#1533 How Theocracies Begin and End (Rise of the Far-Right + Demanding Women's Rights in Iran) (Transcript)

Air Date 12/24/2022

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: In case you're still looking for last-minute gift ideas, we've collected into one place all of our favorite ways that you can support the show while doing any holiday shopping, including real books, audiobooks, various apparel and merch -- not just our stuff -- and of course, gift memberships. Find all that at BestOfTheLeft.com/holiday. We appreciate the support. Again, that's BestOfTheLeft.com/holiday.

And now, welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast, with which we shall get you into the Christmas spirit by comparing the Christian nationalists fighting to gain power in the US with the protests against the theocratic regime in Iran supporting women's rights in the country.

Clips today are from a BBC News documentary, Democracy Now!, The Thom Hartmann Program, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Majority Report, and Vice News, with additional members-only clips from The Thom Hartmann Program and All In with Chris Hayes.

How a new Christian right is changing US politics - BBC News - Air Date 11-28-22

ROBERT JONES: So Christian nationalism is a new term for a [00:01:00] very old phenomenon, so it privileges a religious identity with citizenship in its most virulent form. It turns out to also have an ethnic or racial component to it. In the US that component has been around European descent or whiteness really as it has developed in the country.

When I talk about Christian nationalism in the US I usually talk about white christian nationalism.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: Donald Trump was seen as defending their cause when he entered the White House.

DONALD TRUMP: We're going to protect Christianity. And I can say that -- I don't have to be politically correct or --

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: And it was the storming of the Capitol that showed just how much religious and political identities had begun to merge on the right, bonded by a belief that the election had been stolen.

INSURRECTIONISTS: Jesus Christ, we spoke your name, amen. Amen!

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: Many reject the Christian nationalist label as a leftist smear. But a few right wing politicians are embracing its holy rhetoric.

MARJORIE TAYLOR GREEN: We need to be the party of nationalism. [00:02:00] And I'm a Christian and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists.

LAUREN BOEBERT: The church is supposed to direct government, not the opposite. The church is supposed to influence government and we need to be so involved in what is going on in our government.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: Online, extremists have taken it even further.

ONLINE EXTREMIST: We are the Christian Taliban. This is the era of Christian nationalism.

ROBERT JONES: What's different now is that the country's no longer majority white and Christian. As recently as 2008, when Barack Obama was first running for president, our first African American president, the country was actually 54% white and Christian, so comfortably majority white and Christian. That number today is 44%, and I think that threat, right, of white Christians no longer knowing they're in control demographically, culturally, politically is why we're seeing it come to the fore in the current context.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: Prominent voices in the Black church are also sounding the alarm about the racial implications of the movement, and warned that the spirit of the January 6th attack was not contained [00:03:00] in the Capitol.

MICHAEL WATERS: You can't diminish what happened on January 6th from what's happening in some sanctuaries on Sunday morning. You can't separate this passion to overthrow the nation's capital with violence on January 6th from the rhetoric that you hear on Christian radio. You can't separate this desire to pull down elected officials and maybe even call for their murder, versus what we hear frankly from people all across the nation, even elected officials, who are praying for the death of the president.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: Many pastors were at the Capitol that day.

Oh, there he is.

I traveled to Tennessee, deep in the Bible Belt, where one of them continues to preach.

So Pastor Ken has asked me to meet him here on this overpass to watch him waving flags. Seems a bit of a patriotic stunt. I think he does it a lot. Hello, pastor Ken.

PASTOR KEN: Hey. How are [00:04:00] you?


PASTOR KEN: Doing, good, thank you. God bless you.


And God bless America and God bless Donald Trump. Ken Peters has denounced the violence of the Capitol riot, but still defends what he sees as a patriotic mission.

PASTOR KEN: Come on.

We do feel like God has a special plan for this country, and he still has a plan for this country.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: And on January 6th, you felt that was under threat?

PASTOR KEN: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. We felt like the enemy, meaning leftists who don't like Christians had stolen our nation.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: Peter's Patriot Church is one of a growing number of non-denominational startup congregations that say they want to take back the country for God.

I was a little unsure of what to expect. As someone who grew up in the church, what I heard here was not the gospel I knew. Political activism as an act of worship.

PASTOR KEN: The LGBTQ and the left is saying, oh, you're a church -- separation of church and state. Get [00:05:00] in the stands. You can't fight the fight. You can't play in the game. Church, preachers, you stand up in the stands. Separation of church....

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: An aggressive response to a sense of being under siege.

PASTOR KEN: Christians are gonna have to get feisty. They're gonna have to get in the fight a little bit and quit sticking their head in the sand and being completely pacifist when it comes to politics.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: For him, that means a crusade against abortion.

PASTOR KEN: Hey, if God can overturn Roe v. Wade, he can do anything, amen?

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: And ending same-sex marriage.

PASTOR KEN: Yeah, I want to exclude certain types of relationships, sexual relationships from the term marriage. It's special to us. It's in the Bible. It's something we really care about.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: And you want a government that would impose that.

PASTOR KEN: I want a government that keeps marriage what it's always been.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: What he preaches from the pulpit is meant to be taken to the polls.

PASTOR KEN: We endorse Monty Fritz, we endorse him.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: And [00:06:00] his message seems to be resonating. Patriot churches have expanded to several locations. Peter says they're attracting followers from more liberal states.

CHURCHGOER 1: To me, this isn't anything new. It's just how I even grew up. God, family, country. There's nothing wrong with that. And some try to shame us for loving our country. I This is where God placed us.

CHURCHGOER 2: We wanted to come and find a place that wasn't afraid to take a stand, that wasn't afraid to speak out if there were issues that they thought needed to be spoken about.

CHURCHGOER 3: Oh we are definitely a Christian nation and should be a Christian nation. So to try to separate politics from the church is asinine, it cannot be done. And if you are doing that, you're probably doing something wrong.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: I wanted to know if most churches in Tennessee felt the same way. So I continued my journey to the city of Franklin, south of Nashville, in a county that's been called the New Frontier for American Evangelical Christianity. [00:07:00]

PASTOR KEVIN RIGGS: Father, we thank you for this day and we thank you for another week.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: I joined an early morning meeting of community activists who work with the homeless, led by pastor Kevin Riggs. He grew up as a conservative evangelical and had dreams of becoming a megachurch pastor. But a close reading of the Bible convinced him God cared more about social justice.

PASTOR KEVIN RIGGS: There's division within the church, like I, I haven't seen it. I've had friends who were pastors of churches and because they spoke out against the religious right or against President Trump, then they're asked to leave their church.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: What's the threat, do you think? What's the --

PASTOR KEVIN RIGGS: you hear the term a lot in evangelical circles that we're fighting a cultural war. And I think you can very easily replace the word "culture" with "civil," and that's where we are. And it's been a code civil war where it's all been about ideology and fighting for these things, but that could very quickly become violent. It could become -- the right will have a tendency to take up to protect their right. [00:08:00]

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: There are pastors who seem to court controversy, even thrive off it. Greg Locke burned Catholic rosaries and Harry Potter books on Halloween night -- objects of sorcery and witchcraft, he called them.

