In the past week, as we’ve continued perusing Breitbart and other right-wing media outlets so you don’t have to, some of the things we’ve seen aren’t surprising — they love Donald Trump’s immigration restrictions (now stayed by a federal judge) and his Supreme Court nominee, and they don't believe he's truly anti-LGBT. However, a particularly eyebrow-raising bit of information was the assertion that the protests against Trump aren’t volunteer-driven — the protesters are being paid by George Soros.
This isn’t an entirely new claim — Soros, who made a huge fortune as a hedge fund manager and is known to donate to liberal causes, has long been one of the far right’s bêtes noires, and there have been several debunked assertions about him funding protests. But just this past week, no less than a U.S. congressman made the claim on the Breitbart News Daily radio program and went unchallenged.
That congressman is Louie Gohmert of Texas, who is well known for his crazy talk, such as his statement that gay men make ineffective soldiers because they’re getting massages from their lovers all day. But Breitbart and its ilk treat him as a serious person.
“This is fake news,” he said of the protests against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. “This is people who are just out there to create the appearance of obstruction. You know, Patrick Poole, remember back in one of the demonstrations on the Mall, caught one of the guys: ‘Hey, how much are you getting paid?’ He said, ‘$15 an hour. I thought everybody was getting that.’ They’re getting paid. The Soros money gets spread around. And actually, unfortunately, sometimes it’s our own government money that’s funding some of the obstructionism. But we have got to see this country through this and get Gorsuch confirmed so that this country will go on and still have a chance to survive, with our freedom intact.”
Poole, by the way, is a conspiracy-minded blogger who regularly rails against “radical Islam.” It’s not clear what protest on the National Mall Gohmert is referencing, but several right-wingers have asserted that Soros funded the Women’s March on Washington and paid its participants — something the fact-checking site PolitiFact rated “Pants on Fire.”
Another who gets a platform on Breitbart is Ann Coulter. Many media outlets stopped featuring her in the past few years as her statements became increasingly outrageous, but Breitbart loves her. And she loves Donald Trump.
“I give him an A+++,” she told Breitbart News Daily host Alex Marlow Friday, assessing Trump’s first two weeks as president. She further noted, “It’s Christmas every morning” for Trump supporters.
She particularly praised Trump’s executive order banning entry to the U.S. by residents of seven majority-Muslim countries, and his ban on refugees in general. “And as I wrote in my column in Breitbart, it’s not just that we’re worried they’re going to shoot up a gay nightclub or a community center in San Bernardino, the Boston Marathon, Fort Hood, 9/11 — that isn’t the only purpose to this,” she said. “What’s the upside? We keep bringing in all of these elderly, sickly poor people. They aren’t fleeing anything except not as good or free health care in Yemen as in America. We have our own poor people. We have our own elderly.”
Well, so much for “Give me your tired, your poor,” plus Coulter doesn’t generally express much concern about impoverished American citizens. And several studies have indicated that neither legal nor undocumented immigrants are a drain on social services. Check out The New Republic’s analysis here. And, of course, some of the attacks she cited were committed by people born in the U.S. (Surprisingly, she did not mention the Bowling Green Massacre.) But misleading rhetoric like Coulter’s is exactly what builds support for Trump’s xenophobic policies.
We’ve been reporting a lot on the past week on potential Trump executive orders affecting LGBT people. First there were rumors that he would undo President Obama’s executive order prohibiting companies with federal contracts from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He then announced he would not, a decision that was reportedly influenced by daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner — although they are hardly real allies of LGBT people.
Some on the far right were not pleased with Trump’s decision. Among them was Alan Keyes, who worked in the Reagan administration and has sought the presidency, both as a Republican and as a member of minor parties.
Keyes’s column on WorldNetDaily, a website that publishes mostly ultraconservative views, claims protection from anti-LGBT discrimination is not an unalienable right. The reason LGBT people don’t deserve this protection, in Keyes’s opinion, is that same-sex relations are not procreative. Yep, the same argument once made against marriage equality is still out there.
“The existential perpetuation of humanity depends upon procreation,” Keyes wrote. “The relations between man and woman, with a view to human procreation, toward which they are naturally impelled, therefore involve unalienable right.” LGBT people, according to Keyes, are “impelled by their own will and preference toward lifestyles that have no special regard for the common good.” And they “deny and disparage the God-endowed natural right of procreation,” he added.
Keyes probably wouldn’t apply that same reasoning to heterosexuals who, for any number of reasons, don’t procreate. And he’s a member of the Roman Catholic Church, which requires celibacy of clergy and those who join religious orders. But he’s not exactly big on logic. And he adheres to his anti-LGBT dogma even though has a lesbian daughter.
Oh, another fun fact about Keyes: He ran for the U.S. Senate from Illinois in 2004, even though he lived in Maryland — the Republican Party drafted him when candidate Jack Ryan had to drop out due to a sex scandal. Keyes lost to a guy named Barack Obama.
Keyes may be more pleased about another LGBT-related executive order, a draft of which was obtained and published by The Nation last week. It would provide companies, nonprofits, and even government employees a broad license to discriminate, without repercussions, against LGBT people and anyone else who offends a certain set of religious beliefs. The protected beliefs are that only heterosexual marriages are legitimate, that sexual relations are reserved for such marriages, that life begins at conception, and that gender is fixed at birth. White House spokesman Sean Spicer has refused to confirm or deny that the order is under consideration. We haven’t seen the far-right media weighing in on it yet, but activist groups such as the National Organization for Marriage are pushing it.
Another thing that didn’t please the far right last week was the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to admit transgender boys. “The BSA folded on God and how he ‘made them male and female,’” wrote Brent Bozell in a column on Townhall. “In today’s culture, the secular left lets man overrule God. This cowardly shell of an organization should just scrap the references to God, and every God-respecting church should jettison their Boy Scout units to the nearest secular gathering place.” He of course ignores the fact that an increasing number of churches accept and affirm transgender people — and these congregations most likely respect God.
We’ll be back next week with another selection of news and opinion from Breitbart and similar sites.