January 7th 2017 Dispatch #12 Day 62 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny (PAWSM)
Two months since the Ascendency of White Supremacy and Misogyny, I do admit to Manchurian Candidate fantasies.
Instead, Mother Jones reminds “You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.”
New Year Strategies/Admonitions for RESISTANCE and FIGHTING
- ALWAYS refer to incoming POTUS as the White Supremacist, Misogynist, Pussy-Grabbing Liar-in-Chief. He gleefully sold his campaign by embracing these qualities…and continues his despicable narcissistic behavior. Just say NO (or perhaps NYET) to words such as ‘provocative’ or ‘unpredictable’ being offered as camouflage.
- ALWAYS challenge anyone — pundit, opinion-maker, politician, government official, journalist, friends and colleagues — who says or suggests that now we must be civil and work together for the good of the country. HELL NO!! The Republicans spent the last 8 years blocking Obama at every turn and fomenting vicious racist PR. The White Supremacist, Misogynist, Pussy-Grabbing Liar-in-Chief promoted the “Obama was not born in America” birther racism for years. This behavior shall not be rewarded with cooperation.
- DEMAND that Democrats behave like an Opposition Party. This is no longer about an individual (you know, the White Supremacist, Misogynist, Pussy-Grabbing Liar-in-Chief). A proposed administration led by white men whose defining qualities include white supremacy, right-wing Christian supremacy, misogyny, unrestrained capitalism and individual greed, rejection of government as a force for public good, and privatization of basic rights such as education and justice MUST be challenged, harassed and blocked at EVERY opportunity. NO compromises with people committed to the aggrandizement of rich white men and to hell with everyone else.
- REJECT loudly the false narratives (i.e., identity politics excluded white people; working class white people were angry about the economy; HRC did not have an appealing or persuasive economic message) intended to cover up the dog whistle politics that have been successfully used by Republican politicians since Nixon. INSIST that these false narratives not be used as the basis for political or movement strategies.
- DEMAND and INSIST that the threats to women’s fundamental rights and freedoms be front and center to all political and movement work. Already poor and working class women have been suffering terribly due to state actions restricting access to reproductive health services and due to the political failure to redress economic inequities. Women are also disproportionately affected by low-wage employment, no access to childcare, lack of affordable housing, limited public transportation, few educational opportunities. We live and breathe Misogyny every moment of every day. Men do not get this and we women know this. WOMEN must REFUSE to be polite.
- COMMUNICATE with your local media often and INSIST that the White Supremacist, Misogynist, Pussy-Grabbing Liar-in-Chief (aka PEOTUS) be held accountable for lying
- most of the time. INSIST that journalists do their job and do not continue with such a low bar. DEMAND that journalists and Media stop treating every ridiculous tweet as a
- major event and pay attention to what Congress and cabinet appointees are doing.
New Year Strategies/Encouragements for RESILIANCE and HELL-RAISING
- BE with Kindred Spirits, either in person or online as often as possible, voicing, seeing and sharing your concerns. Find the caring and active communities committed to justice and equity, notice their victories, celebrate their work, and be reminded that most people want to make the world a better place for everyone.
- LEARN How to Raise Hell with your elected representatives. Hurry to check out www.indivisibleguide.com A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda where former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen. www.nytimes.com/2017/01/02/opinion/to-stop-trump-democrats-can-learn-from-the-tea-party/ www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/08/indivisible-guide-progressives-tea-party-tactics/ www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-crowd-sourced-guide-to-fighting-trumps-agenda
While this guide draws on staffers’ experiences with Tea Party activism, these effective tactics for speaking truth and demanding justice directly to elected officials will be familiar to grass-roots community-based activists. No politeness or civility allowed.
- READ and LEARN about the Institutionalized Oppressions and Structural Frameworks of White Supremacy and Misogyny in America. I have discussed these in earlier dispatches and provided resources. For another spectacular learning resource check out African American Intellectual Historical Society www.aaihs.org looking in particular at the syllabi under Resources and the Blog.
- Learn How to Work at the Local Level to Promote and Protect Civil Rights and Human Rights and Economic Equity. The absolute best place to begin is at The Movement for Black Lives Platform https://policy.m4bl.org/platform/ . Be prepared to be educated, awed, informed and instructed by the breadth and depth of this peerless accomplishment.