GREG LOCKE: We don't have to be so careful with what we say.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: I met him in his studio near Nashville, where he films his popular webcast about faith and politics.

GREG LOCKE: The social media, that's the biggest part of it. I think it's about 4.6 million people across all the -- Facebook and all the platforms. Of course, no more Twitter. I was suspended for life from Twitter. But at the end of the day, we literally have millions of people that watch. And then that brings a lot of people to the church.

Good evening, Global Vision family. Give the Lord some praise.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: Locke made a name for himself as a Trump pastor, but he really took off by challenging the COVID shutdown. And yes, he was also at the Capitol riot.

GREG LOCKE: You ain't seen the Insurrection yet.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: He preaches politics to his following that can sound like extremist rants.

GREG LOCKE: You God hating Communist America. You'll find out what an insurrection is. Cause we ain't [00:09:00] playing your garbage. We ain't playing your mess. My Bible says that the Church of the living God.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: So you also said in your church that Democrats are demons. Do you really believe that?

GREG LOCKE: Absolutely.


GREG LOCKE: I believe the Democratic party is demonically energized. And so I told him, look, if you believe in butchering babies and you celebrate stolen elections and you don't want freedom and you're against the Second Amendment or even the First Amendment, then leave. You can leave anytime you want to.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: It's one thing to be tired of a party. It's another thing to say they are evil, they are demonic.

GREG LOCKE: But I don't mind saying that.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: Couldn't this be a way of inciting to violence, those people who listen to you, either in your church or online? Because they might take it a step further. If this is evil, I should go after it.

GREG LOCKE: Every bucket sits on its own bottom. People have been saying that for years. Oh, if you follow Jesus, then that means you're gonna make a whip and go into a church and run people out.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: That's not quite the same thing.

GREG LOCKE: It's exactly the same thing.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: You're calling fellow Americans evil, and putting it in the context of an apocalyptic battle between good and evil.

GREG LOCKE: There is an apocalyptic battle between good and evil.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: And so that is the kind of [00:10:00] language that could be used to incite violence against such people.

GREG LOCKE: " Could be" and "is" are two very different things. That's not my responsibility. I have responsibility to speak the truth.

BARBARA PLETT USHER - REPORTER, BBC: You don't see that as a responsibility to stay away from possibly inciting violence?

GREG LOCKE: No, I'm not inciting violence. I'm preaching the Bible.

Women's Rights Activist on Protests Sweeping Iran, the Intensifying Gov't Crackdown & Executions - Democracy now! - Air Date 10-15-22

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Sussan, you mentioned the brutal crackdown in particular against minorities in Iran. Could you explain why the crackdown has been especially bad in these minority areas? Those aren’t the areas where protests have even been concentrated, or are they?

SUSSAN TAHMASEBI: Well, I should state, before I explain this, that these protests are not sectarian in nature. They’re national protests, and they involve women and a lot of young people, teenagers, Iranians in their twenties, who are sick of the status quo. They want fundamental change. They’re asking for fundamental freedoms. Many of them are also asking for regime [00:11:00] change. But, unfortunately, the Iranian state decided to take a sectarian approach to the crushing of the protests, because if they treat the protests as if they’re being fomented by separatist movements, then it becomes easier for them to crack down and use violence. But, fortunately, I think the Iranians are — we’re smarter than that to buy into this, into this plan, the security plan that they had.

I should mention that Jina Mahsa Amini was Kurdish, so one of the first places where protests started was in her home city, Saqqez, during her burial, and many other Kurdish cities. The political groups — the political Kurdish groups, many of them, in Iraqi Kurdistan, called for general strikes. So the Kurdish area has played a significant role in sustaining these protests. And many of the Kurdish cities have continuously protested. They’ve also faced a lot of violence. Javanrud, [00:12:00] Mahabad, Saqqez, Sanandaj — all of these cities have faced a lot of violence. And many of these cities have been turned into war zones, where you see war artillery moved to these cities and people being shot down. And roads to these cities have also been closed off, so people wanting to go to these cities to provide medical support to citizens there or for blood drives are prevented from going to those cities if their tags are from a different city. So, even if you live there and your tags are from a different city, you’re not allowed to go to those cities. So, Kurdish areas, for the — one of the main reasons is for this area, because of the sustained protests.

But the Balochi region also has faced a significant crackdown. And again, it was part of this ploy by the Iranian security agencies to make this look like a separatist movement. So, on September 30th, following the death of Mahsa Amini, protests — I mean, Friday prayer goers in Zahedan were very [00:13:00] angry, both because of what happened nationally but also because they were upset because of an alleged rape of a young 15-year-old girl by a security — by a police in a city in Balochistan. And they started marching towards the police station to ask for accountability. And in just one hour, 103 of these prayer goers, protesters — whatever you want to call them — peaceful, unarmed, were shot and killed. In one hour. Most of them were shot in the back, meaning that they were running away from the police station, running away from the bullets. And then, subsequent protests across Balochistan, we’ve had more killings.

So, about 50% of all the people who’ve been killed are either — you know, are from Balochi and Kurdish areas. So this is significant, despite the fact that this is not a sectarian protest, but the bulk of the violence has been directed at these groups.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Sussan, you mentioned, as we did, that now two [00:14:00] prisoners, people charged with participation in the protests — although that’s not what they’ve been convicted of — have now been publicly executed. And this is in addition, of course, what you’re talking about, protesters who have been killed during the protests. Could you explain why you think Iran is now publicly executing these prisoners? It’s been a long while since a public execution was carried out, even though Iran is among the countries with the highest rates of imposing the death penalty, second only to China.

SUSSAN TAHMASEBI: Yeah, well, I think that this has two messages. One is to instill fear among protesters that this could be your fate. It’s not that you just go to prison, but you could get killed. And the second message is to send a message to the security forces who have carried out the bulk of these crackdowns, that we are with [00:15:00] you, and if there are people who are accused of killing or engaging in violent behavior against the security forces, against the Basij militia, against the IRGC, we’re going to make them suffer, and we’re going to make them pay.

I have to say that, you know, it’s only the second protester, Majidreza Rahnavard, who was hanged publicly. The first one wasn’t hanged publicly, who was Mohsen Shekari. Both of them were 23-year-olds. And

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Mohsen Shekari was charged with shutting down the street, preventing traffic from moving, so it’s really — didn’t cause any harm to anybody. This is according to what he was charged with, which is a source of concern and question for human rights observers or for those who are observing the judicial process. But, nevertheless, even according to the Islamic Republic of Iran, he wasn’t charged with killing or creating any sort of bodily injury or harm to anyone, but still he was charged as [00:16:00] somebody who was waging war against God. And there’s been a lot of criticism of this, including from religious leaders or legal experts, who say that, even according to their own laws, this is wrong. But, nevertheless, he was — both of them were arrested, tried, sentenced and executed in a matter of a few weeks.

