The Parental Right

“Was it hard? I hope she didn’t die hard.’

Sethe shook her head. ‘Soft as cream. Being alive was the hard part.”

—Toni Morrison, Beloved

The political Right is going all-in on “parental rights”. This has been accelerated as of late but it’s not new. Why does the right have this morality around children?

The conservatives are always aiming to go to the past, rather than the future. One would think this would make them support children but it’s actually the opposite. They want to go back to their own childhoods and they can only do this by controlling children.

Another factor for the political Right, at least in America where fascism is heavily merged with distorted Christianity, is an ideology of white supremacy, as children lack sin. This ideology plays nicely into notions of racial superiority as even a drop of a certain ethnicity can be viewed as impure.

This explains the assault on women of late too where women and anyone who comes close to helping them could be rounded up by snitches for a bounty if they exercise reproductive rights. For the political right the fetus has more rights than humans (particularly women, particularly women who have sex) because it has not sinned (yet).

In the same way, the Right enjoys death itself. When one is dead they aren’t sinning and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Children have also become the way the Right expresses its death drive in regards to COVID-19. By not giving children the right to wear masks or get vaccines the Right can set a precedent for the rest of the country. As much as the Right wants to restrict people’s right to a healthy life they cannot legally do this to adults. But by banning their own children from health they exercise control over life and death. There is no escape from the mentality that if children come from sex, then one’s own child is one’s own sin.

At the same time, fascists on the Right and the Trumpenleft are peddling hysteria about the woke mob replacing them while the Right systematically rigs the courts and rule of law for themselves.

Children have taken the center stage as Critical Race Theory emerges as a key issue. The Right claims to be against cancel culture but they run entire campaigns based not on economics or politics, but on cancellation of the school curriculum. Race can be on the ballot with or without Trump.

The Virginia governor’s race featured a Mom who campaigned to cancel Toni Morrison’s Beloved. This Mom was whining about her son having nightmares after reading Morrison in class. Unlike many of the pseudo-intellectuals on the Right, he at least was absorbing the material. A key concept of fascism is to cancel art.

Much of the aesthetic sensibility of America has been weeded out by corporate centrism which aims to dull art. In this regard, as in all others, centrist moderation is as much to blame as right-wing extremism. Trump, like Hitler, was a failed artist, a second-rate Hollywood punching bag, and a loser in every way.

The Right claims that Critical Race Theory prevents their children from making friends with kids of color. But none of them would dream of enrolling their kids in the schools or neighborhoods we have made for children of color which are heavily policed, underfunded, and have water pipes filled with lead.

The parental rights issue emerged under QAnon, a conspiracy that believed Trump, who wants to fuck his own daughter, would weed out all the liberal pedophiles. Such theories are not dismissed out of hand and become mainstream in their own way. Now the core of the Right message is that the Left is infecting our children with dangerous things.

One more issue has been the rights of transgender youth to determine their own gender and act upon it. To assume children can’t recognize their own gender means one must really have a low opinion of their personhood. The Right needs to control the gender of their children because they have unresolved sexual feelings towards them. Suppression of sex only makes for a more confusing and traumatizing time for children.

So the Right has to protect the children from the imaginary pedophiles, the sexual women and LGBT, the divisive CRT and the authoritarian communist masks and medicine. But what do they want for children? Certainly not parental leave as we saw in the Build Back Better “negotiations”. What happens to children when their parents can’t afford a caretaker for them? Surely this keeps them safe!

More urgently the Right is canceling the future itself based on its position on climate change. Rather than protect the basic resources needed to survive the Right will opt for short-term profit. The future generations have no right to life under these politics.

The political Right presents an overwhelming danger to children but mobilizes its base increasingly on the idea of protecting them from some ominous invisible horror. Young people overwhelmingly support some version of socialism while older people are openly fascist. The divide amongst age is as big as any divide. This is not surprising given how fast the world is changing.

The political Right wants the apocalypse to relieve them of life. Based on the thoughts in their head, it’s hard to blame them for wanting an out. But who are they to decide that children must perish too? As money continues to rule the worldwide climate negotiations we see a future closing before our eyes. Children who have not witnessed Democrats in an election cycle may be the only ones who have any hope. Adults have the obligation to give children not only a right to imagine the future but a right to live in it.

If Democrats wanted to win elections or if they fundamentally believed in democracy they would lower the voting age immediately. For now, the only role children are allowed to play in politics is one where adults hide behind them, just as President Joe (Manchin) hides behind his stereotype of “ordinary West Virginians”. As politics becomes increasingly idiotic there is a tendency to label this style childish.

But Children don’t respond to the irony of the fascist right or the cloudy excuses of the corporate center. Children speak directly and demand change. Three cheers for the future, if we get there.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at