An open letter to the free World…

SOSbottle

Dear (free) World,

Trump and his immoral, corrupt regime do not speak for the vast majority of us here in America.  They have subverted democracy and made it difficult or impossible for us to have a voice, especially in the voting booths, since they have rigged the system so it seems only they can win.  Using machiavellian, underhanded tricks and machinations, with little to no transparency, they have succeeded in taking the reigns of power and now they have a huge advantage over the People.

I am so ashamed of our nation right now.  I am so sorry that our heartless and amoral leader has chosen the suffering and torture of innocents, the wanton destruction of the earth for personal and financial gain, and the constant lies he tells to paint over the truth.  I am sorry he does not value empathy, kindness, being a good neighbor to our allies, and being a good steward of the earth.  I am sorry he has aligned us with the cruelest and most inhumane dictatorships in the world, as he continues to cut off former ties with our true allies: other western democracies.  I am sorry he targets our most vulnerable citizens for abuse (the sick, poor, young people, People of Color, the disabled, LGBTQ, Muslims, Latin Americans, migrants who just want a chance at a good life, etc.) and hardworking Latin American citizens who are already here, who work hard and help our economy, while he continues to reward parasitic greedy billionaires and environment destroying corporations that do nothing but take, and take, and take from We the People.  We’re being extracted by these predators, and yet we are the ones who are gaslighted and blamed for being the takers, even when we’re working three jobs to survive.

We are sorry he has empowered the worst among us, people who are blinded by their hatred of others who don’t look or pray or act just like them, and others of very low character.  Please know most of us see what he is doing,  and we hate it as much as you do.   Our hearts are breaking that we can do so little, but we are still trying everything we can to fight back against the forces of evil.  It’s so hard and exhausting though, and we seem to have so few tools at our disposal.

To the rest of the free world, we are so very sorry.  This isn’t what America is really about.  We have been hijacked.

Please don’t give up on us.  We may need your help. Most of us are good people who wish this wasn’t happening.

Regards,

A Concerned Citizen

 

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Trump’s military spectacle in DC is anything but patriotic.

Jason Heuser’s illustration was meant as an ode to Trump, but actually is an accurate depiction of his narcissistic sense of grandiosity and toxic masculinity.

Trump has a funny way of taking bipartisan things that traditionally unify people and make them divisive and political — and always all about him.

Just as he has done with Christmas and football, Trump has politicized the 4th of July, by using our tax money to pay for a ridiculously expensive — and ridiculously tacky —  spectacle of power and military might complete with tanks and salutations by the various branches of our military to Dear Leader himself.    Not only that, but he has designated a VIP section just for his wealthy donors.   And just like with his endless golf trips and tax breaks for the rich, WE are paying for it. 

There is absolutely nothing patriotic or American about this disgusting spectacle making its way down Pennsylvania Avenue today.   It’s intended solely to please Trump’s base and donors.  It’s basically a very expensive rally for his reelection campaign.   It’s also meant to impress Trump’s dictator buddies like Putin and Kim Jung Un, who also hold military parades in their own countries.

When asked if the United States should have a military parade to “show off its might,” President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Absolutely not. We are the pre-eminent power on Earth. For us to try and imitate what the Soviets are doing in Red Square would make us look weak.”

Eisenhower was right.  Modern democracies and countries with real strength don’t lower themselves to putting on military parades.  These ostentatious displays are the province of two bit dictatorships and banana republics, and Trump’s military parade is an announcement to the world that the United States has become a two bit dictatorship and is using a display of military might to compensate for its growing weakness in the world.  We now have concentration camps that torture and imprison children and innocent families who try to apply for asylum.  Why not show how big and tough we are by having big ugly tanks roll down the middle of our Capital and salute Dear Leader too?