And the head of the judiciary a couple, I guess about a week ago, mentioned that, very proudly, that they have conducted these trials very quickly. And we see that they have conducted these trials very quickly, because they don’t meet any standard of fair trial practice. Most importantly is that most of these prisoners and people standing for trial, these protesters, don’t have access to a lawyer of their choice. At best, they’re given a court-appointed lawyer. And these court-appointed lawyers are people who formerly, most of them, had worked within the judiciary, and they’re not going to serve the [00:17:00] best interests of their clients. They’re going to serve the best interests of the state and the judiciary. And many of them, we think, are pressured, tortured, psychologically or physically, and forced into false confessions. So, it’s really very concerning that there is no due process, and it’s certainly not justice.

The Taliban’s Far-Right Fan Base - VICE - Air Date 10-18-21

Twenty years after U.S. troops began the War in Afghanistan the Taliban are once again in control of the country.

TIM HUME: As the Taliban ripped through Afghanistan in August 2021, the world watched in horror. This was a country backed by the planet's leading superpower. And most thought its government would hold out for months. But the Taliban's rapid offensive left the world stunned, and for extremist groups with fantasies of overthrowing governments, it was a moment of triumph.

ANDERSON COOPER: The White supremacists and [00:18:00] violent anti-government extremists are now openly, and this is pretty stunning, identifying with the Taliban.

TIM HUME: This is the story of how the Taliban's victory and the wider jihadist movement has inspired the far-right...

JAKE TAPPER: Some groups going as far as to suggest that the Taliban should be seen as a model for executing a civil war here in the United States.

TIM HUME: ...and how extremist groups with seemingly opposing ideologies have drawn influence from each other in their fight against democracy and liberalism.

NICK FUENTES: I raise a glass to the liberators of Afghanistan, the Taliban.

TIM HUME: This is the American White nationalist, Nick Fuentes. He's one of many far-right figures, from neo-Nazis to QAnon followers, who've praised the Taliban since their victory.

MOLLIE SALTSKOG: For the far-right extremists, the Taliban represent what many of them hope to achieve in their own countries here in the West, which is basically overthrowing the democratic system through [00:19:00] armed struggle and violence, and to create a "pure society" based on their hateful creed.

TIM HUME: It may seem strange, but the far-right and militant Islamists actually have quite a few shared enemies, from governments to the Jewish community to women and minorities.

MOLLIE SALTSKOG: Their view on minorities and women are incredibly similar. It is not unusual to see White supremacy extremists talk about women in the incredibly traditional and degrading and oppressive way, just like how women are seen inside the Islamic State as baby-making traditional wives.

DR. DANIEL KOEHLER: A very strong connector is anti-Semitic hatred, a general glorification of violence, a warrior culture, the culture of self-sacrifice, and generally, the widespread violent hatred against Western democracies, Western concepts of [00:20:00] pluralism and liberalism.

TIM HUME: But it's not just the ideological views of these two groups that are similar. Experts say the psychology behind their beliefs also has a lot in common.

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Salafi-jihadi and far-right movements are functioned to similar cognitive frameworks. They both embrace a Manichaean perception of the world that clearly divides humanity between good and evil. In both movements, there is a clear group, clear adversary groups, and nothing in the middle. Both frameworks basically aim at getting rid of this annoying constraint that is called nuance.

TIM HUME: These black and white perceptions of right and wrong explain how groups that hate each other can end up with such similar worldviews.

MOLLIE SALTSKOG: Both actors have this firm belief that their societies are under siege and that violence is the only thing that can halt the "invaders" and for jihadists this means an assault on Muslims by the West and for White [00:21:00] supremacists it means encroachment from multiculturalism, immigration, and so-called Islamization of society.

DONALD TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

TIM HUME: Disturbingly, none of this is really new. Far-right groups have been expressing a grudging admiration for Islamists and vice versa for decades.

DR. DANIEL KOEHLER: Today's neo-Nazis and White supremacists, they like to go back to the Third Reich, to Nazi Germany, where the Hitler government actually tried to establish contacts with Islamic rulers, Grand Mufti, for example, in Egypt, to win them over as allies in the Second World War against the Western forces. And obviously they tried to establish a common ground based on what they believed was the shared antisemitic, anti-Jew hatred.

MOLLIE SALTSKOG: Some of the most violence-oriented far-right organizations here in America, they have long veneered [sic] figures like [00:22:00] Osama Bin Laden, the late leader of Al-Qaeda. You know, we've even seen evidence of the these groups sharing Al-Qaeda bomb manuals, organizing operational cells in a very similar fashion, using propaganda recruitment tactics as similar to that of the Islamic State.

TIM HUME: Similarities between some of this propaganda is pretty shocking, but it's not just the far-right who've learned from the jihadists.

BRIDGET JOHNSON: One of the main things that Islamist groups have learned from far-right groups is the mileage that can be gained from being a culture warrior. And we really saw this reflected in the propaganda that was put out by both ISIS and Al-Qaeda after the January 6th attacks. There was a lot of admiration for that. So these terror groups really honed in on the grievances of the people who were out there storming the Capitol.

TIM HUME: With extremist groups from different ends of the spectrum, reveling in the destabilized political order, and fueling each other into greater radicalization, things are only [00:23:00] going to get weirder.

MOLLIE SALTSKOG: The terrorism landscape of today, if we compare it to 20 years ago when 9/11 happened, is that it's more diverse and it's more diffused and we have both the global Salafi-jihadist threat that we need to keep an eye on, whilst at the same time combating the threat within, at home, the domestic terrorism threat, which is primarily majority made up of far-right extremists. So all of a sudden we have to look abroad and at home, and that is a momentous task.

Complete Dissatisfaction with the Current Order - Why Protests in Iran Are Not Slowing Down - Democracy Now! - Air Date 10-6-22

NARGES BAJOGHLI: So, this is really, at its core, a fight for women and queer folks to have choices over their bodies. So, what’s really important, as Nilo was providing the context, is that the Islamic Republic has implemented laws that are severely restrictive for women since the very beginnings of the 1979 revolution and the start of the state. And what’s significant [00:24:00] here about what happened to Amini is that she was caught at the hands of the so-called morality police, which are a police force that are a daily occurrence all across Iran. All women have had some kind of interactions with the morality police, and families, including religious ones, have had some form of interaction with these police, because their daughters may not be veiling as religiously as the mothers have. And so this is something that women are dealing with every day.

When Amini was taken, at first ended up in a coma and later died from the injuries that she sustained, what we are seeing is that the ways in which women in Iran have been resisting every single day against these restrictions over the past 40 years, we now see this as a rupture in collective action. So,

it’s not surprising to me that sort of this generation’s and, in our global [00:25:00] moment, our generation’s first big feminist uprising, that is militant in style, is taking place in Iran on this level, because Iranian women have over four decades of experience of daily acts of resistance against patriarchical laws and against partriarchical norms.

