The recent appearance of the slurs of “Grooming” and “pro-pedophile” in the authoritarian Christianist right-wing media, has a long historical context reminiscent of the medieval “blood Libel”, the anti-Semetic accusations and witch hunts used to stir up anti-Jewish antipathy and violence in the guise of protecting Christian children. These anti-LGBTQ dog-whistles are now being used by the “conservative” Republican party, in the form of homophobic “speaking points” and political arguments, to incite fear/hatemongering in the electorate against America’s marginalized minority sexual communities. As seen in Florida, these hateful accusations are being used to promote policies and laws that would limit exposure of LGBTQ existence and history in school systems and beyond.
These defamations are tactics by which the GOP is deflecting its own radical social policies and culpability, while strategizing tools and designs for state and national political power. The Republican brand of Christian nationalism is using this contemptuous propaganda language as policy to nullify the hard earned and valid civil rights/liberation movement of LGBTQ people, gift-wrapped in an anti-gay agenda and framed as a child-protecting /parents rights policy. By euphemistically conflating sex and sexual orientation in this way, the GOP is maneuvering the next wedge policies of future American elections, as they did with the “one man/one woman” political drive of the Bush years.
Resurrecting the theme of the 1978 failed California ballot measure, the Briggs initiative, that would have banned lesbian and gay people from teaching in public schools, Florida’s Governor DeSantis, and his Republican state legislature, have signed into law the current version of “gay panic”, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, that puts punative limits on the discussion of any form of LGBTQ existence in school curricula. This oppressive policy, like many of the modern anti-science GOP brand, is based on false conspiracies and fake narratives meant to seed mistrust and fear in the minds of a dominating populous threatened by a perceived loss of power in the momentum of more than half a century of the civil rights movement. The GOP is notorious for this type of code-switching: looking to be portrayed as victims by inciting mob violence against the most politically vulnerable populations. Prosecuted and judged in the court of the sexualized demons of a growing Christianist power base, LGBTQ people have no systemic voice/power, to respond in their own defense.
Let’s be clear, everyone, including all children, are, and have been “groomed”, by a heteronormative culture, to believe that only straight sex and love is valid. We have all been indoctrinated by a Christian patriarchal system to see heterosexuality as the “norm” and to sexualize and vilify anything that is not straight or gender-conforming.
The GOP is exploiting these tropes to amass an offensive against LGBTQ people, as they are currently attacking school curricula, library books, women’s right to body autonomy, and the historical truths of Systemic Racism in America.
Let’s be real when we speak of the statistical analysis and research that shows that most groomers and pedophiles are straight men, with wives and families as their “beards”. However, no amount of data or research will sway this hateful movement, out-for-blood, at their perceived loss of cultural influence and political power. These are, after all, similar tropes that propelled Trump and the Evangelical White Church into power post Obama and Gay marriage. This reactionary movement must be called out for what it is, a vile, oppressive, divisive movement that will use false, deceptive, defamatory propaganda to exploit a gullible and vulnerable electorate looking for a scapegoat.
Moshe Rozdzial, PhD