Public spectacles of military prowess are nothing more than preening displays of power by insecure and cruel leaders who use bullying, punishment, torture, and intimidation to “govern.”   They are not intended to be celebrations or patriotic traditions for all the citizens to enjoy, but are meant to intimidate and scare the populace, to show them they better not mess with Dear Leader.   That’s what Trump is doing.  This parade is also intended as a massive dose of narcissistic supply, which Trump regularly infuses himself with by holding his partisan hate rallies, among other things (like those nauseating meetings he has where his cabinet members, sitting around a long table, each have their turn to shower Trump with praise as he sits there gloating).

I know I won’t be watching Trump’s stupid narcissistic display of toxic masculinity.  I’ll stick to the Macy’s Day Parade, fireworks, and hamburgers cooked on the grill.

Happy Fourth, everyone!

 

Mr. President, I Want Out of This Abusive Relationship

This article by David M. Reiss, MD and Seth Davin Norrholm is a must read!

Mr. President, I Want Out of This Abusive Relationship!

I hate living in a country where so many people think my son is abomination who deserves to die.

prideparade

Pride Parade, New York City, 2019

Just this past week, I read this and this (a video of Fritts’ disgusting sermon calling for the execution of LGBTQ people is linked in the article, if you can stand to watch it).   I felt literally sick to my stomach after reading these articles (and watching that awful video) and almost had to vomit.

Fritts, the homophobic police officer, has since been relieved of his duties, but it’s the first article that’s really disturbing.   A group of “Christian” preachers are having a “Make America Straight Again” event in Orlando, Florida, in response to “Pride Week.”    Last I heard, free speech was still legal in America, so of course people have the right to express homophobic opinions.  But what’s really chilling is that one of the preachers leading the event is praying for violence against the LGBTQ community during their Pride events being held in the same city!   Not only that, but several of the scheduled speakers will be speaking about their belief in the mass extermination of LGBTQ people.   That sounds like something the Nazis or some of the Middle Eastern countries under Sharia Law would do.  It chills me to the bone that this sort of thing is becoming increasingly acceptable and normalized here in America.

What kind of person prays for violence or even death against a group that isn’t violent themselves, but who merely have a lifestyle some believe is sinful?   A person full of hate and violence, that’s who.  Certainly not a follower of Christ.

These are far from the only incidents of blatant homophobia infiltrating the law and politics in this country.  Like everything else that’s bad and rotten, it’s gotten worse under Trump.   He emboldens homophobia, misogyny, and racism, partly because of his hatred for these groups of people, but it’s also a big part of his efforts to appease the religious right, who apparently believe Trump is their magic genie.  They feed his massive ego by diefying him and telling him he’s anointed by God and above the law,  and he gives them what they want.   Easy peasy.   It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why Trump gives the religious right what they want, and it has nothing to do with him being somehow “God’s chosen” or caring about “morality.”   Trump’s lifestyle has been and continues to be one of the most immoral (or is it amoral?) I’ve ever seen, and he’s never shown an ounce of repentance.  He’s a hypocrite who does whatever gives him power and wealth.  The only fruit he bears is rotten.

finepeople

True morality isn’t about what women do with their bodies or what gender you’re allowed to love anyway.  It’s about the way you treat others.  I’m sure Jesus would agree.  Every day he showed the most vulnerable people and the marginalized nothing but kindness and acceptance, including the sinners.   It was the dominionists of his time — the wealthy and powerful Pharisees who demanded strict obedience in the name of God — that he condemned.

My son is gay.  He is also one of the kindest, sweetest, funniest people I have ever known.  He has brought so much joy to my life, and the lives of his friends.    He is a wonderful, talented, and intelligent human being who is empathetic,  has never hurt anyone else intentionally, and who also, like many gay people, struggled emotionally with his sexual identity before he was able to “come out.”

I don’t believe being gay is a choice.  No one just wakes up one morning and says, “Gee, I think I want to be gay” (or bi, or transgender, or what have you).  I don’t think a gay person can be “cured” any more than a tiger can change its stripes.   To think there are so many hateful people in this country — including people with enough political power to change laws — who want him dead or think he’s an abomination because of his sexual preference fills me with existential dread.   Now that these homophobic nutjobs have been emboldened by Trump’s “war on political correctness” and open hatred, and his shameless pandering to the religious right in exchange for their financial support and deification of him,  I’m actually becoming terrified for my son’s safety.