And so, as conservative movements are rising across the world, as we see more and more laws that are coming down against women — and I think it’s worth noting that conservative movements, when they rise, and religious movements, when they rise, first and foremost, they go after the rights of women. And so, right now I think even though traditional media has been very slow to cover this uprising, it’s been internet users all over the world that have made hashtag #MahsaAmini trend. And that’s the reason we’re all having this conversation today. So it’s striking a chord with people all over the world who are, in one way or another, [00:26:00] experiencing, either once again or a continuation of, increased patriarchical control over women’s bodies. And so, the protests in Iran are capturing our attention because we’re seeing, in real life, how women are putting their lives on the line and are refusing to comply any longer. You know, power and patriarchy require that we comply. And so, we’re seeing now young women and women across Iran who are just saying, “I will no longer comply with this.”

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Professor Bajoghli, I want to ask you about what you see as the potential outcome of these protests. I was listening to an interview on the BBC with renowned Iranian graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi, who said that, irrespective of what happens, the Islamic Republic is now a corpse. But you write in your piece that — in your Vanity Fair piece -- that the “street rebellions may or may not 'succeed' in toppling the regime or changing the laws — but that is almost [00:27:00] beside the point.” Can you explain what you mean by that, and what the effects of these protests might be, even if the regime doesn’t fall?

NARGES BAJOGHLI: Right. So, we don’t — you know, I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t predict what’s going to happen. But at the moment what is very significant about these protests is that women are taking control back from the state. They are saying, “We will not allow you to define how we come out onto the street. We will define this for ourselves.” And so,

what is significant here is that when you rise up against powers and things that have been around for millennia, like patriarchy, which is one of — unfortunately, one of the universal values that we see around us, this is something that it takes a — we have to be able to envision that we can live in a society without that. And so, what that requires is a representation of [00:28:00] resisting that kind of power. And what we have now in Iran, for Iranians, which is extremely significant, is that we have, on a daily basis now, various forms of civil disobedience which are about standing up against patriarchical power. And we’re seeing more and more slogans also that say, “It might not be always be the morality police, but the morality police could also be called your father.” So it’s going to the core of patriarchy in the state and patriarchy in the home. And it’s really — and that’s what makes this feminist to its core. It’s saying that in order for us to have any kind of freedom, political or otherwise, women need to be free.

And so, the long-term consequences of this are significant, because what we see also in Iran is that young girls in schools — elementary school students, middle school students, high school students — are, as you guys showed on your piece, are throwing out those who have enforced these laws in their schools for over four decades. And so, this is just the [00:29:00] start of women and girls seeing their power, seeing it reverberate, and then seeing it — and seeing so many people around the world showing solidarity to it. And that is significant for Iran, but it’s also significant for all of us as we’re sitting here contemplating how we’re going to be fighting back against all of these laws that are trying to restrict our bodies now. We are now seeing a very confrontational, militant form of feminism rising up from Iran showing us how to do that.

Are We Prepared For Anti-Democratic Extremist Threats? Featuring Peter Montgomery - Thom Hartmann Program - Air Date 12-15 -22

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Can you define for us exactly what white supremacy, white nationalism, what these things mean and how they're being played out in the American political scene today?

PETER MONTGOMERY: I think they're connected in a lot of ways. There's this line that runs through a lot of the far right ideologies we see, white nationalism, Christian nationalism, white supremacy. It's the, it's an underlying ideology that the United States was founded by [00:30:00] and for white Christian people, and the white Christian people are therefore the "real Americans" and everyone else is not.

If that's your worldview, then you can look the increasing diversity in this country and the growth of religious and ethnic diversity and pluralism, not as something to be welcomed and as a strength of a democratic society, you can view it through the lens of white grievance. Like, "this was our country and these other people are taking it away from us." And that core ideology and grievance underlies a lot of the antisemitism that's out there. It underlies the anti-Black racism and those are mixed together.

In Buffalo, the shooter targeted Black people based on his interpretation of this great replacement theory, which was that secretive Jewish forces were using Black people to replace white people. [00:31:00] That great replacement theory, we have seen that result in not only the killing of black people in Buffalo, but Jewish people at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Latinos at the Walmart in El Paso, Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. It is a very deadly threat, and yet the great replacement theory gets promoted ad nauseam on Fox News.

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Peter, what are the dimensions of this problem in the United States?

PETER MONTGOMERY: I think it's hard to get a grip really on the extent of people who might be moved to violence by being radicalized online. It's certainly enough of a problem that we've seen a lot of people killed as a result of it. We do know that there is some pretty good chunk of Americans out there, whether there's 15 or 20 or 25%, bought into QAnon conspiracy theories, who bought into Trump's relentless lies about the 2020 election. We know [00:32:00] that some sociologists who've studied Christian nationalism have documented in a very strong way that the stronger a person's Christian national's beliefs are, the more likely they are to believe that political violence might be necessary to protect America as they see it, and the more willing they are to support authoritarianism as the means to creating the kind of country they want. So I would say it's a very significant problem.

It's also a very significant problem because Donald Trump, the former president of the United States and a current candidate to become president again, continues to promote anti-democratic conspiracy theories to try to undermine confidence in elections. He even recently suggested that the Constitution be set aside so that he could somehow be reinstalled as president even though he lost.

Inside the Iran Protests What You Need to Know Nahid Siamdoust - The Majority Report - Air Date 12-18-22

EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: I wanted to ask you a bit about the origins of the [00:33:00] morality police, the group that was responsible for the death of Mahsa Amini. To me, from the outside, it seems like a glorified street gang that now has legitimacy and has gotten so over a period of time. Can you give us a rundown of that process and I guess how the Iranian Revolution sparked their existence and where they're at today?

NAHID SIAMDOUST: Yeah, so the morality police initially used to just be called the committees, and this started a few years into the revolution. In 1983, Iran's hijab law was actually systematized and formalized legally so that all Iranian women in public, after the age of puberty had to cover up. And so with that, you had these vans and cars going around the cities and admonishing or apprehending women who, in their opinion, weren't covered up enough.

In 2005, the Ahmadinejad government actually formalized this and put the morality police force under the auspices of the police. And so it became [00:34:00] much more sort of regulated, it was supposed to go against the sort of haphazard, you know, events that would take place with the committees roaming the streets, which as you said, we're sort of glorified vigilantes. And so this formalization was supposed to be actually a kind of reform.

However, with the election of Ebrahim Raisi, you would see sort of ebbs and flows of that, right? Sort of, when a more conservative president like Ahmadinejad would take office, he would, you know, promise that women would be apprehended and greater morality would be brought to the streets. And especially over the course of the, sort of, summer women would be, um, would be arrested and harassed more.

