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Hatred and violence against queer people are on the rise in this country. Far-right militias regularly show up armed to drag shows and other queer-themed events. Armed right-wingers are threatening queer-friendly bars and businesses that are vocal about their support of the queer community. To justify their violence, the right accuses queer people of wanting to groom children to be queer so that they can have sex with them. This is part of a larger pattern in which the right has become more and more consumed by conspiracy theories; specifically, QAnon, the theory that there are pedophile rings around the world (true) and that former president Donald Trump and other members of the far right are on a mission to bust up these pedophile rings (false). A growing number of powerful figures have jumped on the bandwagon, including politicians such as Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.). Far-right commentator Matt Walsh is traveling the country spreading anti-trans hate, calling trans people groomers and pedophiles and insisting that we need to “protect the children” from them. The right even extends their disingenuous desire to protect children to “the unborn” and have the audacity to call themselves “pro-life.”
A closer look at the right reveals that this hysteria is bullshit at best, and projection at worst.
The right’s framing of their anti-abortion stance as “pro-life” is laughable. The right is staunchly pro-war and supports the death penalty. “Pro-life” members of Congress don’t believe that healthcare should be a right and think that those who can’t afford healthcare should die or go bankrupt. Republicans also want to cut welfare programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, working to make it harder for the families they force to have children to feed those children. Or, in the words of the late comedian George Carlin:
“If you’re pre-born, you’re fine; if you’re pre-school, you’re f**ked! Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!”
But the right doesn’t even live up to their own values on abortion. Scott Lloyd, who oversaw Trump’s cruel border camps and repeatedly denied abortions to pregnant rape victims, drove his then-girlfriend to an abortion appointment as a young man. Former Representative Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) resigned from Congress after it came out that he pressured a mistress to have an abortion. Representative Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (R-Tenn.), is another staunchly anti-abortion politician, who, in 2012, pressured a patient he was having an affair with to have an abortion. Since this information came out, DesJarlais has continued to win his elections by larger and larger margins, winning with nearly 70% of the vote in 2022.
These conservatives are the same that talk at length about Christian family values. The sixth commandment of the Bible forbids adultery, and yet, Murphy and DesJarlais both committed adultery. Former Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, infamous for denying marriage licenses to gay couples because of her so-called Christian values, has been divorced three times and married four times. Her fourth marriage was the result of her cheating on her third husband.
And now, let’s address their hypocrisy on protecting children from grooming and sexual violence, a cause we should all be devoted to. Figures on the right regularly sexualize and/or assault children, and sometimes do both.
Former Representative Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who served as Speaker of the House under former president George W. Bush, was indicted in 2015 over hush money payments he made to a man he sexually abused as a minor while serving as the man’s high school wrestling coach. Hastert was also accused of being aware of the sexual misconduct of former Representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who resigned in 2006 after it came out that he had sent sexually explicit messages to teenage boys who were serving as Congressional pages.
Foley was spotted at a Trump rally in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in 2016, which should be no surprise. It’s ironic that QAnon followers believe that Trump tried to or intends to bust up pedophile rings, given his own history: in addition to the countless adult women who have accused Trump of sexual assault and rape, he was also accused of rape by a 13-year-old girl and was caught on tape making sexual comments about a 10-year-old.
“I am going to be dating her in 10 years,” Trump said. “Can you believe it?”
Trump was also good friends with Jeffrey Epstein, the late billionaire who ran a literal pedophile ring, and went as far as to call Epstein a “terrific guy” who everyone knows “likes them young.” Trump was named in Epstein’s flight logs seven times, alongside former president Bill Clinton, among other powerful figures. When Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell was facing prison time, Trump said that he wished her well.
Both Greene and Boebert continue to associate with people accused of misconduct towards children, despite their public posturing on the issue. Fellow far-right Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was investigated by the House Ethics Committee in 2021 for alleged sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl, and the day after, Greene announced that she was touring the country with Gaetz. And Boebert’s husband, according to a report from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, got a police file opened for himself in 2004 for exposing himself to two waitresses, one of them a minor, at a bowling alley in Rifle, Colorado.
There’s also, of course, far-right Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who, while serving as assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, turned a blind eye to accusations of sexual misconduct against Dr. Richard Strauss when the latter served as the team physician. And Representative John Rose (R-Tenn.), now 57, met his future wife when she was 17 and he was in his early forties. This is especially ironic given what Rose said on the House floor before Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
“I believe Judge Jackson’s repeated leniency in federal sentencing cases towards prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, child sex offenders and convicted criminal drug traffickers gives us a window into her activist judicial philosophy,” Rose said.
Recently, a bipartisan bill that would have addressed the mishandling of child sexual abuse by the FBI passed the House, with 28 votes against. All of the no votes were Republicans, including Boebert, Greene and other far-right representatives, such as Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) and Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). It should not be lost on you that the Republicans that voted against this accuse queer people of abusing children.
The previously mentioned Matt Walsh, who’s spent the past year accusing transgender people of being predatory towards children, said “I violate my kids’ consent all the time” during his show, while discussing the idea that parents should ask their children for consent before touching them. While the specific quote was said in context, Walsh clearly does not believe that children should be allowed to say no to physical contact. Walsh has also referred to teenage girls as being “fertile” and suggested that the problem with teenage pregnancy is not a problem of teenage parents, but of unwed parents.
Finally, many of Trump’s advisors were convicted of possession of child pornography, including George Nader and Ruben Verastigui, both of whom are serving prison sentences.
Of course, there are plenty of Democrats who are also guilty of this type of behavior, including Virginia State Senator Joe Morrisey (D-Va.). There are even queer people who are, indeed, guilty of this, including actor Kevin Spacey, who assaulted a 14-year-old boy early in his career. However, the conservative outrage over this issue is clear projection. The right does not care about protecting life, whether those lives are born or in the womb. They do not care about family values. And they do not care about protecting children from sexual abuse. Not only does right-wing ideology perpetuate death, harm families and enable sexual abuse, but Republican politicians routinely have or encourage abortions, have affairs and sexually abuse people, including children. If Republicans want to stop child sexual abuse and abortion and truly be pro-life, they should look in the mirror first.