January 31 2017 Dispatch #15
Day 86 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny (PAWSM)
Day 11 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy- Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-POTUS and his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
So, YEAH, MILLIONS of women and allies marching across the globe was pretty fucking spectacular. YUP….it was exhilarating….for a day or two.
Now we must understand that our fight will be long and demanding, and the outcome uncertain. The BIG March represents just one step/event in the long struggle ahead.
I admit to having some difficulty with this dispatch….how to consider this moment, and all of the moments to come for the next four years. Despite the shock and disbelief in many (mostly white liberal quarters), this new regime is a natural evolution/expression of our country’s foundation built on slavery of black people and ensuing apartheid/white supremacy; genocide of indigenous North American peoples; illegal appropriation (theft) of land and resources; accrual of land’s riches and resources to a few white men. All of these actions supported and financed by our government for 250 years.
For 55 years, the Ayn Rand-inspired Republican right** has worked steadily, stealthily and strategically to arrive at this moment – Republican-controlled federal executive and legislative branches; gerrymandered districts in many states that ensure election of extreme right legislators; majority of state governed by extreme right legislatures; Supreme Court striking down the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act enabling voter suppression for black and brown citizens; and likelihood that Supreme Court will be majority extreme right and fully legalize control of women’s bodies. And yes, it is critical to call out Democratic as well as Republican complicity in allowing Christian Supremacy to hold women in its deadly thrall. Sparked by the election of a black man to the White House, eight years of virulent toxicity nourished by White Supremacy, Misogyny and Christian Supremacy accelerated the arrival of this moment.
What is my Point?!?! White Supremacy remains imbedded in America’s DNA. Until we exorcise this founding original sin, we will not achieve a just and equitable society. The oppression of White Supremacy and Misogyny supports/justifies the cruel brutal ethos of unrestrained capitalism. Despite moments of grace, American behavior, both at home and abroad, has been deeply flawed for generations. Howard Zinn has documented this history.
To achieve fundamental change, our work must be framed by these demands/analyses: (1) how are we dismantling White Supremacy and White Nationalism, (2) how are we dismantling Misogyny, (3) how are we creating economic equity, (4) how are we making reparations, (5) how are we removing Christian Supremacy from our secular government. Work imbued with Anger and Out-Rage uses bold fierce and plain language to describe the institutionalized systems of oppression and violence that operate in our country and leads to actions built on inclusion, equity, and solidarity.
Angela Davis’s remarks at the Women’s March on Washington are instructive:
At a challenging moment in our history, let us remind ourselves that we the hundreds of thousands, the millions of women, trans-people, men and youth who are here at the Women’s March, we represent the powerful forces of change that are determined to prevent the dying cultures of racism, hetero-patriarchy from rising again.
“We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages. We know that we gather this afternoon on indigenous land and we follow the lead of the first peoples who despite massive genocidal violence have never relinquished the struggle for land, water, culture, their people. We especially salute today the Standing Rock Sioux.
“The freedom struggles of black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history cannot be deleted with the sweep of a hand. We cannot be made to forget that black lives do matter. This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement. Spreading xenophobia, hurling accusations of murder and rape and building walls will not erase history. “No human being is illegal.
“The struggle to save the planet, to stop climate change, to guarantee the accessibility of water from the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, to Flint, Michigan, to the West Bank and Gaza. The struggle to save our flora and fauna, to save the air—this is ground zero of the struggle for social justice.
“This is a women’s march and this women’s march represents the promise of feminism as against the pernicious powers of state violence. And inclusive and intersectional feminism that calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to anti-Semitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation.
“Yes, we salute the fight for 15. We dedicate ourselves to collective resistance. Resistance to the billionaire mortgage profiteers and gentrifiers. Resistance to the health care privateers. Resistance to the attacks on Muslims and on immigrants. Resistance to attacks on disabled people. Resistance to state violence perpetrated by the police and through the prison industrial complex. Resistance to institutional and intimate gender violence, especially against trans women of color.
