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Reading the Far Right: Paris Accord and Drag Queens Bad, Putin Good

Reading the Far Right

There's a wide range of information we picked up from reading extreme-right sites so you don't have to.

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In reading the far-right media this past week, we saw much glee about Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris accord on climate change -- plus a lot of heat about Kathy Griffin and drag queens, folks taking Vladimir Putin's words at face value, and one appallingly sexist column.

Also, in the wake of the terrorist attack Saturday in London, one journalist proved too anti-Muslim even for Breitbart, and she's been fired.

Our summary of the week, from reading these sites so you don't have to:

When Trump made his announcement about the Paris accord, many people were outraged. But members of the far-right media were over the moon.

"The Paris Accord was a deal that would have hurt the American worker and enraged voters who care about the economy," wrote Townhall contributor Brian Darling. "Three cheers for President Donald Trump for pulling out of that economy destroying agreement."

Trump ended U.S. participation in the agreement "because he has a very powerful bullshit detector," asserted Breitbart columnist James Delingpole.

The accord had "a bogus goal based on a fake crisis designed to justify a massive transfer of wealth and power away from us and to the liberal elite," contended Kurt Schlicter, who's also published on Townhall. (In extreme-right land, it's always liberals, never conservatives, who are the "elite.")

These comments were typical, contending that the agreement -- under which signatory nations voluntarily agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of keeping the earth's average annual temperature from rising above a certain level -- would result in lost jobs and essentially make no difference in the climate. But they don't have the complete facts on their side.

Many, including Darling and Trump himself, cited a study by NERA Economic Consulting, which said the accord's effects on the U.S. economy by 2040 would include a $3 trillion drop in gross domestic product, the loss of 6.5 million industrial-sector jobs, and an 86 percent reduction in coal production.

But the fact checkers at PolitiFact warned, "Take these statistics with a grain of salt." The NERA model makes several negative assumptions, such as that industries won't adapt and that clean energy production won't increase, and therefore produces "an extreme result," the site reported. Also, while the effect on climate change as a result of the Paris accord will likely be small, incremental steps do count, PolitiFact noted.

And lest the right wing dismiss the PolitiFact report as "fake news" from the mainstream media -- the Pulitzer Prize-winning site is affiliated with Florida's Tampa Bay Times -- some sensible conservatives didn't think pulling out of the accord was such a great idea either. One of them is Steve Chapman, a syndicated columnist based at the Chicago Tribune (oops, also mainstream media) and carried on Townhall, among other outlets.

"The U.S. emissions targets in the Paris agreement were not onerous," he wrote, and indeed, the nation's industries are two-thirds of the way toward meeting them. "All that is needed to complete the job is to merely accelerate the shift from coal to natural gas that is already underway," he continued. "If Trump were keen on job growth, he might note that the oil and gas business has added more jobs since 2006 than there are jobs in the entire coal industry. The evidence suggests that by 2030, if left in place, the Clean Power Plan (which is designed to cut carbon emissions) would create 15,000 jobs on net. Today, as in the past, the opponents of environmental protection vastly exaggerate the expense of reducing pollution. As before, they give no weight to the rewards."

Chapman gave a good summation of the arguments put forth by those opponents in the 1960s and noted that a Republican president, Richard Nixon, defied them and "signed the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and created the Environmental Protection Agency." Nixon, although he certainly had some big flaws, did some good things -- too bad the same can't be said of Trump, a sentiment with which Chapman appears to agree.

"Trump worries that the world is laughing at us," he concluded. "He should worry that his grandchildren will curse him."

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After Trump's announcement on the Paris accord, some wags on social media shared a meme of him holding a bloody planet -- similar to the controversial photo of comedian Kathy Griffin holding a bloody, disembodied Trump head.

We won't attempt to defend Griffin, who has apologized; if it wasn't OK for right-wingers to post horrid and often racist memes about Barack Obama, it wasn't OK for Griffin to do this. But we will also say that there are way better things to get outraged about than social media memes.

