Ultra-conservatives really love the closet. And no, I'm not just talking in a Larry-Craig-kinda way. Sure, some of them who use it to protect themselves, but many more use it to protect their agenda.
You see, the closet can hide all sorts of truths among its shadows. Americans and any facts about America that don't fit the right-wing narrative can be disappeared in this enclosed recess--either bullied into silence or simply ignored--and conservatism can continue to prosper. Because, quite frankly, conservatives need a big enough closet to house a combo Imelda Marcos/Carrie Bradshaw shoe collection if they're to continue prospering after the economic, foreign policy, and social destruction they've wreaked upon this nation.
Right wingers can then tell you that gays and lesbians are some strange breed of misanthrope intent on intergalactic sexual dominion, because if you've never met anyone who is gay before, you just might believe it. Enough of us to sway an election might, all polling to the contrary, be convinced by television advertisements that most Americans want to cut Social Security, think closing the gun-show loophole is unimportant or believe the Citizens United decision makes any sense whatsoever. On all of these, by the way, the "progressive" or non-Ted-Nugent position polls at or north of approximately 70 percent in "swing states" and nationally, making people possessing these ideas the silent majority Richard Nixon once considered worthy of song.
So the protectors of the status quo will fight like hell to keep you and your ideas safely behind the folded khakis or under the Etch A Sketch, you can bet on it. It is what makes Sandra Fluke, Ellen DeGeneres and interviews with those who've lost their jobs due to Mitt Romney's machinations, in a word, dangerous. Human faces, especially, serve to blow up their myths. Because if we see people with which we can identify going through a crisis, or having made what for them was a sensible decision, then it might not seem unreasonable to us. (The principle holds true with humans but not cyborgs. Hence, the reason most of us react to Mitt Romney in much the same way we do to a malfunctioning fax machine)
All of which brings us to last week, at a progressive blogger conference in Providence, Rhode Island, called Netroots Nation. At this conference, former Microsoft software developer and current Congressional candidate from Washington State's 1st District, Darcy Burner, stood up and courageously spoke about the issue of abortion during a keynote address.
Most people don't know that 1 in 3 women have had an abortion (in fact I had no idea until last week), because the Right has successfully shamed women who made a legal, medically-based decision into hiding in those shadows in the closet. Burner, not one for running meek campaigns (a breath of fresh air among Democrats), asked women in the crowd to stand if they had had an abortion, and felt comfortable doing so. She proceeded to ask if everyone else would join them and stand up, showing support for the courageous women around them. Then, Burner rightly said, "this is how we change the stories in people's heads."
Right wingers, as well as other various confused souls, felt that closet door opening ever so slightly. And they knew they needed to kick it closed, lest others cross the threshold and not feel ashamed. Enter comical right-wing blogger Melissa Clouthier (who likes to keep "doctor" in her official title, so we might think she possesses some sort of guidance for us on these and other matters--and as a chiropractor, I'm just sure she's an expert on the uterus), who misquoted Burner and claimed the women in the hall were "celebrating" abortion.
Common sense was also lost on Joe Connelly of the Seattle Post Intelligencer, as he took to Clouthier's misquote and spin. And of course Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson's publication, The Daily Caller, got in on the mythmaking too. But after being fired from most known television networks founded since about 1973, I guess Carlson has to do something to keep his 4 names in the press.
Lucky us, being able, in real time, to watch 1000 Mesozoic-Era intellects bloom.
Burner, on the other hand, was doing what must be done in an age dominated by right-wing moneymen, pouring millions of dollars into everything from telling us Jesus was a car-elevator-owning hedge fund manager to global warming isn't happening.
This is why it is so important that Burner brought some sunlight to the truth. And we'd be all be the better for it if there were many more like her in our politics.
Follow me on Twitter: @cliffschecter
This column first appeared at Al Jazeera English