With Ebrahim Raisi, who's the most conservative president that Iran has had in post-revolutionary Iran, he was the, you know, the protector of the shrine, of the holiest shrine in the country, the head of the judiciary. So very sort of conservative pedigree. As soon as he took office, he said, I am going to bring back to the streets. Not least because, Emma and Sam, over the last three, four years, Iranian women have actually pushed back against the hijab. So we've seen this, you know, what a [00:35:00] sociologist called Asef Bayat calls "nonmovement." So through not really political organizing, but everyday practices, they had already loosened the hijab laws in the public spaces. So they'd already sort of, you know, let the head scarf roll to their shoulders, not bothering to put it back right away. So across the city, Iranians had seen a pushback against the hijab that was, you know, unprecedented, even though they'd done it over the last two, three decades. But the visuals of this was really unprecedented to the extent that one would see many women without head scarves. And so he said, I'm gonna bring the morality back to the streets. And so the morality police became much harsher against women. And so we reached the point where Mahsa Amini, somebody who was comparatively actually well dressed, and this was part of the discourse, right? When you see the CCTV footage of her from within the holding ground where she was held by the police, she's wearing a long black robe. She's wearing a head scarf. Her hair is pretty well covered. Um, that is pretty impeccable hijab compared to some of the women you will see in Tehran Streets who are not even wearing actually a coat and whose [00:36:00] hair scarve's more like a bandana. And so that I think really enraged people because they could identify with Mahsa Amini as somebody who could be anyone's wife's sister, mother. She was very, very sort of, you know, an everyday kind of woman that everybody could in identify with. And hence the protests.

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Do you have a sense of like what happens next? I mean, it seems like the momentum for this has at least maintained, I think, longer than maybe many people would've guessed a couple of months ago. Is there a cohort of society that you have yet to see respond that must respond before there is any type of like revolutionary?

NAHID SIAMDOUST: Yes, I think, you know, we really see civil disobedience across the board. We see, you know, expressions of solidarity across the board. What we haven't seen yet, which, you know, somebody like Erica Chenoweth at Harvard, for example, argues is necessary for the success of revolutionary uprisings or [00:37:00] for revolution to succeed is, internally for us, at least the security forces and the military forces to start giving up their posts and to sort of join the movement. It's not clear that they haven't, there have been some reports that, you know, the kind of forces that we see on the streets more recently are bodied with super young security officers and also older ones, which kind of points to the fact that maybe they're going to their reserves.

So we're not exactly sure, but we haven't, it certainly isn't clear yet that they have in a significant way joined the protests. And so that's what Iranians are looking to. And they're calling for that in their chants, too. They're saying, Join us, join us. You know, you no longer can be bystanders. You are on the wrong side of history.

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: I guess, actually lastly, sorry, there were reports that the prosecutors have pulled back from the morality police, and it's unclear as to are they disbanding them or are they basically just saying take a break. Is that potentially indicative [00:38:00] of maybe trying to let a little air out of the tires so that they don't lose the support of the broader internal national security state?

NAHID SIAMDOUST: Right. So this came up recently and, you know, it was wildly [sic] reported across Western media that Iran has disbanded the morality police, which is a big deal, of course, but there was actually a lot of confusion around that. This was not an intentional statement by the Iranian government. It happened sort of in the middle of a press conference where a reporter asked, you know, since the protests have started, we haven't really seen the morality police on the streets. So what's happening? Have they disbanded? And so his response was, The same place that established them, has disbanded them. However, soon after that, both that official and others have said, No, we're still going to go about and police the streets. I think what we have to hold onto, Sam, is that no matter, sort of... they're clearly trying to figure it out, right? They're trying to figure out to what extent and how are we going to enforce more, you know, morality on the streets, because this has led to a big backlash. But I think what we have to hold onto is that, for the very first time in its history, the Islamic Republic has publicly[00:39:00] stated and admitted that it's trying to figure out what to do about the morality police, and a high official, the Prosecutor General, has even said it's been disbanded. And this is due to protestors over the last 12 weeks risking and losing their lives on the street. I think that's sort of the point that we should hold onto, which is they have achieved something. If nothing else, then a confusion by the state trying to figure out what to do.

Republican Leader Trump's Dinner With Racist Forces Reckoning For Normal Americans - The Rachel Maddow Show - Air Date 11-28-22

RACHEL MADDOW - HOST, THE RACHAEL MADDOW SHOW: We've got the leading presidential contender for the Republican nomination in 2024 this holiday weekend having a nice Thanksgiving dinner with Kanye West, the rapper who just lost all of his corporate sponsorship deals when he started saying he was going to go "DEATH CON" 3 on the Jews. The leading Republican presidential candidate, their last president, Donald Trump, just hosted Mr. West this weekend, and also this man, for what was apparently a very nice Thanksgiving dinner at the former president's home.

NICK FUENTES: When you look at these things like abortion, it's popular. People like abortion. [00:40:00] Hate it, but it's true. And you can thank the Jewish media for that. Abortion's popular. Sodomy is popular. Being gay is popular. Being a feminist is popular. Sex out of wedlock is popular. Contraceptives are -- it's all popular. That's all. That's not to say it's good. That's not to say I like that. Popular means the people support it, which they do. And it sucks and it is what it is. But that's why we need dictatorship. That's unironically, why we need to get rid of all that. We need to take control of the media or take control of the government and force the people to believe what we believe.

RACHEL MADDOW - HOST, THE RACHAEL MADDOW SHOW: That's why we need a dictatorship. Force people to believe what we believe. We need a dictatorship, unironically.

So that clip is from People For the American Way. They have a project called Right Wing Watch, where they monitor and document what's going on on the ultra right, on the far right fringe. And that's a great public service all of the time. I'll tell you, it becomes a fire alarm system for the whole country when someone from that fringe, someone from that [00:41:00] far out on the political spectrum, ends up having a Thanksgiving dinner with the Republican party's leading candidate for president.

NICK FUENTES: Here's the pathway. We have one more election where white people can make the decision. The white people gotta make the right decision, and then Trump's gotta get in there and never leave. That to me, at this point is a pathway. It's time to shut up, elect Trump one more time, and then stop having elections. We have gotta talk about the fundamentals of our worldview and what it would look like to build a society based on our distinct worldview.

It looks like a society where women don't have the right to vote, and it looks like a society where boys and girls get married as teenagers and start having kids. And they don't use birth control and they don't use contraceptives, and they have big families and a high birth rate. And it looks like women wearing veils at church, and it looks like women not being in the workforce.

Banning gay marriage [00:42:00] is back on the menu. Banning sodomy is back on the menu. Banning contraceptives is back on the menu. And basically we're having something like Taliban rule in America in a good way. We're having something like a Catholic Taliban rule in America.

RACHEL MADDOW - HOST, THE RACHAEL MADDOW SHOW: The reason groups like People For the American Way monitor guys like this and keep track of what they are saying and doing is not just because a guy like this might have an incidental effect someday on some real politician who interacts with them. Now, the reason that it is worth keeping track of Holocaust-denying racist agitators who advocate race war, and -- I kid you not -- burning women alive in America.

The reason you monitor guys like that is not just because of their potential future impacts someday on other people who have power. It's because of their power and because of the damage that they want to [00:43:00] do. And guys like that -- neo-Nazi agitators -- getting a big proverbial hug, getting a private audience with the Republican party's likely next presidential nominee, yes, sure, that reflects on that political candidate and on his party. But more importantly, it's great for the Nazis, right? It's a supercharging thing for them, for their perceived legitimacy, their reach, their ability to get their message out to people, to operate, to recruit, and to do what they want to do. Which in this guy's case, is turning the United States of America into a whites only, no Jews allowed, fascist homeland under a dictator who he would please like to be Donald Trump.