The far right, though, had some, well, interesting takes on Griffin. According to Larry Tomczak, writing on BarbWire -- which purports to present a biblical worldview -- Griffin just needs to get religion. His kind of religion.

"As a divorced and childless woman living in Bel Air next door to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, your lifestyle insulates you from what millions of Americans value," he wrote. (Oh, those immoral liberal elitists!) "As a former Catholic and now ordained minister in the Universal One Church, do you subscribe to any code of basic respect for others?"

"I don't know how you view the Bible but would you consider direction it gives us regarding our elected officials?" he continued. "This doesn't mean blanket endorsement or slavish obedience. It's okay to disagree with governing authorities, but we're called to honor, pray for, influence and communicate with them in a respectful way." Well, actually, nothing wrong with that, although it is hard to respect Trump. But you don't have to be a fundamentalist Christian, like Tomczak, to practice respect.

And Townhall contributor Bruce Bialosky saw Griffin's action as part of a series of "unhinged attacks on Trump," lumping it in with what are actually sober considerations of his fitness to serve as president. Bialosky further asserted that the "hysteria, histrionics and hatred aimed toward our president are at a level I am not aware of ever happening in our history." Oh, maybe that aimed toward Obama?

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Another thing that caused commotion on the extreme right: drag queens. Late last month Frankie Quinones, president of the Parent-Teacher Association at a New York elementary school, made a surprise appearance in drag at a school talent show, and according to the usually reliable New York Daily News, his performance was pretty risque and not age-appropriate, and some parents were outraged. A spokesman for the city's Education Department acknowledged that the performance was inappropriate and noted that Quinones, who seems to be otherwise well-liked at the school, will be leaving the PTA presidency because of term limits.

OK, inappropriate. We'll buy that. But some far-right commentators have used it to denounce all drag performers as part of the dreaded "gay agenda."

"Make no mistake about it," wrote Michael Brown, who's carried on Townhall and World Net Daily. "From the moment gay activists came out of the closet in America, their agenda was clear. Society must get over its anti-gay sentiments and embrace everything gay -- and I mean everything. ... That's why gay pride parades were marked by the most offensive elements of the gay community, even if they were not representative of the whole." Then those (according to Brown) sneaky gays toned things down to win public acceptance, but now they're bringing back the drag queens.

No, drag performers are not offensive -- not to the millions who've made RuPaul's Drag Race a hit, anyway. Quinones's performance may have been offensive, but drag in and of itself is not. And let us remember that in certain times and places, women were forbidden to appear onstage, so men played women's roles in the original productions of Shakespeare's plays and more.

Brown also was upset that the public library in Bloomington, Ind., has announced a "Drag Queen Storytime" for children age 2-6 later this month. "Learn about someone new! Local drag queens present stories and encourage us all to embrace our uniqueness," the announcement reads.

"This is perverse and outrageous," Brown steamed. "'Parents, bring your toddlers and little children to the library where local homosexual men who dress up as flamboyant women will read stories to them.' Here come the drag queens!"

Well, Bloomington is one of the more liberal cities in Indiana -- a cosmopolitan university town and home to the Kinsey Institute -- so probably no one will be shocked, and the librarians will likely assure that everyone behaves appropriately. And parents who object to drag queens can choose not to let their children attend the event -- unlike the case in New York, they have advance notice.

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Megyn Kelly, late of Fox News, made her debut as an NBC host Sunday night and interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin, who (of course) denied that his nation interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. The editors at Breitbart were quick to lend credence to his remarks, while also gloating over the low viewership for Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly -- they haven't forgiven her for having differences with their hero Trump and her former boss, the late Roger Ailes.

