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: 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

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.

PRIDE 2022: Affirming Humanity — An Open Letter to the Kingsburg City Council, CA

Introduction

“The Bible says…”

Last year, around this time, we heard this phrase during a good portion of a four-hour nightmare of public comments. Last council meeting, June Hess insisted Kingsburg was pro-God, pro-Life, and pro-America. In that same meeting, Councilman Pursell informed a group trying to take on the multi-faceted issue of homelessness, with regards to location, that Kingsburg was not a good candidate for the program because his constituents have made it clear it is not the kind of thing they want to see here. A bit ironic for an allegedly Christian prioritized community—it seems the least Christ-like thing. In fact, when I posed the question of Christ-likeness to an active community page online, I found some odd defenses for the seemingly contradictory behavior as well as those who perceived the general “Christian” nature of the town as a sort of ruse of hypocrisy.

I open by highlighting the way the Bible and Christianity have been used to oppress some things in this chamber while remaining silent on others where they ought to speak up. Inconsistency. None of us need hear what the Bible does or does not say on what I bring before the council today.

The Argument

According to an interview with Melissa Block, an NPR Special Correspondent who covers Gender Issues, there have been “more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in nearly 40 states.” Many states are taking their cues from Texas and Florida which have all but declared war on their LGBTQIA+ citizens—their fellow Americans. More than 58,000 youth will see a loss of necessary, and life-saving, medical care as a result of these bans (Williams Institute).

The Human Rights Campaign reports there have been “at least 12 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means” in 2022 so far (HRC Foundation). They emphasize “…’at least’ because too often these stories go unreported – or misreported” (HRC Foundation).

According to the Williams Institute School of Law, LGBTQIA+ individuals 16 years of age and older are “nearly 4 times more likely to experience violent victimizations, compared to non-[LGBTQ+] individuals” (Williams Institute).

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the LGBTQIA+ community is at a 3-6 times greater risk for suicide than non-LGBTQ individuals. While some may point to this to say, ‘hey! See! This is a mental health problem,’ I point them to the testimonies which demonstrate that the poor mental health statistics are a result of mistreatment, bullying, violence, and other forms of abuse used to marginalize these human beings—your fellow Americans.

Last year, in light of similar statistics and testimonies, we failed to assert that Kingsburg stands with the whole of its community. The motion to declare “Pride Month” died without a second. The traditionally marginalized community members were told: the sensitivities of a prioritized group within this same community were of far greater importance than their public existence.

In failing to approve the motion set forth by the youngest and, arguably, bravest councilmember, the council affirmed the message of the bigots who stood outside with the hate group, Proud Boys, along with those who represented the far-right “Three Percenters” ideology. Councilman Palomar went as far as to say “the city has spoken” referring to the few hundred—not thousands as some reported—making noise outside.

“The city has spoken?” White supremacy, fascism, bigotry—this is who and what speaks for our city?

Worst was the invocation of our nation’s flag. Often associated with our troops. As a retired United States Sailor who served a career in the Navy, it may come as a surprise for some of you to learn that 6.8% of our military identifies as LGBTQ. They serve openly and honorably. I served with them. They put on the uniform every day and fought for the country they love. Tell me, how are they not worthy of an act of solidarity—especially from a uniquely, military honoring, patriotic city?

The Request

We have an opportunity to assert that Kingsburg is a place that welcomes to the public spaces all its citizens as equal members. Last year we hid behind the matter of a flag because there were ‘other flags’ that should have been prioritized. It has been a year. No flag requests. It was never about the flag. There was fear of a Pride Event taking place. It happened. It was family-friendly, showcased the talents and skills of our LGBTQIA+ community, was attended by a number of outside dignitaries with zero incidents, and no one was made gay against their will. The surrounding communities saw our shame in the headlines and, as a result, passed their own Pride Month declarations without incident and without fear.

I implore this Council to consider declaring June 2022 as Pride Month. Let us send a clear message to our community that we stand with our LGBTQIA+ members and that we will not engage in, nor tolerate the same abuse and discrimination that is facing their communities across this nation.

Works Cited

Block, Melissa. “Hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills have already been introduced this year. Here may be why.” All Things Considered, NPR.org, 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/04/14/1092904560/hundreds-of-anti-lgbtq-bills-have-already-been-introduced-this-year-here-may-be-.

