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LGBT

We have an issue in our legislature relating to sex and science.  Not surprising, we have a divide along political lines relating to the issues, with conservatives rejecting the science and medical opinion.

 

Conservatives are consistently wrong on these issues, and their being wrong does real harm to real people.  Conservatives have faulty information, and worse values.  Transgender children and LGBT children are as much a part of their families and communities as any other children.

 

Hooray for the democrats in the Minnesota legislature, especially in the Senate for their vote in support of transgender children in our schools, as part of the education policy omnibus bill.

 
Boo! No! Wrong! Bad! to conservatives, republican or more fringie extreme for pushing an anti-transgender children legislation that would not benefit any of our children or adults, but which only promotes ignorance on the subject of gender identity.

 

The largest organization focused on factual information and policy on this topic is WPATH, which sides with the Dems against the GOP:

 

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) recognizes the right of all people to legal identity recognition and to identity documents consonant with their gender identity.

 

Conservatives want to push sexual attitudes and knowledge back to another century, to a reproductive and sexuality dark ages.  Conservatives as a group, as a voting block, as a demographic, are terribly lacking in knowledge and have a failed attitude towards any aspect of human sexuality.

 

what the reality of
conservative ignorance
looks like – an avoidable
chlamydia outbreak

They do not understand gender identity, and they do not understand their own human sexuality — if the rate of divorce, cheating on spouses in marriage, use of pornography (including homosexual porn), and the rates of sexually transmitted diseases and underage teen birthrates are anything to go by as a metric.

 

We see this in the Chlamydia outbreak in Texas, in a school which has embraced religious rightwing  abstinence only sex ed, which provides factually inaccurate information to students, and which largely do not provide sexual information at all.

 

In Crane High School, in Crane, Texas, the superintendent of schools finally admitted that abstinence only sex ed does not work — although this has been clear for a long time, by objective, scientific research. From the WaPo:

 

“We do have an abstinence curriculum, and that’s evidently ain’t working,” Rumage told KFOR. “We need to do all we can, although it’s the parents’ responsibility to educate their kids on sexual education.”

 

In spite of not accomplishing the stated goal of abstinence only sex ed, conservatives in Texas have thrown more money down this s*it hole of abstinence only sex ed. Keep in mind that in addition to equipping students for life as adults with complete and factually accurate information on all aspects of sex and human reproduction, including sexually transmitted diseases and safe sex.  Most recently in Texas, as another example of failed conservative thinking, the legislature defunded HIV Prevention, to fund instead more abstinence only sex ed.  From the Texas Observer:

 

House Votes to Defund HIV Prevention to Pay for Abstinence Education

Texas has the third highest rate of HIV infections in the country, but that didn’t stop lawmakers from passing an amendment that defunds HIV/STD prevention programs Tuesday. The amendment to the House budget proposal—offered by Rep. Stuart Spitzer (R-Kaufman)—diverts $3 million over the next biennium to abstinence-only sexual education programs.
House Democrats fought against the amendment in a debate that rapidly devolved into awkward farce, with Rep. Spitzer revealing details of his own sexual history as proof of the effectiveness of abstinence. For those keeping tabs at home, he was a virgin until marrying his wife at age 29, although he declined to answer a question from Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) on whether she was the first person he propositioned. “Decorum,” shouted state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs).
Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) asked Spitzer just how much money is needed for abstinence education in Texas, which receives more federal funding than any other state. Spitzer responded that additional funds are needed as long as people are still having sex before marriage.  His goal, he said, was for everyone to know that “abstinence is the best way to prevent HIV.”
“My goal is for everyone to be HIV/AIDS free,” Turner said.

 

For all the good it would do, Turner might as well religiously sacrifice a goat or a chicken, on an alter on the Texas legislature steps to accomplish the same thing… or more precisely FAIL to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

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rainbowThis relatively long article is rather fascinating, as it provides a look at the often-preposterous motivated reasoning used by anti-inclusiveness reactionaries.
 

