The latest Hail Mary from the flailing DeSantis for President campaign is the launch of “Mamas for DeSantis,” kicked off with this grotesque video that urges “mamas and grandmamas from every corner of the nation” to support Casey DeSantis’s fascist fart-sack of a husband.
The repellant video recycles threadbare canards about mask mandates, transwomen in sports, and diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives in education. To me, the most striking thing is the dangerous escalation of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, with the video misleadingly depicting hordes of chanting queer people as a menace to “our children’s innocence” to set up the slogan: “When you come after our kids, we fight back.”
It’s helpful for the DeSantis for President campaign to foment a moral panic around vulnerable children because, if you don’t care who gets hurt or killed along the way, it can be an effective method of manufacturing enthusiasm that is otherwise absent because, say, your candidate is a lumpen dud who inspires nobody. Panics can get people to check their brains at the door and join a mindless mob, which is why all fascists employ the tactic.
But even though Casey DeSantis and her awful husband are lying about the source of the danger, there’s truth to the notion that moms fight back when someone comes after their kids. Maybe by flogging this fake moral panic about imaginary queer hordes menacing children, Team DeSantis will motivate the moms whose children are actually being menaced, silenced and oppressed: those of us with LGBTQ kids.
It’s happened before. Earlier this year, The New Yorker published a gem of an article: “How One Mother’s Love for Her Gay Son Started a Revolution.” It’s about Jeanne Manford, an unassuming New York City school teacher who, along with her husband Jules and 21-year-old son Morty, founded PFLAG in 1973.
The Manfords’ story is truly beautiful and tragic and inspiring, and I urge you all to read the whole thing if you can, but here’s an excerpt that resonates for me today:
“You would meet Jeanne Manford and you would never in a million years guess what she had in her,” Eric Marcus, the author of the 1992 book “Making Gay History” and now the host of a podcast by the same name, told me. “But as I came to know her I always felt that what was in her mind was ‘Don’t fuck with my Morty.’ ”
As The New Yorker notes, “In the sixties and seventies, fighting for the rights of queer people was considered radical activism. To Jeanne Manford, it was just part of being a parent.” Also: Jeanne Manford didn’t try to change her son; she changed the world instead.
So here we are 50 years later, and Repubs are trying to roll back the hard-won progress of people like the heroic Jeanne, Jules and Morty Manford by smearing queer people with lies and oppressing them with unjust laws. Children are indeed under attack in Florida, but it’s not the DeSantis children.
It’s kids like mine who are being silenced, oppressed and menaced and driven away, and the wife of the person leading that charge and trying to take it nationwide is exhorting “mamas and grandmamas” to fight back. Be careful what you wish for, Mrs. DeSantis. Also, don’t fuck with my kiddo.