Pageantry of Moral Outrage–Bullsh!t on Parade: A Criticism of Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld

Garry Bredefeld is a Fresno City Councilmember who often echoes the death rattles of hyper-conservative panic. Almost as a means to stay relevant, he takes to social media to opine the decline of Conservative Christian values, and, by extension, the decline of America. Though the connection between his rhetoric and white Christian nationalism are damningly clear to anyone with some understanding of the tense racial history in America, Bredefeld–and those like him–are quick to deny their roles in perpetuating a system of white supremacy. They claim that “bigot” and “racist” labels are unfair and that such accusations are made by those who are intolerant of their interpretation of Christianity and hate America. To be fair, Bredefeld may not speak so plainly, but his social media interaction clearly indicates where he positions himself ideologically.

“Radical left,” “unconstitutional,” “socialism,” and other conservative dog whistles fill the landscape of his Twitter account. Any current story/accusation intended to paint liberal and left leaning voters as American hating monsters–regardless of source reliability–Bredefeld is quick to seize upon. A brief perusal of his social media portrays the image of an individual easily manipulated by fear and conspiracy. In June of 2022, Bredefeld bemoaned the flying of the Pride Flag and the way a religious group, to which he did not belong, prayed to their God as being an attack on Christianity. Despite data showing child sexual abuse, grooming, and molestation as much more likely to take place at church or by family members, Bredefeld has engaged in the hyper-conservative dialogue that accuses Drag Queens (and, by insinuation, the rest of the non-heteronormative community) of being child predators. He has also engaged in other hot topics such as: CRT, pronouns, and Covid hysteria.

Bredefeld is largely ignorant of the topics he engages. From American freedoms to public education to public health to socialism to Christian theology, Bredefeld is a hot mess of misinformation. It isn’t surprising considering the sources he turns to for information. However, it appears that being morally, ethically, or factually correct isn’t the point of his pageantry. His panic and fearmongering play to a base heavy with the anxiety of weakening control. The power structure benefiting his base is disintegrating, they are being called to repent for the damage they have inflicted on everyone around them, and Bredefeld rises to assuage their seared conscience. The dying white supremacist power structure is choosing blind loyalty over intelligence, compromise, or competence, therefore Bredefeld remains in place–representing the interests of a disconnected affluent constituency.

Regardless, his exhausting outbursts appear to be little more than political pageantry. He waves the right flags, uses the right buzzwords, expresses disgust at the right subjects, but it is all a show. While Bredefeld gathered with faith “leaders” to decry LGBTQIA+ rights and representation and has been quick to voice his opposition to everything celebrity Republicans oppose, he has been silent in other areas which might criticize his own voters.

Recently, an advertisement for a “Fresno Aryan Meet and Greet” has been spotted in the wild. A quick check of the advertised website (and a thorough shower) confirms the event. The advertisement has made its way to Bredefeld’s Twitter account by means of an aggressive Fresno GOP parody account. The silence from Bredefeld seems to track as the real Fresno County GOP–with whom Bredefeld associates–has been known to partner with the Proud Boys and 1776’ers (basically “sanitized” reincarnations of the Ku Klux Klan). Where is the moral outrage we’ve seen from Bredefeld? Where is the righteous indignation?

Not just Bredefeld, but also the religious “leaders” he joined to condemn non-heteronormative individuals ought to be noted for their silence. While arguing from silence is a logical fallacy, identifying patterns has a way to give voice to the telling silence. Bredefeld has displayed indignation for just about every grain of sand in the collective undergarment of the hyper-conservative consciousness, but in the face of this gathering of anti-American fascists under the unifying umbrella of racial superiority in his city, he and his own are damningly silent.

For all of Bredefeld’s appeals to the Christian faith as justification for a number of his outbursts, he may be proving the frustrated colloquial true: “there’s no hate like Christian love.”

Changes: Or The Lack Thereof

Cops give a damn about a negro
Pull the trigger, kill a n——, he’s a hero
Give the crack to the kids, who the hell cares?
One less hungry mouth on the welfare
First ship ’em dope and let ’em deal to brothers
Give ’em guns, step back, watch ’em kill each other

Tupac Shakur, “Changes,” 1998

Twenty-five years after the release of Tupac Shakur’s “Changes” and we find ourselves in the same place. The same story told over and over and over again, and still we miss the lesson. Public school, parental and American religious rhetoric, and political discourse insisted racism died with the abolition of slavery in 1865 and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The fault of racism had been laid at the feet of very distant relatives—to whom none of us were related because our families would never be involved in such a thing—and yet the truth is it was our parents and grandparents and great grandparents perpetuating an evil ideology.