There are dominionist politicians high in government right now who are packing the courts with far right judges willy nilly, and I’m afraid they may well succeed in their efforts to turn America into a theocracy ruled by biblical (Old Testament) law (the “Christian” version of Sharia law).  I hope that if the United States continues in the dark direction it seems to be headed, my son can find a way to leave the country.  In the meantime, I pray for his safety.  America no longer feels safe.

I’m not letting Trump ruin my…er…Christmas.

Originally posted on December 17, 2017

pccard

Just like he did with the NFL by making it all about politics (you’re a traitor and a “very bad person” if you “take a knee” instead  of standing for the anthem), Trump has made Christmas a political issue.  Football and Christmas:  two traditions that bring people joy and bring them together regardless of ideology, have now been tainted by Trump turning them into divisive political issues, and that’s a damn shame.

What sane person cares if people say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?  I sure don’t.  It’s trivial and dumb.  Trump’s belief that there’s a “war on Christmas” is just so stupid and wrong, because there was never a war on Christmas.   For as long as I can remember — and that’s a very long time — people have said “Happy Holidays,” a phrase that’s meant to be inclusive and respectful of people who may celebrate Hanukkah or other December holidays.   It’s not a diss on Christmas or Christians, and it’s not anything new either.   Heck, back in the ’60s, my parents used to send out cards that said “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” because they had a lot of Jewish friends and didn’t want to offend them.   No one was offended.  It just wasn’t an issue for anyone.

Trump loves to rail on about political correctness, but he’s a hypocrite because he’s the one getting all bent out of shape about whether people say “Merry Christmas” or not.

Even worse,  now he’s ruined Christmas for a lot of folks by making it political, when it should be anything but.   I’ve heard so many people say they’re afraid to say “Happy Holidays” now because they’re afraid they’ll be perceived by Trump supporters as being rebellious or subversive.  Other people have said they’re afraid to say “Merry Christmas” because they might be mistaken for Trump supporters.

I’m not letting that apricot menace ruin my Christmas.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, everyone!

*****

Further reading:

10 Reasons Why the “War on Christmas” is Bogus 

Football and Christmas: How Trump is Destroying Two American Traditions

Hypermasculinity and Trumpism.

hypermasculinity

Credit: N/A

I’ve been noticing a huge and (to me) obvious difference between Trump supporters and those who oppose him.  Much has been said about the tendency of Trump supporters to have more authoritarian personalities than the norm, and that is true, but why is authoritarianism so attractive to them?  Why do they hate democracy?  Don’t they want to think for themselves?  Don’t they want to live in a free and inclusive society that values empathy for others and the Golden Rule (which we were all taught in kindergarten)?

The other day I was following a Twitter convo between some Trump supporters talking about Matt Whitaker, Trump’s new Acting Attorney General.  They were all talking about how Whitaker looked like a guy who wouldn’t take crap from anyone, and would rule with an iron fist. They admired Whitaker’s pumped up, hypermasculine physique, his cold, expressionless features, and were almost reverently comparing him to Mr. Clean (who would, of course, clean up “the swamp”).

The kind of people I observed conversing on Twitter, like all Trump admirers, don’t seem to care about the lack of checks and balances and the deep corruption in Trump’s administration.  In fact, they love the idea of Trump having as much power as he desires (which is unlimited as his need for power and adulation is insatiable), so he can push through his cruel and destructive agenda.  In Whitaker they see a tough, merciless enforcer. And yes, they actually used the word “enforcer.”

This same group was making fun of Rod Rosenstein, Jeff Sessions’ deputy Attorney General (who seems to have been demoted since Sessions was fired and Whitaker came on the scene) for his “girlish, wimpy” appearance.  One of the group even posted a meme of Rosenstein as a 90 lb weakling getting sand kicked in his face by (you guessed it) an exaggeratedly muscled Whitaker who looked like he was pumped up on massive doses of steroids.  This group was not all males.  In fact the person who posted the meme was a woman.

proudboys

Far right paramilitary groups like the Proud Boys embody Trumpist hypermasculinity.