Women's Rights Activist on Protests Sweeping Iran, the Intensifying Gov't Crackdown & Executions Part 2 - Democracy now! - Air Date 10-15-22

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Sussan, what has been — I mean, apart, of course, from these horrific executions and arrests and deaths, there have been some reports that the Iranian government is somehow responding also positively to the protests — Iran’s attorney general having announced [00:44:00] that both parliament and the judiciary are reviewing the hijab laws, some people reporting that the so-called morality police are less visible now on the streets. Do you think any of this is important?

SUSSAN TAHMASEBI: Actually, I don’t think any of it is true. That’s the thing. I think people were expecting, and maybe it would have been logical, for them to really review these horrific policies, these very violent policies of enforcing women’s — you know, enforcing a particular dress code on women, policing women’s bodies. And there was some news about — I think there was a press conference by a judiciary official who mentioned something about how this is an issue, the morality police has to do with the police, not the judiciary. And people took that as if the morality police was going to be dismantled. But then we immediately heard [00:45:00] other accounts from other sources within the Iranian government that denied that.

Unfortunately, the Iranian state has dismantled every possible opportunity and mechanism to create reform or to respond to the demands of the Iranian people. You know, Iranians voted multiple times for over two decades for some process of reform or some hope of reform, but the state has not given in to those demands and has not allowed for any form of reform. And I think that this is the result. What we’re seeing now is the result, because these extreme hard-liners have a very different vision for the future of Iran and the future of Iranians than Iranians themselves. And there seems to be no process of negotiation, unfortunately. They’re not engaging in any kind of negotiation, [00:46:00] and they’re not backing down at all. And, you know, I think it’s unfortunate. Something has to give.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Sussan, could you, before we end, talk about what you think the global response should be, from the Global South but also from the EU and the U.S.? You had previously been extremely critical, for instance, about sanctions on Iran, saying that they harm women, in particular. But earlier this month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bipartisan resolution reaffirming U.S. support for Iranian protesters and calling on the Biden administration to impose additional sanctions on Iranian officials and entities. The EU and Britain have taken similar steps. And many Iranians in the diaspora are supporting these steps, even those who previously opposed sanctions. What are you hearing about what protesters in Iran are calling for from the international [00:47:00] community?

SUSSAN TAHMASEBI: Well, I think the international community needs to act in a coordinated manner to press Iran through whatever means it can to stop the executions. We now have, you know, 10 people who have been sentenced to execution that we know for sure, possibly more than that, and then many, many more who could potentially face execution. So, this is — I think this needs to be top priority, through whatever diplomatic channels or whatever pressure means, to stop the executions of peaceful protesters and to respect the rights, further, to release the protesters, release the scores and scores of human rights defenders, including nearly 170 women human rights defenders that we’ve documented who have been in prison since the start of the protests.

I think, in terms of sanctions, yes, I have consistently been opposed to economic sanctions, because I think that they’re broad. They’re [00:48:00] indiscriminate. They target and harm ordinary citizens, especially marginalized communities the most. I’m not opposed to targeted sanctions on individuals for human rights violations. I think that’s great, that we should see more of that. But I think, in terms of if there’s entities that are being sanctioned, that there should be a harm assessment done before those sanctions are implemented, to see if the sanctions are going to harm Iranians, if it’s going to harm their access to the internet, for example, or if it’s going to harm their ability to continue with their protests or their freedoms in some way. Canada did sanctions against heads of the IRGC, which is fine, because, before, the U.S. did sanctions against IRGC that included 11,000 ordinary people who had to serve military service. So, there hadn’t been harm analysis. And I think that harm analysis is really important with respect to sanctions.

Will SCOTUS Turn America Into A Theocracy? (w/ Rachel Laser) - Thom Hartmann Program - Air Date 04-18-22

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: On the line with us as Rachel [00:49:00] Laser, the president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, whose legal team is actually representing the Bremerton School District in this case it's coming up. AU.org is American United's website. Her Twitter handle is @rachelklaser or @americansunited. Rachel, welcome to the program. Tell me about Joseph Kennedy.

RACHEL LASER: Thank you. Nice to be with you and your listeners. So this is a case about a football coach in a public school, that's important, Joe Kennedy, who violated the religious freedom of his students by pressuring them to pray with him at the 50 yard immediately after games, right when the team huddle usually occurs, right at that 50 yard line.

The school district tried to work with him to say, look, you can't do that. You can't, on official duty, pressure students to pray with you. That's a clear violation of the First Amendment of our Constitution, but we'd love to find a way for you to still pray, just in a way that doesn't pressure students.[00:50:00]

And he flat out rejected their multiple overtures, said he only wanted to be able to pray in a way that students could join him and continued. And then he sued the school district.

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: And it wasn't just that students could join him, it was the students must join him. Do I have that right? That he was the coach of the team.

RACHEL LASER: Actually, some psychologists wrote in about the constitution of the teenager psyche, and they said that coaches, as we all know and remember, play a super important role. They're role models. They can feel like parents. Students fear them. The court has written before about the pressure that can be applied on kids when other students are joining in with teachers or coaches, and there's an enormous peer and public pressure as well.

So when you head to the 50 yard line directly following a game, right where the team huddle occurs, you are putting pressure on your students to join you there. They're expected to show up, and that's why they all did. And the record shows, actually, that students' parents came forward and said, my student felt [00:51:00] pressured to pray to play, and when the coach wasn't there praying, no students were.

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Now, this would just be a local story in Bremerton, what state is this in?

RACHEL LASER: This is Washington State.

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: This would just be a local Bremerton, Washington story where not for the fact that a shadowy group of right wing, wannabe theocrats are pushing this to the US Supreme Court. Tell us about that.

RACHEL LASER: It's remarkable. And the place to go is on the SCOTUS website, you can see who wrote to the court to express their support for the coach, and it is a who's who of extremists in this country. It's the drafter of the Texas abortion ban. It's John Eastman, the architect of the fake election. It's the groups that are anti LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, anti-reproductive freedom, the DeVoses, it's everyone who you would think would be their, the Hawley and Ted Cruzes.

And why? Because religious extremists and their [00:52:00] lawmaker allies are using the coach actually as a pawn to advance an agenda to get the court to reinterpret our sacred concept of religious freedom to be something that gives favor to one particular type of religious observance over all others, which is flat out unconstitutional.

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: What is the argument that they are going to be making before the US Supreme Court? What's the argument that you're gonna be making in rebuttal to that, and how are you anticipating the court will receive this?

RACHEL LASER: Let me start with the first part, which is a little bit easier. So, he'll be arguing that he has a free exercise right to do this, but he's using false facts and I really wanna emphasize that. Look at any picture and it is evident that the story that the coach and his lawyers are telling is false, and the lower courts actually used that strong language. They called the story that the coach is painting, "false and deceitful". Really strong language. That was a George W. Bush appointee 9th [00:53:00] Circuit judge. Wow. So he's saying I have a right to pray in a private and personal manner, but what's really happening, and actually I can hold up my picture, is this is the coach holding up a football helmet, surrounded by students. There's nothing private or personal about it.

