Republican politicians — particularly male Republican politicians — have a remarkable way of forgetting the position of privilege that so many of them are speaking from. This leads them to join the crowd of male politicians who ignore marginalized voices, and let me tell you, that is a pretty big crowd. The rise of Donald Trump, the ultimate dismisser of anyone non-white and non-male, has seemingly emboldened others — but some of this very broad range of sentiments has been around for quite a while.
The Republican Party often supports policies that have the effect of silencing people who are already marginalized — think of their voter suppression efforts, or their health care plan that caters pretty much exclusively to the rich — but it's rare that a politician will talk openly about those goals. Make no mistake, though — you don't have to dig deep to find a male politician coming out and saying something dismissive about women, people of color, the LGBT community, low-income people, minority religious groups, or any number of other marginalized groups. The following list offers a number of egregious examples, but it's by no means exhaustive. This is proof positive of the work that the country still has to do — the work that will be done only when it's clear to everyone that saying things like this is indefensible.
1Mike Pence On Gays In The Military
As a true Christian supremacist and conservative ideologue, Mike Pence could be even more damaging for progressive causes across the board than Donald Trump. He has always made it clear that he relies on a narrow reading of the Bible for just about everything, including how he thinks the American military should look:
Apparently to Mike Pence, people who aren't straight just can't fit in with a group of straight people. Or something. It's unclear.
2Texas Rep. Bill Zedler On Pro-Choice Activism
Do you remember Wendy Davis, the kickass Texas Democratic senator who singlehandedly filibustered a terrible Texas anti-abortion bill? Well, the responses she drew weren't all positive. Texas Rep. Bill Zedler tweeted that "we had terrorist [sic] in the Senate," essentially calling Davis a terrorist for fighting for the rights of women.
3Mike Huckabee On Abortion Rights
Let's keep going on this reproductive rights theme for just a minute. Mike Huckabee may still have the look of a teddy bear in a preacher's clothing, but don't be fooled by the smile on his face. In a speech at an anti-abortion event, Huckabee compared abortion to genocide and likened himself and other anti-abortion activists to, of all people, Oskar Schindler — because Schindler “[intervened] on behalf of human life”:
Abortion as the Holocaust. In one paragraph, Huckabee managed to insinuate that women seeking abortions we are bad as Nazis and denigrate the experiences of the groups — Jews, Roma, the LGBT community — who were actually targeted during the Holocaust.
4Paul Ryan On The Right To Family Time
In saying the above, Paul Ryan took a strong stand when advocating for his own work-life balance. When asked about the hypocritical nature of him insisting on that for himself while at the same time refusing to support policies like a higher minimum wage or paid family leave that would allow others to do the same, he did not take such a strong stand:
It doesn't make sense to you, Speaker Ryan, because you've probably never considered that millions of Americans simply cannot afford to have that balance, and many of the policies that you support are working to keep them in that situation.
5Ted Cruz On Political Correctness
Ted Cruz has thoughts on political correctness, and it doesn't exactly seem like he's thought much about the people who this specific brand of politeness benefits:
It's one thing to insist on safe spaces everywhere and recoil at every perceived microaggression — it's another to insist that political correctness is useless, or, as Cruz seems to suggest above, that it's a form of lying. The U.S. is a diverse nation full of people from all sorts of different backgrounds, and speaking in a politically correct manner is simply a way of allowing people to communicate across societal lines respectfully.
6Rudy Giuliani On Black Lives Matter
To be fair, Rudy Giuliani is hardly the important public figure that he once was, but he still did keep himself in the public eye by going out and defending Trump throughout the campaign. And when Trump had some nasty things to say about the Black Lives Matter movement, so did Rudy:
This just reflects a lack of understanding of what the movement actually stands for and why it exists. It's not racist to stand up for yourself when it's become overwhelmingly and painfully clear that law enforcement in your country is not there to stand up for you.
7Mike Pence On Gay Conversion Therapy
The Ryan White Care Act provided resources for people living with HIV and AIDS. Here, Pence is claiming that homosexual sex is a behavior that facilitates the spread of HIV, and that money should instead go to organizations that help people "change their sexual behavior" — which means, quite simply, organizations offering gay conversion therapy. This is from 2001, and this hugely damaging "therapy" has since been mostly discredited, with no help from people like Mike Pence.
8Donald Trump On The Country's "Big Problem"
Instead of owning up to his own statements against women, Muslims, and numerous other minority groups, Trump likes to blame political correctness for just about anything:
What he's really saying is that he doesn't care to give everyone the respect that they deserve, which he's made abundantly clear since the very day that he announced his entrance into the presidential campaign.
9Steve Bannon On Islam
Steven Bannon, who Trump unfortunately elevated to a position of importance in his administration, has no shortage of despicable opinions. Bannon's thoughts on Islam are particularly debasing, however:
Big surprise that one of the people behind Trump's attempts at a Muslim ban would have views on Islam that are seriously dismissive. This is one of the world's great religions with over a billion followers, many of whom are American citizens, and Bannon brushes it to the side in less than 20 words.
10Trump On Black Lives Matter
Giuliani might think that Black Lives Matter is racist, but Trump thinks that it's a "threat." In an interview with Bill O'Reilly in which O'Reilly asked if Black Lives Matter had been "a fuse-lighter in the assassinations of these police officers," Trump responded in the affirmative:
In a perfect world, no police officers would die in the line of duty — but they also wouldn't shoot unarmed black people and then not face any punishment for it. Why can't Trump seem to feel any sympathy for both sides?
11Bannon On Progressivism
According to Steve Bannon, no one is oppressed. Anyone fighting for equal rights, says Trump's White House chief strategist, is really just claiming to be a victim. "The progressive ... is all about victimhood," according to Bannon. But he doesn't stop there:
Bannon magically manages to dismiss all marginalized groups at once by claiming that the U.S. has liberated them, no matter their concern. Anyone fighting for equal rights is doing so because people like Bannon have made it impossible for them to get them so far. They haven't made up those fights — and Bannon seems to subscribe to the all too common fallacy that equal rights for everyone means that people like him lose some of their own rights. Obviously, that's not how it works.
One day, the quotes from Bannon and the rest of the men on these list will be remnants of a distant past — hopefully. But for now, all of the marginalized groups out there still have a fight ahead of them.