TPM Cafe: Opinion

Of all the sour grapes conservatives chewed this past weekend over the same-sex marriage ruling, perhaps Ross Douthat’s was the sourest. While other conservatives moved on to incoherent babbling about “religious liberty”, Douthat used his New York Times column to dig his heels into the argument soundly rejected by Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges: that same-sex marriage is somehow an assault on traditional marriage.

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Marriage went viral yesterday—and no I did not leave a word out. I’ve never seen so much discussion, so many gifs, so many memes and pull-quotes and hashtags (#lovewins), so much liking and celebrating over matrimony. Sure, ostensibly yesterday’s social media bonanza was a celebration of the Supreme Court’s decision to award same-sex couples the right to marry, but what the court did, and what we’re all celebrating, isn’t equality, but the institution of marriage itself.

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This is an exciting day. We are standing in the middle of history, and we are celebrating a victory for human rights. For years to come, on this date, we will remember that five out of nine Supreme Court justices stood up for marriage equality, civil liberty and the LGBTQ community. For some, today marks a new beginning as a legally equal citizen of these Unites States of America. Others stand in the shadow of that enduring rainbow of justice. For them, today is not about celebration or pride, but the end of a long-held ruse.

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If the Supreme Court doesn’t step in by the end of June, almost every abortion clinic in Texas will stop providing terminations, leaving only eight clinics in six cities to offer services to the 27 million people in its borders. That scenario is devastating. It also might not be the worst thing we see happening as July unfolds. July 1 is also the implementation date of a number of laws that were passed this legislative session, and depending on certain judicial decisions the state of abortion access may be dramatically changing starting in just a few more days.

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As you absorb the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of Obamacare in one of the biggest cases of the year, King v. Burwell, you might want to take a look up to America’s Northeastern corner. Mainers like to say “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.” In this case, the saying was true: After facing the political nightmare that would have ensued without a simple wording fix, both Maine and SCOTUS ruled in favor of common sense.

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Like Shonda Rhimes’ titular Grey’s Anatomy doctor to Seattle Grace Hospital, Orange Is The New Black’s Piper is our first entry into Litchfield Penitentiary. Both women are the brainchildren of strong and experienced female showrunners. And both are starting to wear out a welcome originally extended to them by viewers on their programs. Just as viewers started to tire of Meredith’s indecisiveness and often underwhelming storylines, I felt myself wondering why we need Piper Chapman and her less-than-engaging story arcs during this latest season of Orange Is The New Black.

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Nineties nostalgia is cute when it’s all about overalls and Nicki Minaj sampling “Baby Got Back,” but Ralph Nader is taking it too far, by trying to revive his all-too-successful late ‘90s campaign to convince huge numbers of American liberals that there is no meaningful difference between Republicans and Democrats.

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I have a box in my office filled with hate. It contains bumper stickers, literature and t-shirts I collected while researching Confederates in the Attic, a book about Civil War memory in the South.

“Coon-ard Lines: Boat Ticket to AFRICA,” reads one '90s-era item I picked up at a store selling rebel-themed souvenirs. “This ONE-WAY ticket entitles ONE nigger” to passage to Africa, as well as “axel-grease for hair,” “chicken coop and watermelon patch on deck” and “crack and other refreshments.” (A similar version is pictured below.)

The flyer of a white supremacist group features Nathan Bedford Forrest—slave trader, fierce Confederate general, and founder of the KKK—emblazoned against a rebel battle flag. Forrest fought against “race-mixing” and the federal government’s attack on “freedom for the white people,” the flyer notes. “Today we are being recalled to defend our race and nation.”

The journal of the South Carolina Council of Conservative Citizens shows photographs in 1992 of demonstrators waving the rebel banner at pro-flag rallies. Adjoining stories carry headlines like “Malcolm X Followers Rape, Murder White Woman,” and “Charleston Rape Downplayed by Liberal Media.”

In the mid-1990s such materials were widely available and I kept them as a sort of reliquary of an unapologetic racism I believed would soon go extinct. Last week’s massacre in Charleston proved me wrong. Dylann Roof often photographed himself with rebel battle flags and cited the Council of Conservative Citizens as one of the sources for his race hatred and obsession with black-on-white crime. Before opening fire he spoke about the black rape of white women.

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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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