Many millennials have cut off older family members, including parents, as a result of their toxicity. These cut off family members often refused to change, own their faults, and react violently to culpability and consequence. Is it then a wonder that it is largely their generation and their successfully groomed offspring who rail against the social conversation of bigotry and stand in the way of progress meant to create a more humane and equitable world?

We weren’t the only ones to suffer their toxicity.

My genetic provider used to say that America wasn’t ready for a Black or woman president. As I have learned over the last thirty years, the accusations of these toxic people are usually confessions. Despite his feigned sympathy for such racial disparity, it was he—and those like him—who were not ready for a Black or woman president. The proof of such assessment lies in the formation of the Tea Party, the precursor to the far-right MAGA movement that would ultimately take over the Republican party today.

Tupac called it, we need real changes, and we can no longer wait for our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents to die out. They promised to prepare us the future to which we were heirs. They called us, their children, the future—yet they’ve held that future beyond reach. They took an America at its greatest economic and social potential and destroyed it in the name of neoliberalism.

“Make America Great Again,” what does this mean? The generations leading this war cry were entrenched in segregation, unfettered lynchings, and the reinforcement of systemic bias that now hangs from our necks like millstones.

We cannot move forward if we insist the answer lies in the past. I’m sorry Revolutionary and Confederate cosplayer, the answer isn’t embedded in our whitewashed tombs.

Hate Has No Home Here: Fresno County GOP and Other Central Valley Conservatives Choose Hate

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

First Amendment, Constitution of the United States

Fresno County GOP, along with several other far right conservative organizations within Fresno County have released a hate filled divisive press release condemning the LGBTQIA+ community for existing in the public space.

As expected, these far right groups have portrayed themselves as victims while actively seeking to silence diverse communities and people in the public space.

As long as they think themselves the prioritized voices, they will continue to strike out at our diverse communities and silence their representation in local government. Perhaps all residents of Fresno County, and those who conduct business in Fresno County, should reach out and let the Fresno County GOP know their hate has no home here!

Those interested in letting them know how you feel:

Fresno County GOP Headquarters
770 E Shaw Ave, #220

Fresno, CA 93710
559-225-2566
info@fresnogop.org

Fresno County LGBTQIA+ Community and Allies. These people are not your friends.

Hate Has No Home Here: An Open Letter to the City of Kingsburg, CA City Council

On May 31st, we were given a demonstration as to why declaring June as Pride month is a necessary message that no matter how deep your pockets, how loud you get, or how old you are, you do not get to determine who does or does not belong in our beloved city of Kingsburg.

Immediately following a twenty minute public speech by the Constitutionalists for California that simultaneously substantiated the facts I brought to the council and misrepresented them, an associate among them declared the LGBTQIA+ community an “abomination.”

The far right organization acknowledged the increased violent victimization experienced by the LGBTQIA+ community, but then attributed that violence to “aliens, for all we know,” as if violent victimization only counts from sources they deem valid. The twelve murdered transgender Americans in 2022 were also substantiated, but 12 dead transgender Americans is deemed by them to be low enough to be acceptable—much in the same way that 19 children and two teachers in an elementary school is deemed acceptable. Pro-life, am I right? Their factually deficient organization asserted life saving care isn’t life saving if it is merely preventing the suicide of American youths struggling to fit in a world where they are told time and again they are “abominations.”

Twenty minutes they stood here an opined on the audacity of one resident standing up and saying ‘here’s a problem and here’s a symbolic gesture that would make a world of difference to a marginalized segment of our community.’ They all but said, ‘because we showed up last year and were loud and intimidating, we win. Case closed.’ If that was the case, the segregation era they enjoyed as children would be present in America today.

White supremacy is more than wearing a white hood, burning a cross, and saying the n-word. It is gathering with a hate group (with whom they would partner with again that same holiday season) and an angry mob to enforce their narrow and bigoted views on the whole of our community. Literal, fascism. Not hyperbole. Fascism.

At some point change is inevitable, and while I wish I had twenty minutes to breakdown the fallacies of their arguments or school them in the 1946 introduction of the word “homosexual” to the Bible and its 1971 retraction by the same translating body, I don’t have the time, and this isn’t the place.

Neither is this about a flag. T-Mobile took care of that already. This is about sending a clear message that we don’t view our residents as abominations regardless of gender, orientation, identity, race, religion, or creed. It is simply, not acceptable.

And as long as we fly the Swedish flag outside City Hall, uplifting one cultural influence into the spotlight over others, the argument that we don’t shine a spotlight on some and not others is a lie at best—a malicious oppressive lie at worst.

