Hey, Cuck-Callers and QAnon-ers, Can We Talk?

The Family Values/QAnon party has some serious problems with their membership.

Some men may be rightly concerned with cuckolding—of being cheated on by their wife. And when I say rightly, that was only meant to get your attention; what I mean is that a fair number of men of the right, so-called family-value conservatives, cannot seem to stop calling others "cucks." Even before the QAnon derangement cult geared up online, Republicans were labelling their opponents pedophiles.

Cucks and pedophiles seem to weigh heavily on the minds of the right.

So, what do QAnon-ers say about Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who we learned this week has been under Department of Justice investigation, from the previous administration, for possible sex trafficking with a tax collector pal from Florida who is already in jail?

No one outside of the DOJ knows whether Gaetz was having sex with young (i.e., too young) women, but the New York Times has reported on cash app payments and text messages that corroborate the girl’s stories, and Gaetz’s Trump-like media campaign to explain himself has been confused at best.

But the Gaetz story is yet just another of many instances of unusual, sometimes illegal, sexual behavior and strangely focused sexualized verbiage from members of what was once called the party of family values.

For years now, mostly in squirmy regions of the far-right blogosphere, any conservative who is seen to have compromised at all with Democrats—compromise being the key action of political work—has been labeled a cuckservative. As the Republicans continue to extinguish even the memory of moderation and reasonableness from their ranks, they have doubled down on the have-no-civility lessons taught them by Newt Gingrich. When you supported a president who called women "dog" and “horse-face” and the like, it is not surprising.

Anyone who cared enough about the health of others to wear a mask during the pandemic was labelled "cucky." Apparently, it was the duty of true Alpha Males to risk death, in order to fully support Donald Trump, during the pandemic. As Jon Lovett remarked on his "Lovett Or Leave It" podcast: "Live Free and Die."

One might say this is high school–level discourse on the part of Republicans, but that would be an insult to high-school students everywhere. It's more like what we boys discussed in the 7th grade way back when. Except then it was typically nonsensical (and very confused) homosexual slurs; now that those slurs are no longer condoned even among the frat boys and white supremacists of the right, they have reached back some 400 years for a word used by Chaucer and Shakespeare to insult those they consider the beta-males in their midst.

Shakespeare—gosh, don't they know how gay that is?

Then there is the deep history of racism tied to the word cuckold—southern men warning of wives being ravaged by men of color. That, not deep knowledge of Chaucer or Shakespeare, is what animates the far-right users of the term today. Fear of Black Americans has been part of Donald Trump’s makeup ever since he and his father, Fred, denied apartments to people of color at Trump Village in the early 1960s. He made exploiting that fear—first, by questioning Barack Obama’s birthplace—his path to political power.

Back in 2016 when white supremacists began using the term more frequently, writer Adam Clair wrote a fascinating article, published in Paste, about the etymology of "cuck," which he notes had become "a favorite slur among Trump’s most loyal supporters." The term is derived from both the sound and the actions of the cuckoo and its biological imperative to lay eggs in other birds nests, a form of "brood parasitism." Clair convincingly connected it to the politics of Trump supporters:

“Once cuckoos are born, they immediately try to eject the other eggs from the nest, acting out of instinct. It’s a zero-sum approach to life. Their survival depends on the death of other birds. This is, of course, a logical conclusion of white supremacy, or at least its apparent goal. The conservative movement has always had a split between the Romney-ish types who split the world into ‘makers’ and ‘takers’ and the more Trumpist ideologues who view politics as a zero-sum game in which there is only so much to go around. It’s not enough to win a deal if the other side hasn’t lost in some way.”

And it goes beyond this dread of, and fascination with, cuckoldry.

There’s that other weird sex-based end-of-times conspiracy theory promulgated by the right, the QAnon ("look up the facts yourself!") conspiracy theory, which revolves around a global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, liberals, sometimes described as operating from underground tunnels (a good place for tunnels to be, underground), who are out to get Donald Trump and who Trump alone is battling.

So, once again, here is the deviant sexual portion of our program to get you fearful of the opposition.

QAnon is a poisonous cocktail concocted of other older conspiracies; something of a mish-mash—pour in few ounces each of apocalyptic, end-of-times, second-coming, left-behind faux-religious liquor (whatever you have of this in your own cupboard will do), add a good shot or two of the standard elitist and anti-Semitic tropes, and then with a very free hand jolt in dashes of homebrewed bitters. Serve over the rocks (not ice, actual rocks) and—enjoy. Mmm, now that's potent! (Hey, maybe Tucker is on!)

QAnon, as with all conspiracy theories, is self-protective—the more you try to debunk it, the more convinced acolytes become, the debunking being merely more proof of the conspiracy. Such conspiracies spread like a virus—protein packages wrapped around a DNA of fear and hate—and morph as necessary to maintain viability and infectivity. (Speaking of protein packages wrapped around a DNA of hate, Donald Trump, according to Media Matters, before he was banned from the platform re-tweeted crazy QAnon messages hundreds of times.)

It is interesting that the late Jeffrey Epstein is brought up as part of the QAnon conspiracy, connecting that infamous pedophile with the left, because mention of Epstein naturally points to, more than any other person, his good buddy Trump, who enjoyed his company very much back in the day. As Trump bragged to New York Magazine in 2002: “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy! He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” Trump made a point to publicly send his best wishes to Epstein's partner and alleged procurer of "underaged women" (a k a, girls), Ghislaine Maxwell. One doesn't need to wonder why he did that.

