Monday, February 12, 2018

An Epic Civil Rights Battle

Some of the more uncomfortable conversations I have had in the last year and a half or so have involved people I know - acquaintances, friends, and definitely relatives. In some cases, things have been said that made me reconsider our relationships, and I have in some cases cut off contact with people - even relatives. After another awkward conversation last month (although at least not one that is likely to sever a relationship, thankfully), I feel I really need to say something out loud that needs to be said:

We are in the middle of an epic civil rights battle right now.

It is the biggest I have seen during my lifetime. It is the most important political issue facing us here in the United States (and has echos around the first world.) Sadly, this battle has revealed some very unpleasant truths about a lot of people and institutions. The conflict and divide in our country stem from this issue, and no amount of “civility” or “disagreeing nicely” is going to solve that fact.

The divide is about a fundamental difference about who should have civil rights in our society - and who should not.

That is why, in my view, there really isn’t the usual middle ground, and mutual compromises that you find in politics. The basic worldview (much as I hate that word) cannot be agreed on, and thus, negotiation of details is pointless. The basic question of who in our society should have civil rights is one about which we do not agree.

The reason this has led to these unpleasant conversations is that many people to not seem to notice this battle - or are in deep denial about it. In general, the older, whiter, more financially secure, conservative, religious, and male a person is, the less likely they are to think the battle exists. (And, naturally, the more likely they are to be fighting against civil rights in their politics…)

An example of this is the fact that my kids see this clearly. In some ways, I think they saw it coming before I did. On the other hand, I know virtually no one from the remaining (white) members of my grandparents’ generation who acknowledge the battle. And very few of my parents’ generation do either. If they see a battle, it is one of mean atheists (and brown people) beating up on the poor Christians (and whites.) I have to remind myself from time to time that the Boomers grew up during Jim Crow and before women could open bank accounts on their own (see note below)  - so their “normal” is a lot different than mine - and especially that of my children.

I believe this civil rights battle is taking place on five fronts, which I will discuss in more detail below. But first, let me start with my view of civil rights.

***

Civil Rights are about more than some form of “equality under the law.”

That is the mistake that Libertarians make about society, in my view. Just make a few basic laws that apply to everyone, and let the market decide the rest. This ignores pretty much everything we know about human nature, human behavior, what money and power do to people and institutions.

I came to this realization in significant part because of my exploration of the Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow, and also because of what I have discovered reading about Feminism. In fact, I think the dictionary definition of Feminism is an excellent starting point in this discussion.

Feminism (n): "The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” (Merriam-Webster)

There are three prongs to this one:

Political Equality
Economic Equality
Social Equality

While in this definition, sex is the only category, I believe this applies to pretty much every instance of civil rights.

Too many think political equality is enough. (Although it has been shocking to see the open vote suppression targeting African Americans in the last few years.) But the problem is, without the other two prongs, political equality is illusory at best.

If there is not economic equality, then political equality is farcically false. As the recent tax bill demonstrates, the wishes of an overwhelming majority of voters carries little weight compared to the campaign donations of a filthy rich few. Money is power, and power corrupts and oppresses. It just does, and that anyone doubts this is amazing to me. (Particularly Christians - do they even read their Bibles?) Also, think about it. What is the point of political power? What do we vote for if not to set the rules for how our society interacts, what behavior toward each other will and will not be tolerated, and that includes how goods and services are distributed. You can’t eat a vote. If you can’t feed your family because you are inadequately paid, just having a vote isn’t enough. Again, here libertarians don’t see a role for government in preventing the powerful from preying on the weak, despite all of recorded history showing this is one of the most important roles of government.

And what about social equality? The Jim Crow era ought to be enough proof by itself. Without social equality, economic equality was impossible. If you are denied access to parts of our society, you will always be less than those who are. And of course, denying economic equality was the point of Jim Crow. Blacks should know their place - which was in an inferior status. I’ll get into each of these a bit more in their own sections.

