If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars. It’s a fiction.
If RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, had known it would become last week’s Internet phenomenon, he probably wouldn’t have said a thing about caterpillars. After all, he was trying to be tongue-in-cheek, but the relentless mockery in the blogosphere and Twittersphere probably weren’t worth the satisfaction of getting that punchline.
The hashtag #GOPWarOnCaterpillars was trending at number three worldwide Thursday afternoon, with tweets like the following:
You’re going to need to have a transpupal ultrasound before you metamorphosize young lady.
New Arizona GOP law places “butterfly personhood” at pre-caterpillar larvae stage
CATERPILLARS GET ONLY 78 CENTS FOR EVERY DOLLAR A MOSQUITO LARVA MAKES
This satirical hashtag, spearheaded by writer John Scalzi, wasn’t the only response to the chairman’s comments. Blogs and media outlets have also responded. A few hours before Scalzi started tweeting in earnest, our own Robin Marty was doing a little psychoanalysis, wondering if perhaps there’s an unconscious reason why Priebus chose caterpillars as his fictive example, when dismissing accusations of a general attack on women’s rights. Also that same day, an article in the Atlantic points out that there literally is a war on caterpillars, and on the environment in general, by the Grand Old Party.
It’s no surprise that the War on Women is so effective as a slogan. For a party that frequently talks about small government, it’s amazing just how much money and manpower Republicans want to bring to bear on sticking their noses in the lives of people they don’t like. It’s very much like a war of subjugation.
Still, if tweeters were sticking to War on Women talking points, the caterpillar hashtag may not have taken over as quickly as it did. But Twitter quickly became a free-for-all for mocking Republican agendas:
If butterflies came from caterpillars HOW COME THERE ARE STILL CATERPILLARS?!
IF WE LEGALIZE CATERPILLAR MARRIAGE, THE CHILDREN WILL BE CONFUSED. MOSTLY BY CATERPILLARS GETTING MARRIED.
We don’t need the votes from THAT SEGMENT of the population!
CATERPILLARS CHANGE INTO BUTTERFLIES. DO WE WANT THAT KIND OF FLIP FLOPPING IN OUR OFFICE?
Women, immigrants, people with different sexual orientations, people with different gender identities: each group has found itself in the GOP’s sights at one time or another.
During the Bush years, a book entitled “The Republican War on Science” caused a lot of buzz. Bush did refer to himself as a “war president,” though that’s not the kind of war he wanted to admit to waging. He already came across to some as a D student.
Still, the imagery fits. Republicans reaching out to crush their enemies. A “them or us” mentality. It’s a cultural and political war, but it is an attack on certain members of the American populace, and progressive ideals generally.
It’s a hopeless war, however. The GOP’s progressive enemies are entrenched, and using guerilla warfare. You want to tell doctors the new rules for abortion access? Will there be a Republican congressman standing in each doctor’s office and watching to make sure? Then I don’t think it’s gonna happen. You want to bring the morality of birth control into public debate? Good luck getting elected without any of the female vote.
The GOP may indeed be waging not one, but several wars. And at the expense of marginalizing themselves further and further, they may manage to pass one or two pieces of short-lived legislation. But somebody should probably explain to Republican leadership the definition of a Pyrrhic victory.
Image credit: Olivia Waite