Confronting the Horror
Plus: Peeling an onion of disingenuousness.
“Hardened as we are by Russian atrocities, reports coming in from liberated towns around Kyiv document acts of horrifying, inhuman cruelty and evil… corpses left on streets of civilians with hands tied behind back, many shot in head.” —Historian Simon Schama
This is a tweet from an adviser in the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (accompanied by the photo above):
As tempting as it might be to avert our eyes, we need to pay attention to what we are seeing here, and what it means. Here is the prime minister of Estonia this morning, comparing Russian war crimes to the “mass killings by Soviet and Nazi regimes.”
As usual, Anne Applebaum puts the latest Russian atrocities into context (I’ve unrolled her Twitter thread):
“Everyone who now calls for Zelensky to make ‘territorial concessions' in exchange for a cease fire should remember what this will actually mean: tens or hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians will die,” she wrote.
“Verified photographs of the brutal mass murder of Ukrainian civilians are a reminder that the Russian army is not just seeking to conquer Ukraine, it is seeking to eliminate Ukrainians.
“We now know that in territories even briefly occupied by Russian troops there was rape, looting, random killings, assaults on schools and hospitals. This is what the Red Army did in central Europe in 1944-45, and apparently nothing has changed.
“It's important to add that Zelensky may have only bad choices; whatever decisions his government makes should be respected. But outsiders who demand ‘concessions’ must understand what that means.”
We also need to remember:
Putting the Russian defeat in perspective: “How Kyiv Has Withstood Russia’s Attacks.”
“Remember the Nuremberg Indictment: After World War II, Russia prosecuted Nazis for committing in Ukraine the same international crimes that Russia is committing there today.” Via The New York Law Journal.
Sobering analysis from Julia Ioffe…
Contrary to Western optimism, there is emerging evidence that, after the initial shock and despair of a poorly planned invasion, Russians are now rallying around their flag and their president. Some are refusing to accept anything less than total victory.
“Garland Faces Growing Pressure as Jan. 6 Investigation Widens.”
The Politics of Retaliation
Meanwhile on the home front, the culture war escalates.
As I mentioned in Friday’s newsletter, the right has gone all-in on the attack on Disney.
Fox mentioned “Disney” more than 350 times and in over 3 hours of coverage this week. Its commentators claimed the company is “grooming” and “sexualizing children” in order to push a “progressive LGBT agenda.”
So, now we get the threats of government retaliation from the party of free enterprise and small government. Here’s Fox’s Laura Ingraham threatening action against private corporations for engaging in free speech: “Everything will be on the table, your copyright/trademark protection, your special status in certain states, and even your corporate structure itself…”
And, it is not just the entertainment wing of the GOP.
Upset by Disney’s criticism of his legislation restricting teaching about sexual orientation Florida’s Ron DeSantis is also threatening retaliation against his state’s biggest private employer:
(CNN Business) Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signaled support for stripping Disney of its 55-year-old special status that allows the entertainment company to operate as an independent government around its Orlando-area theme park…
After DeSantis signed the bill into law earlier Monday, the Walt Disney Company wrote in a statement that its "goal" was to get the law repealed or defeated in the courts.
DeSantis previously said Disney "crossed the line" with that statement. On Thursday, DeSantis went further, suggesting Disney's "special privileges" could be lifted.
Exit take: We’ve been assured by smart people that DeSantis is just a normal Republican and not at all a Trump-clone. But there’s a word for the use of state power to threaten and punish private individuals and entities for political speech.
Can anyone remember what it is?
Christopher Rufo wants a correction
Spoiler alert: Nope.
If you read Friday’s newsletter, you know that the right wing entrepreneur-of-outrage was busted for claiming that the head of Disney said something in a video that she clearly did not say.
Rufo fired up the jihad against Disney with what he excitedly described as a SCOOP: “Disney corporate president Karey Burke says, "as the mother [of] one transgender child and one pansexual child," she supports having "many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories" and wants a minimum of 50 percent of characters to be LGBTQIA and racial minorities.”
And he attached a video with the smoking wokeness:
But… (as I wrote Friday):
The video doesn’t say that at all. Nowhere in the video posted by Rufo does Burke say that she “wants a minimum of 50 percent of characters to be LGBTQIA and racial minorities.”
Even the Washington Examiner (which ran a breathless piece declaring: “Of course Disney wants to indoctrinate your children”) acknowledged that, at least on this point, Rufo was full of sh*t.
In the video, Burke does not appear to make the claim regarding half of Disney characters that Rufo cites. However, she does say that "we don't have enough [LGBT] leads," despite having "many, many, many LGBTQIA characters."