And as for any that suggests we ought ‘accept the answer no’ in calling to the attention of the public the humanity of the dehumanized, “woe to you, O Pharisees and scribes.”

Finally, what took them four people and twenty minutes, I have now done in less than five. Do not let those who would associate openly with a Southern Poverty Law designated hate group be our voice. Please, for the good and confidence of our whole community, consider declaring June Pride month in the City of Kingsburg.

As a Reminder, the KKK in its prime participated in community programs.
See: “When the KKK Was Mainstream

Dog Whistles, Right Wing Extremism, and White Nationalism in the Spotlight During PRIDE Month 2022

This weekend 31 members from “at least 11 states, including Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia, and Arkansas…” and only “…one from Idaho” (Bellisle) associated with the white supremacist organization Patriot Front were arrested and charged with “criminal conspiracy to riot” (Pietsch). The “little army” (White), bedazzled in matching military stylized outfits depicting stars and stripes, Patriot Front insignias, and shirts with typical fascist slogans such as “Reclaim America,” loaded up into a U-Haul truck outside of a hotel with plans to riot at a PRIDE event in the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Police officers guard a group of men, who police say are among 31 arrested for conspiracy to riot and are affiliated with the white nationalist group Patriot Front, after they were found in the rear of a U Haul van in the vicinity of a North Idaho Pride Alliance LGBTQ+ event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, U.S. June 11, 2022 in this still image obtained from a social media video. North Country Off Grid/Youtube/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

Security had been augmented when authorities were made aware of increased threats against the event and its participants, but it was a tip from an eyewitness who saw the gravy seals loading into a U-Haul outside a nearby hotel that ultimately foiled the plan for mass violence.

Right-Wing Extremist violence is steadily rising across America (O’Harrow, Ba Tran, Hawkins). The right-wing extremist groups, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, in partnership with the disgraced former president Donald Trump, for example, led the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 (January 6 Committee) after the national embarrassment failed to get re-elected.

The country is slowly crawling towards progress, and as a result, conservative values–which lean toward anti-diversity, exploitative practices and policies, white nationalist philosophies, etc.–are falling by the wayside.

Extreme conservatism is dying, and its death throes are being expressed through lies and violence. As the lies lose the power to hold the masses in check, violence increases. A cursory glance at the Civil Rights Movement in history provides a clear example of this–which plays a role in why conservatives and the GOP are actively putting forth anti-Critical Race Theory propaganda.

Divisive rhetoric from community leaders such as Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld continues to serve the Right-Wing Extremist agenda by reenforcing us vs. them narratives in order to pit the community against itself. The ol’ divide and conquer strategy.

In response to local clergy offering opening prayers at the Pride Flag Raising Ceremony in Fresno, Ca, Bredefeld tweeted:

DISGRACEFUL ATTACK ON TRADITIONAL CHRISTIANITY THROUGH “PRAYER” AT GAY PRIDE FLAG RAISING AT CITY HALL.

I’ll continue to speak out against these attacks on Christianity & never accept this kind of perversion of God and what God truly stands for as revealed in the Bible. Never.

City of Fresno Councilman Garry Bredefeld via Twitter

Not only is this outburst entirely inappropriate for a sitting city councilmember in California’s fifth largest city, but it is entirely false and illustrates the far-right conservative tendency to lie, cheat, and steal when they don’t get their way. No one was attacking Christianity.

Prayer, for the record, is not the sole practice or intellectual property of right-wing conservative Christian nationalism. Prayer has been participated in by a variety of cultures, religions, and people throughout history. Written sources record prayer as far back as 5000 years ago.

Bigoted outburst from Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bedefeld

Not only is Bredefeld incredibly mistaken, but his message attempts to divide the community into us (straight Christian nationalists with a priority for old world western European ideals) vs. them (everyone else) camps. The “us” camp often self-identifies as flag waving patriots–a dog whistle and moniker for white nationalists. While some might object to the fact that “patriot” has become a moniker for oppression, bigotry, and fascism, I simply point to the hyper nationalism common in hate groups and right-wing extremist organizations such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Patriot Front, Ku Klux Klan, Save California, Act for America, Mass Resistance, Occidental Dissent, and many more.

Now, more than ever, events and programs promoting diversity, inclusivity, and positive community building are crucial! Events such as PRIDE help to breakdown negative stereotypes, ignorance, fear, and reveal the humanity inside all of us. (Why do you think many of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents wanted to keep society segregated?)

Power is shifting away from those who have excluded members of our communities across the country. Their system is failing, and as their death rattles grow, so will their lies and acts of violence.