On Wednesday afternoon, the Minnesota Senate defeated an amendment that would have repealed transgender-inclusive policies of local school districts.
 
During debate on an omnibus education policy bill, Sen. Warren Limmer, a Republican from Maple Grove, offered an amendment targeting transgender-inclusive policies. The amendment is identical to one that was passed by the House on Saturday.
 
The Senate defeated the amendment 25 to 40…
 
Since the House did pass a similar amendment to its omnibus education bill, the two chambers will have to decide what to do with the amendment in conference committee sometime in the next two weeks.
(The Colu.mn)

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My Favorite Quote of the Week

by Dog Gone on April 9, 2015 · 0 comments

Billy Graham, center, with President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, early 1980’s

I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.
    Billy Graham – Parade (1 February 1981)

Billy Graham was the famously bi-partisan golf buddy and religious Christian guru to presidents for decades, in a very real sense he was one of the first really big televangelists, a sort of America’s preacher.  He was moderate conservative, unlike his rabid son Franklin, who has inherited his father’s religious enterprise.

 

There really is no longer such a thing as a moderate Republican.  There are only far right extremists, and fanatical far right extreme crazy right remaining under the umbrella of the GOP and the bastard subset of the Tea Party.  Moderates were last seen in the GOP in roughly the 1950’s and 1960’s, with the likes of candidates like Eisenhower and leaders in Congress like Edward Dirksen, or the right wing political intelligentsia like  William F. Buckley Jr.   While Buckley held some abhorrent views in his day, including both racism and homophobia, he was a well educated man who evolved politically over time to less extreme positions, and who was significant in his day for driving out the crazies and the wackos such as the John Birch Society (founded by the father of the Koch brothers manipulating right wing politics today).

 

Sadly, too many on the right, even those who were active in it, back in the period contemporaneous with the elder Graham seem oblivious to the right’s shift to the extremes, and the abandonment of the center for the lunatic fringes.  Too few of the remaining right even acknowledge that political parties  substantially change over time generally, as a fact of history, which in turn somewhat invalidates political party claims of legacy.  Those parties themselves abandon their own legacy in favor of views, policies and political platforms which in fact repudiate those of earlier versions of their party.  The GOP in the era of Lincoln was a largely liberal organization; the party of Teddy Roosevelt less liberal, but still more on the liberal side of the political spectrum than conservative.  The party of Eisenhower was likewise, more conservative than Roosevelt, and Lincoln, but still relatively liberal and centrist in contrast to the party of Reagan to present.   Even Ronnie Ray-gun was distinctly more liberal than any of the extant GOP.  THAT is the important context for both the above quote and the accompanying photo.

 

That political parties change over time has been true going back to before the American Revolution in this country; it is not unique to the 20th and 21st centuries. This larger pattern of change in which the Billy Graham quote applies as a warning is not the factual version of history that the right would permit to be taught, deeming it unpatriotic because it does not serve their propaganda agenda. Instead the radical religious right would like to teach fake history in public schools, using it to insert religious doctrine, for example that Moses was one of the founding fathers, requiring it in textbooks for public schools.

On Friday  [Nov. 21 2014] the Republican-controlled Texas State Board of Education voted along party lines 10-5 to approve the biased and inaccurate textbooks. The vote signals a victory for Christian conservatives in Texas, and a disappointing defeat for historical accuracy and the education of innocent children.

The textbooks were written to align with instructional standards that the Board of Education approved back in 2010 with the explicit intention of forcing social studies teaching to adhere to a conservative Christian agenda. The standards require teachers to emphasize America’s so called “Christian heritage.”

In essence, Christian conservatives in Texas have successfully forced a false historical narrative into public school textbooks that portray Moses as an influence on the Constitution and the Old Testament as the root of democracy.

Emile Lester, a professor of history in the Department of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Mary Washington, claim the textbooks contain “inventions and exaggerations” about Christianity’s influence on the Founding Fathers and, by extension, the formation of American democracy.

Credible historians warn the misguided attempt to suggest biblical origins for the Constitution would lead students to believe that “Moses was the first American.”

