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By David Futrelle
UPDATE: DeVos met with MRAs Thursday; here’s what she told reporters afterwards.
The Trump administration has given a lot of fringe political weirdos a certain not-quite-legitimacy. We’ve seen “alt-lite” conspiracy slinger and bobblehead salesman Mike Cernovich given White House press credentials; meanwhile, Twitterbanned right-wing pseudo-journalist Chuck Johnson seems to have become entangled in one of the developing Trump/Russia collusion scandals, working at the behest of a longtime Republican donor (now deceased) who was apparently willing to drop big bucks to help Trump by somehow uncovering Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.
Now a notorious Men’s Rights group — the National Coalition For Men — will be meeting with Education secretary Betsy DeVos to discuss the campus rape epidemic that MRAs claim doesn’t exist. DeVos will also be talking with rape survivors and college officials, but the fact that the NCFM will be part of the discussion is appalling, even by Trump administration standards.
Despite its long pedigree (it’s been around since 1977) and almost respectable-sounding name, the NCFM has, I would estimate, roughly as much legitimacy as a civil rights group as the Men’s Rights hate site A Voice for Men or the Men Going Their Own Way subreddit. Which is to say none.
Indeed, the NCFM site clutters its sidebars with videos from the likes of AVFM founder Paul Elam and antifeminist gadfly Girl Writes What, while the main page touts articles accusing feminism of destroying the family, suggesting campus “safe spaces” are “havens of misandry” and asking “is feminism killing young boys,” with the last article written by a regular contributor to AVFM.
The group has also won a certain notoriety in feminist circles for posting pictures of alleged “false accusers” on its website. I also ran across this lovely picture and caption on the NCFM site last year, illustrating a press release on Senator Patrick Leahy and the Violence Against Women Act.
As I noted at the time, “the Joker is [apparently] supposed to represent Leahy’s supposed feminist puppetmasters; regardless, it is a jarring image depicting violence against an elected official as somehow humorous.” If you can’t quote believe that a supposed civil rights group would run such a thing, well, make a quick visit to the group’s website; the picture is still up. (I’ve archived it here just in case.)
This is hardly the only time the NCFM or its officials have offered, well let’s just call them disconcerting takes on the issue of violence.
In an interview with Pacific Standard’s Ted Scheinman a couple of years ago, NCFM president Harry Crouch offered this take on Ray Rice, the (former) football player who knocked his then fiancée out cold with a punch famously caught on video.
I’m not saying he’s a good guy. But if she hadn’t aggravated him, she wouldn’t have been hit. They would say that’s blaming the victim. But I don’t buy it. And anyway football is always happy to put on pink suits to celebrate women. Why can’t they have a week, or just one day, where they celebrate men?
It’s no wonder that Jess Davidson of the group End Rape On Campus, told the HuffPost that she considers the NCFM a “hate group.”
“They have viciously and very intentionally harassed rape survivors online by exposing their identities and posting pictures of them,” Davidson told the HuffPost. “From our perspective, they really have no place in a conversation about civil rights.”
DeVos will also be meeting with representatives of the group Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), a group the Southern Poverty Law Center once described as devoted to “roll[ing] back services for victims of domestic abuse and penalties for their tormentors, while working to return the focus to the ‘true victims of abuse’ — the falsely accused.”
SAVE has long worked hand-in-hand with hate site AVFM to fight for men they believe have been “falsely accused.”
The meeting is scheduled to take place July 13th.
It is not known if any bears or their representatives will be attending the meeting.
H/T — Thanks to everyone who sent me links on this story