So he'll try to make the argument that he has a free exercise right to pray in a private and personal way, and what we'll say back is actually, the school district has a right to control the speech of teachers and coaches, because when they're speaking on behalf of the school. And clearly at a football game event for the school, which he repeatedly prayed at, when a coach is praying at the 50 yard line immediately following games, that's speaking for the school. The school has a right to control that speech and there aren't First Amendment exceptions.

But, even if the court finds that this is a guy who's praying in a private way, which would be alarming given the facts, that there's a balancing test that takes place, [00:54:00] and what we're weighing against what he's declaring as his blanket right, his uninhibited right to free exercise of religion is the other part of the First Amendment, which is the establishment clause, which protects everybody's religious freedom and the way it works with the free exercise clause. It puts limits. It says actually, the state cannot endorse a religion. You can't pray when you're a public official such that you would be compelling students to join you because that's a violation of their religious freedom. What about the Jewish student? What about the atheist student? What about the Christian student who believes that you shouldn't pray in an ostentatious matter, that Jesus said that, and so...

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Right, in the Sermon on the Mount.

RACHEL LASER: and so that's what we'll be arguing back.

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: I think I'm remembering correctly that back in the day, and this was, I mean literally back in the 60s or thereabouts, that the Supreme Court, in a similar case, ruled that you can have in, a public school, a moment of silence, but to do virtually anything else is to [00:55:00] endorse a religion, if not just praying to a God being endorsing monotheism. Am I remembering that right?

RACHEL LASER: Yeah. Basically there are decades starting from the 1960s of case law that have been supported by conservative and liberal justices alike that protect school children's religious freedom and that recognize that children are impressionable, that they are captive at school, they have to report to school, and that are very careful to protect their religious freedom. And if the court rules against the Bremerton school district, students K-12 across this country could be forced to pray again in school. Parents need to be concerned, because we think as parents that we get to control the upbringing of our kids religiously, and it's alarming to think as parents that schools now are gonna be able to pressure our students to practice a religion that's not our own.

Hayes: Supreme Court conservative majority is ‘high council of Fox News viewers’ - All In w/ Chris Hayes - Air Date 12-5-22

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: So today the Supreme Court heard an [00:56:00] important case that it should not have been here. And it revolves around a conservative Christian web designer in Colorado who wants an exemption to a state law so she doesn't have to design websites for same sex marriages. And the reason the court shouldn't be hearing the case is because nothing's actually happened. No injury has occurred because no one has asked her to make a website or forced her to make such a website. It hasn't happened. She just preemptively sued the state of Colorado arguing that, should that happen, her first amendment rights would be violated. She has a First Amendment right to refuse to make hypothetical websites for hypothetical same sex couples because of her actual beliefs.

And because the conservative majority has tossed away all pretense being anything other than essentially a high council of Fox News viewers, they decided her case should be heard before the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Very, very few cases get to do that. And so today, they were hearing the case, making the arguments, and sounding more like callers into a right wing radio show than [00:57:00] Supreme Court Justices. Just listen to how Samuel Alito responded to a hypothetical situation raised by Justice Kaji Brown Jackson, Jackson saying, "can you give me your thoughts on a photography business in a shopping mall during this holiday season that offers a product called Scenes with Santa, and this business wants to express its own view of nostalgia."

Jackson continues, "Because they're trying to capture the feelings of a certain era, the policy is that only white children can be photographed with Santa in this way. The objection, just like your client's objection, is to expressions that violate their own views of what is being depicted."

Alito, "so if there's a black Santa at the other end of the ball, he doesn't want his picture taken with a child who's dressed up in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, that Black Santa has to do that?"

The lawyer, "no, because Ku Klux Klan outfits are not protected characteristics under public accommodation laws."

Kagan," and presumably that would be the same Ku Klux land outfits, whether the child was Black or white or any other characteristic?"

If you, viewer, are like where is this going? Alito, "you see a lot of Black children in Ku [00:58:00] Klux Klan outfits, right?. All the time." There was a lot of laughter in the courtroom at that moment, although very confusing.

Then there was Justice Neil Gorsuch raising the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple and was told to undergo non-discrimination compliance training.

JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH: Mr. Phillips did go through a reeducation training program pursuant to Colorado law. Did he not Mr. Olson?

ERIC OLSON: He went through a process that ensured he was familiar with....

JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH: It was a reeducation program, right?

ERIC OLSON: It was not a reeducation program.

JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH: What do you call it?

ERIC OLSON: It was a process to make sure he was familiar with Colorado law.

JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH: Someone might be excused for calling that a re-education course.

ERIC OLSON: I strongly disagree Justice Gorsuch.

JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH: Thank you. Mr. Olson.

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: Reeducation program, of course, is a reference to Maoist camps during the Cultural Revolution. The arguments lasted for two and a half hours. It seemed pretty clear which way the conservative majority will eventually rule.

I'm joined now by Melissa Murray, professor of New York University School of Law, co-host along with Leah Lipman and my wife Kate Shaw of the Strict Scrutiny Podcast, and Elie Mystal, the Justice Correspondent of the [00:59:00] Nation. And it's great to have you both here in person.

So I wanted to start with this initial point, and I should say that Kate made this point to me when she was giving me her own tailored preview for me about the case a few weeks ago, and I just couldn't believe that it was true, which is that the plaintiff has sustained no injury, right? I'm not missing this. No one made her make a website, right? There's no dispute between two parties like that's happened. This is purely a hypothetical about the future,

MELISSA MURRAY: Purely hypothetical, purely speculative, purely theoretical, and it's the reason why you had all of these completely outlandish, kind of offensive hypotheticals from Justice Alito and company. I mean, the Black children in KKK costumes. None of this would be happening if we actually had facts on the record that could be discussed in this case.

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: And so instead, you've got this very weird, almost kind of law school rift session in the arguments today that were really strange and very long.

ELIE MYSTAL: Yes, but there was a point to them, and what they were trying to do [01:00:00] is completely misunderstand the nature of rights in this country. So the right wing really love to go to these racial analogies, to go to these KKK analogies trying to suggest that anybody who was against same sex marriage is like the KKK to a Black person. That was Samuel Alito being 4chan troll. That was the kind of thing that he was trying to do, but they fundamentally misunderstood the law. Because here's the deal, Chris. One of the ones they used was the Black carpenter who makes crosses, but doesn't want to make a cross for the KKK, isn't that discrimination? No, it's not discrimination because if I'm a Black carpenter, I can easily say I don't wanna make crosses for the KKK. What I can't say is I will not make any crosses for white folks.

Now, it is Sam Alito and Amy Barrett who seems to think that there is no difference between white folks and the KKK. I happen to think better of white people and think that there's a huge difference between a white person who wants a cross for a religious ceremony and a white person who wants a cross for a Klan rally.