“Women’s rights are human rights all over the planet and that is why we say freedom and justice for Palestine. We celebrate the impending release of Chelsea Manning. And Oscar López Rivera. But we also say free Leonard Peltier. Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Free Assata Shakur. “Over the next months and years we will be called upon to intensify our demands for social justice to become more militant in our defense of vulnerable populations. Those who still defend the supremacy of white male hetero-patriarchy had better watch out.
“The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance: Resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music.
“This is just the beginning and in the words of the inimitable Ella Baker, ‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.’ Thank you.”
Yes, it is soul-challenging for white people to give up the American foundational mythologies (aka freedom for all, equal opportunities for all, work hard and anything is possible, melting-pot bastion of democracy, shining light of goodness) and be willing to learn/see about White Supremacy.
Trust and coalitions between white women and black women have foundered for years on the shoals of White Supremacy. While anger and out-rage are necessary tools for women, White women have bargained their anger away for their spot on the White Supremacy hierarchy thereby accepting Misogyny as the price of some privilege.
In The Radical Uses of Anger: All White Women Aren’t the Enemy, but White Supremacy Always Is Kirsten West Savali writes powerfully:
It is critical that white women understand that solidarity will not happen on their terms, which too often includes a pre-emptive softening of anger. And women of color should understand that if it does, it will not last. Black women and white women can—and often do—stand together when there is acknowledgment that whiteness comes with structural privileges and power, but there must be relentless efforts to dismantle it brick by brick.
Of the women who voted in the presidential election, 94 percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton, some with great trepidation. They deserve space to say that they feel betrayed by the 53 percent of white women who voted for Trump—and the silent accomplices smiling in their faces. Further, the estimated 1 to 2 percent of black women on the left who did not vote for Clinton deserve space to say that a frantic return to the neoliberal politics that Clinton embodies cannot be the goal, or we will continue this ceaseless cycle through different iterations of white American evil.
And we have the right, indeed, the duty, to express anger while we say it. We have the right, indeed, the duty, to question whether or not this new resistance will outlast the white supremacist and misogynist regime we now find ourselves under.
We have the right, indeed, the duty, to call out the racism embedded in time itself. We lose time with loved ones to the prison-industrial complex. We lose time with our children because many of us have to work tirelessly to make ends meet. We lose years of our lives because of the stress of navigating a world that hates us for our freedom.
And we are constantly told by some white women to just hold on because progress is slow but assured, while they reap the benefits of their whiteness. That is not what sisterhood looks like.
We may have reached a juncture where progress is measured by liberal white urgency, but their sudden sense of urgency alone is not a sufficient exchange for more of our time—neither is cosmetic diversity. If multiracial, multicultural, queer-led, feminist coalitions rooted in a working-class, anti-imperialist politic is the endgame, then we must not dismiss the transformative and clarifying power of anger because it makes some white women uncomfortable.
In a nation where blackness is often considered a threat punishable by death, anger can be the catharsis that leads to revolutionary action. Indeed, where black folks have been told to be grateful, patient, forgiving, kind and obedient in the face of relentless white supremacist violence, openly and unapologetically embracing anger can be revolutionary. And that anger should not be diluted for a whitewashed progress that has no room or desire to hold it.
It is a fire that needs to be nurtured, not extinguished—and may intersectional and intentional solidarity be forged in the flames.
I urge those white women who are angry in response to black women’s anger to be angry. I urge those white women who are hurt to be hurt. I urge those white women who are frustrated to be frustrated. They need to own their discomfort, become familiar with it, trace its patterns and discover its origin, then decide what they want to do with it. And they need to do so clear in the knowledge that time does not solely belong to them.
They need to be clear that not all white women are the enemy, but whiteness always is.
The War on Women Is Not New, But Now It Is Being Fired Up. Jessica Valenti points out that one of the first acts of the Illegitimate-POTUS included:
“…surrounded by white men, reinstating the global gag rule. The policy, which bans funding any international organization that dares to even talk about abortion, has contributed to thousands of women’s deaths across the globe. [this gag order is more expansive and includes HIV/AIDS programs that were previously excluded under prior Republican Presidents]
The executive order was just the beginning. In the short time Trump has been president, his administration has set a disastrous course for women’s health and rights. On Tuesday, days after historic marches that put millions of women on the street globally, Republican congressmen introduced the first ever federal ‘heartbeat bill’ – a policy that would ban abortions after six weeks, well before most women even know they’re pregnant.