HRC Foundation. “Fatal Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in 2022.” Human Rights Campaign, HRC.org, 2022, https://www.hrc.org/resources/fatal-violence-against-the-transgender-and-gender-non-conforming-community-in-2022.

Williams Institute. “Bans put more than 58,000 transgender youth at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care.” Press Release March 2022, UCLA Williams Institute School of Law, 2022, https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/ga-care-bans-press-release/.

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.

Systemic Racism on Display: Tacoma, Washington

Over 40 Cops Arrive After a Washington Sheriff Falsely Claimed a Man Threatened Him.

I share these stories because we need to see how common this is. Racism isn’t in the past, but here and now. It is embedded in our systems and institutions. We can only change these things by voting out the powers that keep these racist systems alive and well.

It is not enough to simply vote out the enabling powers behind life crushing institutions and soul sucking policies; we must replace them with powers willing to transform those structures imbued with racial bias.

If Sedrick Altheimer had been killed, we wouldn’t be reading the story of a racist sheriff doing racist shit—we would be reading stories framing Altheimer out to be a criminal. He nearly became another name for us to say out loud.

Yes. Some will rightly claim this is just speculation, but let me point out a fact in this case—that sheriff isn’t behind bars. He made a call to clearly put Altheimer’s life on the line. The sheriff put out a distress signal to his fellow law enforcers that a badge was in danger. The sheriff intentionally manufactured a scenario which drastically increased the risk to Altheimer.

The sheriff walks. He might be sued, might lose his job, might go bankrupt—but he walks. A black man accused of some minor offense finds themself thrown behind bars to rot. But, the sheriff walks.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can create a more equitable and free system, but it takes all of us stepping up to vote for real change. We must weed out those who continue to cling to the racially biased structures destroying our neighbors.

At the very least, we ought to demand a system in which even a sheriff is held accountable for attempting to have a man lynched.

The Sheriff & Sedrick Altheimer

Why I Speak Racism with White People

Tiktok’s @jolly_good_ginger shared a video that resonated deeply with me. In fact, if he grew up in an abusive environment and was raised in a cult, I’d think we were the same people. I’m not as good looking as he, but there are some physical similarities. We are both veterans. We are both poetic. And, it seems, we both have a unique insight into race, racism, anti-racism, and the part we’ve played in this very American problem.

Like @jolly_good_ginger, I wasn’t raised around racists, I was raised by them. I was them. And by God’s grace I escaped them, and continue to escape them. It is why I speak about racism with white people. My privilege, my insight, my experience—but especially my whiteness—grants me an open door to discuss these dehumanizing issues with people who refuse to even listen to the “other.” Those who—as Toni Morrison once pointed out—would rather these awful, horrific, and detestable acts of evil against our humanity be kept “drawn behind the veil” to protect our sensibilities.

It is not just our fellow humans who look differently from us that we mistreat. No. Those that are different—whose religion, race, ethnicity, sexuality, identity, poverty (that is, their poorness), family make up, etc., etc., etc. are “wrong”—we treat with the utmost indignity.

Let me draw the veil completely open. That which I shame are the same things I practiced. I speak to white supremacy with intimate knowledge which no amount of propaganda can ever dissuade—which can no longer dissuade.

And before any accuse me of suffering from “white guilt” caused by “CRT,” as some who cannot even spell “CRT” have already accused me, let me offer this:

Repentance is the turning away from something—an act, behavior, habit, etc.—in agreement that the thing from which you repented is wrong. This boldness of bigotry and racism in the American 21st century is wrong—is evil—and if I say nothing, do nothing, then I am equally culpable in that evil. If I go on pretending not to notice it because it doesn’t “hurt me directly”—which it does—then my repentance is nothing and my growth as a human being is a sham.

Those who have experienced, and repented from, the side of the aggressor like @jolly_good_ginger and myself, have an obligation to speak up not only of the blatant racial and bigoted injustice that plagues America, but of the tactics and strategies used by whites to further sustain and uphold white supremacy.

Racism, and all the other prejudices borne out of white supremacy, is not solely the problem of its victims. White supremacy dehumanizes all of us—transforms us into animals and a means of profit for a system which benefits only a few. This problem is a problem for all of us.