The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

January 3, 2017

http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2016/11/06I went dark on November 9 after enough people voted for an eminently unqualified, racist, misogynist, homo-hating, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, narcissistic, criminal con man and Putin puppet to give him the majority of votes in the electoral college and force those of us who are not white, straight, christianists to live in fear for our lives.

The election results were disappointing, horrifying, nauseating, frightening, outrageous, and disgusting. The one thing they were not, at least for me, is shocking or surprising. I suspect the more marginalized someone is by our society, the less surprised they were by the vote.

Make no mistake, if you voted for Trump, if you stayed home and sat the election out as a protest (or just because you couldn’t be bothered), if you voted for Stein or Johnson or anyone else but Clinton, your actions contributed to people suffering and dying because they are queer, trans, POC, or just can’t afford health care. (No Clinton would not have been worse, she wouldn’t have hired billionaire white supremacists with no experience but plenty of conflicts of interest to run the government or worked to destroy any progress made in reproductive health care and LGBT/POC civil rights or left many of us trying to figure out whether we should flee the country.)

White nationalists emboldened by Trump are thirsting for blood. That blood might be mine, or your gay cousin’s, or the Sikh gentleman’s behind the motel counter whose mistaken for a Muslim, or the African-American boy’s playing in the park, or your neighbor’s who wears a hijab, or your trans co-worker’s. (You didn’t know she was trans? But you insist she should use the men’s restroom?)

As far as I’m concerned, every single person who voted for Trump is a racist bigot. You can say whatever you want about how you voted for him to protect your guns (Clinton wasn’t going to take them away). Or because the economy is in the toilet (it was the best it’s been since Bush destroyed it in ’08). Or because he’ll bring back manufacturing jobs (he can’t, automation has already replaced those jobs even if the factories move back to the U.S. and those jobs he claimed — at the cost of millions from taxpayer– to bring back either were staying anyway or will be used to create further automation). Or because he’s a successful business man (he’s lost more money than he ever made, routinely rips off people he hires as contractors, paid millions to get out of fraud charges against him, etc. etc.). Or because Clinton did whatever (outrageous misogynistic fabricated conspiracy theory) you’ve cited as an excuse not to vote for her. Or whatever other lies he told that you were gullible enough to believe. I do not care what “reason” you give to salve your conscious, you voted for toxic sludge and should be judged by what you did, not what you say.

I’m so very tired of inane statements about the majority of people voting with genuinely good intentions for what they honestly believe is their country’s best interest. The majority of those voters don’t give one rat’s ass for the best interest of the U.S. They deliberately voted to prioritize their straight white cis privileges over basic civil rights for POC, LGBTQ folk, and those who don’t worship their particular brand of consumerist christianism. They didn’t care about the consequences as long as they got what they wanted (and they will be genuinely shocked, blaming anyone but themselves and the man they elected, when they lose their jobs, their homes, their health insurance, and/or their savings and retirement as a result).

I find it more and more difficult to believe that even a small majority of people are genuinely good when so many of them are willing to deprive others of health care, a safe place to live, enough food to eat, a decent education, the ability to earn a fair wage for their work, agency/autonomy over their own bodies, a partner in life, etc.

Trump voters will eventually pay the price for their hubris. Racism is one of the ways the ruling class one percent keeps the poor white working class in line, enabling the rich to turn them into wage slaves while raping the planet, destroying our water supply and making the air impossible to breathe. No matter how bad it gets, at least those wage slaves can believe they’re superior because they’re white, straight christianists.

Racism has always been the primary motivation behind the white nationalism white evangelical movement and remains at its core. The GOP deliberately used the evangelicals to create the noxious atmosphere that allowed Trump to ascend to the White House by pandering to racist, xenophobic, fears of privilege loss.

Wherever you claim to stand on civil rights for women, POC, immigrants, or those who are LGBT, if you facilitated Trump’s election with your vote (or lack of) you are condoning both the violent racist/xenophobic attacks of his followers and your own exploitation at the hands of their billionaire masters. The overt anti-Semites in Germany didn’t enable the Holocaust as much as all those middle class Germans who wanted to Make Germany Great Again and who were willing to overlook their missing neighbors, the broken glass in the streets, the stench from the ovens, and the racist, xenophobic rhetoric. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

This naziism of America is the result of your sharing fake news, giving racists the benefit of the doubt, avoiding political discussions with family members who actively support venal politicians, staying silent in the face of misogyny.

