distancing is like taking out the trash
Reading Time: 9 minutes (Hoan Ho.) Taking out the trash!
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Hi and welcome back! By far, one of the only spots of amusement in recent news is the way that Donald Trump’s onetime allies and most fervent supporters are now distancing themselves from him. And of all of those allies and supporters, none were quite as certain of their allegiance as so-called ‘pro-lifers.’ These culture warriors once heralded him as a divine savior of pweshus unborn baybeez. But now, they’ve been trying to claim some very different territory. Today, let me show you how feckless and obviously self-interested these self-proclaimed culture warriors truly are, as they try their best to distance themselves from the political poison that is now, suddenly, Donald Trump.

distancing is like taking out the trash
(Hoan Ho.) Taking out the trash!

(A Couple of Notes: In this post, I put ‘pro-life’ in scare quotes. That’s because nothing about them really speaks to the valuing of human life in any way. What these crusaders really are is forced-birthers. That’s it. And they want to criminalize and marginalize abortion care ONLY because forcing women to endure unwanted pregnancies can only happen in a culture that does not value human rights. Also, I’d like to mention this: forced-birther leaders consider their non-Christian adherents nothing but useful idiots. This is 100% a Christian culture-war cause. Their Dear Leaders ginned up and engineered it solely to grow their own power. Those leaders know quite well that they can only achieve their ultimate goal in the absence of human rights.)

“The Most Pro-Life President in History.”

When Donald Trump began noising about his intentions to run for the presidency, ‘pro-life’ groups immediately latched onto him. Over the years of the Donald Trump As President Saga, these anti-human-rights crusaders have routinely called him “the most pro-life president” that America has ever had. Here’s a small sampling of people who have called evangelicals’ Orange Calf Idol the most pro-life president in history:

  • Deirdre Byrne, big-name nun crusader
  • Mike Pence, general coward who rose far above his competency level, somehow also the Vice-President for now
  • Sandy Juffer Hutchinson, Christian rando who wrote a paid election letter endorsing Trump in October 2020
  • The Susan B. Anthony List, anti-human-rights crusader organization, which includes their leader Marjorie Dannenfelser and one of their other reps, Mallory Quiqley (gosh, how much did the GOP give them?)
  • Franklin Graham, yet another meaningless, tryhard, toadying, fundagelical lickspittle
  • Kellyanne Conway, a professional liar-for-JesusTrump
  • Abby Johnson, another big-name anti-human-rights crusader (this time with drag queen eyebrows!)
  • Donald Trump, a shameless grifter who manipulated his way to the White House, but we expected that, right?

But then, the Capitol Building attack on Wednesday occurred.

Very quickly, the world realized who the perpetrators were: a howling mob of Trump-deranged MAGAt lowlife scum, all acting under their idol’s direct orders.

And in the face of the worst public-relations disaster ever, one of his big-name supporters has done a quick — and ferocious — about-face.

It’d almost be hilarious, if it didn’t involve evangelicals’ ongoing crusade against human rights. But it definitely speaks to just how slimy and distrustful these TRUE CHRISTIANS™ really are.

The Distancing Act Begins.

In America: The Jesuit Review, Xavier Bisits recently wrote a post lambasting Donald Trump for not doing nearly enough to advance the forced-birther agenda. He called it, “The pro-life movement must make it clear: Donald Trump does not represent us.”

Mainly, that writer is concerned that Donald Trump did not fulfill the promises that so many right-wing Christians had accepted from him. But the timing of the post, just after his fans tried to stage an insurrection, certainly mattered. Indeed, Bisits discusses that insurrection attempt in detail in the post and considers it part of the case he’s making. In the post, directly after discussing the insurrection attempt, Bisits writes:

If Mr. Trump is seen as the face of the pro-life movement in the United States, we will have scored a goal against ourselves.

Really. He said that.

Distancing Whiplash.

Out of all the reactions to the post, I most liked that of NARAL MD — an abortion-rights group. They simply asked on Twitter:

say what to america magazine
(NARAL Pro-Choice MD.) “Say what?”