If you put it all together, Civil Rights are, at their core, about who has full and complete access to society. To the goods and services for which we use money as a medium of trade. (And thus money and wealth itself.) To the political power which dictates how we relate to each other in society. To the basic everyday decency and respect that we owe to our fellow humans, but which we humans seem hell-bent on routinely denying to those not like us.

The opposing force to Civil Rights is one that is perhaps best described as “hierarchy.” Those at the top have power over those below, and may (and definitely will) use that power to oppress and abuse those below - that’s the sordid fact of human nature. Abraham Lincoln, in the Douglas debates, put it thus:

"It is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. It is the same spirit that says 'you toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it.' No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation, and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle."

The hierarchy principle is behind all of these civil rights struggles, which is why each of the five specific areas I will discuss are interrelated. They all are connected to a specific ideal where power flows in specific ways, concentrating in the hands of a few, and carefully doled out to each successive level much in the way feudalism worked. It is beyond the scope of this post to go into detail, but a good word to use here is indeed “patriarchy.” That system goes beyond gender, and encompasses class, race, age, religion, and status as a sexual minority. It transcends time and place, and is indeed the way human society has tended to be through most of its history - and even before we evolved and became fully human. It is a vestige of our animal nature that wars with our ability to reason and our desire to spiritually transcend.

So, for each of these areas, I want to discuss how it fits with the hierarchy, how the idea of political, economic, and social equality fits in the picture, and how the Civil Rights battle looks in each area.

***

  1. Racism and Civil Rights




First, let me just say this:

I cannot believe I actually have to talk about this.

I am starting with this one for a few reasons. First, racism - specifically white supremacy - is our national sin. It has poisoned everything since the founding of our country on land obtained through genocide of the previous occupants, our economic power was founded on slavery, and our discussion of the meaning of “common good” even now is tainted by ideas of who is a “real” American.

But let’s just talk about what happened in the last couple of years.

A person who resurrected and ran on the 1920s KKK political platform won the highest office in our land. Think for a minute what that means. And it isn’t that he won it by accident. He beat out a host of legitimate, non-racist candidates in his own party, and did so largely on the strength of his racist rhetoric and policies. (And no, I am not interested in debating this point. If you can’t see it, you are being willfully blind.)

Not long afterward, there was a violent White Supremacist/Neo-Nazi rally in a southern city. Literally, swastikas flying in the United States. My ancestors who fought Nazis would be appalled. But Le Toupee said they were “decent people.”

As someone who cares about history - and reads - it was shocking to find myself in what felt like the Jim Crow era. The same hateful rhetoric. The same racial slurs. The same policies. Here in my hometown, I see Confederate Battle Flags regularly. (BTW, California was not a Confederate state. So don’t claim “heritage.”) That includes a half US-half Confederate flag that seems to be popular in this town.
In Alabama, a man nearly won who told an African American straight up that America was last great when we had slavery. He has repeatedly on camera said that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a horrible mistake. (That’s the one that ended Jim Crow and Segregation…) He also said - again on camera - that we should repeal all the Constitutional Amendments except the Bill of Rights. Meaning, the ones that abolished slavery, gave non-whites the right to vote and protection of the law, among others. He didn’t win the election, but it was close. And furthermore, 80% of white evangelicals voted for him. (And an overall majority of whites too - although that was driven by older voters - the younger, college educated sorts despised him.) Clearly this is evidence of a basic disagreement about whether non-whites deserve civil rights at all.

And then there are the voter suppression laws. In North Carolina, the legislature commissioned as study to determine voting patterns by race, then put restrictions on anything that African Americans utilized. Fortunately, a court struck the law down, but the fact that a legislature undertook such a nakedly racist plan in the first place says volumes.

