Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Short Posts 7/19/16: On Turkey's Coups, Melania Trump's Speech and Mike Pence As The Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Christianists

1.  The military coup attempt in Turkey failed. But what Erdogan appears to be doing in response looks ominous to me:
Turkey suspended more than 15,000 Education Ministry workers on Tuesday and demanded resignations from all university deans as authorities widened their far-reaching crackdowns in the wake of a failed coup attempt.
The 15,200 personnel were being investigated for links to the power grab launched last week, the ministry said in a statement. In addition, 1,577 university deans from Turkey's public and private universities were asked to hand in their notice. A further 492 staff were removed from duty at the country's top Islamic authority.

Earlier a similar large-scale cleansing was carried out among the Turkish judiciary:

The Turkish government has removed 2,745 judges from duty in the wake of a failed military coup in which over 161 people were killed.
The decision followed an emergency meeting of Turkey’s Judges and Prosecutors High Council which was called to discuss members’ links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, the leader of a reformist Muslim movement.
The meeting saw the dismissal of 2,745 judges along with several members of the council itself, which is Turkey’s highest judiciary board.
 Turkey’s state-run news agency said authorities have detained 10 members of the council. 
The Anadolu Agency said arrest warrants have been issued for 48 administrative court members and 140 members of Turkey's appeals court.

If this indeed was a coup attempt by the military, what are the grounds for the above?  How does Turkey guarantee that these purges aren't used to get rid of all who oppose Erdogan's plans to be the tyrant of Turkey and who want to use the democratic system to express their opinions?

2.   From one end of real-world significance (the worry I have that Turkey is sliding toward extreme authoritarianism and possibly theocracy) to almost the other end:  Melania Trump's speech last night at the Republican National Convention and the astonishing similarities between her speech and that of Michelle Obama in 2012.

Rebecca Traister writes about the debacle and makes some good points.  As is my wont, I immediately focused on something peripheral in Traister's piece:

Melania’s task should have been to humanize her cartoonish thug of a mate, whether by offering a clear picture of herself, of him, or of their family life together.

Try to do a gender reversal on that.  It won't work, because the task of the candidate's wife in US politics is the one Nancy Reagan performed so well:  To look up to the candidate with adoring googly eyes, to soften the candidate by "humanizing" him, to play a supporting and acquiescent role behind the throne the candidate seeks.  Men aren't expected to do any of that, because the task has to do with the maintenance of the traditional woman-as-the-helpmate beliefs.

I don't have much to say on the specifics of the plagiarism accusations.  Directly stealing bits of language from someone else's well-known speech is a stupid thing to do in this Internet era, of course, because the chances of getting caught are very high.  That this was allowed to happen suggests that the Trump campaign is as chaotic as the Republican National Convention appears to be.

3. Mike Pence, the governor if Indiana, is Donald Trump's vice-presidential pick.  Pence is a Christianist and adamantly opposed to women's reproductive rights and same-sex marriage:

Like many young adults, Pence's views began to change during and just after college. He met his future wife, Karen, at a church in Indianapolis after he graduated from Hanover College. He later became a born-again Christian. Both remain deeply religious.

"I would say that my Christian faith and my relationship with Karen are the two most dominant influences in my life today," Pence told IndyStar in 2012.
Pence traces his views back to two historical documents: the Constitution and the Bible.
The first has shaped his passionate belief in limited government. The second has forged his strong beliefs on abortion and marriage.
In fact, the Bible says nothing against abortion.

In 1999 Pence wrote about the Disney movie Mulan as a liberal plot which tried to make little girls dream about combat roles in the military, even though Mulan was far too delicate to be able to match the performance of her "cloddish cohorts."  Pence was then opposed to military women in combat roles, and most likely opposed to women in the military altogether. 

And Pence believed that you get sex if you let women and men intermingle, and that Must.Not.Be:

You see, now stay with me on this, many young men find many young women to be attractive sexually. Many young women find many young men to be attractive sexually. Put them together, in close quarters, for long periods of time, and things will get interesting. Just like they eventually did for young Mulan. Moral of story: women in military, bad idea.

Women and men sorta intermingle in the Western societies anyway (colleges and schools, ahem, for the young ones), so the obvious corollary must be that the 1999 Pence was for gender segregation in almost all places. 

That's why I called him a Christianist, to echo the Islamist label for those who wish to re-engineer society to match their views of what might have been its form thousands of years ago in quite a different part of the world and in quite a different type of society.

Nobody knows if Pence still holds those views, but we do know that he loves nothing better than trying to remove reproductive choice from women.  The Periods for Pence -campaign grew out of that.

So that's who could be our Vice-President.  He's the pound of bloody (err) meat tossed to the fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party.  Trump needs the votes of that wing and the easiest way to get them is to let the fundies bash women's rights.  So Pence takes care of the religious oppression of American women, Trump takes care of women's  sexualizing oppression!

No wonder that most women in the US have a negative opinion about Trump's potential presidency:

A Washington Post-ABC News poll last month found that 77 percent of women had an unfavorable impression of Trump, including 65 percent who saw him in a “strongly unfavorable” light. Trump’s negative ratings among women are more than 20 percentage points higher than the ratings 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney received at any point in that campaign.