Posts Tagged With: Protests

On Virginia

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I just don’t even know what to say about Virginia this weekend.  I’m so tired of this stuff that I don’t know what to do at this point, nor do I really feel like doing something is going to help much.

I mean, I live in California.  I donate as much as I can afford to the ACLU.  I’m 100% against Nazism, as is everyone I know.  I don’t have hopes that anything I do will make the president denounce these people, or that by saying something I can make these folks feel ashamed of themselves.  I’m tired.  I just don’t want to do it anymore.

I will also say that I 100% realize that being tired so easily and being able to just give up is a function of my own white privilege.  I’m blonde and blue-eyed.  The Neo-Nazis are gonna leave me alone if I ignore them.  Not everyone can say that.

But I’m still at a loss.  I don’t know what I can do that will make a difference in a world where we have a president that is more outraged by Nordstrom’s refusal to carry his daughter’s handbag line than he is by alt-right terrorism.  I don’t know what to do in a world where that galvanizes his supporter base instead of alienating it. I don’t want that base to be my friends and neighbors, even though it often is.  Whatever we feel about him and his business sense, I would hope that we could at least agree that domestic terrorism isn’t okay.

I wish I had more to offer besides a refusal to be silent despite my strong desire to toss up my hands.  I don’t have any salient points, and I’ll admit it.

The whole episode makes me think of the time when Neo-Nazis protested in Claremont, oh – not quite 10 years ago now.  I read that it was happening in the Courier, and everyone was flummoxed.  There weren’t actually any Neo-Nazi groups in Claremont, but for some reason they had picked the city for their protest.

I’m not even sure if they were actually protesting anything so much as they were trying to be ornery in a city they knew wouldn’t be pleased.  There was an entire corner of counter-protestors that was bigger than the Neo-Nazi group.  I had thought about joining them several days before-hand, but I had to work that morning so that ended the ambivalence.

I did drive through the intersection on my way to work, though.  I was struck by how unhappy the Neo-Nazi’s seemed.  It wasn’t even an angry fervor.  The entire crowd of them had that pissed rebellious-child look that made me think they all REALLY didn’t want to be there.  They stood quietly behind their banner with those insolent looks on their face, using their laminated canvas like a shield, sulking.

It was the counter-protest corner that was alive.  Colorful homemade signs flew above the crowd, and the throng chanted and writhed on their corner, insisting that the Neo-Nazis weren’t welcome and shouting messages of peace.  The vibe was not at all what I would expect.  The Neo-Nazi’s looked back at them in silence, just giving them and the police the stink-eye.

Police directed the traffic through the intersection, and made sure that the two corners across from each other didn’t mingle.

It was non-violent.  I only had that 3-minute glimpse of it all before the policeman waved me through the intersection and I sped to the freeway ramp in the distance. It stuck in my mind, though.  Why would the Neo-Nazi’s purposefully go to a city to make them pissed and then just end up silently pissed themselves?

Like I said, I don’t have anything to offer really.  Just that small memory.

Maybe I should try and get up some patriotic gumption ala West Wing; that this country is remarkable because it seeks to protect even those who would destroy it.  People died, though, and I don’t think I can quite manage it right now.

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I’m Marching Tomorrow

In case you haven’t guessed it yet, this is a fairly political blog post.  You can skip if you’re not into that kind of thing.  Also contains rampant feminism.

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I am marching in Los Angeles tomorrow.  I don’t own any feminist t-shirts or anything, so I plan to wear my Suffragette white with the purple and green pin I made for election day.  I have a banner, too, if I ever manage to finish it.  It will say “No woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her sex,” in as close a copy as I can get to the 1920s picture.  It will be fabric, too, for easy transport on the train.

I have had a lot of – well, not exactly fights.  Heated discussions? – with Trump supporters who claim that there was a HUGE backlash against him when he said he wouldn’t accept the results of the election, and now those same people won’t accept the results of the election themselves.  And that it’s stupid to go and protest.  What are we even protesting?

So I thought, since I think better with my fingers than my mouth, that I would explain why I’m marching tomorrow.  And that’s the first thing I want to emphasize.  I’m not protesting anything.  I’m marching in solidarity with the women in my community.

The reason is this:

Humans of New York went to Detroit and talked to a bunch of people there after the election.  The one that struck me the most was posted on November 20, with a woman in a green anorak looking out at a river.  The quote above the picture was this: “I’ve had friends reach out to me. They’ve told me: ‘I understand the reasons that you’re upset. But those aren’t the reasons I voted for him.’ And I’m just starting to understand that. I’m realizing that a lot of people wanted change more than they wanted kids not to cry. We all have our own code of ethics. My bottom line happened to be tolerance. Their bottom line was abortion. Or the Supreme Court. I guess we all have the right to choose our own bottom line.”

I was desperately aggrieved when Trump won, and part of it is because of what that lady in the green jacket said.  My right as a woman to exist safely in a public place was not the bottom line for many people.  The fact that Trump assaulted women and then bragged about it was not enough to disqualify him for them. They wanted change more than they wanted women to not be molested. That’s certainly their right to choose.  I don’t dispute that.  But the fact that my safety comes second to anything at all, and that there are a LOT of people who feel that way, feels like a death.  A death of progress, a death of protection from indecency, a death of the esteem I held for those people who I believed better of.