What about police brutality? A twelve-year-old with a toy gun gets killed by a cop in a split second. No charges against the cop. Across the country, numerous instances come to light of unarmed black men (and sometimes women), detained for minor offenses, end up dead. There are protests - which is understandable - and white America comes unglued. I have a 12 year old son. He’s a good kid, but he doesn’t always think before he acts. Good thing he is white, or I would be terrified he would be murdered by the police. But apparently, I am in the minority among my fellow whites in my support of Black Lives Matter.

And what if someone peacefully protests? “That son of a bitch should be fired.” “They should be grateful.” Shut up and work. Don’t expect to be treated the same as a white.

Even in little things, the atmosphere is toxic right now. A friend was out walking her dog, and was followed by a white couple in their car until she left the neighborhood. And this isn’t the first time. It is also a story I have heard over and over from friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

And then, maybe we should look at immigration. My ancestors came over in the 1880s, dirt poor, and looking for a better life. These days, there is no legal way for people like my ancestors to immigrate, and there is a strong push to keep out all except for the richest immigrants. How many slanderous things have been and are being said about Latino immigrants? Muslim immigrants? It is, as far as I can tell, perfectly acceptable among Conservatives - and Christians, for god’s sake! - these days to openly air their racist views on this issue.

I’m just scratching the surface here. But I really feel like I have found myself in the hateful past all of a sudden.

Let’s talk about this in terms of Civil Rights. The underlying belief here is that non-whites need to “know their place” in our society. And that place is below whites. I had kind of hoped that we were beyond that, and that we could at least agree on equality in principle, even if we disagreed as to how to get there. But nope. I cannot unhear what I have heard from otherwise decent people. (The saddest to me was from a relative who I really like, who I think is a good person who generally supports racial equality, but who is convinced that Black Lives Matter is a media creation. I don’t even know where to go from there. How do you even begin? If other people’s - meaning non-whites’ - experiences are disregarded, how do you have a discussion?)

I have had to come to the sad conclusion that even political equality for non-whites is somehow controversial to a lot of people these days. And if you even talk about economic or social inequality, you get dismissed as a SJW. (Social Justice Warrior - it’s an epithet right wingers are using these days against anyone who won’t toe the Social Darwinist line.)

Just a note here of interest: my kids can see this Civil Rights struggle pretty clearly. They have friends who have been bullied because of race, and threatened with deportation. They grew up in a diverse state, where interracial marriage is everywhere, and yet in a town where there are a lot of redneck racists openly spewing hate. It is my parents’ generation that is so blind about this. Again, maybe because they grew up during Jim Crow, that just feels normal to them. They probably didn’t have non-white friends when they were kids - and their parents shooed away any they might have had due to their own prejudices. But this is one area where I think white Baby Boomers (thankfully not all, at least) would be shocked to realize just how much of a generation gap there is - and how disappointed the kids and grandkids are with them and their hateful attitudes.

Without going into too much detail here, this is a huge, huge factor in my break with Evangelicalism. On average, they are by a large margin the most racist group I know. Not all, obviously. Maybe not even half. But if I want to find a racist, I know I can find them in Evangelicalism much more readily than outside of it. (It is not an accident that they voted for the two most openly racist candidates of my lifetime on the order of 80%. I still cannot get over that. I just can’t.)

So, I believe we are in the midst of an epic Civil Rights battle on the issue of race. At the heart of it is the question of whether non-whites should enjoy political, economic, and social equality. Or not.

2. Sexism and Civil Rights


Ah yes, the full text of the Equal Rights Amendment, 
which was defeated by Evangelicals led by the viciously racist Phyllis Schlafly...

This battle is playing out in a few ways. The most visible right now is the #metoo movement, which has outed a number of prominent and powerful men for their sexual assault and harassment of women (and occasionally men too - hello, Kevin Spacey…) This should come as no surprise to anyone who has listened to a woman before, in my opinion. Pretty much every woman I know has been at least harassed, and in many (most actually) cases, assaulted. That includes little girls too.

