The GOP worships mothers. Or at least that’s what they want you to think.
Except when they’re mothers who want control over their bodies. Or when they need prenatal care. Or healthcare. Or maternity leave. Or affordable childcare. Or social safety net services. Or when they’re black or brown. Or immigrants. Or Muslim. Or LGBTQ. Or liberal. Or atheist.
In reality, the GOP only worships the idea of motherhood. Like that picture Ivanka Trump posted on Instagram not long after America learned that ICE was stealing immigrant kids from their parents and putting them in cages.
Let’s take a look at it. We’re supposed to assume it’s a candid shot, maybe taken by Jared, who unexpectedly caught mother and son in a sweet morning moment. Except that we know that everything former model/designer/retailer Ivanka does is carefully calculated to send a message (a topic I’ve written about before).
In fact, there’s nothing spontaneous about this photo. The soft focus with mother and son’s faces suffused in light, foreheads touching; the framing, with them as the focal point; the pastel colors and nearly-matching outfits; the empty background with nothing competing for the viewer’s attention: All of it was carefully planned, executed, and photo shopped.
Critics of the photo call it “tone-deaf.” “Tone-deaf” implies Ivanka made a mistake in posting it, or that she somehow lacks the ability to read the country’s mood. But describing it that way just lets her off the hook. (In the same way that the mainstream news continues to let Trump off the hook by calling his lies “mistakes,” “falsehoods,” or “misleading statements.”)
No, posting the photo was a deliberate move on Ivanka’s part to promote the primacy of white motherhood, with herself as the symbol of all that’s beautiful, blonde, and Aryan — the prize that every white supremacist thinks he deserves as his birthright.
She was trolling immigrants and every one of us who cares about human rights. Laughing in our faces.
This worship of the mother is right out of the Nazi playbook. Don’t believe me? Do a Google image search for “Nazi propaganda mothers.” Do some reading on the “Mutterkreuz,” a Nazi state award given to German mothers who conceived and raised four or more children.
It’s also no coincidence that the photo looks like a rendering of the Madonna and Child. You’re meant to think of Mary and Jesus. This ties together Trump’s presidency, white supremacy, and Christianity in a neat little package full of simple symbolism that no one can miss. (Ah, but isn’t Ivanka Jewish now? Only when it helps with the international graft.)
The only thing missing from the photo to help imprint its message on even the most easily-brainwashed Americans is the flag and a gun.
Well, there’s always the Fourth of July. Maybe after the champagne popsicles?
This cult of motherhood is why we’re not supposed to say one damn word of criticism about Melania (a subject I’ve written about before). You’ve heard the objections, even from otherwise-sane liberals: “Keep Melania out of it. None of this is her fault. She’s a mother. She has Barron to protect.”
Her “tone-deaf” stunt with the $39 jacket on the way to the Trump Concentration Camps should have tainted America’s inexplicable love for her (Or perhaps not so inexplicable. Like crows, we love shiny things.), but it won’t. Her approval rating (always higher than Trump’s) will take a hit for a while, but then America will go right back to thinking of her as a helpless, blameless victim.
The truth is that the GOP has exploited the cult of motherhood over and over throughout its history. Consider how warmongers praise mothers who sacrifice their sons (to hear the GOP talk about it, it’s always sons and never daughters, because, well, Jesus) to the war machine, only to have them come home from jungles and deserts in body bags. Remember how Sarah Palin trotted out her kids when she was running for V.P., all the while reaffirming the GOP “abstinence is best” narrative while her own daughter was pregnant out of wedlock before Election Day? Remember Ivanka’s promise to America about maternity leave for all?
It’s hard for us to accept the idea that mothers can be cruel, heartless, and greedy. We expect more of mothers because we’ve put them on a pedestal. Get over it and repeat after me: They. Don’t. Care.
Stop appealing to Ivanka to reign in her father, as if she’s some better angel of his nature. Stop appealing to immigrant Melania to care about immigrants. Stop appealing to Susan Collins because she’s a woman and Lisa Murkowski because she’s a mother to vote their consciences on healthcare and immigration. Not only is it a waste of time, it’s the height of misogyny to assume that these women are any better than their male counterparts in the GOP.
Pay attention, America. Creeping fascism isn’t creeping anymore. It’s toddling all over the place, in full-on terrible twos, while its mothers watch in delight.
The rough beast’s hour has already come. It has already slouched towards D.C. to be born, and we’re weaning it on misplaced sympathy and hope.