At the heart of it, that’s really why I’m marching.  I’m marching with women who are my friends and relatives to show them that I value their safety as MY bottom line. that we will stubbornly value each other together.  And I’m marching to say to Trump and everyone in his new administration that comments they have made in the past are unacceptable.  If they try and take my safety away from me or those in my community (regardless of gender, orientation, or color),  this is the polite version of what they can expect the future to look like.

I’m not protesting the election.  I’m not trying to say that Trump is not my president.  I’m trying to acknowledge that he IS the president, for better or worse, and that we now have to strive every day to hold him to the standards we expect of someone in that office, no matter how difficult or impossible that seems.

I’m marching because it gives me something to do with this grief, and it gives me hope that we are a people who are, collectively, better than our current government.

To everyone else who is going tomorrow: I look forward to seeing you there.

And to those of you who feel you must skip out: I respect that, and I hope that if things get harrier you will consider standing with us next time.

Categories: Life, Politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On Politics, Action, and Protests

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I thought that I would eventually do a post about Trump winning the election, and then the idea that I would actually have to talk seriously about this man sickened me.  And then I realized that is exactly why I need to write the post anyway.

I’m not going to proselytize.  Maybe Trump will be fine.  But it’s been less than a week and he’s already appointing white supremacists to key positions, and climate skeptics to lead the EPA, so I’m not terribly optimistic.  But you know I’m about doing and not about talking.

We’re in a society now where it’s IMPERITIVE that you act against racism. It’s no longer enough to be against it without acting. If you are for safe spaces, if you want to wear a safety pin and mean it, then you are responsible for creating those safe spaces around yourself with action, not just with clothing.

First, here’s a Southern Poverty Law Center article on confronting racism with the people you love: https://www.splcenter.org/20150126/speak-responding-everyday-bigotry.  Take-aways for non-confrontational people like me?  Recruit allies to help you confront rampantly racist family members if necessary; it’s okay to tell them that racist language is hurting your relationship, and it’s because you love them that you want them to stop when you’re around.  Leave the room when those subjects come up, or seriously ask the joke teller to explain why the joke is funny to them; indicate politely that you aren’t amused.  Repeat back sentences without using racial epithets yourself (“the Mexican cashier,” becomes “the cashier,” for instance).

Second, I’ve posted a comic below drawn by Maeril (@itsmaeril) on how to confront islamophobic harassment.  But it’s good for all kinds of harassment, really.  Use liberally.

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Third, consider what outside organizations you can support that will need help, or will be giving others help.  I don’t know how to bring a lawsuit against Trump if he starts putting some of his unconstitutional practices into action.  But the ACLU sure does, and they’ve already put Trump on notice that they’re watching.  I’m giving $10 a month.  An aunt of mine is giving a little more to Planned Parenthood this year.  Several friends have invested in legitimate well-run news sites like NPR or the Washington Post.  Do what you can where you see the need.  Every little bit helps.  And if you can’t donate money, consider donating your time.

The next two things I want to share are for others.  I’m already getting a lot of crap from friends  and family about the protests that are still going on.  This is why protesting isn’t just people being sore losers, and why we all shouldn’t just “get over it already.”  Moche Kasher says it better than I ever could:

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And I want to end on this quote:

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Reminder: we overthrew the government over 200 years ago so we would never have to stomach a shitty king again.  Good luck with the acting for justice (I know I’m going to need it, for one).  It’s going to be hard.  But if we can even be a little bit better than we were yesterday, that’s progress in fighting the spirit of awfulness that’s attempting a coup on the country right now.

Categories: Life, Politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ferguson Thoughts

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I do not usually weigh in on political issues, but I have something I want to get off my chest. You have been warned.  And you should also probably note that I am very white and very middle class, so take my opinion on race for what it’s worth.

A lot of people in my circle feel like the indictment decision in the Ferguson case was a good and valid one. Darren Wilson had a ton of evidence to support his statement that Michael Brown attacked him first, and eyewitness accounts were inconsistent (and that’s an understatement). I don’t exactly feel like it was a wrong choice myself, if the circumstances were different and if race relations in this country were better. But race relations in this country are not as good as we pretend.

The civil rights movement is not as far away as we like to think it is. Our parents grew up in a world were lynchings and Emmet Tills happened. The Montgomery bus boycott and the Woolworth sit-ins happened less than 20 years before I was born. The civil rights movement happened yesterday; and it happened in part because yesterday, when a black man killed a white man, there were no consequences.

It is counter-intuitive, but whether Darren Wilson is guilty matters not one whit to the question of whether there should be a trial or not. Do we not owe it to Emmet Till and the hundreds of black Americans killed in this country to take this matter to a courtroom? Do we not allow a jury of 12 peers to say ‘innocent,’ instead of only a white prosecutor and a white judge? I think we need to. And the fact that this won’t happen now is a tragedy with real consequences.  The verdict may not be Jim Crow, but it sure smells like it.  And that is why people are angry.

I am lucky, because I get to be outraged at the wave of black men being shot in the streets. I do not have to be both outraged and fearful that my children will be gunned down next. I stand in spirit with those on the streets of Ferguson. Your protests are valid; you deserved your day in court.

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