I'm no psychologist—though, really, with this kind of stuff does one need to be? Although it is an icky subject, let's run quickly through just a handful (say, two smallish hands) of conservatives with unusual sexual identities or proclivities:

  • Convicted felon (seven counts) and self-proclaimed political dirty trickster Roger Stone is apparently a big fan of his own physique and was for some time in Washington, D.C., openly a swinger ("no smokers or fats please").

  • Former Trump campaign chairman and, oh, yes, convicted felon Paul Manafort was said to have encouraged, or forced, his wife into "hot wife" situations. This is according to leaked texts of their daughters, who (as one would imagine) were pretty grossed out by it.

  • Roy Cohn, chief legal council for Joseph McCarthy (and, later, Trump lawyer and mentor), who helped McCarthy ruin the careers of scores of people accused of being Communist sympathizers or homosexuals, is "credited" with bringing Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch together, wreaking havoc he would not live to see. He died of complications of AIDS in 1986, a closeted man to his bitter end.

  • Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of ultra-conservative Liberty University, who did not fall well (sorry) in having to resign during a sex scandal allegedly involving actual willing cuckoldry. (It will take some time to erase that photo from our minds.)

  • Vice President Mike Pence, who apparently cannot be in a room with a woman other than his wife, or without his wife, or without a photo of his wife—or something like that. (I refuse now to even know the specifics.) Does more need to be said? Oh, yes. He refers to her as "Mother."

  • Lest you think only conservative men run into sexual harassment charges, Kim Guilfoyle, who is in a relationship with Donald Trump Jr., was accused of sexual harassment by a former female "Fox News" assistant. "Fox" apparently made it go away for $4 million.

  • Donald John Trump, our serially unfaithful ex-president, who cheated on current wife with a Playboy Playmate and then a porn actress—and naturally also cheated on his country with a number of dictators during his presidency—has admitted on tape to acting like an invasive species when it comes to allowing women their personal space and has been credibly accused by multiple women of sexual assault—including rape. One woman who brought rape charges said she was 13 at the time. We learned of his inappropriate remarks about Michael Cohen's 15-year-old daughter. (And, still, QAnon followers view him as their anti-pedophile hero. It would be hilarious if it weren't so—to use a Trumpian term—sad.)

  • The so-called incel (portmanteau of "involuntary celibates") movement of young men who feel an "aggrieved entitlement" and feel they cannot find sexual partners. A far-right group, they strike out against women with a keen misogynistic fervor. Some have proven themselves violent; The Southern Poverty Law Center calls incels "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" and in 2017 added male supremacy to its growing list of hate groups.

  • And now the Department of Justice investigation into Gaetz, who, as a side note, is one of those people, like Newt Gingrich, with a face that manages to be its own caricature. Around our house we call him Evil Donny Osmond (so you now have a sense of just how old we are).

BTW, anybody else reaching for the Purell right about now?

I'd ask for a rim shot, but in this context it would sound perverse.

Maybe in some socio-sexual way it all fits. Psychologists tell us that much of what motivates the conservative brain is fear. The Occam's Razor explanation of it is just that fear and repression early in life—in, say, a stultifying evangelical or hard-line Catholic household—may lead to weird acting out later in life. Some people who grow up without feeling agency dream of "being in the game," of "being in the room" where the decisions are made, of being in the limelight. It's not for nothing that Washington has been called "Hollywood for ugly people," but now that joke is no longer just about looks. And it’s no longer funny.

One wonders if a person who has not resolved certain critical personal matters can be a whole person worthy of taking leadership at any level, in any field. If you can't manage to find your way out of the closet by the time you reach adulthood, I can feel for you. That must have been a horrifically repressed upbringing. But maybe you don't choose to go into public service, to do the same to your constituents. As my wife puts it, a big part of the appeal of a Pete Buttigieg is that you can see that he is right with himself. He's not hiding anything essential; he's not roiled about his own identity.

A reminder of how screwy certain segments of Americans can be about sex came with the death last year of social scientist Shere Hite, who faced a huge backlash (including, yes, those ubiquitous American death threats) when she published her book The Hite Report, in which she detailed the findings of her survey of American women on how they viewed their sex lives. About 70 percent said they did not achieve orgasm from intercourse alone, and a lot of men—conservative, Christian— just lost it. Hite would eventually renounce her U.S. citizenship and move to Europe.

In this conspiratorial, don’t-listen-to-the-experts "MAGA" world Trump left us, Dr. Anthony Fauci and his family require bodyguards for protection from coronavirus deniers and folks who just don't want to wear that darned mask or think about carrying proof of being vaccinated. Bodyguards for a scientist—that’s where we are. (For all Dr. Fauci has been through, I appreciate the catchphrase that Dana Carvey, on his freewheeling and funny podcast “Fantastic!,” gives to the good doctor: “I’m Dr. Anthony Fauci: Go Fuuuuck Yourself.”)

What ties all of these men together (no, I'm not moving to bondage—that, and diapers, seems to be more the U.K. conservatives' erotic fantasy) is their power mongering, outright viciousness, and constant psychological projection on others of their own nagging faults and untoward desires and devious plans.

Getting back to Shakespeare, there’s this, from Pericles: “Few love to hear the sins they love to act.”

To understand psychological projection, just remember the axiom "To know one, you’ve got be one." But the person who projects, if he were conscious of it, might turn that around:

Because I am one, I’m convinced you are too.

Studies (and a wealth of literature) tell us that men who worry the most about their wife being unfaithful are men who are already cheating on their wife. It's pretty simple.

Projection.

So, Republicans, please learn a bit about psychological projection. When you feel yourself moved to call someone a "cuck" or find yourself entering into a QAnon chatgroup (however that works), take a breath, reflect, and maybe go out for a walk in nature. And if there are others near you, take off that mask of the Alpha-male and put on the kind of mask that can save lives, including your own.