Meghan McCain and How The Anti-Abortion Far Right Cloaks Patriarchy with White Women’s Voices

| Reproaction

By: Shireen Shakouri

Meghan McCain and How The Anti-Abortion Far Right Cloaks Patriarchy with White Women’s Voices  

It seems almost weekly now that Meghan McCain bubbles up to the top of our news feeds for something inflammatory she’s said, a fight she’s picked with a co-host on The View, or a fresh new way she’s made someone else’s pain all about her. From Islam, to abortion, to voting rights [1] McCain manages to make a crying white woman the victimized face of conservatives’ fears.

McCain helped manufacture the internet outrage machine to attack and distort Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) statements on the state of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, which some viewed as anti-Semitic. Despite Omar and her staff receiving death threats, McCain decided it was prudent to weaponize her tears to grieve for her unspecified Jewish friends who could have been upset by Omar’s statements. Even when pressed, she’s doubled down, calling out critiques of her as anti-Semitic. [2] The thing is, she’s not Jewish, and can thus not be victimized by anti-Semitism. And this isn’t the first time McCain has used anti-Semitism as a cudgel against a Black woman: She helped extend attacks against Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory for her support of the extremist Louis Farrakhan. [3] Let me be clear: Farrakhan has spread abhorrent and hateful rhetoric including and beyond anti-Semitism, and prejudice against Jewish people has a long and painful history in this country. But McCain would do well to look inward – to her own political allies – to see where the true dangers of anti-Semitism lie. As a Wonkette contributor recently wrote, “Those of us with actual skin in the anti-Semitism game know who is playing footsie with Nazis and who is not.” [4] And McCain, for all her bluster about not fitting in with her party sure sings the same tunes, in the same key, to the same hateful end.

One only need look at her husband, who after Late Night host Seth Meyers called McCain out for promoting attacks against Ilhan, tweeted out a repulsively homophobic and unhinged screed, deploying a popular insult of the ’alt-right’ against Meyers, calling him a “cuck.” [5] Though it’s unhelpful to judge women by the actions of their partners, it’s also profoundly dishonest to pretend the hate spewed by Ben Domenech – also prominent in conservative circles and antagonistic to what he deems a ‘violent’ left – is separate from McCain’s one-ring conservative outrage circus.

I’ve previously written for the Reproaction blog about the scourge of white, Christian supremacy in the anti-abortion movement and the over-arching racist rhetoric targeting Black people and immigrants and trivializing the genocide of Jewish people in the Holocaust. The case of McCain diverting the causes of anti-Semitism toward a Black woman immigrant and away from her political allies is a core tool used countless times by conservative white women to uphold the patriarchy that holds them above women of color.

McCain was recently given the “Defender of Life in the Media Award” from Americans United for Life, one of the key organizations that has been pushing court cases and laws chipping at abortion rights for decades. [6] What did McCain do to deserve this “honor”? Spread dangerous lies about patients and abortion providers, and call the Democratic party, “the party of late-term abortion and infanticide.” [7] The sturm und drang spread by McCain and others earlier this year was far-reaching, making its way into the president’s State of the Union and other speeches, [8-10] in an effort to convince his base that his opposition is bent on murdering living babies. As a result of the hate fomented by Trump, McCain, and the violent anti-abortion right, Virginia State Delegate Kathy Tran (D) received death threats for proposing a comprehensive change to Virginia’s maternal and infant health care laws that would better support parents facing impossible decisions based on poor fetal diagnoses. [11]

And McCain isn’t the only conservative white woman spinning up aggressive rhetoric against abortion supporters: Abby Johnson, the subject of the recent anti-abortion propaganda film Unplanned, has recently lobbed homophobic insults at pro-choice advocates on her now-undiscoverable Facebook page, [12] though she’s painted herself akin to slavery abolitionists on Twitter and elsewhere. [13] She has called on anti-abortion activists to besiege clinics and show providers and pro-choice advocates that “we won’t be bullied,” [14] and the next day, a pro-choice clinic escort in Alabama was hit by a car driven by a ‘pro-life’ protestor, [15] and hundreds harassed patients and providers outside a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood. [16] While no direct causal line can be drawn between aggressive language spewed by the likes of McCain and Johnson, there’s no debating that it elevates tension and the ensuing environment compels those with violent inclinations to take their thoughts a step further.

Anti-abortion personality Lila Rose, and Kristan Hawkins, president of the extreme group Students for Life of America, have also shamelessly likened their work to fighting slavery [17, 18] while doing nothing meaningful to advance the health and well-being of Black parents, and pushing for abortion bans which have already landed women of color with jail time for abortion. They do this while asserting that they are the victims of the left’s censorship and lies; [19] but the biggest lie is the one that’s plain as day: the lie that abortion bans won’t harm women. [20]

From Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL), who signed the seemingly Handmaid’s Tale-inspired abortion ban, [21] to Michigan State Sen. Kim LaSata (R) who said of abortion, “The procedure should be painful! And you should allow God to take over!!” [22] to countless others, these anti-abortion white women have branded pro-choice words as violence, and anti-abortion violence as outliers, or just words. But make no mistake: the scourge of dangerous anti-abortion rhetoric has real victims, and they’re trapped behind the gleaming, seemingly benevolent smiles and sympathy-invoking tears of white women willing to sell out each other and women of color in an attempt to be more powerful in a system that will never give them the power of white men.


  12. [Screenshot below]
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