It is sometimes easy - too easy - to make this issue about sex. It really isn’t. It is about power, which means that it is ultimately a Civil Rights issue. A friend shared this excellent article with me recently, which makes the point that this is a work issue. It is about women having the same right to economic equality as men, which includes the right to work without harassment, and to be rewarded for ability and effort, not beauty and sexual favors.

An interesting example of this was provided by one of the Trump children (Ivanka I believe?), who said that a woman who was harassed should just find another job. Say what? That’s the problem. Even if it were an option (and it isn’t for many) why should they have to leave a job because a man refuses to control himself? And then there are the Kevin Swansons (no relation) of the world blaming the systematic rape and abuse of American gymnasts on the fact that they wear leotards.

This, though, is a symptom of a deeper issue, which is a strong belief in gender hierarchy and roles. Women are not to be economically rewarded for their labor. No, they are to do the unpaid work for men, and be dependent on men for their survival. This is ultimately the crux of so many arguments about feminism, about social programs, about wages, and so on. Women are expected to work for less, at less desirable jobs, and to be more grateful to men.

I believe this is one area of sharp divide between the political parties right now - and also one where religion in America has largely chosen the side of patriarchy, no matter how much they deny it.

In the Civil Rights context, let me make my position clear:

If a man should be able to support a family on his wages alone, then a woman should be able to too.

If we cannot agree on that, then we will lack the common ground to have a fruitful discussion about Civil Rights for women.

One of the early warning signs at our former church (that I pushed aside at the time in the interest of harmony) was a statement by the pastor that misogyny was one extreme, and Feminism was the other, and godliness somehow was in the middle. It bothered me at the time, I will say. After all, the true opposite extreme of misogyny is misandry. Both are wrong. But the political, social, and economic equality of men and women is hardly an extreme idea. Rather, it should be the norm. Assuming both sexes contribute their labor (however they do it), they should be rewarded with equal pay.

Obviously, this hasn’t been the case through much of history. (Although in many ways, the Victorian Era was much worse for women than the Middle Ages, when women controlled whole industries - and earned their own money.) But this is an ongoing battle for Civil Rights, and I am seeing that there is an irreconcilable difference on the core issue, which is whether women are actually entitled to full humanity and control over their own lives, the way we assume men are.

At this point, let me point out that I am not in the least surprised that Evangelicals didn’t really have a problem with Trump or Roy Moore. Their sexual predation on young girls (don’t forget Trump and the changing rooms…) is fully in line with the idea of a hierarchy of male over female. All the blithering about sexual morality obscures the real beliefs, which are “no gay stuff” and “women need to be chaste or we punish them brutally.” Men raping and assaulting and harassing are normal in that worldview, just as they are in the Old Testament. That’s how Patriarchy works. (Of all people, Steve Bannon appears to understand this - and realise his former boss is absolutely the poster toddler for Patriarchy.

I also wrote recently about the battle over women’s right to control their bodies. In basic ways, like being free from sexual assault and harassment, access to birth control, and free from the societal expectation that they perform unpaid labor. I won’t rehash all of that. But I recommend you read it. I believe these issues are at the core of our battle for true social, political, and economic equality for women.

[For an interesting read on court cases involving the Civil Rights Act as it applies to gender discrimination, I highly recommend Because of Sex by Gillian Thomas.]

3. Religion and Civil Rights

I’ll just touch on this one. There is a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment on the Right, right now. Some, such as Roy Moore, have openly called for a religious test for public office. Despite the fact that Article 6 of our Constitution forbids it.

I can also mention the repeated attempts by Le Toupee to ban Muslims from traveling to our country or immigrating - I mean, he openly promised that in his campaign. It isn’t a surprise. Also unsurprising is an uptick in hate crimes against religious minorities. I wrote about one that happened in my town before the election.

Just to inject some facts into this discussion: there are about 3.3 million Muslims in the US. On average, they are more educated - including the women - than the average Christian in America. Their crime rates are no higher than any other group.

