Michigan GOP Chair Says Burn The Witches About Gretchen Whitmer And Others, He Seems Nice
Last Thursday, Michigan GOP Chairman Ron Weiser gave a speech at the North Oakland Republican Club where he attacked Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Attorney General Dana Nessel. This was more than just rough-and-tumble politics. He used grotesquely sexist and violent rhetoric.
"Our job now is to soften up those three witches and make sure that we have good candidates to run against them, that they are ready for the burning at the stake," he said.
This is just not how you talk about people. Weiser lacks good home training.
Whitmer's tyrannical efforts to keep her constituents alive during a pandemic made her public enemy number one among Republicans, and they resent Benson and Nessel because the uppity women resisted the one-term loser's attempts to overturn President Joe Biden's decisive victory in the state.
Republicans are quick to describe any attempt to hold men accountable for their actions a “witch hunt," but Weiser's invoking the actual historical witch hunts, which were terrible. Here's a less-than-fun fact: No women during the Salem witch trials were actually burned at the stake like a common Joan of Arc. They were all hanged, which conservative writer Kevin Williamson once suggested was a suitable way of dealing with women who have abortions.
Bridget Marshall, an associate professor at University of Massachusetts Lowell, noted that women were specifically targeted during witch hunts because of the "precarious, mostly powerless position" they held within the Puritan community.
The Puritans thought women should have babies, raise children, manage household life and model Christian subservience to their husbands. Recalling Eve and her sinful apple, Puritans also believed that women were more likely to be tempted by the Devil.
As magistrates, judges and clergy, men enforced the rules of this early American society.
When women stepped outside their prescribed roles, they became targets. Too much wealth might reflect sinful gains. Too little money demonstrated bad character. Too many children could indicate a deal with a devil. Having too few children was suspicious, too.
Witch hunts and lynchings should remain off the table as political metaphors. The wounds haven't healed, and in this case, it seems like Weiser believes Whitmer, Benson, and Nessel have “stepped outside their prescribed roles." There are better ways of acknowledging Women's History Month.
Whitmer, who's a badass, tweeted a photo of herself holding the great Lindy West's book The Witches Are Coming.
Speaking of witches, I highly recommend this book! "For a long time, a certain set of men have called women like me… https://t.co/zMEaekmXRZ— Gretchen Whitmer (@Gretchen Whitmer) 1616786718.0
She also included a pointed line from West.
Speaking of witches, I highly recommend this book! "For a long time, a certain set of men have called women like me 'witches' to silence and discredit us." - Lindy West
Weiser sort of apologized Saturday for his repulsive statements.
"In an increasingly vitriolic political environment, we should all do better to treat each other with respect, myself included. I fell short of that the other night," Weiser said in the statement.
"I apologize to those I offended for the flippant analogy about three women who are elected officials and for the off-hand comments about two other leaders. I have never advocated for violence and never will. While I will always fight for the people and policies I believe in, I pledge to be part of a respectful political dialogue going forward."
Weiser insisted he's “never advocated for violence," after he just publicly advocated for violence. Domestic terrorists plotted to kidnap Whitmer last year. Believers in Donald Trump's Big Lie gathered in front of Benson's house in December while she and her four-year-old son were putting up Christmas decorations. Almost three months have passed since a violent rightwing mob attacked the US Capitol, and now Weiser is pledging to be part of a "respectful political dialogue"?
Witches who magically decrease Covid spread, increase voter turnout and hold sexual predators accountable without a… https://t.co/HeFKzO9SR4— Dana Nessel (@Dana Nessel) 1616777528.0
Michigan Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer were two of the 10 measly House Republicans who voted to impeach the insurrectionist-in-chief this year. A woman at the North Oakland Republican Club asked Weiser how loyal MAGA supporters can "get these Uptons and Meijers out of there":
"We have a deliberate democracy where officials are elected by the people," Weiser responded.
But some in the crowd were not pleased. They started to talk over one another. "Why?" someone asked.
Why do we even have a democracy is a scary question, and it led Weiser to an even darker place.
"Ma'am, other than assassination, I have no way of voting out [Upton and Meijer], okay," Weiser said.
Congressional seats aren't lifetime appointments. Upton and Meijer are up for election in less than two years, but the Veruca Salt mob wants them out NOW, so Weiser “jokes" about assassination. It's as if January 6 wasn't a moment of clarity but simply the moment half the nation officially abandoned democracy.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."