Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Nevertheless She Persisted": The Moral Obligation to Stand Together and Speak Out vs. World Being Built by White Ethno-Nationalism

It's not in the least accidental that, in the space of three days, a young straight white male in my neighborhood would order me to shut up when I dared to talk on a neighborhood blog site about the need to discuss racism in my own community, and that Mitch McConnell would order Elizabeth Warren to shut up when she read Coretta Scott King's letter about Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.

This is what they do, you understand. This is what straight white males do to people whom they imagine they can shut up, cow, knock back into place — LGBTQ people, women, African Americans, immigrants, aging folks, liberals. 

Bullying straight white men are empowered now by Trump's "victory." And their bullying tactics are going to become only worse. Amanda Marcotte's testimony:

"We're going be blown backward so far that this irredeemably shitty year may someday look like a lost feminist golden age," Michelle Goldberg of Slate wrote at the end of 2016. "The massive power of the American state is about to be marshaled to put women in their place." 
McConnell's tantrum is just the latest incident in a long line of incidents suggesting that conservatives are feeling more empowered to be overt and blunt with their sexism, as Dan Merica of CNN witnessed in December:

McConnell was throwing red meat to his base by going after a high-profile liberal whom Republicans hates. In the process he was trying to counter any blame being directed at him for the near-failure to push through the nomination of Betsy DeVos as education secretary, and maybe for the general perception that he looks weak by allowing Democrats to slow down the confirmation process, much to the public anger of the President Trump and his most rabid defenders. 
The fact of the matter is that even if the majority leader stumbled into this ploy, the base of the Republican Party loved seeing McConnell shut down going after Warren. High-profile members were not shy about sounding like misogynistic jerks about it, as befits a party that has turned into the pure id of every straight white male. Even Lindsey Graham, one of the few Republican senators who occasionally seems to believe in sticking to the old norms of the chamber, applauded the move.

Not only are straight white males now challenging the information and perspectives of people who dare to discuss issues like racism in Little Rock, Arkansas — a city with a deep history of racism known worldwide, in a state with a deep history of racism known worldwide— but they are flatly ordering us to shut up.

As if by ordering us to shut up, they can order the racism all around us to be invisible, beyond discussion, something that does not matter as we go about our daily business . . . .

I will not shut up. Because these issues matter too much to me. Because building a more humane world for everyone matters too much to me.

It is exceedingly disheartening, however, to find that as many of us struggle to collaborate on the project of pushing back against racism, misogyny, immigrant-bashing, etc., people in our own midst can suddenly plant knives in our back, attacking us for not adhering to their lines of ideological purity about issues that may be important but are incidental to the issues we all should be facing together, as we struggle against the maleficent new world order coming into being before our eyes. That kind of divisiveness along lines of ideological purity — about issues around which there is not wide agreement among progressive folks — does tremendous harm to progressive causes.

In a world that behaves as the world in which we now live increasingly behaves — beating up those considered "losers" or weak — it behooves us who are the object of such treatment for all sorts of reasons — we're LGBTQ, we're female, we're black, we're immigrants, we're poor, we're elderly, we're native American, etc. — to stand together, show each other respect, and recognize that our shared enemy is far more important than the pet causes we use to divide ourselves into camps of ideological purism.


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