We all make mistakes, of course, and Rufo could have run a correction, but instead he and his minions are doubling down.
The result is a delicious, many-layered onion of disingenuousness:
Yesterday I got this demand for a correction. I’m posting it here, in full. This is not a parody:
To whom it will concern,
This is Christopher Rufo's coalitions manager Armen Tooloee. I'm writing on his behalf to demand a correction to your recent article The Right's Cancel Culture Comes for Disney.
In this article, Charlie Sykes writes, "The video doesn’t say that at all. Nowhere in video posted by Rufo does Burke say that she “wants a minimum of 50 percent of characters to be LGBTQIA and racial minorities.”
However, had Mr. Sykes done even the slightest bit of research he would have seen that on Disney's public facing Reimagine Tomorrow website, they explicitly say that "By 2022, 50% of regular and recurring characters across Disney General Entertainment scripted content will come from underrepresented groups." Screenshot attached for your reference.
We expect an immediate correction.
Let’s peel this onion.
Rufo tweets out a video that makes a specific claim, which is not true. You can listen for yourself.
The statement to which they object — "The video doesn’t say that at all. Nowhere in the video posted by Rufo does Burke say that she ‘wants a minimum of 50 percent of characters to be LGBTQIA and racial minorities.’” — Is. Absolutely. Correct.
This is where it becomes delicious.
Rather than admit that he was wrong, Rufo insists on the “truthiness” of his deception, by pointing to something different that someone else wrote in some other place. Which you can just google!!!
And, even though this other thing makes no reference to “LGBTQIA” (it uses the term “underrepresented groups”) Rufo insists that this somehow vindicates his misrepresentation of the video.
Exit take: I responded to the demand for a correction with one word: “Nuts.” (You can google the historical reference.)
It’s Palin Time!
Of course it is. Once the most embarrassing figure in the GOP, Sarah Palin looks around her — sees Matt Gaetz, MTG, Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn, Paul Gosar, and TFG — and says to herself: I’ll fit right in here.
And she’s not wrong.
Former GOP vice president candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will run for Alaska’s at-large Congress seat vacated by the late Rep. Don Young, she announced on her Facebook page Friday
We Get Mail
Keep your rants, raves, laurels, and darts coming email@example.com. And, remember that all Bulwark+ members can comment on any Morning Shots.
Please let corporate America know that they must stand with Disney.
Eventually, Disney will no longer be the bright shiny object for the Republican party to poop on. New news cycles will create new faux grievances. Grievence culture is truly the endless war that needs to be stopped. Mature Americans understand that life is not necessarily fair, and we go about our daily business doing the best we can.
Inane arguments at higher decibel levels are bound to poison Americans to political discourse.
Corporate America, shut the spigots to your favorite politicians until they start acting like sensible adults. If you continued to condone this aberrant behavior eventually your corporation may be the bright shiny object that the Republican party wants to bring to its knees.
I grew up a Nixon Republican (I might best be described as Alex Keaton) but changed parties after the Clarence Thomas hearings as I believed Anita Hill. My party loyalty started to crack in the late 80's when Republicans started suggesting that the Constitution be changed to ban flag burning. That struck me as purely performative. Now the party is 100% performative.
Your fear is Trump running in 2024 and winning sort of misses the point. Trump, as you and many others have noted, is the symptom and not the cause. I live in Dallas and my girlfriend is a librarian in Grapevine, a town next to Southlake. Every day, things get crazier around here regarding library books at elementary schools. Instead of addressing the craziness head on, school administrators are catering to the crazy. As such, many outstanding educators will leave the profession.
Whether it is 20%, 30% or more of Republicans who will crawl across red hot glass to support him, the fact that we have so many Americans who have been totally misled in a similar fashion to how Putin has mislead the Russian people, should strike fear into those of us who see his buffoonery as not only a serious threat to the democracy of this country but to the stability of the world.
This is not ending well for this country whether Trump runs again or not. The flying monkeys have been released.
Charlie - I just wanted to add a comment to say "thank you" for the work that you and the entire Bulwark team do. I concur with your response to the wingnut: "nuts" - really spot on!
Thanks you very much!
As regards Laura Ingraham's atrocious comments, the few people I know who are clinging to their Republican identity while deploring Trump claim it's because they still believe in "government getting out of the way of business," or similar things. How can anyone claim with a straight face that that's what they are getting with today's GOP after comments like these and the attack on Disney which are just another iteration of the Dr. Seuss idiocy, and Trump's calls to punish Amazon because he didn't like the Washington Post? It's like Will Hurd pretending that there is some kind of rational moderate-to-conservative, pro-democracy, pro-civil-rights core to today's Republican party. It's deluded.