Scholars claim the decision to include the biblical figure of Moses in social studies education is part of a concerted effort by Christian extremists to promote the idea that the United States is a “redeemer nation” – giving a divine justification for supposed American exceptionalism.

The proposed textbooks are deeply flawed, and have no place in a public school classroom.

Franklin is one of the worst of the modern day fundies, a professional bigot popular exclusively among the most radical of the far right, peddling an equally extreme version of religion.  It is a shame that Billy Graham did not apparently teach the content of my favorite quote of the week sufficiently under his own roof for it to be internalized by his family members.  This does not make the content of the quotation any less true.

 

This is significant in so far as every one of the declared or likely candidates running for president on the right appear to be basing their primary level contention for the nomination on securing the approval of the religious right, the Christian fundamentalists.  Every potential candidate on the right is far removed from being a centrist, and most are of questionable rationality, replacing hateful respect for facts and science and diplomacy and even some modicum of basic integrity with an extremist ideology of intolerance and a toxic parody of legitimate spiritual belief.  And this makes religion the justification for voting AGAINST not in support of every one of the conservative candidates in the 2016 election.

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Evangelical Conservatives are a small group of people who have tried to be very controlling of others. Do what they say, or they will make you pay, in whatever way they can.

 

They want to control the Republican Party. They want to control government by any means possible; if not through a majority, through obstruction.

 

They want to control — and limit — freedom and civil rights; always have. Before ‘the gays’ it was controlling and restricting minorities. They want to control what people do in their bedrooms as well. And when they don’t get their way, when they don’t get the control they want, they make threats. Threats that God will HATE America, threats of earthquakes, threats that global warming related droughts are GOD punishing everyone for not conforming to their religion. “Demons will getcha!” and other rubbish suitable ONLY for scaring foolish or very young children is their fall back position.  These are people who fear children will ‘catch the Gay’ from Common Core, or who will ‘catch the Hindu’ from gym class, like it was athlete’s foot lurking in the showers.

 

There is no rational limit on the scope of what crazy Evangelicals will try to blame on gays, or for occasional variety in their religious insanity, abortion.  Most of these Evangelical extremists are very flexible; they can flip between the two with gymnast-like agility.

 

It is not rational adult thinking; it is an irrational emotional position, one of ugly emotions, not nice emotions. It is vindictive and revenge driven. Losing the marriage equality battle, and most likely the entire culture war, they seek their last possible way to lash out, to hurt others. These are the people, these mean, mostly old, mostly white Evangelicals FROM WHOM WE NEED PROTECTION to ensure civil rights and true liberty. They are the people who want to create second class citizens, whom they can threaten with losing their employment, losing their housing, or being treated badly when they celebrate a happy life milestone.  People should be free to believe whatever they like, reasonable or crazy, personally and privately; but it is also appropriate to draw the line at intruding the discriminatory or the freakishly weird into the public square and then imposing it on everyone else.  This is NOT an attack on religion nor is it a criticism leveled at all religion; freedom of religion is freedom to believe whatever you like, but it is not freedom from criticism or freedom from reason.

One of the most apt statements I’ve seen so far is that Evangelicals desperately want religious freedom, they want YOU to be FREE TO FOLLOW THEIR RELIGION, not your religion (or absence of religion) of choice and conscience.

 

The most extreme of these people want to declare open hunting season on anyone they perceive to be LGBT, with it being legal to murder them at will. That was the legislation proposed in California by a particularly hateful bigoted Evangelical. Because…Jesus?

 

I could re-type in all the numbers, the breakdowns, but this analysis by both party affiliation, age, and religious affiliation does a much better, more dynamic job of it, and shows why this will be important in the 2016 election:

Individually, most of these Evangelicals are nice people, but their religion and their politics are ugly and hateful, and as a political movement, they should be repudiated and rejected. They use the word freedom, often; but they seek to stifle it and to control people, to coerce people to conform to their beliefs. They wail and rant against big government overreach and intrusion, but they seek to expand it. They smear lipstick on their pig,, discrimination, by calling it religion and freedom.