- Women’s March on Washington (WMW) Participate in any way you can on January 21st. It is just as important to have Marches all over the country. Insist that message is about more than abortion/choice. Use powerful words — Reproductive Justice (see my last dispatch), Economic Equity, Decry Violence Against Women, Decry the Ubiquity of Sexualized and Degrading Images of Women, Decry Misogyny & White Supremacy.
- Reach Out To Journalists and other public speakers when you appreciate their work, especially in your local papers!! We need journalists to cover the incoming administration with a high bar of criticism. E.g. www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/01/06/what-trump-got-wrong-on-twitter-this-week/ a great piece by Michelle Lee. Tell the Washington Post to make this a daily feature, TRUMP LIES or TRUMP LIES TODAY.
Many are familiar with the Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times.” These times give us the opportunity to step forward to fight for what is just and equitable. We will be able to look back, no matter what the outcome, and know that we did the right thing.
Below are a few resources that can give you courage, inspiration, out-rage, knowledge for hell-raising, insights for action and sanity, despair and optimism.
Jessica Valenti is a columnist with The Guardian www.theguardian.com/us
“In this sort of political climate, where the president-elect targets individual citizens and hate crimes have skyrocketed across the country, calls for reconciliation feel more like a demand for acquiescence: unify, or else. But people can’t be expected to be gracious losers when what we’re losing is our healthcare, safety, families and rights. In a time like this, being disagreeable is necessary. Instead, let’s do something both effective and enjoyable: become big, sharp, nasty thorns in Trump’s side. Get under his skin and reside there for four years”……. “It’s also strategic. Vann Newkirk II pointed out in the Atlantic, in a piece about the expectation that people of color reach out to bigots with empathy, that “abandoning civility” has its upsides: “The labels of racism and bigotry can impose a social cost on bigoted actions, policy preferences, or speech, regardless of whether hearts or minds are changed. Stigma can be useful.”” www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/09/american-unity-calls-trump-presidency-fight-on-equality-rights
“Because when we don’t continually remind them, people devolve into self-delusion. It’s why people who are against same-sex marriage say they’re simply “traditional”, or how a Republican party official can make a racist remark about the first lady and then claim he’s just not “politically correct.” Even the KKK now says that they’re not white supremacists!
These people think if they can distance themselves from labels, their behavior ceases to be awful. But words like “misogynist”, “racist”, and “homophobe” are not just accurate – they also have power. That’s why we can’t stop using them, whether in the media, in politics or around the dinner table.
It’s true that telling these uncomfortable truths may not result in people changing their politics. But there’s no sense in appealing to the “better natures” of those who have shown themselves willing to stand with hate. They’ve made their decision already, now it’s time for us to make ours.
Instead of bending over backwards to bolster the self-esteem of bigots, we can make clear that the country we want is unapologetically progressive. We can refuse to normalize bigotry, shaming those who stand with Trump. That is how we build a more just society – not with kowtowing or equivocations, but with strength and truth.”
www.jezebel.com/love-is-not-the-answer-1789753903 Kara Brown is always good. In her column commenting on activist Van Jones argument that love can “trump” hate, she says “We can no longer fight solely for harmony; we must fight to win—the safety of the vulnerable depends on it. Be the opposition your opposition deserves. Be the opposition that can defeat them.”
Here is the reference for the Atlantic piece by Vann R Newkirk II
Sometimes There Are More Important Goals Than Civility Confronting racism can be crucial, even when it’s not persuasive.
www.nytimes.com/2016/11/11/magazine/a-time-for-refusal.html An essay by Teju Cole, NYT Photography editor, where he uses the play Rhinoceros written by Eugene Ionesco to reflect on the Presidential election results. Ionesco wrote Rhinoceros to explore how and why people give in to poisonous ideologies; he was particularly concerned about fascism in Romania in the 1930s. Cole concludes his essay with this:
“In the early hours of Nov. 9, 2016, the winner of the presidential election was declared. As the day unfolded, the extent to which a moral rhinoceritis had taken hold was apparent. People magazine had a giddy piece about the president-elect’s daughter and her family, a sequence of photos that they headlined “way too cute.” In The New York Times, one opinion piece suggested that the belligerent bigot’s supporters ought not be shamed. Another asked whether this president-elect could be a good president and found cause for optimism. Cable news anchors were able to express their surprise at the outcome of the election, but not in any way vocalize their fury. All around were the unmistakable signs of normalization in progress. So many were falling into line without being pushed. It was happening at tremendous speed, like a contagion. And it was catching even those whose plan was, like Dudard’s in “Rhinoceros,” to criticize “from the inside.”
