TPM Cafe: Opinion

Right-wing myths never die. They simply mutate, changing their forms with the times while retaining the core beliefs that made them appealing in the first place. It would be understandable to assume that birtherism—a conspiracy theory that holds that Barack Obama is not a “real” American citizen—would serve as the exception to this rule, as Obama’s presidency moves into its twilight years. After all, it only started because of right-wing anger over a black man in the White House, so why shouldn’t it disappear as he prepares to move out?

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For as long as it has existed, Hollywood has tiptoed around issues of race, using historical narratives with white saviors to appeal to the broadest swath of the public. Such narratives have been rightly criticized for filtering the black American experience through a white perspective, and for perpetuating a system of white supremacy; even if they bring conservative white folks to the cause of civil rights (an oft-employed justification for the white savior narrative), they still depict blacks as subjects, a dynamic that by definition can never lead to liberation. Movies like The Help and The Blind Side may have won awards, but they perpetuated a losing system for black America.

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Shortly after my third wedding anniversary one year ago, I wrote in the Guardian about the gendered risks associated with my decision not to work while I finished my degree. I had become a de facto housewife, even though I was working toward my career as an economist rather than doing the more traditional housewife work of raising children or supporting a husband.

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As Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood have taken center stage, Planned Parenthood supporters are fighting back. Facebook pages like “Humans of Planned Parenthood” have sprung up, with people from across the country sharing their stories of how the organization provided them with quality care. Supporters and Planned Parenthood itself have been quick to note that the bulk of the care they provide—97 percent, in fact—isn’t abortion care. Most of what Planned Parenthood does is sexual and reproductive health care services like breast exams, STI screenings, contraception and gynecological care like PAP smears.

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Haters: They have always been with us, but never have they had more power than in our age of social media, where haters can draw their targets into ugly online pissing matches that end up making everyone look bad. The world got another excellent illustration of this phenomenon this week, when Tinder, the smartphone dating app, got drawn into a fight with writer Nancy Jo Sales. Sales, who has a long history of alarmist stories about how everyone younger than herself has lost their way, wrote a piece for Vanity Fair demonizing Tinder for supposedly making it too easy for men to get sex without commitment.

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TPM has already chronicled the long professional relationship, public friendship and in-ring head shaving of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and World Wrestling Entertainment chairman and chief executive Vincent K. McMahon. The men’s friendship makes sense. To a real estate mogul with live venues to fill, a professional wrestling company is a natural business partner. That both McMahon and Trump inherited their businesses from their fathers is another point in common. They also share a love of the carnivalesque, even if McMahon will tell you he’s built a multimedia entertainment company while Trump has fashioned himself a master of all business.

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Four years ago tomorrow, a Republican presidential nominating process was turned upside down by the late but very heavy entrance of a candidate who instantly became the front-runner: former Texas governor Rick Perry. He announced his candidacy in Charleston at the Red State Gathering, the annual meeting of very intense conservative activists convened by Erick Erickson. It all but eclipsed Michele Bachmann’s victory in the Iowa GOP Straw Poll the same day.

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Rick Perlstein is the national correspondent of The Washington Spectator, on whose site this article first appeared. This piece was updated by the Spectator on August 13 to remove the word "racist" from the headline, and has been similarly adjusted here. An apology from the author and a response from Spectator editor Lou Dubose were also appended to the original article and have been replicated here at the bottom of the piece.

You know that flag? The one that supposedly honors history but actually spreads a pernicious myth? And is useful only to venal right-wing politicians who wish to exploit hatred by calling it heritage? It’s past time to pull it down.

Oh, wait. You thought I was referring to the Confederate flag. Actually, I’m talking about this.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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