As plenty of recent events have show, White Supremacist terrorists are every bit as much of a threat as Muslims - probably more. (And that’s before you get to mass murders carried out without a clear motive, like the Las Vegas shooting.)

While in general, the phony baloney persecution complex of white Evangelicals (who literally believe they are persecuted more than Muslims in this country) is a crock, there was recently a genuine case of persecution against a Christian group...because they left water to keep immigrants from dying of thirst. I am not making this up.

But there is definitely a push from the Right to deny civil rights to religious minorities.

Another way I see a push to deny civil rights on the basis of religion comes in the next section.

4 .Sexual Minorities and Civil Rights


Sign on a Tennessee hardware store. This is what "religious freedom" laws are really about.
Let me start with this: the issue here isn’t what you believe God thinks about certain sexual acts. It’s how you treat people who disagree with your beliefs.

I wrote a fairly extended blog about the so-called “religious freedom” laws being pushed by Cultural Fundamentalists around the country. The battle here isn’t really about freedom for Christians. It is about whether Christians can use their religious beliefs to deny others access to the basics of society: housing, employment, goods and services. It is about the civil rights of those who do not follow certain religious rules. Will such people have social equality? Economic equality? Political equality?

I may write more extensively about this in the future, but most sexual rules in any society are purity rules. They are similar to dietary restrictions and hand washing and priestly absolution. (Yes, there are exceptions. Some regulate the ownership of females by males. Others are genetically based like incest prohibitions. But most are about “purity.” What sexual acts are “pure” and which are not. Read Leviticus some time. Or even the various laws about sex in the Middle Ages. I think you would be surprised at what was forbidden - and how often most of us break those rules.)

The bottom line here is that not everyone has the same religious beliefs about sexual “purity” as Fundies. They do not believe the same things contaminate a person. The question is, should they be punished for their different religious beliefs (and practices)? Or, should they have the same access to society - the same Civil Rights - as others.

Again, I don’t care whether you agree with what people believe and do. You just have to grant them equality in our society. That’s the definition of civil rights. And this is exactly what the Fundie crowd doesn’t want to do. They want the right to punish and humiliate people who do not share their beliefs.

5. The generation gap and Civil Rights

This one is one that personally affects me most. I am a white heterosexual male Christian, so I do not experience much of a personal effect from the others. But I have children which are and will be affected by this issue.

Remember, economic equality is part of civil rights.

In this case, there has been a protracted period of decades wherein the Baby Boomers (and to a degree their parents) have systematically enacted policies which benefit them at the expense of later generations.

This isn’t really a Left/Right thing, honestly. Here in fairly liberal California, we are still feeling the crippling effects of a massive spike in public employee pensions that benefited Baby Boomers nearing retirement. This was enacted during a Democratic administration, and was one reason we ended up with The Terminator as our governor. I won’t get into all the details, but the cost of these pensions has caused situations where municipalities are paying as much for retirees as for current employees. And those current employees (my generation…) will have far less generous pensions. This is just one area in which this has occurred. You can see it in the tax policy of the last 40 years, the decaying infrastructure for which Boomers have consistently refused to pay. (Hey, we finally raised our gas tax here in CA, which was historically low, and wasn’t paying for the actual costs of our road maintenance. Guess who is furious about this? Boomers! I guess they will be dead by the time the roads finally crumble into oblivion, and my generation has to clean up their mess.) You can see it in the continued rise in costs of higher education and the lower per-student subsidies. Boomers got their affordable college. My kids probably won’t. Student debt will cripple the finances of many of their generation, even as college becomes increasingly necessary. Even the latest tax cut shifts wealth from the younger to the older and richer. We are expected to pay more and tighten our belts so that the richest of the old can have even more.

And then, there is the endless stream of articles dissing the Millennials as the worst ever. Believe me, Boomers (and particularly white conservative ones…), we feel the contempt you have for us. My children do too. I guess you got yours, sucks to be us…  The reckoning will unfortunately not come until after the Boomers are largely dead.