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marriageEqualityForAllAs we see the religious right take another hit or two on the chin from the masters of the conservatives — Business, NOT Jesus, not conservative organized religion — it is worth a mention of some of the history behind legislation against same sex marriage.

 
Conservatives want us all to take their sloppy scholarship view that marriage has always been exclusively between one man and one woman.  Apart from the painfully obvious facts that monogamy is not a societal or historical by any stretch of the imagination, the idea that same sex marriages have not been a fixture in human history is also a mistaken one.  For those of you contemplating sitting across from crotchety old relatives as likely to be wearing a tin foil as wrapping up holiday leftovers with it, here is a bit of background for you, should you opt to present the facts to the minds inside those tin foil hats.

 

The current challenge for the legality of same-sex unions arguably can be traced to Hennepin County,  Minnesot, back in 1971, when two gay men attempted to get married.  The case went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which found that while there were no actual laws defining marriage one way or the other, they found instead that a basis for exclusively heterosexual marriage existed in common law.  That argument is still being pushed — factually falsely — by some conservatives, including the radical (one might say rabid) religious right.

 

From an article about the case, in the HuffPo back  in 2012:
 
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I predict that there will be no ‘fix’ changing this law; the only adequate ‘fix’ is repeal.

 

No Republican candidate, many of whom are embracing the Pence legislation, will ever be elected.

 

Denver station 7 hits PRECISELY on why this legislation differs from either the federal legislation that Pence keeps referring to, and differs substantially from the other 19 states with the legislation he refers to as well.  This has ALWAYS been about LGBT discrimination.

 

First of all, the claim that this was not intended to be discriminatory is not credible.

From abc 7:

Indiana ‘religious freedom’ law is different – and here’s why
Hobby Lobby paved the way, not Clinton-era law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The backlash to Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration law is growing but the bill’s opponents are blaming the wrong Hoosier. Indiana-born Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ role is far more important than Governor Mike Pence’s, even though Pence signed the law.
Here’s why:
You probably have heard that 19 states besides Indiana already have “a” Religious Freedom Restoration law and that all those laws “are based” on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. That is true only loosely, only if the words above are in quotes.
Indiana’s RFRA law has new and different language than the other statutes and the federal law. And it has different legislative intent.
States began passing their own RFRA laws only after 1997, when the Supreme Court ruled that the 1993 federal law did not govern state laws.  States wanted to “protect” religious liberty just as the feds had (more on that later).
But all of that came before Chief Justice Roberts ruled last summer in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell.  That was the famous case that ruled that a business, Hobby Lobby, was being burdened in its free expression of religion by a provision of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare to its foes) requiring coverage for contraception. This was a revolution in defining religious freedom in this country.
The Indiana law is the first state RFRA to pass after Hobby Lobby, and it actually codifies its jurisprudence in two ways.
First, it explicitly states that for-profit businesses – and not just individuals – have a right to the free exercise of religion. As The Atlantic points out, the federal law has no such language, nor do 17 of the 19 existing state RFRA statues. In fact, Louisiana and Pennsylvania exclude businesses from being protected by RFRA.
Second, the Indiana law makes explicit that for-profit business’ free exercise of religion is a defense against discrimination claims made not just by the government but also by private parties, something that is murky in the federal law.
So the claim that Indiana’s new law is just the same as a bunch of existing laws is off base.
That claim is also disingenuous and phony in a much simpler way, and so is the claim that that RFRA laws are not being used to try to justify discrimination.

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Dear Mike Pence,

You sir, Governor Pence, are a liar and a coward, and a bigot. But mostly you are a liar.

 

Do not pretend, Pence, conservatives, that your legislation is LIKE the federal legislation.  It is not.  Federal legislation supported religious freedom for individuals when infringed by government.  This treats businesses as people — hello, anti-LGBT Romney — and it facilitates businesses discriminating in public accommodation against individuals over sexual orientation.  It is not about freedom, it is just about facilitating dumb bigotry.