Say what?

And I can absolutely understand that feeling of whiplash. If I didn’t know right-wing Christians as well as I do, I’d also wonder how in the world America Magazine could possibly assert that Donald Trump does not represent them or their cause. After all, Americans have endured four or five years of forced-birthers insisting up and down and sideways that why yes, Donald Trump not only represents them but leads them in their war against human rights. He’s pandered to these exact crusaders for years now.

But I do understand them.

And thus, I understand that they’re just distancing themselves from an embarrassment, that’s all.

The Authoritarian Playbook: Distancing.

When authoritarians get embarrassed by blowback from their craven words and deeds, they tend to abandon their principles completely. They don’t support terrible people. They don’t lie or cause tangible harm or do awful things. Only terrible people do any of that stuff. Since they’re not terrible, they can’t possibly have done it.

So in this case, Donald Trump has done something truly reprehensible. It was so bad that even many of his supporters have now abandoned him. Thus, he cannot possibly be forced-birthers’ “poster boy.” He tarnishes them through mere association (as he should, and would do to any group that made him their idol). They must push him far away before he does more damage!

What I describe here is distancing.

And that’s exactly what we’ve seen in the wake of the coup attempt.

People use distancing to escape challenging or threatening situations. Often, distancing is perfectly called-for – consider the new normal we all deal with nowadays, social distancing, if nothing else! But when it’s used to gain distance from something that person actually needs to engage with and resolve, it becomes harmful to that person — and potentially to everyone who has to deal with that person.

A number of distancing techniques exist and come into use when needed. In the case of America Magazine, they need to engage with and resolve the fact that “the most pro-life president in history” actually represents them extremely well.

Instead of doing the work they need to do, they’re instead going to say that Donald Trump doesn’t represent them at all.

Distancing From Self-Pwnage.

In his America Magazine post, Xavier Bisits wrote:

Mr. Trump was the one signing pro-life laws and executive orders, and that image—now more tarnished than ever, following his encouragement of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters refusing to accept the result of last year’s presidential election—carries a huge risk. If Mr. Trump is seen as the face of the pro-life movement in the United States, we will have scored a goal against ourselves.

He goes on to discuss all the myriad misdeeds of the far-right’s idol [links are his]:

His sexist insultscontempt for disabled individuals and history of racism are at odds with the fundamental principles of the pro-life movement. We cannot claim to care about women facing crisis pregnancies, defend the lives of disabled persons or combat the disproportionate impact of abortion on people of color if Mr. Trump is our poster boy. On whole-life issues, his record is abysmal; there are no better examples than his dismissive response to the Covid-19 pandemic and his barely noticed resumption of the federal death penalty.

And then he hammers at his point: forced-birthers must make it “abundantly clear” that Donald Trump isn’t actually their “poster boy.” In that hammering, he insists that forced-birthers conduct a crusade “centered around love.”

Say what?

Yes, because a movement with a body count and endless horror stories and atrocities sure sounds loving! But really, Donald Trump perfectly represents them — because that’s the kind of people their movement attracts.

Of Course Donald Trump Represents Them.

Out of every single politician on the planet, Donald Trump represents forced-birthers better than anybody.

Let’s round up his Greatest Hits, shall we?

And yet TRUE CHRISTIANS™ all continue to support him.

Of course they do.

He’s their people.

Utterly theirs.

Why They Support Him.

In large part, even forced-birthers who don’t like Donald Trump continue to support him.

He constantly flings their trump card at them.

OMG, y’all! They can’t vote for a (gasp! shudder!) DEMON-CRAT! Democrats support (gasp! shudder!) abortion! MUH BORSHUN! Donald Trump will give them power! He will outlaw abortion! MUH BORSHUN!

It literally doesn’t matter what the hell else Donald Trump does.

He brandishes their trump card. He plays it any chance he gets.

And in turn, they must support him. That’s exactly why political trump cards are so powerful. They easily withstand both reason and compassion. If the people using them and accepting them had reason and compassion on their side, they wouldn’t need a trump card in the first place.