Evil settles into everyday life when people are unable or unwilling to recognize it. It makes its home among us when we are keen to minimize it or describe it as something else. This is not a process that began a week or month or year ago. It did not begin with drone assassinations, or with the war on Iraq. Evil has always been here. But now it has taken on a totalitarian tone.”
Author and political essayist Pankaj Mishra considers the parallels between India and US. These excerpts give a flavor:
“The stink first became unmistakable in India in May 2014, when Narendra Modi, a member of an alt-right Hindu organization inspired by fascists and Nazis, was elected prime minister. Like Donald Trump, Mr. Modi rose to power demonizing ethnic-religious minorities, immigrants and the establishment media, and boasting about the size of a body part.
In the case of India, the role of institutional rot — venal legislators, a mendacious media — and the elites’ moral and intellectual truancy is clear. To see it one only has to remember that Mr. Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014, was accused of supervising mass murder and gang rapes of Muslims — and consequently was barred from travel to the United States for nearly a decade — and that none of that prevented him from being elected to India’s highest office….
“The fervent rhetoric about private wealth-creation and its trickle-down benefits openly mocked, and eventually stigmatized, India’s founding ideals of egalitarian and collective welfare. It is this extraordinary historical reversal, and its slick agents, that must be investigated in order to understand the incendiary appeal of demagoguery in our time.
Writing after its explosion in 20th-century Europe, Karl Polanyi described in his 1944 book “The Great Transformation” how civil society and individual liberty are threatened as never before when a society has to reconfigure itself to serve the “utopian experiment of a self-regulating market.” Social and political life in India, America and Europe was drastically remade by neoliberal economism in recent decades, under, as the legal scholar David Kennedy has argued, the administration of a professional global class of hidden persuaders and status-seekers….
For all his humblebragging, Mr. Modi, like Mr. Trump, illustrated perfectly how money talks, power seduces and success eclipses morality. One of Mr. Modi’s most loyal fan bases was rich Indian-American businesspeople, who were naturally attracted to the promise of a wealthy India allied with the United States. And conversely. At a charity event in New Jersey last month, Mr. Trump sought their support, and hailing India’s prime minister as a “great man,” declared, “I am a big fan of Hindu.” “Big, big fan.”
Drawing a cautionary tale from this blood-stained history, Polanyi assumed that the catastrophic triumph of economism over social and political necessities would be reversed. The three decades after World War II proved him right. Social-welfare policies underpinned national reconstruction in war-ravaged Europe, as well as in postcolonial Asia and Africa after decades of imperialism.
In our own time, a global network of elites has tried to restart the discredited utopian experiment of a self-regulating market. The experiment failed, and again the rage of cheated masses has spawned demagogues who simultaneously promise to avenge the left-behinds and to rewire their alliances with the elites. Any attempt to rebuild democracy must reckon with the deeper reasons for its great and drastic transformation — above all in India, where Hindu supremacism, in its cruelty and callousness, anticipated the big, big American fan of Hindu.”
For a longer version of this article, www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/08/welcome-age-anger-brexit-trump/
Lastly, my favorite NYT columnist Charles Blow reflecting on how to begin 2017 with specific plans to reject the incoming administration – his anti-inauguration declaration. He offers an instructive list of strategies for action along with advice.
Exclaiming your resistance, while necessary, is insufficient. Resistance is a negative position. While negativity in the face of this menace is justified and admirable, negativity alone is a fractional response. As with most things in a fully articulated life, balance is required. You need to augment your outrage with actions that are affirming, behaviors that reinforce principles and values.
When politics seem out of your control, remember that community and culture are very much in your control. We help shape the world we inhabit every day. A life is a collection of thousands of decisions, large and small, made every day. Make those decisions with purpose and conviction, especially for Jan. 20.
You have the power to make anti-inauguration day an enormously effective first step on the path forward through an arduous four years, which promise to be difficult to navigate. Affirmative actions must be as much your guide and solace as resistance is your fuel and fire.