 

Let’s just cut to the chase, cut through your bulls*it.  Your statement on the George Stephanopolous Sunday ‘talking head’ interview was dishonest, and it was nothing more than a clumsy tap dance trying to get around the truth.

 

It is significant that Pence is trying to tar both Bill Clinton (as a proxy for Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, both of whom support LGBT rights) in advance of a potential presidential run.

 

ABSOLUTELY, “Hoosiers engage in discrimination.” (see the video of the interview at the 10 minute mark); they not only engage in LGBT discrimination, they want it, YOU WANT IT, and they brag about doing it.  Do just give it up on having it both ways; you know this law you signed is entirely about religious anti-LGBT discrimination being given proactive and preemptive legal cover to let them do so where previously they did not have such legal advantage for discrimination.

 

The AFA was right there with you when you signed this; they pushed for it, they’re candid about what it is: a pro-discrimination bill to legalize anti-LGBT discrimination. PERIOD.

 


So quit lying about it; you’re not any of you going to get away with having it both ways, a discrimination law AND not a pro-discrimination law.  You might as well pander to the bigots, Mikey; because you aren’t fooling the rest of us.

 

From Mediaite:

The man, who only identified himself as Ryan, said that as a Christian he understands that some people have a different “lifestyle” than him, but he doesn’t want them coming into his place of business and making his customers “uncomfortable.”

The hosts did not let him off easy, asking directly if he has ever discriminated against gay people in his restaurant. “I have discriminated,” he said openly, explaining that he has pretended there was a problem with his kitchen in order to not serve them in the past.

“That makes you feel OK?” Rachel Bogle asked him. “I mean, when you get a bed at night saying, ‘I’ve discriminated against other human beings,’ you feel at ease with that?”

Ryan said he feels fine about it because he believes he should be able to do whatever he wants in his own restaurant. “We don’t want to have this in our place of business, it’s just not right,” he said. But while the caller was happy to share his story, he would not say the name of his restaurant.

Let me sort this out for you and for your bigot businessman restaurant owner. ‘Ryan’ wants to be able to tell people they can’t eat at his place of business, but he doesn’t want to risk losing the heterosexual $$$ of people who would not knowingly patronize the businesses that discriminate.

 

Let me point out Ryan, let me point out Governor Pence, that LGBT people pay taxes. Those taxes pay for the infrastructure and services that make it possible for this business owner to make money, to operate his business. Our armed forces have gay patriots serving in their ranks protecting this country, so that those businesses may operate, so that state, and all the other states and territories are safe and free.

 

So unless these businesses want to go somewhere else, outside this country, they have no damned right, no damned freedom to take all the benefits of taxation which includes the LGBT community along with the family and friends who support them being who they are as human beings who were born the way they are. There is no more right to do that, no more ethical or moral justification, no political justification to do that, than there ever was to deny service to a person of color, or a person who is of an ethnicity like being Jewish or Asian, or to deny someone service on the basis of a religion in which they were raised or chose to embrace.

 

This notion that there is some kind of religious legitimacy to discriminate is one we’ve seen before, used to try to prop up segregation of races. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now. That belief creates a second class group of citizens, and then tries to smear heaps of lipstick on that pig to pretend it is nothing else.

 

There will be a severe penalty for you Governor Pence, much larger than I believe you have calculated. Not the least of those penalties, those costs will be to the people in your state who support this law and who elected you. Personally however Governor, you can kiss good bye any hope or dream you might ever have, in 2016 or any other time in the future, to sit in the office of President in our White House.

Bigots are going bye bye. And you gentlemen — all of you who contemplate and desire to enact laws like this, you damned conservative bigots, are as conservatives always are, on the wrong side of the arc of history. You consistently choose the role of the bad guy, and then you whine about it after you made the choice of your own will. Your values are flawed, your morality and ethics are dirty and ugly. YOU FAIL.

It is only a matter of when, not if, your law will be flushed down the toilet of s*itty historic legislation, where it will end up on the dung heap of human hatred.