Trump supporters see the exaggerated stereotype of the “macho man” as what a “real” man should be.  Someone like Rosenstein (or any man who believes in doing the right thing, has empathy or humility, or who opposes Trump for lacking those qualities), they see as weak and  feminine, an affront to patriarchy.   Trump supporters believe a real man shows no “soft” emotions, never apologizes, is never at fault (or at least never admits fault), can break the law or do cruel things to other people as long as they get away with it or it’s a means to an end they believe is “good,” and dominates everyone who they perceive as beneath them, which is just about everyone.

In a leader, Trump supporters regard “soft” traits such as empathy or mercy, as undesirable because they are stereotypically “womanly” traits, and women are believed to be inferior to men.  I suspect most Trumpers had authoritarian fathers who demanded girls act like girls and boys act like boys.  That would explain Trump/Whitaker’s appeal among right wing evangelicals, who celebrate authoritarianism and patriarchy.   This same mindset also explains the hard right’s obsession with guns, and the primacy of the Second Amendment over all other rights bestowed to Americans in the Bill of Rights and Constitution.

Trump supporters seem to find nothing wrong with Trump’s bullying, cruel insults and namecalling and in fact seem to think it’s a plus.   Yesterday, in one of his increasingly unhinged tweets, Trump deliberately mangled Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) last name into a profanity (no need to repeat the word since I think it’s pretty obvious).   Another Trump fan tweeted this in response:

Some might say this isn’t becoming of a President. That’s ok…I didn’t vote for him because of his impeccable decorum skills. Give me a Commander in Chief that cuts thru the bull, gets things done, has a backbone, is a Patriot thru and thru, & actually keeps his word anyday [sic].

You’re not imagining things.  Trump’s followers are actually praising Trump for his puerile butchering of Schiff’s last name. They find ways to spin his worst traits and most immature, childish, and cruel actions and statements into actual virtues and good deeds.  It’s really rather remarkable the way they can so glibly make excuses for his worst behaviors.

My conclusion is this:  the values of Trump supporters involve a deep admiration, even worship, of “strongmen” figures:  hypermasculine, even abusive, men; physically pumped up, emotionless, violent, without mercy, dictatorial, punishing, and bullying.  They don’t want a president of the people, a president who brings us together as Americans;  they want a president who “sticks it to the libs” and others they don’t like. Trump shares their hates and fears, and they love him for it, even if he destroys the country we all share in the process.

“Republican Jesus.”

republicanjesus

Related to the above, I’ve often seen Trump supporting evangelicals talk about “Christ as a warrior,” rather than a compassionate friend. The “Republican Jesus” memes are, unfortunately, not exaggerations.  Dominionist and far right evangelicals depict Jesus Christ not as a loving figure of grace and forgiveness, but as an angry warrior out to avenge sin using the most terrifying and violent methods imaginable.  He is especially enraged by sexual sins like abortion and homosexuality (strangely, rape and adultery don’t seem to be issues, given “chosen one” Trump’s immoral sexual behavior and failure to repent or humble himself before God).  Of course, the sins of greed, wrath, exploitation, cruelty and indifference to the “least of these,” destruction of the earth, and bearing false witness are all considered fine since they are just a means to an end (establishing God’s kingdom on earth, a heretical teaching which doesn’t even appear in the Bible they’re always thumping).

Their hyper-Calvinist God favors his “elect” who apparently can do no wrong, and as a reward, he showers them with wealth and power.   For the rest of us, God exists only to mete out punishment and condemn us to eternal hellfire.   Even Jesus is seen as a violent, warlike, avenging figure, and this explains extremist evangelicals’ infatuation with Old Testament legalism and punishment over the Gospels.   The caring, compassionate Jesus of the New Testament isn’t an appealing figure for them.  A few weeks ago, at a “Religious Liberty” meeting full of extremist evangelical Republicans, a Christian preacher was taken out in handcuffs for quoting New Testament scripture (specifically, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ most important and famous sermon).