MELISSA MURRAY: So let's first be clear, when Lori Smith, who is the plaintiff in this case, brought her suit, she did [01:01:00] have a religious liberty claim. She was essentially arguing that it violated her rights to free exercise of religion to be compelled to serve same sex couples by providing websites, but...

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: even though no one has [inaudible] do it.

MELISSA MURRAY: Even though she hasn't served anyone, she hasn't served anyone, the theoretical gay couples. She also has this compelled speech claim. When the court granted certiorari on this case, they only granted it as to one issue, the compelled speech issue. Why they didn't touch the religious question, up for grabs. Maybe it's because they've done so much to expand the scope of free exercise over the last couple of years. Maybe it's because there are individuals raising free exercise claims in response to limitations on reproductive rights. But maybe it's also because this case was literally created in a lab to bring this question to the Supreme Court, and so it's a compelled speech case. She's arguing that Colorado is making her say that she endorses same sex marriages, which she does not because of her religious views.

But what's missing in all of this, while we're talking about Lori Smith, while we're talking about the prospective speculative injuries she may or may not suffer, is we're not talking about the actual [01:02:00] same sex couples who are going to be denied equal treatment in the marketplace, and that's the thing that really was lost in this entire argument. She was the victim. The other victims of discrimination were completely absent from this.

ELIE MYSTAL: It's because the case was already determined for the judges heard a single argument. The real issue is, there's a scintilla of a point here. Obviously the government cannot compel you to say anything.

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: You can't say, everyone in Colorado has to write an op-ed saying they like same sex marriage. Like clearly not.

ELIE MYSTAL: The government clearly can't compel, so what Lori is trying to say, what the website designer is trying to say, is that she has a content based reason to discriminate against the messages that she's willing to do, and she is right to have that content based discrimination. However, what she's doing, is going for status based discrimination. So she's trying to say that gay people can't come into my store. We all have been saying no gay person is asking her to do anything, but she's trying to say that gay people can't even come into your store. And that's something that takes us right back to the Jim Crow era. Because it used to be that the racist lunch counter people are just like, [01:03:00] I have an objection, I have a religious objection to Black people at my store. You can't say that. We've moved beyond that. People like Sam Alito are trying to take us back.

Final comments on why Christian Nationalists would be better off not installing a dictatorship

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today starting with the BBC diving into the world of white Christian nationalism. Democracy Now! looked at the protest in Iran against the morality police, as protestors are being executed for "going to war against God". Vice explored the cross pollination and shared visions of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Christian nationalists in the US. Democracy Now! continued their coverage of Iran, discussing the militant feminism that is the inevitable. Violence to theocratic oppression. Thom Hartmann examined the origins of Christian nationalism and its tendency to lead to political violence and calls for authoritarianism. The Majority Report looked at the impact the protests in Iran are having. The Rachel Maddow Show looked more closely at Nick Fuentez, his theocratic views and his calls for a dictatorship. And [01:04:00] Democracy Now! discussed the global response to the crackdown in Iran, including the need for carefully targeted sanctions.

That's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips looking at two cases now before our Supreme Court, the first from the Thom Hartmann program discussing the high school coach coercing prayer in school, and the second from all in with Chris Hayes looking at the case of the web designer who is seeking the right to discriminate against a protected class of people based on her religion. To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship and membership because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.

And finally, today, I just have some more advice for the white supremacist and Christian nationalist who I am positive listen to this show because they appreciate hearing a diverse set of opinions that may differ from their own as part of a healthy [01:05:00] media diet. Previously, I pointed out to those hoping to stoke a race war, that what they would actually end up with is not so much a race war as a racism war, in which all white racists would fight on one side, but not all the white people in general, as they seem to hope. And with that clarification, I hope they can better see how badly that conflict would go for them.

Well today, similarly, I wanna give some advice and some long-term perspective to those listeners of Best of the Left, who are, on one hand, hoping for a Christian Taliban style dictatorship, but are also here to get a diverse set of opinions. The first point is that dictatorships rarely last much longer than the life of the dictator. So this project you're building toward is pretty unlikely to be very long lived.

That's just the first point. The second point is that although you may like to imagine that taking over the media and using it for your own propaganda needs to change everyone's mind and make everyone believe the same [01:06:00] things that you do—that is going to have limited success and is really only gonna work well on the kids. So you may be able to raise a generation or so of Christian fascists, but when the dictatorship falls, they'll be the only ones left as true believers, and think about how the rest of their lives are gonna go. they're gonna be holding onto these beliefs that are seen by the rest of society as hateful and wrong. That'll be such a sad and lonely existence for them, just like the Nazi youth generation who had to spend the rest of their lives hiding their true feelings just to be accepted by polite society.

And speaking of the Nazis, that brings me to my third point, which is a, as we heard today in the coverage of Iran's attempt to maintain their theocracy, it's an effort that requires a whole lot of murder. So like, is that really how you wanna spend the next few decades before the dictatorship inevitably falls, murdering people who disagree with you? I mean, in a very different context, usually talking about social media addiction, I really like the phrase, "your life will have been what you paid [01:07:00] attention to", and I think that applies equally well, whether you're talking about staring at your newsfeed on your phone, or ordering the murders of dissidents.

And another good phrase I like is that, "when you say yes to one thing, you're also saying no to all the other possibilities." The point is that we have a finite amount of time to allocate, and when we decide to spend our time and resources on one project, that same time and energy can't also be spent elsewhere. So you really have to ask yourself, do you want to spend all the time and energy it would require to erect and maintain a Christian dictatorship through the deployment of extensive resources to repress and murder people only to have it crumble within a few decades? Because there are other ways you could spend your time. Like I hear pickleball is really catching on.

So in short, the upfront and ongoing investment requirements for a Christian nationalist dictatorship are high. The long-term prospects are [01:08:00] not favorable, and in the meantime you have to get really comfortable with being a murderer, which, even if you think you're doing it for the greater good, is a tough pill for most to swallow and keep in mind, the alternative to a Christian dictatorship isn't that you have to personally become a progressive, multicultural, democratic socialist. You can keep being hateful and exclusionary in your private lives and teach your kids the same, but you'll have so much more free time to dedicate to having fun or personal growth or spending time with your hateful children, and you wouldn't have to murder anyone. That's what I call a win-win.

As always, keep the comments coming in and remember that our old number now does new tricks. You can leave a voicemail as always, or you can now send us a text message through standard sms, find us on WhatsApp or the Signal messaging app, all with the same number, which is (202) 999-3991, or keep it old school by emailing me [01:09:00] to [email protected].

That is going to be it for today and for this year, it's been a good one. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show, and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Brian for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app.

Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player. And if you want to continue the discussion, join our Best of the Left Discord community to talk about the show or the news or other shows or other news or [01:10:00] videos you've seen, or books you've read, or a meme you made, or, pretty much anything you like. A link to join is in the show notes.

So, coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left Podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.

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  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2022-12-24 16:23:17 -0500
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