In recent years, Millennials have increasingly supported socialism over capitalism, which is a bit worrisome. Part is, I am sure, that they didn’t live through the Cold War. But more is that the version of capitalism they have experienced has seen them as targets - and then blamed them for it. Reversing this trend is going to require a fundamental change to how our society views its responsibilities to the next generation. We have to stop shifting the burden to them in order to preserve the privilege and wealth of the older generation. If our current system doesn’t work for them, they will select another.

I do believe this is an issue of civil rights. The young are being denied a shot at economic equality, and are blamed for this fact.

6. Class and Civil Rights

This one is one that I have only really come to understand in the last several years. It is easy as a middle class white to just coast without really understanding the dynamics of our economy. Hey, as long as my bills are paid, it’s all good, right?

However, as someone with conservative leanings, I have great concern about growing inequality. It does not bode well for a society when the wealthy gain more and more, while other get less. This is the source of bloody revolutions. And in those, the educated middle class is often a casualty. (See France, Russia, China, Cuba, much of Latin America…)

Most people - particularly conservatives - do not grasp just how unequal our society is. Take the time to read through this long article from the Federal Reserve. (PDF) Among other gems is the fact that the top 1% in our country has nearly 40% of the wealth. That is double what it was when I was a kid. And it has come at the expense of the bottom 90%. That’s pretty much everyone else. The recent tax bill will unquestionably accelerate that trend.

This needs to change, and it needs to be a priority. Unfortunately, the GOP right now is openly controlled by wealthy donors. Senator Lindsey Graham admitted that openly - I honestly never thought I would see that day.

The reason this has happened is the same reason that it always has here in the United States. The wealthy interests distract from each money grab by getting working class whites to ignore the theft by the wealthy and instead blame the brown people. Same thing during slavery. Same thing during the immigration panics of the past. Sadly, it appears to be a wildly successful tactic. If the working class of all races were to actually unite against the 1%, we could get a change. I feel weird having to make this argument. One of what I thought was a tenet of conservative thought was that a stable society required that social institutions and social harmony be preserved, and that that stability was severely threatened by the Robber Barons and increasing inequality. I remember back when I knew conservatives who supported unions for that reason. Of course, I remember a time when Christians were suspicious of wealth (and of Le Toupee too…) because of its morally corrupting influence and embraced the biblical viewpoint that gross inequality was due to the rich oppressing the poor. Those days are long gone, sadly.

***

That is my viewpoint on this. Right now, we are indeed in an epic struggle for civil rights. A struggle over who is entitled to social, political, and economic equality in our society. Who is in, and who is out. Whether full rights in our nation will only truly exist for whites, for men, for Christians of a certain sort, for heterosexuals, for the old at the expense of the young, and for the rich over everyone else.

Is that the sort of society we really want? If not, then now is the time to fight for a better one.

***

One of the most devastating realizations I have had in the last couple years is that white Evangelicals are an existential threat to civil rights - and racial equality in general - in this country. I think this is also the number one reason that they are about to see a massive flight of the young from their ranks. It’s already happening, and it will only get worse.

***

Note about the Boomers:

While obviously not all Boomers are alike, and I know some who “get it,” generally, white, middle class Boomers tend to be conservative and totally oblivious to the experiences of people outside their race, class, sexual orientation, and age. I do think a lot of this is that their formative years came in a greatly different society than the one we live it. The natural human tendency seems to be that at a certain age (say 50 or 60), we start to look back with nostalgia at our childhood and seek to return to that feeling of safety. This causes some obvious problems.

Let’s look at the world Boomers grew up in:

Jim Crow didn’t end until 1965. So Boomers generally grew up in segregated communities. Their vision often looks a lot like the fictional Mayberry. Which was a place where the people of color were off camera, on the other side of the tracks.

