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Forcefully swatting back at the haters
As extremists attack Pride and LGBTQ-friendly corporations cave, the White House is standing strong. President Biden isn't afraid to poke the extremists with his resolute support.
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The Fox News chyron that ran briefly on the day of Donald Trump’s arraignment for his federal indictment, calling President Biden a "wannabe dictator," was not only outrageous even for Fox; it was historically ridiculous to call a president who has been a powerful force standing against anti-LGBTQ hate and for LGBTQ rights a "dictator."
That’s because one thing that brutal leftist dictatorships, such as Stalin’s Russia, and brutal right-wing dictatorships, such as Hitler’s Germany, have always had in common is the obsessive demonization of homosexuality and any group that defies gender norms—to the point of engaging in violence and mass murder.
There is simply no dictator in history who rose to power as a champion of LGBTQ rights. And that’s because it doesn’t fit the playbook: Dictators rise to power by capitalizing on hatred of vilified minorities and by enforcing rigid conformity, including sexual and gender conformity, via authoritarian means.
So, to see that chyron, which seemed to be written by a rogue MAGA Fox employee and taken down after 27 seconds (Fox claims it was "addressed," whatever that means), underscored not only the extremism that has taken hold of every facet of our political lives but the lack of history and education among those pushing the hate.
These same people have been railing incessantly for over a week now, ever since the White House hung a Pride flag —the trans and racially inclusive "Progress" version of the Pride flag—on the south portico in honor of Pride month.
"Today, the People’s House—your house—sends a clear message to the country and to the world," Biden tweeted, along with a photo of the flag hanging between two American flags. "America is a nation of pride."
Along with the vicious transphobic and homophobic uproar came claims that the flag code had been violated because the American flag is to hang higher than any other flag, not alongside any other flag. But this was false and quickly debunked because an American flag was indeed hanging above all other flags, waving in the breeze on top of the White House.
That hasn’t stopped the vipers on the right from becoming completely unhinged. The New Republic, in a piece about how they’ve exploded about this but have yet to express concern about neo-Nazi protestors outside of Disney World flying flags with swastikas alongside a "DeSantis 2024" banner, summarized some of the critics’ attacks on the White House display of Pride:
"America has been humiliated, debauched and debased. A warning about how civilizations unravel from within," former Trump adviser Stephen Miller tweeted. "The ideological coup is complete," said The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro. Benny Johnson, of the right-wing youth group Turning Point USA, decreed, "The enemy is inside the castle walls."
Several Republican members of Congress claimed Biden had violated the "flag code," with Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana going on to deem it part of Biden’s "twisted agenda" and Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas calling it "a disgrace." On Fox on Monday, Washington Examiner deputy editor Kaylee McGhee White claimed that the Biden administration was sending the message, "This ideology runs America."
Within the same news cycle, Fox News Online ran a heinous piece filled with lies and distortions. In the article, Fox News reporter Kerry Byrne reported that those opposed to the Progress flag said that "it appears to reference a cult of pedophilia infecting many institutions and represents an unwanted takeover of traditional gay symbolism."
This rightly outraged people in the White House, which spoke out strongly. White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates tweeted out: "@FoxNews is characteristically lying through their teeth. Please see Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News Network. Fox never even communicated the malicious and discredited foundation of this article to the White House. Then they lie about whether we responded at all."
Bates linked to Fox’s tweet of the article, which was headlined: "White House flew controversial new transgender flag that promotes grooming and pedophilia, say critics."
Within hours, Fox removed the tweet and changed the headline and some of the story—though it should have taken down the piece entirely. Bates didn’t stop there, noting, ".@FoxNews deleted their disgusting, false tweet," continuing to call Fox out, including pointing out that Fox used the same Pride imagery itself.
And Bates kept going.
As the Daily Best wrote, "After a Fox News headline claimed the White House promoted ‘grooming and pedophilia’ by flying a version of the Pride flag, a deputy White House spokesperson fired back—and Fox blinked."
With BudLight, Target, and now even Starbucks caving to extremists, showing they are fair-weather friends, it’s important that President Biden, every chance he gets, reiterate his support. But it’s also great to see the White House is not cowed by the extremists, and is forcefully punching back.
The White House rightly knows that the majority of Americans support LGBTQ rights and that the more the extremists are drawn out, the more exposed they are as haters, alienating millions of Americans. Running away, like Target and others have done, only allows the haters to win. The far right needs to know that if they’re going to use these vile attacks to galvanize their base, it comes with a cost.