Eve Tushnet takes on the fact that red states have higher illegitimacy and divorce rates than blue states, and pulls out the subtext in so much of the pontificating on that fact:

The other really fun thing you could do, though, is blame “red state” families for being Not Our Kind, Dear. It is just so sad that their pathetic religious delusions make them slutty hypocrites. (Yum, by the way; I think hypocrisy makes your breasts bigger.) You could argue that they’re really promoting abortion, ’cause it’s their fault they haven’t adapted to the contracepting, college-educated ways of the elite. It’s not about poverty, or the fatalism it breeds, or the terrifying knowledge of how close you really are to falling off the ladder. It’s about Baptists suck.

You could wage class war, in other words, on the side of the privileged. You could focus on shaming people who are really different from you, and not on figuring out how marriage and family life can be strengthened across a variety of religious and moral beliefs and a variety of class and cultural backgrounds.

Preach it, Eve!

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6 Comments

  1. She’s often quite funny. Her website is tricky to navigate because it’s hard to link to some of her most golden writing, like “How to Make Sure Your Child Grows Up to be a Gay Activist”!

  2. “You could focus on shaming people who are really different from you, and not on figuring out how marriage and family life can be strengthened across a variety of religious and moral beliefs and a variety of class and cultural backgrounds.”

    This is the big contradiction. If conservatives were really concerned with strengthening the family, they might recognize that, in many cases, this includes delaying marriage and providing contraception and education to those people who don’t share that unbending ethic of abstinence. But they still think they are going to convince the world not have sex.

    They might also consider avoiding their other contradiction “Sex is a beautiful wonderful thing…never have it,” and “sex is awful and dirty and wrong — save it for the one you love.”

    But all these may sound to you like excuses from someone who should have known better. .

    1. Jared, I think you might be reading Eve backwards. Did you go to the linked article? Because her point is not primarily a criticism of conservatives, but a criticism of blue state condescension toward red states.

      1. I did read her article, and the article she linked. I think it’s a critique of both the blue and red state’s disposition toward the other, which is why I quoted the section I did (although she is heavier on blue state condescension). The problem is, if it is really about poverty, and the fatalism it breeds, and not actually about “Baptists Suck” then conservatives are still behind the game. You can’t in one breath condemn abortion and those who have them, and in the next breath stigmatize and ostracize out of wedlock, single mothers for their drain on welfare and inability to produce a stable family life (hell, if we don’t want to help with healthcare and welfare for single mothers who decided not to abort, then they should have aborted- at least that’s an implication of the religious and political right’s approach to the problem). This is why Baptists do actually suck, and I am more or less one of them. We have no real dialogue about how to strengthen the family across different religious and cultural persuasions — we just want people to stop having sex and stop being gay.

  3. What you said about the defective conservative response to poverty, illegitimacy, etc. is all true. Unfortunately, the mass of opinion on both sides (leaving out lots of intelligent and well-informed people who are exceptions) is much more interested in condemnation and self-justification than a holistic answer to the problem. Such, alas, is human nature.

    1. You’re right, but I guess that’s also sort of obvious, which I suppose is why she went after blue state condescension. It is the less fashionable target.

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