Trump supporting evangelicals believe both Trump and Whitaker were sent by God to do his holy bidding (at least according to the group I observed on Twitter, who said they believed Whitaker, like Trump, was anointed by God).  The goal is to destroy all of “the liberal establishment” and by logical progression, all liberals (who I think are hated not so much because of what they believe, but because they are associated with softness and all traits they regard as “feminine” and also include a great many more women leaders and nonwhite people).

5 Essentials for Defeating Trump.

Here’s an extremely sobering article about the Trump regime’s true diabolical agenda: an unholy merging of white male privilege and authoritarian religion disguised as evangelical Christianity (also known as Dominionism).   What this regime isn’t telling anyone is they are working in the shadows toward an intolerant, legally enforced, violent, misogynistic theocracy very similar to radical Islam in everything but the specific religion it’s using to disguise itself.  In fact, this movement isn’t a true religion at all; it’s a religious cover for a fascist political agenda, and is the opposite of anything Christ ever stood for.

Dominionist Christianity is an unholy mix of the prosperity gospel and forced sexual conformity (especially for women).  It tends to attract the selfish and the uncompassionate; the smug, self righteous, and sanctimonious; the greedy, the abusive, the sociopathic, and those who need, due to their own narcissism, to feel superior to others based on their white heritage, their false piety, or their personal wealth.

Qualities like compassion and empathy are seen as weaknesses that need to be eliminated.   Financial wealth and the power that comes with that is seen as the only true measure of God’s approval.   Misfortune, illness, and poverty is inflicted only on those who God does not approve of.    Human beings are regarded as useful objects to achieve one’s aims or exploit for financial gain, rather than as individuals with needs (slavery is acceptable).   The desire for human rights and to be treated with dignity are considered to be the work of Satan.  The end always justifies the means, so evil acts and cruelty are all acceptable as long as they help to bring about the endgame, which is a theocracy based on Old Testament Law and unfettered (unregulated) capitalism where the wealthy and privileged can rule like feudal kings over the hordes of serfs and slaves under their rule.  Adherents believe God has given certain people (modern day prophets and apostles) license to force their will on others to achieve the movement’s agenda.   Dominionist Christianity is a sociopathic, violent, religiopolitical movement and is eating America like metastatic cancer.

I have already written a number of posts about dominionism, so I won’t list sources here, but a quick Google search will direct you to them. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s absolutely real.

Trump is the key this Christofascist movement is using to open the Pandora’s box of horror and suffering they have kept under wraps for years and are just now beginning to unleash in all its ugliness and hypocrisy, the intention being to inflict it on anyone who can’t or won’t conform.   Many Trump supporters aren’t aware of the regime’s real agenda,  and can’t be convinced they have become part of a cult of personality that in many cases, will do them or their loved ones harm or even kill them.   But as in Hitler’s Germany, by the time they finally realize the danger they are in, it will be too late.

Trump, though apparently not religious himself (and definitely unrepentant of his past sins) is helping this diabolical movement realize their fascist agenda (which is why its adherents insist he is anointed by God) in return for their support of him. That’s why there are so many dominionists in his cabinet and why they seem to think of Trump as a kind of savior.

To save America and the world (because it’s their intention to eventually take over the planet), their dark agenda must be exposed and brought into the light.  Author Chris Kratzer outlines how this can be done in this terrifying (but also hopeful) article.

5 Essentials for Defeating Trump 

 

On John McCain’s legacy.

johnmccainyoung

In spite of my earlier post, I did start watching some of the highlights from John McCain’s funeral proceedings today.   It’s important that I did, and I’m glad I did, and do you know why?

Here in the Upside Down — in post-trump bizarro world (the lower case t is intentional) — I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face over a man I did not vote for, whose party and politics I never supported, and it feels very cleansing.  Weird.

Why I resist.

makeamericakindagain

Some people have asked me why I resist Donald Trump.

