Friday, April 20, 2018

When Fascism Comes To the USA

Madeline Albright is pulling no punches in her new book, Fascism: A Warning:
"Why, per Freedom House, is democracy now 'under assault and in retreat'? Why are many people in positions of power seeking to undermine public confidence in elections, the courts, the media, and - on the fundamental question of earth's future - science? Why have such dangerous splits been allowed to develop between rich and poor, urban and rural, those with a higher education and those without? Why has the United States - at least temporarily - abdicated its leadership in world affairs? And why, this far into the twenty-first century, are we once again talking about Fascism?

One reason, frankly, is Donald Trump. If we think of fascism as a wound from the past that had almost healed, putting Trump in the White House was like ripping off the bandage and picking at the scab."
Do you ever notice that marginalized people - women, people of color, LGBTs - tend to talk about Donald Trump much, much differently than do cishet white guys?

I do.

While some prominent white male pundits and politicians will, say, speculate about how this or that white guy woulda won the 2016 election or gaslighting us about the threat Trump and his fans pose, many women/marginalized people seem to see things differently.

In what is perhaps the most direct such call from a sitting member of Congress, for instance, US Representative Maxine Waters regularly heralds Trump's impeachment, on Twitter. Women are, and should be, leading the anti-Trump resistance as, for far too long, our perspectives, humanity, and potential have been stifled in favor of building white-male-discourse-only bubbles of mediocrity, terror, and segregation.

The way Albright seems to see it is that Donald Trump's electoral college win signals both decline and danger.

Maybe there's a simple truth as to why so many cishet white men "don't see" the threat Trump poses. An easy explanation is that when women/people of color/LGBTs are marginalized, they benefit. That structure, in fact, has been the historical status quo from which they've reaped massive rewards in this country.

I think that it is no accident that fascism is coming to the USA just at the very moment we arrived, almost, at a very meaningful precipice for women.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mediocre White Man Is Mediocre At WaPo

The fact that Richard Cohen's absurd piece defending white men from being reversely discriminated against was written by himself, a grown-ass man, and published in The Washington Post and not, instead, written by an adolescent for his high school paper tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how real and widespread discrimination against white men is in the real world.


Here are some telling quotes from the piece itself. He acknowledges that discrimination against women/people of color is (was?) a very real and widespread thing:
  • "Let me concede right at the top that it was always better to be white in America than black. Let me further stipulate that in the workplace, it has usually been better to be a man than a woman."
  • "My first real job was with the New York office of a national insurance company. Sexual harassment was a problem, for sure."
  • "Our office was exclusively white and not by accident. When I asked my boss why we had no black employees, he told me directly that it was his policy not to hire any."
  • "When I went into journalism, it was mostly a guy’s thing. It was rare for a woman to be a foreign correspondent, rarer still for one to cover a war. My career surely benefited from that. There are women around today who I am glad I didn’t have to compete against when I was starting out."
Here, Cohen acknowledges that his own career benefited precisely because he didn't have to compete against women/people of color, who were widely and very blatantly excluded from his profession.

Yet, watch and observe this display of Peak White Man:
"Once I was passed over for a newsroom position I very much wanted. 'We needed a woman,' an editor told me. I said nothing, although I seethed. In short order, I was made a columnist, so I didn’t even get a chance to cry. But the instant rush of utter unfairness lingers. The woman chosen was qualified, but her qualification had nothing to do with her sex. I was told she was just a needed statistic.

The way women have been treated in the workplace is wrong — everything from pay disparity to sexual harassment to outright discrimination. But the past does not obliterate the solemn obligation to treat people as individuals, not primarily as members of a sex or race. Fairness demands it. Democracy requires it."
One time, Cohen wanted a job, a qualified woman got it instead, and then he got a different job he wanted anyway, and still.... he seethed with anger at the injustice to himself. 

Cohen talks a big game at the end, uttering platitudes about fairness and the "solemn obligation" to treat everyone as individuals, and yet what, if anything, has he ever done about discrimination against women/people of color in his career except benefit from it?


And yet, just think. If Cohen had had to compete against women/people of color since the very start of his career, we all might have been spared this cold-diarrhea analysis in favor of something much, much more embiggening to the public discourse.


Related: 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Wonderslash Friday

Who has seen Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, about William Moulton Marston (who created Wonder Woman), Elizabeth Marston, and Olive Byrne?

While the three lived together in real life, and were portrayed in the movie as being in a polyamorous relationship that included Elizabeth and Olive being romantic partners, the true nature of their relationship has been contested. Nevertheless, because few portrayals of poly relationships exist in TV and film, I was able to enjoy the movie, even with the caveat in the back of my mind that what I was seeing might be fictional.

Also, for whatever reason, the Bill Marston character wasn't annoying to me. Maybe because he was played by a guy who's openly gay in real life. Go figure.

 Enjoy today's fan vid, featuring the trio.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Personal Twitter Update

I've deleted Twitter from my phone.