Only we, American citizens, can put an end to the madness gripping this nation. Only by voting out illiterate knuckle draggers like Bedefeld from local, state, and federal government, and replacing them with leaders who can build up and unite our country, can we ensure changes for the good of the entire community. By coming together and refusing to allow bigotry a place at the table, we can reduce the strength and violence of the far right.

Happy Pride Month, everyone.

DISMANTLE THE GOP

Oklahoma stands poised to ban all forms of abortion—including ‘morning after pills.’ This is yet another example of the militant extremist measures perpetuated by the dying Republican Party in an attempt to steal power and enforce their white evangelical nationalism on the people of the United States. Worse, it echoes with the historic rise of the fascist Nazi party in pre-WWII Germany under the charismatic Adolf Hitler.

It is time to dismantle the GOP at every level. True conservatives (not this far-right, authoritarian, fascism-loving “Dark MAGA” posing as conservatism) need to form a new party. Trump has killed the GOP by empowering and emboldening bigots and racists to rise up and impose a theocracy as defined by their morals, values, and personal interests. The theocracy they push is identical to white nationalism wherein western anglo values are not just prioritized, but asserted as superior.

EVERY CONSERVATIVES ACCUSATION has turned out to be a projected confession. EVERYTHING from voter fraud to sexual perversion to pedophilia to social & religious indoctrination to racism and now this—an enforcement of religious-motivated law, aka the thing they accused Muslims of trying to establish in the U.S.

VOTE OUT EVERY Republican at the local, state, and federal level. They must be dismantled for the sake of democracy. Whatever it takes. No matter the hoops, get out and vote. The stakes have never been higher—even the 2020 election pales in comparison to what’s at stake for the country if Republicans regain power in the House and Senate.

Glimpsing Truth: A Critical Inspection of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands through Toni Morrison’s Site of Memory

In the fast paced environment of a first-person shooter (FPS) game, details are easily missed. The setting is often carefully rendered with masterful precision and full of wonderful surprises awaiting discovery by a player patient and curious enough to slowdown and explore. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, a recently released FPS action roleplaying game set in a post-apocalyptic world by 2K Games, offers a treasure trove of social criticism through comically inappropriate jokes, parody, and over the top dramatic storytelling. In line with Toni Morrison’s “Site of Memory,” Wonderlands functions as a compendium of facts presented in ways wherein the player might discover truths about their own world.

A setting within a setting, the playing field exists on a tabletop and in the imaginations of external characters in a Dungeons & Dragons parody. The setting itself functions as a kind of heterotopia where the external characters work through aspects of themselves often suppressed and resisted. Through their work, and the player’s often mindless acts of gratuitous violence, facts are captured, but truth is never given outright. The player is invited into the story, into the narrative, of the game to parse out what they find to be true “[because] facts can exist without human intelligence, but truth cannot” (Morrison 193).

Tiny Tina, Bunkermaster

Tiny Tina, the inappropriately young orphan filling the role of “Bunkermaster,” throws wave after wave of monsters, traps, and puzzles at the player to force the external characters directing the action from outside the tabletop into challenging positions. Tiny Tina appears to be working against the external playing characters at first glance. The player is made to face overwhelming odds that are difficult to overcome resulting in multiple deaths and resurrections throughout the entire campaign. As the narrative progresses and more facts about the world are revealed it becomes apparent that Tiny Tina isn’t working against the external characters or the player, but forcing them into great acts of heroism. Here it would be easy to assume that she wills those involved in her game to progress to higher levels and gain improved equipment and skill, but this, too, proves incorrect. She is processing the loss of her own playable character through whom she had experienced what it meant to be a hero.

Her initial understanding of heroism is defined by having power over one’s world to ensure the ‘good guys’ always triumph over the ‘bad.’ The young “Bunkermaster” believes being a hero means having power in a world where she—who has witnessed the murder of her parents by bandits, the death of her mentor by wicked oligarchs, and who continues to lose companions to tragedy—has had none. Loneliness and fear of abandonment surface as facts to a larger truth being revealed little by little. Through her narrative journey, and that of her companions Valentine and Frette, an agreement with Morrison arises. These characters “are my access to me; they are my entrance into my own interior life” (Morrison 195).

In the moment, in the heat of it all, when the virtual bullets are flying across the screen, the player is swept up in the action. They, we, are a part of something. Something big. Something epic. The player is in control of a world gone off course—what’s wrongs they alone can set right. Perhaps that’s both the alluring and damning part of the game. The modern world appears in many ways broken, or more honestly, the paradigm we have constructed and upheld appears broken. It is in need of heroes, but too many feel powerless. Like the many mindless sprites populating Wonderlands’ setting, we take care of our own and hope it is enough, but is it enough?

