Discover more from The Signorile Report
The GOP's cruel assault on children
Desperate for scapegoats, Republicans are demonizing migrant youth and trans kids
If you’ve enjoyed the ad-free Signorile Report since it launched, or began reading recently, please think about becoming a paid subscriber and supporting independent opinion journalism, for roughly the cost of a cup of coffee at $5 per month. Thanks!
Throughout the debate on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill we heard Republican after Republican yammering on about the deficit and, as Tennessee GOP House Rep. Mark Green put it, “the crippling burden that our children and grandchildren will have to shoulder” if the bill were passed into law.
Never mind that this was pure, unadulterated, grade A hypocrisy coming from a party that, with Donald Trump leading it, ran up debt with no concern as long as it benefited the wealthy and corporate donors. The GOP doesn’t give a rat’s ass about children’s current well-being or their future. Not only is the American Rescue Plan projected to cut child poverty in half, but the GOP, now devoid of policy and immersed in culture wars in a desperate attempt to gain traction against the Democrats’ popular agenda, is viciously attacking innocent children, posing them as a harm to American society.
Even as Republicans suddenly obsess over the supposed “canceling” of children’s toys like Mr. Potato Head, or children’s books like Dr. Seuss, the heart of their ‘22 campaign appears to be to target transgender kids as a threat to women and families and lash out at migrant children who are fleeing violence, tarring them as disease-carriers and future terrorists.
And it’s not just the QAnon wing or Trump loyalists who are doing it, so let’s dispel that right away. It’s supposedly level-headed GOP senators like Mitt Romney of Utah, who joined the brutally transphobic Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky in condemning transgender girls participating in team sports with cisgender girls. (And no, Romney doesn’t get points for proposing a child tax credit that would actually eliminate other anti-poverty programs; besides, attacking some children is attacking all children.)
It’s Senator Susan Collins of Maine, too, the so-called “moderate,” who now isn’t co-sponsoring the LGBTQ anti-discrimination bill, the Equality Act —the identical bill she co-sponsored in 2019 — because, among other things, of her sudden concern, which she’d not articulated previously, about the “complex” issue of “girls and women’s sports.”
Like its attacks on transgender people, the GOP continually turns to demonizing immigrants, though this vicious tactic not only hasn’t helped the party; it’s driven voters away and toward their opponents, such as in the 2018 mid-term elections with the ratcheted up fears about “caravans.” Now they’re doing it again but — after four years of backing an administration that separated children from their parents at the border — they’re bludgeoning children who are escaping violent conditions, seeking asylum and in some cases trying to unite with family in the U.S.
Senator Lindsey Graham, who has all but excused the terrorist attack on the Capitol — and stated we should now look past what Trump did in inspiring it, and instead understand he’s got some other “magic” that is positive — baselessly claimed the migrant children crossing the border from Mexico could become terrorists or lead terrorists into the country.
“It’s going to be a national security crisis, because they’re children today, but they could easily be terrorists tomorrow,” he told Fox’s Sean Hannity about the waves of children coming from central America.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy went to the border today to use it as a backdrop for what he called “Biden’s Border Crisis.” Certainly the young people coming across the border must be treated humanely, and the Biden administration is working to settle them in shelters that are being created or to place them elsewhere, including with families, as their cases are processed so that they’re not kept in detention facilities or jails for long.
But that’s not McCarthy’s actual concern. His intent is to prop up Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy, which kept these children in squalid conditions on the other side of the border while their claims were processed indefinitely — a policy Biden reversed and for which Republicans are now attacking him.
As Frank Sharry of America’s Voice noted:
When he’s not defending Dr. Seuss or opposing COVID-19 relief, McCarthy is focused on the ‘threat’ of teenagers fleeing for their lives and throwing themselves at the mercy of a nation that once called itself a City on the Hill.
This is what the Republican Party has come to: white nationalists are good, they’re an essential part of our base; non-white refugee children are bad, they’re an existential threat to America.
The goal is to attack Biden by demonizing the migrant children as disease-carriers too, an age-old smear against immigrants. Governor Greg Abbot of Texas said Biden “does not care about Americans” as he and other Republicans claimed the migrants were bringing coronavirus across the border. But the Texas Tribune reported that migrants’ infection rates are actually lower than the state of Texas overall, where coronavirus continues to transmit at high levels while Abbott lifted a statewide mask mandate. Besides that, Abbott has refused federal aid to test migrant children upon release from federal custody.
The attacks on transgender kids across the country from Republicans have been equally brutal, devoid of facts and politically-motivated. Since the beginning of the year, Republicans in more than 30 states have moved to pass anti-trans bills. Many of these states, having pushed “bathroom bills” in the past — using misunderstandings about transgender people to whip up fear — and meeting limited success, are now targeting children. As ABC reports:
A growing number of states have introduced legislation that LGBTQ advocates say targets transgender youth and their access to school sports and gender-affirming health care.
At least two dozen states have introduced bills this year that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity, compared to 18 last year, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Sixteen states have also introduced bills that would prohibit and in some cases criminalize gender-affirming care for trans youth, such as puberty-blocking medications and hormones, up from 15 last year, according to the ACLU.
Trump, who assaulted the rights of both immigrants and transgender people mercilessly during his presidency, has homed in on transgender kids too. Now the leader of the GOP in his post-presidency, he accused “Joe Biden and the Democrats” in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando last month of pushing “policies that would destroy women’s sports,” focusing on “young girls” who would be forced to compete against “biological males,” using the haters’ derogatory term for trans girls.
[N]o trans woman has ever dominated a single sport, ever. No trans athlete, either male or female, has even qualified for the Olympic Games, never mind competed, in all the years that trans athletes have been permitted to try.
This is another heartless attack, using children as political pawns. And Republicans in states such as Alabama that are moving to deny trans children and their parents, in consultation with doctors, from making decisions about medically-necessary treatments such as hormone blockers, are not only cruel: They’re un-American and lurching further toward fascism.
The GOP’s extremism has shown no bounds, so none of this is a shock. But anyone who claims there are “moderates” among them who would keep the Republicans from going this far clearly hasn’t been paying attention.