Imagine discovering that the body you were born with does not match your gender identification. Most of us never had to come to terms with that. I am a man. I look like a man. But what if I were still a man, but my body was female? As a young boy, I would have worn frilly dresses and been given Barbie dolls for Christmas. I would have had play-dates with little girls. But in my heart, I would have wanted to hang out with the guys in the mud, playing little boy games.
As puberty looms, I become even more aware that I have the wrong bits. I am confused, and I feel alone. Then my parents notice my distress. They take me to a psychologist so I might share my confusion. I probably cannot express myself very well, but the counselor is patient and kind. Slowly, I come to understand myself. My parents support me 100%. And between them and the doctor, we discuss all my options.
I do not know what course I would have chosen. But I would have discovered that I was not broken or defective. I would probably start wearing boys’ clothes and cut my hair short. I would hang with the guys and snigger over puerile, dirty jokes and crude remarks. They would probably feel uncomfortable at first. But because my school accepted who I was — and as the other boys got to know me — they would each have accepted me to the best of their ability and inclination.
But not if I lived in a red state.
Conservatives want you to know they are “pro-life” and every soul is sacrosanct. But my imagined self belongs to a demographic with a high rate of suicide. And conservative policies denying transgender help will drive more young people to kill themselves. No one in the LGBTQ+ community is untouched by conservative hard-heartedness. How can this be? Are not conservatives more likely to be followers of Christ? Why do they not adopt his compassion for society’s underdogs?
The answer is simple. They call themselves Christian, but their Jesus is not Gospel Jesus, he is Political Jesus. They take pride in being Christian nationalists. But a Christian nationalist is a Christian as much as a monkey wrench is a primate.
One common trait unites these nasty little people. They lack empathy. They cannot feel what it is like to be a Black kid whose teachers must whitewash his history. Or imagine being a gay kid surrounded by aggressive homophobia. They cannot see the humanity in undocumented aliens 1,000 miles from home. And think nothing of lying to them. And flying them to strange places to make cheap political points.
Conservatives call liberals “woke” and mean it as a slur. Why? What is wrong with caring for your fellow human beings? By their metric, Jesus was “woke”. When a conservative goes to an extreme, people die. When a liberal goes to an extreme, they become “too woke”. If that is a failing, I hope that is the way I screw up.
The same can be said for accusations that you are a “social justice warrior” — or, back in the day, a “bleeding-heart liberal”.
It goes beyond their policies. It is the hand-rubbing glee with which conservatives enact their hate. Take the anti-choice movement. In the wake of SCOTUS overturning Roe, conservative state governments rushed to pass abortion restrictions with limited, if any, exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother.
Few conservative politicians give a damn about fetuses. They pass these laws only to punish women and gin up the base. But for the sake of argument, let us say that they are honestly pro-life. They show no empathy for the victims of rape or incest. And dismiss the trauma. They do not give a damn that these unfortunates are walking a painful path. Their psychology is “to hell with you, just have the child.”
Medically unviable fetuses are left in utero until the woman gives birth to a living corpse.
Pregnant women are at risk of being denied medical treatment because doctors fear criminal prosecution. But I have yet to hear any conservative admit this is a problem. Or that a responsible legislator would give medical providers clear guidance. You will rarely hear a conservative temper their anti-abortion absolutism with any word of compassion for a pregnant woman with cancer. A woman who cannot get the treatment she needs because it might harm the fetus.
These smug, self-proclaimed pro-lifers do nothing to help pregnant women facing an insurmountable financial burden. They propose no programs or aid to give them the economic security to have a child. So these poor women get an abortion anyway — with increased risk to themselves. People passing anti-abortion laws without a plan to support poor mothers are not “pro-life”.
It does not stop there. In 1976, Ronald Reagan introduced the ‘welfare queen’ as proof that all people on public assistance were shiftless bastards. She was Black, of course. But you already knew that. Reagan compounded his disdain for the poor by enacting voodoo tax policies that shifted vast wealth to the very richest.
Now states whine that they cannot afford to expand Medicaid to the near-poor. They slash food stamps while they dole out agricultural subsidies to corporate farms and Industrial Food. The lack of empathy is sociopathic.
They claim they have the interests of “real Americans” in mind.
This is more bullshit. Anyone born a citizen, or naturalized, is a real American. What a conservative means by a real American is a rural white bigot, who owns a gun and a Bible, and thinks the Founders intended the US to be a Christian country.
I understand that these ‘salt of the earth’ types are the victims of fearmongering. And had they been led by ‘compassionate conservatives,’ they would be better people. However, being weak-minded is no justification for bigotry. They have to own their hate of people they do not know and whom they have never met. I wish they could be the good people they think they are.
If I were a man of faith. I would pray for them. But prayer has not stopped a single school massacre, so I doubt it would be effective. However, that useless act is all conservatives offer to prevent more parents from having to bury their children. These flint-hearted bastards so lack humanity their only concern is to ensure maladjusted 18-year-olds can still easily access war weapons.
Liberals get a bunch of things wrong. They can be patronizing and think they know best. They may well act out of self-satisfaction rather than genuine altruism. Martin Luther King Jr. was frustrated by white liberals constantly counseling patience while he was protesting. As he wrote in “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,”
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
The time has come again — or rather, it never went away — for liberals allied with the victims of injustice to ensure that justice is not denied. And take the fight to the enemies of fairness — inaction and the empathy-free conservatives. Not because it makes them feel good. But because it is the right thing to do.