny, but in “family values.” They don’t hate women and want to keep them down, the argument goes, so much as they believe everyone–including women–benefits if women are relegated to a submissive role in marriage and prevented from exercising reproductive rights. They’re not trying to oppress women for the benefit of men, they argue. They’re trying to protect them.

It’s easy to uphold those “family values” when only women have to pay the price for them. But the real test is when the purported beliefs of the religious right conflict with what men want. Women are asked to sacrifice a lot in the name of family values, such as the right to leave unhappy marriages or the right to abort unwanted pregnancies. But are conservatives willing to ask the same of men? Two recent examples demonstrate that when family values conflict with a man’s interests, suddenly family values aren’t as important as the right generally says they are.

The case of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is a particularly stomach-churning example. Along with Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, Bob McDonnell was supposed to be one of the great Christian right politicians whose commitment to a fundamentalist view of family life would set an example for the rest of America. The Christian right argument regarding marriage, which Bob McDonnell laid out in his 1989 master’s thesis at the conservative Christian Regent University, is purportedly one of exchange: Women submit to their husbands, staying home to serve their husbands and raise children; and in exchange, men offer protection and cherish women to the point of coddling.

As Dahlia Lithwick explained on Slate, “The thesis was an argument for infusing Christian Republican values into government policy,” on the grounds that traditional marriage is “the best safeguard against immorality and selfishness.” In order to preserve this traditional definition of marriage, McDonnell expected women to sacrifice reproductive rights, independent thinking and employment outside of the home. McDonnell claimed his views had softened since then, but as Lithwick notes, his actual policy positions as a politician suggested otherwise. Not only did McDonnell fight against abortion rights, he also pushed to make divorce much harder to get in the state of Virginia. Even though stricter divorce laws usually serve to make it harder for women to escape abusive relationships, asking women to give up personal safety in the name of “family values” was clearly not too great a sacrifice for McDonnell.

But recent months have put McDonnell’s commitment to marriage and family to the test; he and his wife have been subject to a 14-count federal indictment for public corruption. As Dana Milbank noted, McDonnell was given an opportunity to protect his wife, as the family values set tells us husbands are supposed to do in exchange for women’s submission. But given the choice between protecting his wife by taking a plea deal and going to court, McDonnell chose himself over family values, heading to court. Indeed, McDonnell not only refused to protect the woman he vowed to love and protect, his defense is built around throwing his wife under the bus, blaming her for everything and employing some tawdry sexist stereotypes about women being crazy and weak to sell the argument.

Don’t get me wrong: There is a strong amount of evidence that Maureen McDonnell is corrupt and a terrible decision-maker, and she seems to be admitting she had a cheater’s heart that led her to push one of her husband’s benefactors for illegal gifts. But that changes nothing. McDonnell has dedicated his career to the idea that women should sacrifice everything for the good of “family,” including bodily autonomy and personal safety, but the second he’s called upon to take on the responsibility of a good Christian husband to protect his wife, he ran away and tried to foist as much as the blame as he could on her. Turns out family values wasn’t about men and women sacrificing together for family, just a cover story to excuse male dominance over women.

McDonnell’s corruption charges all came out after he was out of public office. In order to see how conservative voters act when one of their leaders puts the interests of straight men over their supposed commitment to family values, look no further than the state of Tennessee. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is running for his third term for Congress as a “family values” Republican, and his bona fides with conservative voters were proved again when he won a primary last week against another conservative challenger.

All this, despite the fact that DesJarlais has a long history showing that while he firmly believes women should have to lose their basic human rights in the name of family values, he, as a man, has never shown any interest in making even the teeniest sacrifice for those same values.

DesJarlais has a 0% rating from NARAL. He believes women who are facing an unwanted pregnancy that could derail their lives should suck it up and be made to suffer, you know, for “life.” But when faced with the prospect of an unintended pregnancy that could hurt him, he suddenly became a big fan of abortion. DesJarlais encouraged, some would say badgered, his mistress to get an abortion during his first marriage. He also supported his first wife’s abortions.

DesJarlais’ enthusiasm for abortions that helped him is hardly the only incidence of him exempting himself from the family values he wishes to impose on women. During his first marriage, he admitted to having eight affairs, some with patients. He also admitted under oath that he threatened his first wife with a gun. DesJarlais portrays these events as long past and argues he’s a different man now. But he still voted against the Violence Against Women Act, suggesting he has not actually developed any real concern about women’s safety in marriage since then.

Not that the voters mind enough to vote him out of office. If family values were actually about valuing families, voters would demand more of Republican leaders. But that someone as hypocritical as DesJarlais can still win elections shows that family values was never about families; just a transparent cover story for old-fashioned misogyny.


By: Amanda Marcotte, AlterNet, August 14, 2014

August 15, 2014 Posted by | Family Values, Religious Right | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“America’s Scariest Doctors”: Meet The GOP Doctors Caucus Where Fetal Masturbation Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

The phrase “fetal masturbation” made an unlikely appearance in the political discourse Wednesday, thanks to a Republican congressman who said the country needs a 20-week abortion ban because he’s seen sonograms that show male fetuses “feel pleasure” when they “have their hand between their legs.”

The science on whether fetuses can feel pain (let alone masturbate) is pretty dubious, which is something one might expect the congressman, Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, to know, considering the fact that he’s an OB-GYN and a proud member of the GOP Doctors Caucus. But a look at the caucus’s roster reveals he has plenty of company from other lawmakers with controversial thoughts on science and women’s health.

Caucus chairman Rep. Phil Gingrey, also an OB-GYN, defended Rep. Todd Akin’s infamous comments about rape and abortion last year. Saying that Akin was “partly right” that a women’s body can shut down an unwanted pregnancy due to rape, Gingrey added that a 15-year-old girl who gets pregnant might accuse her boyfriend of rape because she’s embarrassed, so “that’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus nonlegitimate rape.”

Then there’s Rep. Tom Price, who, when asked what women who can’t afford birth control should do in the absence of insurance coverage, replied “there’s not one woman” who lacks access. “Bring me one woman who has been left behind,” he said, “There’s not one.” A Hart Research survey found that about one in three female voters have struggled to afford the medicine at some point, including 55 percent of young women.

Virtually all of the caucus’s members support defunding Planned Parenthood, even though doing so would be devastating for women’s health issues that have nothing to do with abortion. Co-chair Rep. Diane Black pledged, “I will not rest until we put a stop to Planned Parenthood’s blatant abuse of taxpayer dollars.”

Others have profound respect for science. Co-chairman Rep. Phil Roe thinks there are “many questions surrounding the science” of climate change. While Rep. Paul Broun, who still makes house calls, thinks evolution and the Big Bang are “lies straight from the pit of Hell.”

Then there’s Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a pro-life conservative who “had an affair with a patient and later pressured her to get an abortion.” Later, the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners found DesJarlais had slept with two female patients in violation of a state law that prohibits “unprofessional conduct.” He was forced to pay a small fine. (He also slept with three co-workers.)

Or Rep. Charles Boustany, who was “has been the defendant in at least three malpractice suits over his two decade career,” according to Politico. (He maintains a medical license in Louisiana under no restrictions and his staff said the suits are common.)

Rep. Ron Paul was a member of the caucus as well before leaving the Congress. And while his son, Sen. Rand Paul, is not a member of the caucus because he’s in the upper chamber, some have raise questions about his war on board certification for his ophthalmology practice.

The GOP Doctors Caucus helped lead the fight against Obamacare, so voters should rest assured that if they had their way to repeal the law, they’d be in good hands.


By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, June 20, 2013

June 22, 2013 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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