"Putin mocked conspiracy theories linking President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and his own government, asking NBC News' Megyn Kelly whether Americans had 'all lost your senses over there,'" the site reported. Well, the allegations are a little more than "conspiracy theories" -- there's enough evidence from U.S. intelligence services to warrant a congressional investigation, which is ongoing.

And Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group, noted that even fringier sites, like Patriots on the Right, Conservative Fighters, and Your Newswire, "jumped on the interviews, praising Putin and calling the idea that Russia interfered in the election 'a nonsensical theory' and 'allegations that are continuously being spewed out of the mouths of the Left.' Others cited Putin to call the intelligence community's conclusions, noted by Kelly in the interview, 'absurd Russian hacking claims,' 'stupid talking points,' a 'clearly bogus narrative,' 'Hillary Clinton campaign talking points,' and 'a line of questioning that sounded as though it came straight out of the Democrat-media complex conspiracy handbook.'" Media Matters added that these sites "regularly function as pro-Trump propaganda outlets," so no wonder they're so quick to believe Putin -- or act like they do.

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While there's a lot to cover this week, we can't ignore this appalling column from Townhall contributor John Hawkins headlined "Sorry, Feminists, But the Truth Is Sexist." Here's an excerpt:

Sure, sexism exists, but most of the major issues feminists label as sexism come down to obvious differences between men and women.

It starts with the fact that men and women tend to be drawn to different things in the opposite sex.

For men, the starting point is looks and for more than a few men, that's the ending point as well. Why do many women focus more on looking attractive than becoming CEOs? Why are women's magazines full of beauty tips instead of career advancement advice? Why do so many women tend to be focused on things like hair, make-up and clothes? There are multiple reasons, but the starting point is because men like it.

On the other hand, women also value looks, but place much more emphasis on things like money, power and willingness to provide for a family. Why are there more male politicians? Why do more men do the grueling work it takes to rise to the upper echelons of a company? Why are men more willing to do dangerous and dirty jobs that pay well or work long hours when they'd rather be at home? There are multiple reasons, but the starting point is because women like it.

There is so much wrong with that it's hard to know where to begin (and yes, he doesn't entertain the possibility of same-sex attraction). Uh, John, maybe there are more male CEOs and politicians because women have been denied opportunities and, in many households, still carry the primary load of duties at home. Maybe some employers and voters prefer an incompetent man to a highly qualified woman (see: 2016 presidential election). Maybe women's magazines cover beauty tips extensively to please advertisers -- and actually, these days they offer a lot of career advancement advice too. Some women are interested in makeup and fashion and some aren't -- and both kinds of women are interested in advancing their careers. And men want to believe that women don't care as much as men about a mate's appearance, because that lets every heterosexual man, no matter how he looks, believe he deserves a really hot woman.

Oh, he mentions that a publisher once cautioned him about a passage in one of his books (amazing, yes, he's gotten books published!) saying women should have someone to look out for them if they get drunk at a bar or party, because that puts women at greater risk of sexual assault. "Feminists have become so easily offended that it's apparently part of 'rape culture' to suggest that there are things women can do to lessen the chances that they will be raped," he complained. No, we recognize that taking precautions is all well and good -- but we add that the primary way to prevent rape is for men not to rape.

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Lastly, there's plenty of Islamophobia out there, and the tragedy over the weekend in London brought out even more. But writer Katie McHugh was too Islamophobic even for Breitbart. She tweeted Saturday night that there "would be no deadly terror attacks in the U.K. if Muslims didn't live there." As of Monday morning, she was no longer working for the site, according to CNN.

She remained defiant, tweeting, "Breitbart News fired me for telling the truth about Islam and Muslim immigration." A fundraising page for her has been set up on an even farther-right site called WeSearchr, CNN reported.

Mediaite, a media news website, posited that Breitbart "could be attempting to purge the website's more controversial factions inhibiting its goal of becoming a serious news outlet." Well, we'll just see about that.

We'll be back next week, still reading the extreme right so you don't have to.

trudestress
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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.