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Minnesota LGBT best and worst of 2014

by Dan Burns on January 5, 2015 · 0 comments

1004998_788969071129152_49027631_nI’m quoting the #1 best and worst, here. You should click and check them all out.
 

No organization has had a bigger impact on LGBT equity this year than OutFront Minnesota. The organization completed a strategic plan that moved from equality to equity, helped shepherd through the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act and a transgender-inclusive athletics policy. The group mobilized at Twin Cities Pride to ensure participants were safe from an evangelical group that was using deception to try to convert members of the LGBT community to become “ex-gay.”
 
…The Child Protection League emerged in 2014 as one of the most anti-LGBT organizations in Minnesota. Comprised of member of Education Liberty Watch, and the Parents Action League (which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group), the group claimed a mission to “protect all children from exploitation, indoctrination and violence.” But all of it’s work went to blocking LGBT equity and demonizing LGBT people. The group spread falsehoods about the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act.
 
MNCPL placed ads in Minnesota newspapers, including a full-page spread in the Star Tribune, that insinuated that transgender students were sexual predators. The group’s leaders ran to television, radio, print, and anybody else who would listen to decry the “LGBT Agenda” and paint the LGBT community as unsafe, unhealthy, and bent on the indoctrination of children.
(The Column)

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kline3One of my interests is world religion, myth, and folklore. There are examples of mythological beings with second faces on the backs of their heads. What with always looking backward, perhaps they were inspired by the John Klines of their time.
 

Two key House Republicans on employment issues have asked the Labor Department to withdraw its new rule protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination.
 
House Education and Workforce Committee Chair John Kline, a Republican from Minnesota, and Rep. Tim Walberg, the Republican chair of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, made the request for a 60-day public comment period for the rule in a letter to the head of the office responsible for enforcing it…
 
After laying out their argument, they write, “We therefore urge OFCCP to withdraw its final regulation submitted to [Office of Management and Budget] … so the process for implementing [Obama’s executive order] can be done with the transparency and public participation typically afforded under the APA.” They ask for a response from Shiu “no later than December 17, 2014.”
(BuzzFeed)

While there are many things equally preposterous, literally nothing is more preposterous than Rep. John Kline complaining about an alleged lack of public input into government decision-making.
 
Oh, and this, too:
 

As lawmakers pressed Monday to finalize the legislative language of a must-pass omnibus spending bill, labor unions and retiree groups were mobilizing to defeat what they are characterizing as a lame-duck sneak attack on the pensions of some already-retired workers.
 
At issue is an effort led by Reps. John Kline and George Miller, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to bring reforms to troubled multiemployer pensions. The exact language of the proposal had not yet been announced, and it was not clear whether House leaders had in fact decided whether it would be attached to the spending bill.
 
But the lawmakers and staffers were working on such a proposal through the weekend. And it was widely expected on Monday that it would give multiemployer plan trustees the ability to cut benefits of already-retired workers or widows to help shore up some of the plans.
(National Journal)

Comments below fold.
 
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Jeff BackerJeff Backer, the Republican candidate challenging incumbent State Rep. Jay McNamar in HD12A, has an issues section on his web site that appears to have been written by the candidate himself, or at least not by a consultant. The statements of his positions come across as sincere but, disappointingly for someone who has already held public office, also shallow. What he says seems heartfelt — just not thought through. The recurring reaction when reading his take on issues is, “Are you sure that’s what you wanted to say?”
 
Let’s just dive into maybe the most egregious error. In his guns section, in just the second paragraph, Backer smacked hard into Godwin’s Law*, “For instance, Hitler enacted gun control laws that disarmed the populace before he went on his WWII rampage.” I’ll accept that Backer sincerely believes Hitler put strict gun controls in place and that this was a necessity for enforcing Nazi control. The sincerity of a belief doesn’t correspond to its factual accuracy, and Backer seems to have preferred the zombie myths** of the gun lobby over actual history. Hitler actually loosened gun laws and wanted Germans better armed than they were. Finding out wasn’t hard.
 
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