I may install it again, but my main goal in deleting it was to at least temporarily prevent myself from compulsively checking it, while observing any change in my attitude, perceptions of the news, and my own mental state.

So far, it's been highly liberating (even though, yes, I do check it via computer).

As I mentioned last week, news happens very fast on Twitter, along with lightning-fast "takes" and misinformation. Twitter largely, for me, has become something of a time suck in which I observe a steady stream of people reacting (which I guess is the point), but the reactions themselves are often strongly-negative while also being somehow incredibly-fleeting.

It's not all bad. But, in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, I wrote that people on social media, especially Twitter, seemed to have been having different experiences and perceptions of Election 2016 than people who were not. We now know, of course, that some of the skewing of perception and the shit-stirring was intentionally cultivated by Russian agents and Cambridge Analytica, among others.

"Today on Twitter, the President said" is just a thing that we read and hear and see over and over and over again because it is also now completely normalized within the mainstream media that Donald Trump recklessly and incompetently broadcasts his democracy-destroying utterances and warmongering provocations via his Goebbels-Schnauze, while the press largely seems to be very impressed that he speaks so "directly" to the citizenry of the world, unlike that deceptive she-bot who ran against him.

I also find that I am not always remembering some of the outrages from months ago, not because they are not horrible, but because they are so, so many. So much that I sometimes think, my god, how can we ever dig ourselves out of this? Can this ever become unbroken?

To maintain my hope, I cannot have these thoughts be the first and last that I reach for at my nightstand.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Reminder: (Mis)Information Spreads Fast

Melissa Jeltsen at Huffington Post has written a piece about the prosecution of Noor Salman, the widow of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen. In it, she notes, "Every mass tragedy begets a frantic search for answers, for a common understanding of what happened, for a narrative, and the 2016 Pulse massacre was no different."

This happens very, very fast on Twitter, in particular.

People first learn of an event, then they immediately begin crafting a narrative based on initial news reports that are not always accurate, and then the narratives start going viral. Information and misinformation spreads much more quickly than investigations occur offline. Narratives get even more complicated when the situation involves victims and perpetrators who are all members of different marginalized groups.

I'm thinking most recently of the tragedy of the Hart family, all of whom are believed to be dead after their car was found crashed off the Pacific Coast Highway, and in which the Twitter consensus seems to be that two women hatched a Thelma & Louise conspiracy to murder their family, even though - as just one of several other possible explanations - one of them could also be a victim of spousal abuse and/or murder.

Jeltsen continues, regarding the Pulse shooting:
"A Muslim woman who by her family’s account was beaten by Mateen, Salman might have been a sympathetic figure in a different context. But I think now of Bob Kunst’s sign. A longtime human rights activist, Kunst was protesting outside the federal courthouse, just two miles from the nightclub where the tragedy occurred, as Salman’s trial began. 'FRY’ HER,' his sign read, 'TILL SHE HAS NO ‘PULSE.'  It didn’t seem to occur to many people that Noor Salman might have been a victim of Mateen, too.
Salman’s trial cast doubt on everything we thought we knew about Mateen. There was no evidence he was a closeted gay man, no evidence that he was ever on Grindr. He looked at porn involving older women, but investigators who scoured Mateen’s electronic devices couldn’t find any internet history related to homosexuality. (There were daily, obsessive searches about ISIS, however.) Mateen had extramarital affairs with women, two of whom testified during the trial about his duplicitous ways.
Mateen may very well have been homophobic. He supported ISIS, after all, and his father, an FBI informant currently under criminal investigation, told NBC that his son once got angry after seeing two men kissing. But whatever his personal feelings, the overwhelming evidence suggests his attack was not motivated by it.

As far as investigators could tell, Mateen had never been to Pulse before, whether as a patron or to case the nightclub. Even prosecutors acknowledged in their closing statement that Pulse was not his original target; it was the Disney Springs shopping and entertainment complex. They presented evidence demonstrating that Mateen chose Pulse randomly less than an hour before the attack. It is not clear he even knew it was a gay bar. A security guard recalled Mateen asking where all the women were, apparently in earnest, in the minutes before he began his slaughter."
I want to be clear that I see queer people's terror (including my own) in response to the Pulse shooting as entirely legitimate. All narratives aside, the facts at hand in the immediate aftermath were that Mateen did indeed slaughter people at a gay bar, and living in a society that constantly tells you that you are less than for being queer, this type of tragedy is horrifying and seems very obviously targeted at you.

Yet, Jeltsen documents the swift carelessness with which mainstream media outlets began linking Salman to the crime (Sample New York Post headline: "She could have saved them all"). Here, how might have implicit and explicit biases against Muslims informed the widely-believed narrative that Mateen and his wife were co-conspirators in a targeted hate crime against gays?

How many people have been misinformed about a myriad of facts in the two years since the tragedy occurred? How many people will ever have their perceptions or knowledge of this tragedy corrected?