Tag Archives: politics

On being an ally to friends, enemies, and strangers who make choices we don’t understand

Being an ally is not the same thing as being a friend. This may seem obvious, or it may seem baffling, and hopefully this can be relevant reading either way.

You can be someone’s friend while also marginalizing them, either through microaggressions (such as being a cis person telling a trans person that they don’t look trans) or outright aggressions (such as being a white person calling a person of color a racist slur). They may or may not perceive what you’ve done as marginalizing. They may have gotten really good at finding internal ways to manage that marginalization (such as apologizing for your behavior for you, or agreeing with your behavior and its implications about them) in the interest of maintaining the friendship, or maintaining jobs, family, housing, whatever. They’ve likely lost any or all of those things before when advocating for themself about that thing. Yes, your friendship with someone can matter enough that they would rather put up with being repeatedly hurt by than risk losing yet another damn thing in their life.

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Reading Fox News responses to the Garner decision

Ryan J. Reilly’s pointed out on Huffington Post that Conservatives are generally confused and unhappy with the decision to not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner. I was specifically looking at responses on Fox and noticed some interesting things.

I’ve been talking about filter bubbles over  on Facebook, and in continuation of that I compared my search results using both Google and Yahoo, particularly while attempting to find the rest of the clip of Gretchen Carlson talking about the tree lighting ceremony, which was trimmed down to that brief clip by Think Progress without any link to the full segment. I usually default to Google for my search results, with search history turned off (info on how to do it here) but with local web browsing history and cookies not erased. I almost never use Yahoo to search. I was interested to find that when searching with Google for results on Fox News I was more likely to get results from Slate, Salon, Think Progress, and similar sites talking about Fox as my top results than to get results from Fox itself; I sometimes click Slate and Salon links, and almost never Think Progress, but that is a site I see many people I know linking. Interestingly, many of those results were sourcing each other. In the example of the Think Progress clip, while searching “fox news eric garner gretchen carlson”, my top result on Google was the above linked Think Progress page; my top result on Yahoo was Gretchen Carlson’s page on Fox’s site, including a link to the original video, which is a significantly better response.

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On rebellion, self-preservation and speaking our truths

“I like it because you wear robes, and get out and light crosses, and have secret handshakes,” Abarr said, according to the Star-Tribune. “I like being in the Klan — I sort of like it that people think I’m some sort of outlaw.”

–Paige Lavendar, KKK, NAACP Leaders In Wyoming Have Historic Meeting. (It’s posted on HuffPo but until they’re actually paying their writers I’m not acknowledging them as anything other than a host, any more than anything I post here should be credited to WordPress.) Via Son of Baldwin (on Facebook).

This is this thing. Some people seek out overt hate groups purely because they hate some group of people and want to take action. But some seek out *antagonistic groups*, which include hate groups but also any group that claims to know a hidden truth and demands that outsiders bear witness, because they want a community that celebrates their desire to be rebels; these are often people with no specific commitment to that group’s antagonistic beliefs outside of that group, but they’re happy to have a community to do something rebellious with. To rebel is to take ownership, and to rebel with others is to take ownership with allies.

Teenage rebellion just takes a safety pin, a cigarette, a skipped meal. As a minor, your body is not your own and any act against it is a step toward owning it. It’s hardly the only act of rebellion teens take, but it’s easily available and familiar, and unlike being an adult, turning harm inward as a teen is respectable rebellion – often more respected than turning harm outward. As an adult, your body becomes something you are most likely responsible for, and pointing harm inward is more likely to seem teenage, or suicidal, or foolish, or simply debilitating from the sort of life you want to live. Turning harm outward may still make you a fool, but a dangerous one to watch closely, and it allows you to treat your body as something deserving health. This is a key: to turn harm outward is an act rebellion through self-preservation, and an accessible step “up” from teenage rebellion. And to turn harm outward you need allies to survive.

To join an antagonistic group and adopt its politics is easy. You don’t even have to be political – just open to being part of a group and doing the thing that is friendly to others in that group, such as agreeing with them. Like moving to a new town and rooting for the local sports team and against others to fit in. Sometimes you might share their politics and actually be adopting their approach, or share one set of politics and find another conveniently compatible regardless of your own opinion. And it still can be rebellion, which is after all rarely about being different or unique: it’s about being at odds with something you don’t want to be like and which appears to have power over you. To join a hate group, it either has to be a convenient community or you must have that political stance already and seek that community out. It’s a harder group to sustain, especially because the political core which defines the group has a harder time adjusting as times change. So we get articles like this, which seems like it’s out of the Onion, while antagonistic groups with dynamic definitions can adjust to allow their members fresh and present ways to act out.

