Time to Fight

As the attack on our institutions intensifies, I’m finding it necessary to write an essay about Things. The last time our Republic was in danger, I posted essays in a special section on my site. Right now, my site is split between the pages you can see, and the new pages on my server. Because of that, I’m posting essays here until I get my new site up. I’ll move them then; but in the meantime, I can’t be silent.

I originally wrote this on June 28. I normally leave a day between writing and posting, as a kind of “cooling off” period, to get some distance from the words and look at them a bit more objectively. In this case, router problems, and then other obligations, kept me from posting until today.


June 28, 2018

After the last few days, it’s become apparent that we are in the fight of our lives.

We didn’t choose this. We don’t want to be. But we have been for some time, whether we admitted it or not, and it’s high time we admitted it, and started to fight back.

The good news is that we vastly outnumber our opponents.

There are way more people of good heart, who believe that everyone is, indeed, created equal. That we are entitled, by the social contract that binds us together, to things like a working wage, support in illness and old age, freedom, education, the right to marry the person we love, and so much more.

That we are entitled to these things regardless of our skin color, country of origin, circumstances of birth, ableness, health, weight, gender, religion or lack thereof, or anything else that can be named.

That infants and children should never, ever, be separated from their families and incarcerated simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That seeking asylum is not a crime, and immigrants help our economy and make us stronger.

That the only way to lose the things we are entitled to is to break the social contract by intentionally harming another living, breathing human being.

That owning these entitlements does not deprive anyone else of them.

That it is not, in fact, a zero-sum game.

The bad news is that there is a sizable number of people who seem to be laboring under the belief that it is zero-sum. That anyone else claiming the things they are entitled to is somehow depriving them. They fear and hate the “other,” and want nothing more than for the “other” to be forever subservient, at their beck and call. And if they will not, then the “other” must cease to exist.

These people have, at this point, taken over all three branches of government. They are imposing their twisted view on all of the rest of us.

To paraphrase a friend of mine (Gwen Smith) the monsters are no longer afraid of showing themselves for exactly what they are.

The bad news is that, if we don’t want to be part of their world, forever subservient and happy to take any abuse they want to dish out, we will have to fight.

Fight as if our lives depended on it, because they do.

In order to fight, we will all have to make sacrifices; especially people with privilege. Yes, I mean white cis straight people, men in particular. We have to give up the comfortable view of our own future, if we had one, and realize that we aren’t in it for ourselves any more. If we cannot unite, put aside our petty squabbles, our talk of purity, our own prejudices, and work as a cohesive whole, we will not win this.

We have to give our time, to make phone calls we don’t really want to make, and write letters we’d rather not write. We have to take time to march, and protest, and get in people’s faces. We have to risk arrest to do this.

We might have to give up space in our homes, for housing those who are most at risk, sheltering those who are traveling to march, or who need medical care not available where they live. (Yes, I am talking about women who need abortions.) We have to be willing to be a meeting place, even if that entails some risk.

We have to give some of the money we wanted for extras to make life more pleasant, to organizations or people that will make continued life possible for others.

We might have to give up time and space we would ordinarily use for business or pleasure to write political essays. Even if we feel that no one is really interested in what we have to say.

But the good news is that if we do, if we watch out for each other, and have each other’s backs. If we stop worrying about what terms should be used, and whether someone is pure enough, and if someone is fighting the way we would fight, then we can.

Because united we outnumber them more than 2 to 1.

Don’t let them divide us.

Don’t let us divide us.

United we stand, and we will fight, and we will win justice and equality for all.

 

No Reconciliation

It’s happened. Trump is the president-elect, and Republicans hold both houses of congress and probably will soon have a majority on the Supreme Court, as well. The checks and balances are gone. Our worst nightmare is now our reality.

Not because they are Republicans and I usually vote for Democrats.

But because Republicans have tried for many years to strip away all protections for the most vulnerable among us. In fact, there is little doubt that they would love to strip away everything for everyone who isn’t a wealthy, white, straight, Evangelical Christian male.