The facts about power structures, and the thrill experienced in the game’s action, archive for us facts about our own world. They lay the framework for truth to take shape. It might seem to be enough for us to take care of just our own, and we might believe ourselves powerless to change or move the world forward, but the thrill experienced specifically in setting right injustices, creating better paradigms between warring factions, and rebuilding communities in more beneficial ways—in game—seems to argue against this illusion of ‘enough.’ Truth appears to be more than we thought it to be. Maybe ‘enough’ is the conditioned response meant to keep us submissive—meant to keep us from moving the world forward?

Toni Morrison, Time magazine.

Wonderlands is incredibly strange and arguably more interesting than the world we inhabit, but the impressions left on a contemplative player are as facts resonating within their own reality. Power structures corrupt and are corrupted. They don’t have to be. They are not fictional elements meant to convey a story, but real and tangible things which have been constructed and thus can be deconstructed and shifted. They can be corrupt now, and after some work, be not corrupted—or at least be made better for everyone. Perhaps this is what Morrison meant by: “’Truth is stranger than fiction,’ . . . it doesn’t say truth is truer than fiction; just that it’s stranger, meaning that it’s odd. . . . It may be excessive . . . but the important thing is that it’s random—and fiction is not random” (193). Truth is random. What is today may be something completely other tomorrow, if we choose to act.

Truth is elusive. This is why storytelling and art and literature matter. They shed light on facts which illuminate pathways towards truth. Even a video game such as Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands in its absurdity can cause one to pause and reflect on how many of our beliefs—especially about each other—have been conditioned in a specific manner. These glimpses, these facts, apply cracks along those things barring us from discovering truth.

And while it may be outside the scope of this work, perhaps these same glimpses leading to truth are really what’s behind the banning of books by authors and poets and artists of color, and of the same who identify as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, from school libraries across the United States. Perhaps that is what has conservative white evangelical nationalists foaming and frothing at the mouth. Too many cracks exposing too many facts are drawing too many eyes to the truth.

Works Cited

Morrison, Toni. “The Site of Memory.” Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.

Systemic Racism on Display: SCOTUS on Roe v. Wade

A very intelligent and wise woman, Dr. Wilson, pointed out a lack of citations to provide evidence for the loaded claims made by Supreme Court Justice Samuel “I Hate Women” Alito. I read the passage again with this insight in mind, and that is when I saw it. The old white supremacist language I was raised to speak and hear and understand.

For those who don’t speak fascism, racism, or bigotry in the deeply rooted systemic dialect, I would like to offer a translation.

-Justice Samuel Alito, Initial Draft: Majority Opinion courtesy of Politico.

The lack of citation to provide evidence for his claims is standard practice in the fascist dialect. It is often employed when in the act of committing or supporting evil. Simply, a claim is made and we’re supposed to assume it to be unerringly true—like they do with the Bible.

The phrase “enflamed debate” means their argument is inferior and the claim lacks the weight of merit. In short, they can’t get their way by reason or debate. This is where the phrase “deepened division” comes into play.

Division is a dog whistle to rally defense of something generally indefensible. We don’t call out Uncle-Brother Billy Joe Bob for his racism at Thanksgiving because it would cause division.

Division is the phrase pulled out when fascists no longer want to debate, they just want their way. An example of this is excusing grandma because she grew up in another time, and we can’t reason her out of it, so we just give her a pass so not to cause division.

Where else do you see this use of division to rob power from the people so that it may be used to uphold oppressive structures, systems, and institutions? If you guessed white evangelical churches, you would be solidly right.

Now why do you see that similarity? Well, it’s not coincidental. The relationship between the white evangelical church and white nationalism in America runs deep. While that goes beyond the scope of what I’m doing here, I would invite you to consider how many of these far right wing fascists claim to be Christians. Then, consider all the ways in which these Christians argue for legislation against abortion rights, the entire existence of the LGBTQIA+ community, the poor, and women.

I’m not proud that I can still read white supremacy, but I feel it imperative that I should make very plain what has actually been said here. I would also ask that we pay very close attention to which States enact bans on abortion, birth control, contraceptives, and abortion medication. They’ll probably be the same ones enacting legislation targeting the LGBTQIA+ community and their families. Probably the same ones that are Republican run. Probably the same ones that have a long history with racism/segregation/slavery/lynching. They will probably rank low in education and high in poverty. Probably have some voter suppression history there, too.

Again, this not the scope of this writing, but do take notice of the common connection. GOP, white supremacy, and white evangelical Christianity always seem to be found hanging out at all the same clubs together. Just saying.