Republican officials nationwide are now openly appealing to groups with a track record of advocating for policies based on misogyny, racism, and fundamentalist theocracy.
Rep. Issa’s hanging with the eugenics crowd. Atty General Sessions gave a secret address to the “Summit on Religious Liberty” at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.
Education Secretary DeVos is meeting with so-called men’s rights groups–including the San Diego-based National Coalition for Men (NCFM)– and accused rapists as part of her consultations on campus sexual assault.
On the state level, Republicans are introducing unconstitutional and discriminatory “anti-Sharia,” “anti-foreign law” and “anti-Islamic Indoctrination” bills in legislatures nationwide.
Politico reports Trump aide Stephen Miller is drafting legislation with GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia implementing a 50% reduction in the number of legal immigrants entering the country annually by 2027.
….And that’s just the stuff I’ve seen in the last 24 hours.
Forty years ago, I came to the West Coast in the middle of the Summer of Love. It was a special time, one filled with possibilities, even if they were only aspirational. (BTW- Frank Gormlie at the OB Rag is collecting memories from those days.)
Now I’m sad to have to write about the Republicans’ Summer of Hate, featuring misogyny, racism, and a loathing for anybody considered not pure enough to Make America Great Again.
— AM 760 KFMB (@760kfmb) June 28, 2017
Congressman Darrell Issa recently joined with anti-immigrant cohorts Lou Barletta, Louie Gohmert, and Steve King, participating in the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event at Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.
From the Escondido Grapevine: (Emphasis mine)
The event included 60 right-wing radio hosts, including Bret Winterble, who hosts a talk show on AM 760 KFMB. Winterble interviewed Issa at the conference at 3:20 p.m. during the opening session Wednesday, June 28.
Winterble’s interview subject immediately preceding Issa? That would be Robert Spencer, identified as director of the infamous Muslim-bashing Jihad Watch website by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
FAIR is widely considered to be a hate group by civil rights organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center. Its ties to white nationalism and eugenics have been extensively documented by the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
The Department of Justice has declined requests from CNN and other news organizations for a transcript of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Tuesday night address at the “Summit on Religious Liberty” hosted by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
ADF is the largest of the religious right organizations battling LGBT and reproductive rights around the world.
The Dana Point gathering wasn’t publicly announced, and the secrecy surrounding Sessions speech has drawn fire from advocacy organizations.
UPDATE: A transcript of Sessions’ speech was given by the Justice Department to the ultra-conservative Federalist website. I’m guessing this is yet another indication that freedom of the press will be determined by political leanings in the future by this administration.
From ABC News:
In the remarks, as published by The Federalist on Thursday, Sessions praised the group for its “important work” made necessary by a “changing cultural climate” that has put the “future of religious liberty” in doubt.
“The cultural climate has become less hospitable to people of faith and to religious belief,” Sessions said. “And in recent years, many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack. This feeling is understandable.”
Sessions told his audience that his office, at the behest of President Donald Trump, will be issuing new guidance on how to interpret and apply federal religious liberty protections, suggesting that the U.S. government could change the way it considers cases dealing with the separation of church and state.
“ADF is the most extreme anti-gay legal organization — so extreme that it does not concede even that gay or transgender people should be permitted to exist as such,” said Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “They are a truly destructive force in our country, and it is appalling that the attorney general of the United States would lend them the imprimatur of his office.”
Several other LGBTQ advocates said they were particularly troubled by the decision to keep Sessions’ remarks private.
“The attorney general has every right to speak to a group like Alliance Defending Freedom,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director of Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights group promoting LGBTQ equality. “What troubles us is that his remarks are being kept hidden from the public at the same time he has been tasked by the President with issuing religious discrimination policies that ADF has long promoted.”
The ADF has moved from a defensive posture to a full court press on its issues since the general election.
From the Daily Beast:
But the ADF is no fringe hate group—it is something much worse, a $35 million organization with a global footprint. It has enormous influence within the Trump–Pence inner circle. And together with Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation, and the National Organization for Marriage, the ADF is leading the movement to redefine “religious liberty” as including the right to discriminate against other people.
Turn over any rock on that path, and you’ll find the ADF crawling there. The repeal of Houston’s equal rights ordinance, successfully branded as a “bathroom bill.” Hobby Lobby. Religious Freedom Restoration Acts around the country. All of these efforts, and many more like them, were led by individuals with ties to ADF.
In both 2015 and 2016, over 100 anti-LGBT bills were introduced in state legislatures across the country. And that was they called a ‘defensive posture.’
Education Secretary Betsy Devos has invited representatives of groups with histories of intimidating rape survivors and dismissing domestic abuse against women, to weigh in policies protecting sexual assault survivors on college campuses.
One group, according to the Daily Beast, will bring along two men who say they were falsely accused of sexual assault.
Suspicions about Devos’ intentions and the possibility of retracting the 2011 expanded guidance on Title IX have grown since Candice Jackson, who previously called women who accused Trump of sexual assault during the campaign “fake victims,” as acting assistant secretary of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. That office oversees investigations into how universities handle campus rape.
The San Diego-based National Coalition for Men is among the groups meeting with the Education Secretary.
From Think Progress:
In 2012, the group supported the Republican House version of the Violence Against Women Act, which removed protections for LGBTQ people in crisis centers. The group has been very litigious when it notices events specifically designated as for women. Its members sued a strip club for letting women in for free during its “ladies night” and sued a company called Chic CEO for not letting men into a women’s networking event.
Harry Crouch, president of National Coalition for Men, has also vocally blamed survivors for the abuse they faced. In a 2014 interview with Pacific Standard, Crouch defended Ray Rice, a former football player, who was indicted in 2014 on third-degree aggravated assault for an incident involving his then fiancee. “I’m not saying he’s a good guy,” Crouch said. “But if she hadn’t aggravated him, she wouldn’t have been hit. They would say that’s blaming the victim. But I don’t buy it.”
More than 100 survivors of sexual assault signed an op-ed published in Teen Vogue, holding Devos accountable for her role in enforcing Title IX protections.
We do not simply represent the failures of the very institutions that are supposed to help us, but the need for strong and clear enforcement of Title IX.
After we shared our most painful personal stories loudly and clearly, the U.S. Department of Education and the White House reminded universities of their responsibilities under Title IX. The guidance, known as the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, was clear: Universities have a legal responsibility to protect their students from gender discrimination, rather than universities protecting their own triple bottom line, often at the survivor’s expense. Accommodations and protections clarified in the guidance enabled many of us to complete our education. It gave us hope for the survivors who would come after us.
Our hope may have been premature. At every turn, Betsy DeVos has refused to committo enforcing Title IX. This reluctance is escalating into a full-blown threat to future enforcement of Title IX. The administration already egregiously overturned 2016 guidance that protected transgender students from Title IX violations. Now the administration has signaled that it is seriously considering further dismantling protections for survivors of sexual violence by weakening the oversight and enforcement mechanisms of the federal government — enforcement that many vulnerable students and survivors need.
Post Script from yesterday’s column:
16 million people had problems voting in 2016 according to new MIT study. That’s 12% of electorate. Trump won by 80,000 votes in 3 states pic.twitter.com/3Mhfjsvllo
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) July 12, 2017
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