The Trump Card.

Decades ago, right-wing Christians in America decided to make abortion their moral trump card. Since then, it has been used to force their flocks into cattle-cars to act and vote exactly the way their Dear Leaders desire.

Those Dear Leaders shamelessly deployed the tribe’s anti-abortion trump card. They told the flocks (implicitly or directly — in violation of the law) to hold their noses but vote for Donald Trump, because only he would conduct their crusade against human rights for them.

And as a trump card, the tribe won’t ever allow their the anti-abortion crusade to lose. It cannot be beaten by concern for rape and incest victims, nor for women who might die through their pregnancy. So it certainly won’t be beaten by women who have other concerns that forced-birther judges consider inadequate. That’s why it works so well as a trump card!

That makes this crusade fundamentally at odds with any kind of concern for human life, no matter how the crusaders disguise their agenda with claims of caring about “whole life,” as Xavier Bisits does.

And that means that the people who lead this crusade are going to be garbage fires. Period, no exceptions. But then, so are many of their followers.

Awful People Use Trump Cards.

The anti-abortion crusade, as a whole, is a horrific example of exactly what right-wing Christians create when allowed to do so.

The rank-and-file sheep in the movement largely don’t realize exactly how cruel and reptilian their leaders and most fervent brethren really are. Nor how far they’ll go to harm others in pursuit of their agenda. That doesn’t excuse anyone. It’s just reality. I mean, I sure had no idea, when I was one of them. (It sickens me now to know I ever supported these lunatics and criminals on any level at all.)

Every single time one of these wild-eyed forced-birther fanatics takes the tribe’s rhetoric too far and does something horrifying, we can count on their leaders to primly purse their lips and disavow all of their followers’ antics. In short, they use distancing tactics. They dance closely, cheek-to-cheek with murder and violence and mayhem, then declare all wide-eyed that gosh, really, they would never.

Only awful people can possibly create and then use this kind of rhetoric.

They Have NO IDEA, Y’all.

That’s what forced-birthers are doing right now with Donald Trump:

We’ve got this wonderful movement that cares only about life and love! Disregard and ignore anybody in our movement who murders people and bombs clinics and COMMITS TREASON! Don’t know how on earth they ever got the idea that this was acceptable behavior! All we’re doing is completely demonizing abortion-care providers and the women who need these services while undermining the social safety net and educational system in every way we can and hinting that anybody would be fully justified in committing crimes to end the era of legal abortion care! Gosh, we have NOOOOO IDEEEER why so many of our members turn out to be terrorists! By the way, did you know that abortion-care providers are literal demons and any woman who seeks that care is a murderess? Yeah, totally!

But really, ignore the President. You see, all of a sudden “the most pro-life president in history,” attested as such by so many forced-birthers just like us, doesn’t represent us at all!

See what I mean? Almost hilarious, if we forget that real lives get destroyed when these swivel-eyed wingnuts get their way.

But I Can Tell Them This:

In short, there’s a good reason why the “the most pro-life president in history” is someone like Donald Trump, and why it couldn’t have been someone like Jimmy Carter.

Trump perfectly represents his fans and supporters. He always has. And forced-birthers are more than welcome to him. We don’t want him. We have morals and ethics, and we actually do care about human life.

Donald Trump does not possess any of those virtues. And as such, he belongs in the forced-birthers’ tent, not ours.

Hey, maybe Trump will realize that all his pandering to forced-birthers completely failed to materialize into loyalty when he needed them in turn.

Y’all, I just hope someone gets it on camera and then releases it online. Just imagine the tantrum this overgrown-toddler throws over being the one betrayed for once, rather than the one doing the betraying. It ought to be downright epic.

After dealing with 2020 and now 2021, I think we deserve this little treat.

C’mon, Universe. Gimme. Gimme gimme.

We’ve earned this!

NEXT UP: A culture that revolves around #winning discovers that losing doesn’t come easily. See you tomorrow!

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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...

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