Even now, Ryan is finalizing his plans to privatize Medicaid and Social Security, and totally repeal the Affordable Care Act. To gut food stamps, and to remove safety nets and protections for the poorest among us.

But it’s worse than that.

That is what we would have faced if some other Republican had won the nomination of his party, and had become president.

But it’s Trump, who boasts of his xenophobia and racism. Who glories in sexual assault and sees manhandling women whenever he wishes as his due. Who has deep ties to white supremacist groups, who are crowing that they are in power now.

Yes, he also lies pretty much constantly. He campaigned on a platform to “drain the swamp” in DC. He said he was an outsider, who wasn’t beholden to lobbies and special interest groups. He said he would end their influence. And he’s filling his cabinet with them. There is little doubt that he’ll renege on any promises he doesn’t find convenient, as he always has.

But he has proven through his actions, for more than 50 years, that he is, in fact, a racist. That he does, in fact, despise pretty much everyone. That he hasn’t a shred of empathy or human decency. That he has no intention of helping anyone but himself. Ever.

Since he was elected, just 3 days ago, the most racist, misogynistic, xenophobic and violent of his followers have taken his election as a license to do whatever they want to do to whoever they want. There are endless reports of attacks on women wearing a hijab, on Mexicans, on Asians, on blacks. There are thousands of stories of school children chanting horrible things, making walls of their bodies to keep out fellow-students who aren’t white, writing hateful messages on doors to safe spaces, on classroom whiteboards, on signs, on restroom walls.

These aren’t random acts. This is not a coincidence. They are doing these things in Trump’s name; writing it on cars and walls besides their hate filled slogans, screaming it into the faces of women as they rip their hijab, saying “If Trump can do it, so can I,” as they grab the genitals of their 10 year old classmates.

And while all this is going on, we are being told that we must reconcile our differences, and work together with those who would oppress us to unify and heal the country.

No! No we do not! No we should not!

We should never, ever, become complicit in oppression.

Compromise is a fine thing in many times and places. It’s great when a group of friends is trying to pick a restaurant, when a club is formulating bylaws, when workers and management are hammering out a contract.

But some things are simply not open to negotiation, and the basic humanity of all people is one of them.

On this, there can be no compromise. Black lives do matter, as do trans lives, Muslim lives, the lives of the mentally ill and physically unable, the lives of refugees and immigrants, the lives of the poor, the lives of deaf people, retarded people, fat people, gay people, and people of uncertain gender. All these lives, the lives of all marginalized people, no matter why they are marginalized, are every bit as important as the life of the whitest, wealthiest, straightest, most handsome, well-educated, Evangelical Christian man walking down Wall Street in an immaculate $3000 suit with a genuine leather briefcase in his hand.

This is a truth that I will not budge from. There can be no compromise, no unity, when the price of unity is to agree with white people that non-white people are simply, by their nature, inferior. That they are genetically biased towards violence, crime, deceit, and ignorance.

No.

Not just no, but hell no!

Only when the people currently in power agree that those they have relegated to the margins are actually as worthy and important as they, themselves, will I be happy to compromise and work for unity. When the humanity of every single person on the planet is fully acknowledged, and those currently in power agree that the vulnerable must be protected, I’ll be more then delighted to work together with them to protect the weakest and heal the nation.

When they acknowledge that American isn’t (and never has been) a white, Christian nation, but is instead a richly diverse land inhabited by people of many colors, backgrounds, religions, philosophies, and cultures, and that all of them are equally valid and equally deserving of respect, as long as they’re not seeking to oppress anyone, then I’ll gladly extend my hand in friendship, and settle down to work out ways to best help all of us.

But until then?

I’ll fight them tooth, nail, wallet and keyboard. I’ll stand against their tyranny and oppression, for that’s what it is. I’ll not give an inch, a millimeter, or a single micron.

I will not, and I cannot.

Because they are just flat wrong.

All people are created equal, and there should be liberty and justice for all.