Attacks on Drag Queen Story Hours Part of Bigger Reactionary ProjectHistorians in the News
tags: far right, LGBTQ history, Drag
The harassment of drag queens and LGBTQ people isn’t occurring in isolation. Rather, it’s part of a wider movement seeking to undermine the rights and status of certain groups, according to Thomas Zimmer, a visiting professor at Georgetown University, where his research focuses on the history of democracy and its discontents.
“I think that it’s easy to lose sight of how things are connected, but they really are connected,” he told CNN. “We’re not seeing different political conflicts. We’re seeing one big political conflict – one big reactionary political project.”
This movement is visible – even if it isn’t always obviously coordinated – in US Supreme Court rulings, in political rhetoric, in reactionary think tanks, in a highly effective media machine and, increasingly, in far-right paramilitary groups.
“There’s an overriding concern, and to me it’s the maintaining of traditional political, social, cultural and economic hierarchies. That’s the underlying political project,” Zimmer said. “It’s about weaponizing unease over changes the country has undergone over the past few decades and restoring and entrenching traditional authority, not just on a political level but also in the local community, in the public square, in the workplace and in the family. The assault on LGBTQ rights is very much a part of it, and must be seen in this context.”
Earlier this year, Judith Butler, the author of the 1990 book “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity,” made a similar observation about the interwoven attacks on equality.
“Right-wing movements appeal to an enormous anxiety people have that their worlds are falling apart and that gender and critical race theory have this enormously destructive power,” the UC Berkeley philosopher told CNN. “There is a lot that is very wrong and very terrifying about our world. But to focus that anxiety on gender and critical race theory without even knowing what these are is both a deflection and a way of inflaming prejudices against queer people and Black and brown people.”
Notably, this project is minoritarian.
“Conservatives are acutely aware that they don’t have numerical majorities for this project of basically turning the clock back to 1950s-style White Christian patriarchal dominance,” Zimmer said. “This is important, I think, because of the specific political strategies that the Republican Party is committed to.”
Members of the GOP, he explained, understand that the numbers don’t help them. Therefore, they’ve designed ways to realize their vision of the US without broad support.
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