Interracial marriage was banned in many states until the Loving case in 1967. Unlike my generation, most of whom knew interracial couples, and unlike my kids’ generation who probably know as many interracial families (whether by marriage or adoption) as single-race families, the Boomers grew up when “miscegenation” was looked on with horror, and were in many cases told by their parents to marry in their own race.

Men routinely groped and harassed women - and got away with it. It wasn’t until after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that women had legal recourse for discrimination at work.

Married women couldn’t get their own credit cards, bank accounts, or sign their own contracts in many cases. Even into the 80s, restaurants had “ladies menus” - without the prices, because the man was paying, of course.

For white, middle class women, there was the expectation that she would be a stay-at-home mom - and the economic privilege to do it too. Only poor women had to work for a living, and those were disproportionately non-white.

LGBTQ people were mostly in the closet still, so they could be entirely ignored, and treated as if they didn’t exist. Intersexuals were mutilated at birth, lest they make people uncomfortable. Even in Hollywood, gays would marry to prevent “talk,” and people would look the other way at what they did off the screen.

Boomers grew up taking for granted the social infrastructure that they are now trying to undermine. Generations of strong unions meant higher wages, health insurance, and generous defined benefit retirement plans - things generally not available to my generation, let alone my kids. Boomers forget that tax rates were quite a bit higher in the 1950s, and it was expected that those taxes be put into infrastructure and education, as well as social programs.

The Boomers will get their Social Security and their Medicare while doing their best to make sure my kids do not.

Boomers grew up when college was cheap, when housing was affordable, and when blue collar jobs paid high school grads enough to live on one income. Those are all long gone now, largely because of political decisions by Boomers.

Most Boomers didn’t know people outside their religion as children, and never experienced other cultures. (On a related note, one of the best indicators of whether a Boomer recognized and rejected Le Toupee’s nativist rhetoric is whether they have experienced different cultures.)

So, in general (and again, there are exceptions), white middle class Boomers tend to pine for the social experiences of their youth - and thus fall for “Make America White Again” or “Make America Christian Again” while failing to recognize all of the advantages they inherited from their ancestors that they now are eager to deny to their descendents. It’s frustrating to see, particularly since the damage the Boomers have done to my children’s future and our social fabric in general is going to be difficult to undo.

2 comments:

  1. I have a number of thoughts. Ignore the ones that aren't useful.

    1. It's not an accident that we're fighting on all these fronts at once. Intersectionality, and so forth. (I, like you, note that the people insisting there are no civil rights infringements happening seem to be mostly older white dudes with money, who conveniently are enjoying pretty much the same rights they've always had.) I think it is either the slide into a long abyss where there is less rights for everyone except the Robber Barons, or where the power of the patriarchy is broken a little more. I don't know whether the patriarchy will be stamped out altogether until the Millennium, but, as Ursula said, the divine right of kings seemed unbreakable, too.

    2. I note the same people who think Black Lives Matter is happening because the media has tricked black people are also baffled by how ANGRY women are in the wake of #MeToo. They are baffled because they were not, apparently, actually listening when we told them these things were happening. Because nobody was surprised that, for example, Matt Lauer turned out to be a creep. Just surprised that he got fired.

    3. Speaking of angry women, I keep running against people who can't understand why women are so engaged politically. (85% of calls to Congress have been made by women so far.) To coin a phrase, we're engaged because we're enraged. Which brings me to my next point--

    4. Oppressed groups correctly recognize that they are fighting for their lives. Women are angry because we are being put in danger and nobody cares. Muslims are scared because people are, you know, trying to kill them. It's like that passage at the beginning of The Handmaid's Tale where they take away the women's bank accounts, and Offred's husband is bothered and all that, but thinks she's overreacting, because, you know, he's still got HIS account, and what, she thinks he won't take care of her? People of color and women (and especially women of color) know a gun barrel when we're staring down one.

    ReplyDelete