June 29, 2022

It’s not about “Protecting Life.” It’s about Fear of Sexuality.

Last May, after the leak of the Supreme Court’s plan to overturn Roe v. Wade became public, there was a rally in my hometown of Taos, New Mexico, for reproductive rights, attended by 150 mostly women and men including me.

An open microphone was presented for anyone to speak and on impulse; I mounted the stage, having no idea what I would say.

What I finally did say was that as a Jew, I had what is known as “Jew-Dar” (Jewish Radar): the innate ability to sense when fascism is rearing its ugly head and about to transform an otherwise normal nation into a nightmare.

That nightmare has now become real for American women and girls. But that day, in a rare prescient moment, I told the assemblage that LGBTQ+ rights would be next on the Supreme Court chopping block—and unfortunately, I may have been correct.

We now face immediate danger from this radicalized Court and a well-organized Republican Right.

Mike Pence has made it clear that he and others like him favor a national ban on abortion. Clarence Thomas favors overturning the laws safeguarding same-sex marriage and contraception. In short, they want to transform the United States into a repressive medieval patriarchy where women’s lives are proscribed by men. For some reason, human beings in control of their own sexuality terrifies the Conservative Right who aren’t any different in this regard than the Taliban.

Let’s make no mistake; the anti-abortion movement could care less about “life” considering their complacency around schoolchildren being shot to death in their classrooms and their ignoring the millions of American children living in poverty and suffering from hunger. It’s all about control. Control of women. It’s not surprising that all the letters to the editor I’ve read in various newspapers condemning abortion come from men. And no matter how much pseudo-Christian double-talk they camouflage their views with, it still comes down to men wanting to control women.

I can go to great lengths condemning the hypocrisy and entitled cruelty of the current GOP but they could care less what I think. They are hell-bent on destroying the rights gained over the past 60 years, rights we’ve all taken for granted. But they are taken for granted no longer. Hopefully, younger generations of American women are now aware that the State has control over their bodies. And that those powerless will be further condemned to misery and poverty as the State forces them to bear children against their will. I would love to see these young folk of all genders, rise up, raise hell, and most importantly, march to the ballot box in November to elect officials who are dedicated to making America what it ought to be: an enlightened democracy that used to be the envy of the free world instead of a brutal, religious dictatorship.

As my wife keeps reminding me, reproductive rights aren’t just a women’s issue.

It’s time for men to stand up and remind our so-called leaders that we will not tolerate our mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, lovers, and friends being treated as second-class citizens. Why should women be watched and criminalized for their reproductive choices while the men who impregnate (and too often abandon) them go scot-free?

The day after Roe was abolished, I went to our weekly farmer’s market, which is usually a festive and joyous occasion. But upon entering the nearby public restroom, I saw scratched on the wall graffiti reading “The Holocaust Never Happened.” It was an unexpected punch in the gut.

Anti-Semitism is always a bellwether of things to come. Strolling around the market, I was further shocked to see a man carrying a gun on his hip. Gazing about the crowd, I could see that others were equally discomfited as such a sight is unbelievable in our progressive town. Who packs heat to go to a farmer’s market? Was he afraid of being attacked by a bag of kale? Both occurrences ruined the day for me.

In some ways, I wasn’t surprised. Hate is a slippery slope. It first targets a minority, but like cancer, it grows and spreads. The Supreme Court has spread that cancer further. The question is: how far it will go before it poisons us all?

There are times to march in the streets even though the forces taking our country backward, under the guise of “protecting life,” will ignore us. In the end, however, voting matters, especially when the Republican Party is doing its best to prevent it from being free and fair. We were warned that if Donald Trump was elected, he would make good on his pledge to place ultra-conservative judges on the Supreme Court. Elections aren’t a purity contest where you “Vote your heart, not your fears.” It’s a chess game. In the coming elections, please don’t vote your heart. Vote your brain.

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