There are many reasons.  Perhaps the two most important ones are these:

I resist so my adult daughter can enjoy the same freedoms women have for the past 45 years and not have to go back to a time when they did not.  Even if you don’t believe in abortion (which is perfectly fine), it’s not the government’s job to decide what a woman can and cannot do with her body.   That’s up to her and her doctor (and perhaps her husband and/or church should have a say IF she’s conservative).   I also worry about governmental attempts to restrict access to birth control and contaception education (both which prevent abortion).

I resist so my gay son can love who he chooses and not be persecuted or discriminated against for that.

But there are other reasons why I resist too:

I resist so future generations (including my descendants, if there are any) can enjoy a safe environment and clean air and water.

I resist so we don’t lose our right to speak our mind and feelings freely without fear of censorship or punishment.

I resist so migrant children and babies aren’t separated from their mothers and fathers and put into cages and abused both physically and emotionally.

I resist because I believe healthcare is a right and not a privilege.

I resist because I hate racism, sexism and any other form of making others “less” for things they have no control over.

I resist because I hate the culture of cruelty and exclusion this administration is encouraging and enabling.

I resist because I don’t believe criminals, sociopaths, malignant narcissists, abusers, hypocrites, greedy Ayn Rand worshipping assholes, white supremacists, religious extremists, and Russian traitors should be running our government.

I resist because I think science is important and takes precedence over religion in matters that affect Americans’ health and wellbeing.

I resist because every working American deserves fair treatment and a wage they can actually live on.

I resist because religion and government should never be merged.  Every time in history and in every country religion and government become intertwined, it always leads to violence, fear and hate, terrible suffering, and war.   You are free to be as religious as you want to be, and you are free to share your beliefs with others, but you are not free to impose your religious beliefs on others who disagree with you.

I resist because I hate fascism, authoritarianism, and extremism of any kind.  Donald Trump checks every box for fascist/authoritarian traits.

I resist because I believe empathy and kindness are important in our leaders, and Donald Trump and his regime have shown absolutely no empathy or kindness.

I resist because I believe a good leader attempts to bring people together, not divide them and tear them apart.

I resist because a good leader cares about ALL Americans, not just their own base (actually, Trump doesn’t even care about them, they are just useful to him.  Being the malignant narcissist he is, all he cares about is himself).

I resist because bullying and good leadership do not go together.  Ever.

I resist because I believe humility and the ability to admit when you’ve made a mistake is important in our leaders, and Donald Trump and his regime have shown no ability to ever own or take responsibility for their mistakes, or for their cruel and deliberate actions.

I resist because I believe the vulnerable (poor, elderly, children, women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ, disabled, sick, etc.) should be cared for and listened to, not silenced, demonized, and treated like lesser beings.

I resist because I believe every child has the right to a free quality public education.  If you don’t like public schools, you are free to send your child to a private or religious one (or homeschool your child, though personally I think there should be certain standards for that), but you are not free to restrict other people’s children from being able to access an education.

I resist because I believe the wealthy and corporations should pay higher taxes for the greater good.  In every moral and civilized society, that is the way things work, and that is the way things used to work here too.   Greed and the lust for power has destroyed all that.

I resist because I believe the Second Amendment must be tempered with good old fashioned common sense, and that means background checks and age restrictions on gun ownership.   We are not living in the Wild West.

I resist because the President is not immune to the rule of law, and our system of checks and balances should be functional, not complicit and enabling of his unethical and extremist behavior.

I resist because a free press is vital to democracy, and Trump is trying his damndest to demonize any press that is critical of him, while glorifying “news” outlets that do nothing but lie and spread pro-Trump propaganda

I resist because I don’t like the values Trumpism promotes: wealth and power reign supreme,  “might makes right,” toxic masculinity, nationalism and white supremacy, disdain for empathy and other “feminine virtues” as weakness, etc.

I resist because I used to feel safe in my country, but no longer do.

I resist because we are stronger and safer when we work with our allies, not against them.

I resist because I believe in democracy, not fascism.

I resist because I believe in truth, not lies.

