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Craft doesn’t hear the echoes

Kelly Craft goes there, and doesn’t even realize what she has tapped into.

3 min read
Kelly Craft speaks with supporters during a campaign stop in Liberty, Ky., May 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Eliminationism is the belief that one’s political opponents are, in the words of Oklahoma City University School of Law professor Phyllis E. Bernard, “a cancer on the body politic that must be excised — either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination — in order to protect the purity of the nation.”

When Sarah Palin posted an ad with Democratic lawmakers in the cross hairs of a rifle sight, a few people heard the echoes.

When Donald Trump mentioned instituting a registry for Muslims in the United States, more people heard the echoes, and the echoes were louder.

And when Michael Knowles stated at CPAC, “For the good of society, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely,” many people heard the echoes, because they had become so loud that they could not be ignored.

The echoes of Germany in the 1930s. The echoes of Japanese internment camps. The echoes of Rwanda.

The echoes of eliminationism.

And now, a candidate for governor of Kentucky has added to the echoes. In a recent town hall, Kelly Craft said — not once but twice — “If I am elected governor, Kentucky will not have transgenders in our school system.”

One could ask (and some have) how in the world she proposes to deliver on that promise. But the problem is not the practicality; the problem is the statement itself, and what it portends if not confronted forcefully.

The stages of eliminationism

When you talk about eliminationism and Germany in the same article, most people immediately go to the Holocaust – the extermination of millions of Jews and other persons deemed “sub-human” by the German leadership.

But there are actually five stages of eliminationism, and genocide is the last stage. Here are the five stages, as listed in this Wikipedia article:

  1. Transformation: deleting/changing the cultural identities of people.
  2. Repression: systematically limiting the power of the target group through political disenfranchisement, ghettos, enslavement, segregation, or other legal means.
  3. Expulsion: removing the undesired group through deportation, forced removal, forced marches, concentration camps.
  4. Contraception: forced sterilization, anti-miscegenation laws, or systematic rape so that there will be no future for the group.
  5. Extermination: mass murder or genocide.

Read this list, then consider the laws that have been passed and the statements that have been made. We are seeing, in this country and others, a continuing rise in eliminationist rhetoric from those on the right – and not just from people on the fringes of the movement, but from movement leaders and even elected officials.

The rhetoric is bad enough, but worse is what it will lead to.

Craft adds to the rhetoric, is deaf to the echoes

One would assume that a former ambassador to the United Nations would have some understanding of history. In Craft’s case, apparently that is too much to ask.

I would wager that if you were to ask her to define “woke” (which she says she opposes), she would try to word-salad her way out of the question.

And if you were able to really pin her down on why she promised to eliminate trans children from our schools, if she was being honest she would say “I was just trying to win an election.”

And that is the problem. In her desperate attempt to win this election, she has added fuel to the movement to eliminate trans people of all ages. She has made it clear that she considers trans children defective, not worthy of being a part of Kentucky schools.

And in the process, she has failed — spectacularly failed — to hear the echoes of the past in what she is saying.

Listen to the echoes, Kelly Craft. Listen to what they tell you, and stop attacking our trans children.

Otherwise, your eliminationist rhetoric may cause new echoes to be created.


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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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