None of this is to say that rebellion or acting out or even demanding that others bear witness to your truth is a bad thing. It’s to say, we must consider why we do these things. When we find ourselves doing something hurtful or hateful as a form of self-preservation, we must be absolutely certain that it is the only option, and we must be absolutely certain that the self we are trying to preserve is not in fact a self that is stubbornly refusing to be part of a planet. One day we’ll be more than one planet, so better get practicing now.

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Quick notes and links on the Voting Rights Act news

Originally posted on Facebook here.

President Obama[‘s]…election as the nation’s first black president was cited by critics of the law as evidence that it was no longer needed

from the New York Times

Alright, so let’s just pretend for the moment that voting for a person of color is, in fact, evidence of non-racistness. Or maybe you actually believe this (I don’t, but that’s a whole separate thing). If this statement is true, then when Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia voted for President Obama in 2008 and again in 2012, they provided that evidence. Right? Oh wait, no. Of all of those states, the only one that went blue in either election was Virginia – and that’s the one with a long list of cities and counties exempted from the VRA. So, why did this idea get any press at all?

Voting maps for these two elections are available on their Wikipedia pages: 2008 2012

And lest anyone get the idea that this is all party-lined: The 2006 renewal of the VRA? Signed by then-President Bush. Who was, oh yeah, from that covered state, Texas. Who, despite the persona he presented as president (which was elaborated upon for comedic effect as well as to dismiss him instead of engaging the political activity performed under his presidency), is neither ignorant nor simple.

Within 24 hours of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the law requiring nine states to submit voting law changes to the federal government for pre-clearance, six are already moving ahead with voter ID laws, some of which had already been rejected as discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act.

from PBS.

It’s worth noting that these laws often utilize the fact that people of color are disproportionately low-income. That’s a roundabout way of saying that they are directly classist as well as having an indirect (while significant and intentional) racial impact.

Here’s a thing, though:

Nearly every state — 41 so far — has introduced some kind of restrictive voting legislation since the beginning of last year, and 18 have succeeded in passing laws, some of which could have a direct impact on the 2012 election, according to a recent analysis from the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law.

“This is almost unprecedented,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, which tracks voting laws and which published the analysis. “We have not seen this number of restrictive voting laws pass probably since the end of the 20th century. Certainly, this is the biggest rollback since the civil-rights era in terms of voting rights.”

from Brennan Center

Which, seriously, if you read any link here read that thing. In case you didn’t know, Oregon’s on that list, having introduced legislation to require proof of citizenship to vote. See also the 2013 version, which has a lot of good news as well in the form of legislation to expand voting rights and accessibility.

I think there’s an issue with saying it’s unconstitutional to require certain jurisdictions to obtain preclearance for particular legislative activity, but I do think reevaluation is necessary. Clearly a bunch of noncovered states are trying to enact the same restrictive laws that states covered by the VRA are trying to push through. This suggests to me that the whole country ought to be require federal preclearance. Hell yeah, it’ll slow things down. Maybe it’ll be an incentive for states to not waste time trying to put through racist and classist legislation? (Yeah, yeah, I know…)

Here’s what I don’t understand: why is it that voting rights which impact federal elections can be determined by state? To clarify, let’s look at Jesse Voter, a Floridian who has a past felony conviction, and Jordan Other-Voter, a Californian with a past felony conviction. Florida voting law effectively disenfranchises Jesse, but Jordan’s able to vote based on California voting law. Jesse is not able to vote for a senator of Florida while Jordan is able to vote for a senator of California. While I may not agree with the specific law, it seems different to me from, say, a presidential election, in which Jesse may vote for a president of the US while Jordan is not able to vote for that same president. Using federal legislation for federal elections would makes voting law that much more complex, but hey, maybe it’d be an incentive for states to not waste time creating additional legislation for state-level elections beyond what is actually necessary? (Again, I know…)

Oh, also, here’s the civilrights.org Myths and Facts about the VRA.

I’m too tired to tie this up well and haven’t had the time to research this further in ways I’d like to, but at least here’s transparency and an invitation. One thing I haven’t had time to do is read a lot of source material in its entirety: the VRA itself or the SCOTUS decision. I also have a limited knowledge about a lot of voting rights legislation itself. So, please, add links, input, whathaveyou. There’s always something more to know.

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