The modern conservative movement officially looks like that Three Stooges short in which Moe, Larry and Curly try to fix the plumbing. The modern right-wing has attained new heights of clownishness — it’s utterly clueless, rudderless and disconnected with both reality and basic rationality. And the movement has Erick Erickson to thank for its arrival at this level of total incompetence and backwards, archaic incoherence.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about Erickson, a Fox News and Red State right-wing screecher, and his twisted appearance on Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business Channel show (yes, Dobbs and his unwieldy gigantic teeth are still on television) when he attempted to justify with “science” the commonly held far-right idea that a woman’s place is in the home and “bringing home the bacon” is a purely a man’s job. Not only that but Erickson also tried to say that working moms are “anti-science” and damaging to families. Erickson used scientific suppositions ostensibly yanked from his squinty bunghole to illustrate how throughout the animal kingdom and the history of humanity, men have been the dominant gender, and it’s worked out pretty well, so let’s keep going with it.
Predictably, Erickson was very, very wrong in terms of both his so-called science and his overarching support of male dominance. But we know this. What’s not entirely evident is how this cuts to the core of why the modern American conservative movement is so detached from what reasonable people consider to be reality.
Specifically, conservatives only cite empirical evidence when it suits their upside-down worldview, as Erickson flailingly tried to do on the Dobbs show. And, worse, whenever they try to incorporate science, they get it entirely wrong. Almost always. Fortunately, on Megyn Kelly’s show the next day, she revealed actual scientific studies to Erickson and Dobbs, and, in classic modern conservative form, Erickson tried to discredit Kelly’s scientific evidence as having a political, liberal bias.
Are you following the logic here? Erickson bungled the science regarding animal and human gender roles, then, when confronted with actual science, denied the validity of the actual science, while, on Red State, he whined about opponents calling him on his horseshit. This is absolutely a microcosmic example of everything that’s wrong and terrible about modern conservatism: Bullshit science is real and real science is bullshit.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that even though there isn’t any real science to back up Erickson’s cave-man misogyny, there’s ample biblical evidence to support it. On his radio show, Bryan Fischer from the American Family Association backed up Erickson’s claims:
“From a biblical standpoint, men are designed to be the bread-winner of their families. That’s the way God set it up. That’s the way he designed it. Husbands are to use their stamina and their strength and their brain power — not that they’re smarter than women, I’m not saying that — but God’s given them a brain and the purpose for using their mental ability is to provide for their families, to use their physical strength to work hard, to work long hours, to use their physical strength to protect their wives, to protect their children and be providers.”
Evidently, men can also use their physical stamina to churn out run-on sentences of ersatz gibberish.
So it appears as if Erickson’s use of science is likely just a hamfisted attempt to blur the line between science and mythology/religion — not unlike those awful shows on History Channel in which they seek out scientific evidence of Noah’s Ark. By doing so, religion and science intentionally overlap, thus undermining science, and, as Fischer shoehorned into his rant, we arrive at intelligent design — the ultimate blurring of the wall between science and faith and the back-door infiltration of creationism into schools and elsewhere. Worse, this “design” involves male dominance over women, not unlike the way the Bible has been used to justify white Christian male domination over, well, everything including slaves, women, other religions and ultimately dominion over the planet itself (Genesis 1:26, 28).
And what have men done historically with this providential capacity? In a broad historical sense, men are genocidal, entitled megalomaniacs responsible for just about every destructive thing in the world — ever. Throughout history, white Christian men have exploited the Bible’s authority (surprise: it was written by men!) as carte blanche to justify the oppression and subjugation of not only women, but also ethnic and racial minorities, not to mention thousands of years of catastrophic bellicosity. Male dominion has literally brought the species to the brink annihilation on several occasions because we refused to cede power to anyone else. Good job, men! The horrors that have been perpetrated at the hands of male self-superiority continue today and will surely echo deep into the future regardless of what societal changes are in progress now. As Louis CK said in his most recent special, “There is no greater threat to women than men. We’re the number one threat — to women! Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women. We’re the worst thing that ever happens to them. That’s true! You know what our number one threat is? Heart disease.”
Consequently, I strongly believe that men have forfeited any right to be taken seriously when it comes to grievances about feminism, civil rights, equality and so forth.
Not only was it laughable to hear, but it’s inherently dangerous for Erickson and Dobbs and the modern conservative movement to sustain and cultivate these ideas in the name of their pathetic bumper-sticker agenda. It’s dangerous for the movement itself as it systematically paints itself into a demographic corner (I don’t mind this so much), but it’s also dangerous for the people who too often fall victim to this horrendous worldview.
Adding… Dovetailing with the Erickson stuff, the great Jean Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker on All in the Family, died over the weekend. Edith was the dutiful, nurturing, submissive wife to Archie Bunker’s domineering alpha-male conservative doofus. The dynamic between Edith and Archie, as well as the general intent of the show, was aimed at satirizing white male conservatism in the 1970s — and it still holds up today as, sadly, we’re having many of the same debates that appeared on the show nearly 40 years ago. This scene is particularly appropriate: