Michigan Morons Are Furious About Gender-Neutral Litter Boxes

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Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty

Is President Joe Biden really just another Donald Trump in disguise?

That’s not some QAnon theory about body-swapping, but a new favorite talking point of the pundit class. This week on Fever Dreams, hosts Asawin Suebsaeng and Kelly Weill delve into a swamp of columns accusing Biden of being Trump’s equal in delegitimizing elections, after Biden gave a speech about voting rights.

“I get the sense that there are way too many overfed, overpaid, and overcoddled political commentators, pundits, and mainstream national political columnists who are paid to either on purpose or accidentally… not understand the difference between X and Y,” Suebsaeng says.

Speaking of bad metaphors, anti-vaccine celebrity Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is facing the heat after likening himself to Holocaust victims during an anti-vax rally this weekend. Kennedy suggested that anti-vaxxers were more persecuted than Jews under the Nazis because Holocaust victims like Anne Frank could hide in an attic or flee across the mountains to Switzerland.

Frank and her family were taken to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where the teenage Frank died, Weill notes, “so that’s a terrible analogy. And then my other point of contention here is crossing the Alps to Switzerland. Isn't that just the plot of The Sound of Music?”

Fortunately, this week’s guest is an expert at making sense of thorny political conflicts. Jane Coaston, host of the New York Times podcast “The Argument” joins us to talk about her show, where she explores the tensions—and often the surprising commonalities—between people on opposing sides of the political spectrum.

“I think that, for me, a lot of the friction that you see on Twitter specifically among people who are of the same political class, is somewhat performative,” Coaston says. “And when you get people [on the show], one of the challenges we sometimes have in the podcast is that people agree too much.”

Coaston says Trump’s lies about election fraud are a massive blow to any efforts at finding consensus. Still, she says, it’s worth examining how those lies emerged, and why Trump fans take them seriously.

While “there is no way to find a common ground,” she says, “I think that there is a way to examine how this came about. I think of it in some ways, it goes back to one of the OG big lies, which was birtherism.”

It’s not the Big Lie, but Michigan Republicans are battling a hoax of their own this month, after a state GOP leader promoted a false rumor about public schools offering gender-neutral litter boxes for students who are members of the “furry” subculture (a community that dresses up as anthropomorphic animals).

The school has debunked the kitty litter rumor, but voices on the right are using it to attack public schools, in keeping with a national trend of calling for surveillance of teachers in the name of “transparency.”

“If you can’t see what your kid’s public school teacher is doing at all times at all times, it’s anti-transparency,” Suebsaeng jokes, “as opposed to an infringement on an actual employee’s rights not to be hounded out of existence because they picked a color of chalk that the parents didn’t like.”

“I think what this really is, is a kid’s hoax gone kind of viral, but it’s been co-opted by this grievance-driven movement that is just trying to find excuses to insert itself into schools even more,” Weill says.

Listen, and subscribe, to Fever Dreams on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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