Now what are you going to do about it (whether you enabled Trump’s election or not)? Will you sit silently with your head down and ignore the slaughter or will you step up to stop the colleague making racist jokes, refuse to allow your relatives to justify their Trump votes, call out the guy yelling at the Mexican-American on the bus to “go home,” video record the white cops harassing an African-American for minding their own business, stand in front of the woman threatened for wearing an expression of her faith? Will you donate and volunteer for organizations fighting for civil rights and reproductive health care? Will you call your Congressional representatives, daily if necessary, to let them know you won’t tolerate evisceration of the Office of Congressional Ethics, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc? Will you recruit, support, campaign for, and finance candidates for public office who believe in civil rights for all?

Or will you proceed with your daily life while everything that made America great is destroyed?

I know where I stand. I may have been silent online, but I never stopped fighting. What about you?


Not a book review: Racism in America then and now

December 30, 2014

I recently finished reading the eighth book in Barbara Hambly‘s compelling historical murder mystery series about a free man of color set in 1830s New Orleans shortly after the Louisiana purchased changed that city forever.

Benjamin January is the son of an African man and a half white woman. He was given his freedom, his name, and his education by the white Creole, St.-Denis Janvier, who purchased Benjamin’s mother to make her his mistress, a relationship known in the “custom of the country” as placée/protector.

Highly educated, Benjamin speaks half a dozen languages, trained as a surgeon in Paris, and is an accomplished pianist. But he’s also six-foot three and muscular, with skin dark as his father’s. As a result, despite his accomplishments, every white man, especially Americans, see him as money on the hoof. They resent the fact they can not legally sell him as a field hand for more than $1,000. Many are offended at his command of their language, expecting him to speak in a slave’s unschooled pidgeon.

Written from Benjamin’s point of view, the books give an educated and intelligent man’s interpretation of racism and slavery as it applies to himself, his family, his friends, and people he meets. Unable to work as a surgeon because of his race, Benjamin struggles to support himself as a musician and piano teacher. Because of his race, he is limited to where he can play and who he can teach. And he always contends with his inability to legally defend himself if white men choose to beat him for the money in his pocket or even his boots, the threat that one will kidnap him and try to sell him as a slave, the prohibition against looking a white man in the eye, the necessity of abasing himself in the presence of unschooled, unwashed, louts just because their skin is “white.”

Although the perspective is similar to that in the book Twelve Years a Slave, the Benjamin January stories provide more entertainment. He invariably must investigate a murder when the blankittes (whites) either falsely accuse a black man (too often Monsieur Janvier himself) of the crime, don’t care about the victim because they’re black, or just can’t figure out whodunit. To solve the mystery, Benjamin often must disguise himself as a
slave to gain the access he needs to white spaces and the confidence of other slaves.

Hambly studied history at the University of California, earning a masters degree in Medieval History. Her research, knowledge, and comprehension of the past flavor the Benjamin January series in which the Historic New Orleans Collection is always cited in the acknowledgements. She writes in period, many of her characters plucked from history, using the language of the times as it would have been used then by whites and blacks.

That language, now considered offensive, can be jarring, and for anyone who has never had to check their white privilege, the books can be an eye opener. But, what I find difficult to accept is how little the world has changed in the almost two hundred years since the books’ setting.

Now, as then:

  • It’s still all too easy for a black man to lose his freedom because of a white man’s lies.
  • Black men are still killed for talking back to a white man or touching a white woman, the presumption always that she would never have consented to or asked for that touch.
  • Blacks are prevented from making enough to feed their families while white men get rich off their labor.
  • Black adult males are still called “boy” by whites.
  • Blacks are prevented from voting, not believed when they testify in court (if their testimony is even allowed), and are routinely excluded from serving on juries.
  • And still too many people can’t see past the pigment of someone’s skin, still consider anyone of color less than human.

Hundreds of thousands died in the Civil War, thousands were murdered during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, and still black men — often unarmed, many innocent, some only guilty of crimes that a white would merely receive a ticket for — are killed every day by whites. And too often, those whites face absolutely no penalties for lynching men and women by claiming they believed they were in danger, even when that claim is absolutely outrageously
unbelievable.

In the United States the concept of a black man playing a super hero or a secret agent is vilified by the right wing nut jobs. Every action of the first African-American president is reviled even when they duplicate those of white men who were praised for doing exactly the same thing. And dark skinned men are killed daily by cops without any justification. And yet, there are still people who try to stop conversations about racism because they claim it no longer exists.

They couldn’t be more wrong.