I resist because Donald Trump is a terrible example for our children.

I resist because I believe in America, not One Party Rule or a “Cult of Personality.”

I resist because I believe that’s what the real Jesus would do.

Redefining freedom.

 

orwell_words

Despots and dictators throughout history know how powerful language can be, and they know that by changing the definitions of words, without people realizing it, they can change the way people think and what they believe.   Without language and the words that comprise it, propaganda and revisionist history (changing commonly held historical beliefs in order to fit a desired political or religious narrative) would become impossible, or at least a lot more difficult.

George Orwell described the insidious process of changing the meanings of words in order to change public attitudes in his classic dystopian novel, “1984.”    He called this process “Newspeak.”   It is a form of mind control commonly used by cult leaders and dictators to get people to abandon their previous ways of thinking and accept a lie as the truth (repetition of the lie is another way they get people to accept it).    Sometimes the lie they push may be an actual reversal of a previously held truth.   We can see this phenomenon today in many of extremist evangelical and fundamentalist churches, who now say that ripping migrant children away from their parents or taking away people’s healthcare is “Christian” even though Jesus would be appalled by these things.

“Freedom” (and its synonym “liberty”) is probably the word that comes to my mind first when I think about the ways language is used as propaganda.    It appears in both religious and political rhetoric.  In right wing extremism, the definition of “freedom” or “liberty” has become almost the reverse of what its commonly-held definition is.  Here is the complete dictionary definition:

the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
“we do have some freedom of choice”
  • absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
    “he was a champion of Irish freedom”
    synonyms: independenceself-governmentself-determinationself-rulehome rulesovereignty, nonalignment, autonomy;

    democracy
    “revolution was the only path to freedom”
    antonyms: dependence
  • the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
    “the shark thrashed its way to freedom”
    synonyms: libertyliberationreleasedeliverancedeliverydischargeMore

    antonyms: captivity
  • the state of being physically unrestricted and able to move easily.
    “the shorts have a side split for freedom of movement”
  • the state of not being subject to or affected by (a particular undesirable thing).
    noun: freedom from; plural noun: freedom froms
    “government policies to achieve freedom from want”
    synonyms: exemptionimmunitydispensation;

    impunity
    “freedom from local political accountability”
    antonyms: liability
  • the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity.
    synonyms: rightentitlementprivilegeprerogativeMore

    antonyms: restriction
  • unrestricted use of something.
    “the dog is happy having the freedom of the house when we are out”
  • archaic
    familiarity or openness in speech or behavior.

 

Most of us agree with this definition.  We think of freedom as a concept that allows all Americans individual liberty and the ability to make their own life choices.   It is the absence of oppression.   When we think of freedom, we aren’t worrying things that benefit everyone, such as healthcare or public education, might be potentially oppressive (because of higher taxes necessary to have those things).  I think most of us would say that a person who doesn’t need to worry about going bankrupt or dying should he become sick or injured is more free than someone who can’t afford necessary surgery and loses his home trying to pay for it, or even his life.  A person who can take time off from their job to recover from their illness is more free than someone who is forced to work even when they are ill because their wages are too low to allow them to take time off.

Back during the time of Lyndon Johnson and his “War on Poverty,” this was generally understood.  Empathy still existed within high levels of government and in both parties.  Measures were taken to alleviate poverty, one of the most oppressive and limiting things a human being can experience.   An impoverished person is not a free person. Poor people spend so much time just trying to survive they cannot reach their full potential.   Rich people and corporations paying more in taxes was seen as the right thing to do for society at large and for the greater good, not as a form of robbery or wealth redistribution (this phrase is a common dog whistle used by the right to manipulate attitudes to get people believing the wealthy are the real victims).   Eventually, the commonly perceived causes of poverty shifted from the society to the individual.  Personal responsibility became another dog whistle used by conservatives to influence public attitudes and make people begin to perceive poverty as a personal weakness rather than an affliction.

