EDIT 4/24/2022: This article from Religion Dispatches, I believe, offers a much more compelling explanation for the current (and very weird) wave of right-wingers referring to anyone who acknowledges that same-sex couples exist as a “groomer.”
I thought it made sense when I saw a comment pending on this post this morning from “a legal American citizen, and voter” who told me “you sound like a groomer.”
Most interesting, and most relevant, was this bit, referring to the title of the post:
“Right now? Since the dawn of the party, hun bun.”
I read that line after reading the article from Religion Dispatches, and if you read it, you’ll find that his comment is absolutely right, but not for the reasons he thinks he is.
I marked it as spam, obviously.
Original Post: Last week a friend shared an article about pedophiles. Apparently Germany is investigating over 30,000 people in connection with child sex trafficking. I asked myself… why share this story?
This isn’t an isolated incident of pedophile-article-sharing. I’ve seen it more and more, from that conspiracy theory about missing girls having the same unusual names as extremely overpriced cabinets on Wayfair, to PizzaGate, which argued that a pizza shop in DC frequented by the Clinton campaign was actually a front for child sex trafficking. In the case of Pizzagate, led to one man marching into the pizza shop and getting arrested.
Now, to be clearer than I hope I should need to be, child sex trafficking is wrong. Adults having sex with minors is wrong because minors cannot consent. I saw a movie about sex trafficking a few years ago. My wife and I donated to a fund that fights child sex trafficking. It’s wrong and it’s evil.
But a lot of the stories I’ve seen about child sex trafficking haven’t included any kind of call to action. No “share this number,” no “put a sign in your yard” or “don’t be a pedophile,” “seven steps to protect your kids from getting trafficked,” or even “donate to this fund to fight pedophilia.” It’s just “here’s another story about pedophiles engaging in sex trafficking. Isn’t it awful?!”
So when I saw the 30,000-pedophiles article, which to my memory came without any call to action, just a “can you believe this!” kind of comment (I don’t remember the actual comment), I just thought… what’s up with this?
I googled it, but I couldn’t find an answer that made sense to me. There’s an article on Mother Jones that addresses this in part – and comes to a similar conclusion – but I don’t think is as coherent or, honestly, as friendly to conservatives.
To understand it, you have to first understand the difference between conservatives and progressives.
My Political Theory
You can divide American politics into two broad categories: Conservatives and Progressives, as outlined below.
-Things are good the way they are, or that they WERE good at some point or points in the past.
Want things left alone or to go back the way they were.
Things are not fine the way they are, and they need to change in a way that they have never yet been.
Make America Great Again (Trump)
A Proud Tradition (George H.W. Bush)
Country First (John McCain)
America First (Harding, Buchanan, Trump)
It’s Morning in America (Reagan)
Hope and Change (Obama)
Change We Can Believe In (Obama)
Forward Together (Hilary Clinton)
Building a Bridge to the 21st Century (Bill Clinton)
Prosperity and Progress (Al Gore)
For People, For a Change (Clinton)
(Ironically, under this metric I would categorize Joe Biden as a conservative because he wants to put things back to the way they were before Trump).
For conservatives, most things about America are good, except for the things that progressives changed (usually the things they changed recently; some things have been changed for so long that they’re part of the fabric of America).
To be clear, even as a self-identified progressive who wants things to change, I understand that change for the sake of change is not a good in itself, and there are some old things, like the first amendment, that are of great value and should not be messed with. Broad strokes here.
An #AllLivesMatter tangent to further explain the dichotomy
This conservative/progressive dichotomy is important to understand the conservative take on the #BlackLivesMatter vs #AllLivesMatter debate:
To say that #BlackLivesMatter implies that America in general and (usually) the police in particular are treating Black people as though their lives do not matter.
To say “Black Lives Matter” is to say,
“things are not fine“
in the part of America
that progressives haven’t changed.
It’s conservative blasphemy.
Conservatives say #AllLivesMatter not because they think Black Lives don’t matter, but because they believe Black people do not receive [undeserved] ill treatment in the United States. There are no systemic problems with policing in America; there can’t be! It’s one of the few things progressives haven’t managed to massively overhaul… yet.
I believe that’s part and parcel of white supremacy – it’s attached to a belief that “I and the average white person in America are doing better than the average Black or Brown or Indigenous or Person of Color in America because of our great work ethic and morality, not because of any kind of systemic racism.”
Or this: “the fact that some BIPOC people are doing better than me proves that the scales are not tipped in my direction.”
In conclusion, the conservative belief is that mostly America is fine and progressives shouldn’t mess with it, and where they did we need to put it back the way it was NOW thank you very much.
What’s this got to do with child sex trafficking?
But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. -II Timothy 3:13
On Saturday night I re-watched Footloose, the movie Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy describes thusly:
A great hero named Kevin Bacon teaches an entire town full of people with sticks up their butts that dancing is the greatest thing there is.
The town has banned dancing because they think it’s part of what led to the death of several of the town’s youths, but Kevin Bacon comes along and wants to change the law and have the town council allow dancing.
At some point in the movie, one of the townspeople stands up and says this critical line:
That was it. I wasn’t even looking for it, and there it was. I paused the movie to sit in the incredible eloquence of that one sentence.
All of a sudden I understood why conservatives are sharing articles about child sex trafficking, especially about powerful progressives.
It’s because it won’t be long before every community standard is violated.
Here’s what I mean: Child sex trafficking is the very, very end of morality. It is beyond the pale. It’s difficult to think of anything worse. Sexual abuse, next to murder, is considered the worst thing there is, and some might even rank it higher than murder on the sliding scale of awfulness. The only thing that could possibly be worse is if the victim was a child.
And this is what conservatives have been warning us about for years: that normalizing same-gender relationships, normalizing trans people, will lead inevitably to acceptance of pedophilia. It’s the last bastion of broadly-accepted morality that progressives and conservatives agree on… but conservatives aren’t so sure progressives do actually agree on it.
Conservatives sharing these stories of child sex trafficking, especially stories about powerful progressives engaged in child sex trafficking, is a warning. The inherent message of these stories is, I believe, this narrative:
“Maybe the rank and file Democrats aren’t pedophiles (YET), but the people at the top who are leading them and heading up changing things? They are for sure, and they’re pulling us inevitably to a world where what they do in secret will be acceptable in the public square… unless we stop these changes and put things back the way they were.”
“It won’t be long before every community standard is violated.”
If a conspiracy theory came out tomorrow saying that Alexandria Occasio Cortez, one of the changiest changers currently changing things, was involved in a child sex trafficking ring, no matter how bizarre, no matter how far-fetched the “evidence,” it would immediately gain traction.
And that’s why you’ve been seeing so many stories about child sex trafficking lately: not because it’s happening more, but because it’s part of a narrative.
Why Germany? I don’t know if it’s significant that the most recent story I saw was in Germany, but it’s possible it’s part of a narrative that Europe is more evil than the United States because many progressives see certain things in Europe as a model for the changes we hope to see here in the United States.
Or it could just be the “HOLY CRAP CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING IS INCREASING.
To learn more about how to fight trafficking of children, not just share articles that play into the narrative, visit