That same day, the House passed a bill that would make the dangerous and discriminatory Hyde Amendment – which prevents federal funds from covering abortion, even in cases of fetal abnormalities and maternal health issues – permanent. The bill, which targets poor women, would also impact abortion coverage for women with private insurance. Congressional Republicans have even introduced a federal ‘personhood’ bill that would define life as beginning at conception.
If you haven’t gone to The Movement for Black Lives Platform yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?! https://policy.m4bl.org/platform/ You will learn how we can work together to dismantle the War on Women.
Liar Liar Pants On Fire!!! Yes, our White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy- Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-POTUS is also our Lying Whining Lying Liar-in-Chief. As Charles Blow says:
Donald Trump is a proven liar. He lies often and effortlessly. He lies about the profound and the trivial. He lies to avoid guilt and invite glory. He lies when his pride is injured and when his pomposity is challenged. Indeed, one of the greatest threats Trump poses is that he corrupts and corrodes the absoluteness of truth, facts and science. It is no coincidence that the rise of Trump is concurrent with the rise of “fake news.” It is no coincidence that his rise comes during an age of severely damaged faith in institutions. And now that he has been elected, Trump wants absolute control over the flow of information, to dictate his own version of facts rather than live with the reality of accepted facts. Trump is in a battle to bend the truth to his benefit.
Yeah, but should we keep calling out these lies? Cogent arguments are made that we must pay attention to what is DONE and not what is SAID, and that the lies function as a strategy to distract our attention/focus from actions.
In an article titled Hannah Arendt Explains How Propaganda Uses Lies to Erode All Truth and Morality, Josh Jones discusses the relevance of Arendt’s 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism to our current moment. He notes that Arendt identified lying as a highly salient characteristic of totalitarianism.
Why the constant, often blatant lying? For one thing, it functioned as a means of fully dominating subordinates, who would have to cast aside all their integrity to repeat outrageous falsehoods and would then be bound to the leader by shame and complicity.
Arendt also recognized the function of an avalanche of lies to render a populace powerless to resist, the phenomenon we now refer to as “gaslighting”: The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world—and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end—is being destroyed. The epistemological ground thus pulled out from under them, most would depend on whatever the leader said, no matter its relation to truth.
Arendt’s analysis of propaganda and the function of lies seems particularly relevant at this moment. The kinds of blatant lies she wrote of might become so commonplace as to become banal. We might begin to think they are an irrelevant sideshow. This, she suggests, would be a mistake.
In a column titled How Hannah Arendt’s classic work on totalitarianism illuminates today’s America, Jeffrey C. Isaac writes:
A subtheme of “Origins” is that by the 1930s, there was throughout Europe a generalized crisis of legitimacy. Large numbers of people felt dispossessed, disenfranchised, disconnected from dominant social institutions. The political party system, and parliamentary government more generally, were regarded as corrupt and oligarchic. Such an environment was fertile ground for a “mob mentality,” in which outsiders — Jews, Roma, Slavs, gays, “cosmopolitan intellectuals” — could be scapegoated and a savior could be craved: “The mob always will shout for ‘the strong man,’ the ‘great leader.’ For the mob hates the society from which it is excluded, as well as Parliament where it is not represented.”
And a society suffused with resentment, according to Arendt, is ripe for manipulation by the propaganda of sensationalist demagogues: “What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part . . . Totalitarian propaganda thrives on this escape from reality into fiction . . . [and] can outrageously insult common sense only where common sense has lost its validity.” Cynicism. Contempt for truth. Appeal to the craving of the masses for simple stories of malevolent conspiracy. Stephen K. Bannon of Breitbart News may not have read “Origins,” but it is clear he has taken a page from the movements Arendt analyzes.
**If you are interested, a few readings on Ayn Rand and Republican Party
Howard Zinn A People’s History of the United States 1492 – Present Published 2005 HarperCollins https://zinnedproject.org/materials/a-peoples-history-of-the-united-states/