The continued hypocrisy of so-called family values conservatives

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Do as I say, not as I do. This sort of Victorian philosophy seems to be par for the course among many of the so-called family values conservatives.

Recent reports that Christian Ziegler, the husband of Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, is under police investigation in Sarasota, Fla. following a rape allegation sent shockwaves through the right-wing echo chamber while eliciting eye rolls from many progressives and others on the cultural left.

Local reporters for the Florida Trident interviewed a woman who said she was involved in a “three-year consensual ménage à trois sexual relationship” with the Zieglers, who have conceded that such a relationship took place. Furthermore, the report states she had been alone with Christian Ziegler, chair of the Florida GOP, the night of the alleged rape.

So far, Christian Ziegler has not been charged, and is resisting growing bipartisan calls from Governor Ron DeSantis and state Democrats to step down.

“I don’t see how he can continue with that investigation ongoing given the gravity of those situations,” DeSantis said. “He’s innocent till proven guilty, but we just can’t have a party chair that is under that type of scrutiny.”

The fact that Christopher and Bridgett Ziegler, both high level officials in Florida politics, were having group sex with a woman have led to accusations of hypocrisy from Democrats and LGBTQ groups.

“As leaders in the Florida GOP and Moms for Liberty, the Zieglers have made a habit out of attacking anything they perceive as going against ‘family values’ — be it reproductive rights or the existence of LGBTQ+ Floridians,” Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried said in a statement. “The level of hypocrisy in this situation is stunning.”

We have seen similar narratives in prior situations, men and women who wildly hurl stones while residing in fractured glass houses. Remember Jerry Falwell Jr. anyone?

Groups like Moms for Liberty and their socially conservative co-horts often target everyone from drag queens to school officials of being sympathetic to sexual predators and similar deviants. Just last month, a similar story exposed a Philadelphia organizer for Moms of Liberty for his 2012 conviction of sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy.

Moms for Liberty, founded in 2021, originally focused on opposition to pandemic-era restrictions in schools, but has since expanded to supporting parents’ rights to ban books they deem inappropriate from classrooms and school libraries. The group has managed to emerge as a pivotal voice in Republican politics, with many candidates jockeying to earn endorsements from the organization.

One major reason why DeSantis and other GOP politicians seem to be so eager to cut their ties is due to the fact Moms for Liberty has ended up being bad news from a political standpoint. The group’s Orwellian agenda of banning books and bullying LGBTQ students and teachers turned out to be vehemently unpopular. Being publicly linked to Moms for Liberty hurt Republicans in the midterms, most notably in school board races, where Democrats won overwhelmingly in districts that the group had targeted for takeovers.

Moms for Liberty is hardly an aberration. Such groups have deep roots in American history, like the grassroots workers who maintained the system of racial segregation and Jim Crow.

There has always been a segment of Americans — primary white — who have harbored rabid levels of hostility and hatred toward individuals they view and perceive as “the other.” These men and women were largely forced to discuss and reaffirm their racist and bigoted viewpoints with like-minded individuals. For much of our recent history, their outpourings were confined to secret conferences, white supremacist communications, underground newsletters, obscure far-right magazines and radio programs and in more recent decades, the darkest corners of the web.

With permission of the politically-infected racist and acidic climate of the Trump years, such rhetoric and sentiments were granted permissive license to expose and express themselves in the larger public domain, and have been eagerly embraced by those who identify with such a regressive value system.

It is incumbent upon those of us determined to reside in an America where diversity of all facets are allowed to flourish without fear of being harmed or silenced. The future of democracy, as we know it, may very well depend on it.

Copyright 2023 Elwood Watson, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate

Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.