“I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it.” — Paul Ryan

 

Over the past few decades, especially since Reagan’s election in 1980, the definition of freedom has been co-opted by the right.  They whine that environmental regulations and higher taxes are a form of tyranny by the majority that limits the freedom of the wealthy and corporate elite to do exactly what they want and suffer no consequences.   To suggest they should contribute to the common good through a higher tax rate or not gut laws that protect human health and wellbeing is to restrict their freedom — which is really the freedom to exploit their workers, not pay them a fair wage, deny them a safety net, and destroy the planet.    In Trump’s America, freedom is no longer freedom of the people, it is freedom of the minority (the wealthy elite) to oppress the majority.

In redefining freedom, the word democracy itself underwent a transformation from government by the people for the people, to tyranny of the majority (where the wealthy and powerful are perceived as superior and therefore naturally entitled to take whatever they want with no accountability).  The term democracy, at least in the circles of greatest power and influence right now, has become a pejorative — something bad worthy of destruction.

Religious freedom.

Similarly, religious freedom or religious liberty has also been redefined.    Most people would agree that religious freedom in America means the right to worship the way you choose — or to not worship at all.  The separation of church and state was one of the key elements the Founding Fathers wrote into the Constitution, knowing that mixing religion and government not only doesn’t work, it’s extremely dangerous and has always led to wars, oppression, and violence.    We can see this today in Middle Eastern countries where Islam is the state religion and is written into their laws.  These countries are constantly at war, including civil war.   Violence and terrorism is rampant and women, children and minority groups are victimized every day by the harshness of Sharia law.

In the early days of America, before the Constitution was written,  there were pockets of religious intolerance, most infamously seen in the Salem Witch Trials.   Other groups of colonists came here as a way to escape religious persecution in their home countries.  They came here to be free to worship the way they chose.

The Founding Fathers, while they might have been religious personally, were influenced by the Enlightenment and the primacy of reason and openmindedness over medieval superstition and intolerance.  America was founded as a secular, not as a “Christian nation” or saddled by any other “state religion.”  While Christianity is the most common religion found in America, to declare it as a state religion would automatically make anyone who wasn’t Christian — or even not the right kind of Christian — a second class citizen.  The Founding Fathers knew this, and that’s why they rejected the idea of a state religion.

Far right extremist evangelicals have been busy writing revisionist history,  insisting that America was founded as a Christian nation, and that the Constitution was divinely  inspired and never meant to be secular.   Some go even further than that.  Dominionists and reconstructionists actually want the Constitution rewritten and replaced with Old Testament Law.   If that were to actually happen, living in America — especially for vulnerable groups such as women and gays — would be no different than living in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.

Yet Christian extremists say that imposing biblical law on everyone through the government is actually religious freedom!   By their logic,  if Christianity were enforced, you would become free of the temptation to sin.   Knowing that sinning might result in draconian punishment or even execution, you would not sin — and therefore be more pleasing to God.   Extremist Christians whine that they are persecuted not because they actually are, but because they are not allowed to discriminate (or oppress!) based on sexual orientation, gender, or religion.  In Trump’s America, the definition of religious freedom has transformed  from the right to worship as you choose to the right to inflict my religious beliefs on you.

I can’t think of anything more un-Christian or unloving.   If you believe in God, why wouldn’t he want you to have free will and choose to worship him?   Forced religion isn’t a sincere declaration of faith, it’s spiritual terrorism.   It’s a way to control and oppress people.  It uses fear of punishment rather than the promise of love as a motivator.   I doubt God wants his people to worship him or behave a certain way only because they’re afraid of the consequences if they don’t.    I believe we were given free will and that it ought to be respected.  That means leaving religion out of government and its laws.    Nothing good has ever or will ever come of it.   It is religious fascism.

There are other words and phrases that have been redefined by the far right, but freedom is one of the most pervasive and common.   We need to become aware of this and other words that are being redefined by extremists as a means of mind control and propaganda to change our thinking patterns.  Critical thinking is necessary to make the distinction, and this is why education (and science) is so maligned by political extremists and fascist groups (including extremist religious groups).