In the past, I have attempted to present my arguments, my sentiments, in respectful, intellectual, philosophically relevant language—not always successfully, I admit; sometimes my dismay and anger get the better of me, and sometimes there are things too unbelievably stupid to warrant much, if any, respect—and to leave some opening for debate.
With the recent Supreme Court rulings, it should be clear to everyone that what is happening is nothing less than an attempt by extralegal and institutional force to change the nature of our country. This is nothing new. What is new (new-ish) is the outright lies and misrepresentation in which these attempts are couched and the complete shameless embrace of those lies.
The “sanctity of life” is one such misrepresentation. While I have no doubt there are many individuals who sincerely believe in this and are acting out of that conviction, as a movement it has been little more than a duplicitous shell game, the only consistency of which has been the clear aim of reducing large segments of the population to second-class status if not outright bondage. Even where some sincerity is on exhibit, at base it relies on a subversion of individual liberties.
For the last five decades we have come to expect certain things to remain, if not unchallenged, at least established until a better way forward can be found. Because there are elements in our country who will resist and try to eliminate these expectations no matter what, we have struggled along with a variety of less-than-perfect institutional safety nets. Many of these laws were not ideal, but we have defended them because the reality tells us that with what we have to work with at hand, any substitute will be worse, and more recently that there will be no substitute.
Example: the Republican Party has been bitching about the Affordable Healthcare Act since it was enacted. Repeatedly, they have stated their intention to repeal it and “put something better” in its place. Twelve years later, we still have not seen a draft of the “better” only more declarations of intent to repeal. After 12 years you would think they would come up with something, but that has never been their intention.
Another example: immigration reform. Attempts have been offered, mostly by Democrats, since Clinton. The GOP has blocked all of them, even when one of their favored sons, Bush, was pushing for it. All they have managed to do is use it as a political rallying point to make people angry and drum up votes on the pretense that “they’ll do something.”
Now this past week.
Four justices on the Supreme Court should not be there. One took a spot that ought to have been filled by Obama’s last pick. I do not care how you feel about Obama, the blockage by Mitch McConnell of his nominee was unconscionable, petty, and partisan to the point of doing active harm. The other three were appointed by a man who had made promises to place the worst reactionaries he could get by with on the bench, and clearly they all lied during their hearings.
And what have we seen this week? A weakening of firearm safety laws, a weakening of Miranda, and the overturn of Roe v. Wade, which the liars on the bench swore under oath they viewed as “settled law.” We now no longer know what that means in terms of legal protections.
We can dance around these things all we want, but the trajectory is clear. The direction of rightwing politics was set decades ago by the Karl Rove Doctrine of destroying the federal government’s ability to act on social justice at any level. “I want to shrink it to where I can drown it in a bathtub,” he said, more or less. But even he has stepped that back in recent years, realizing that in many instances the only thing securing a civil society was federal oversight. If we had left it entirely up the states, we would likely still have slavery in parts of the United States, segregation certainly, and the freedom of association that comes with advancing civil rights would exist only in pockets.
We now know that this is exactly the goal. There is no excusing it as some sort of abstruse political theory of jurisdictional priority. The intended goal was to return certain people to positions of authority from which they can dictate the social landscape. They are bigots, either primarily as by way of securing power, or as constitutionally incapable of any kind of reliable empathy for people they view as “not my tribe.” The result is the same either way. There is no couching any of this in any terms other than the naked desire to remove themselves from other people they see as inferior and to guarantee those people remain incapable of sharing rights, liberties, or any meaningful means of securing a dignified life.
I will have no truck with this.
All I can see coming from the current construction of the GOP is little more than petulant white spleen and open fear. The recent statement at a rally by Illinois Representative Mary Miller that the Roe decision is a “victory for white life” will serve as testament of the current “conservative” mindset.
Victory for white life?
Her people tried to explain that she misread the statement, but personally I neither believe that or care. It is perfectly consistent with the brand of reactionary white angst we’ve been seeing the past four or five years. This is in line with the resurgence of what is called Replacement Theory, which is the idea that unless white people start making more babies we will be overwhelmed by “foreigners.” This is nothing but racist fear.
This is fascism.
The sad fact is, these people are unfazed by this accusation. They are proud of it. They think they’re winning, and in a certain narrow construction of what it is to be an American, this is the thing that matters. Winning. They are embracing this nonsense and feel empowered by these recent rulings.
They think they are True Americans.
Now Roe. This is the first of a series of attempts to roll back civil liberties. We don’t have to guess, Clarence Thomas has put it in writing.
Roe, in my opinion, was less than great law. It had weaknesses, the primary one being that it fell short of establishing bodily autonomy. The other problem, which is not the fault of Roe but a facet of how we conduct politics, is that once it was handed down, many of us just thought it was a settled issue. Instead of enacting legislation at the state level to bolster it, we relied on Roe to cover it.
But over the decades it has become clear that Roe represents an aspect of Civil Rights which we also failed to codify when the Equal Rights Amendment fell short of ratification. Too many people simply cannot accept universal equality.
There has always been a part of the American Psyché that nursed aspirations of specialness, which has most often manifested as an attitude that only certain people mattered—which meant many more people did not matter. Efforts to close this misapprehension over what our founding documents meant have resulted in too many periods of strife. When you break it down, all these instances were little more than privilege trying to retain its perquisites and shut others out.
Too often too many of us simply didn’t question this, either because we were doing fine or because we were too dependent on things as they were or because we were afraid.
I have friends who are now frightened. They are vulnerable, they know there are people in this country who fear and hate them, not for who they are but for what they seem to represent, and they see all that is happening as the opening stages of the collapse of an American version of the Weimar period. The next stage is naziism and they will be targeted.
This is now personal. True, it has always been, but there is no longer any excuse to pretend otherwise.
My reaction to this, to those who are cheering the recent rulings, those who would vote for that feckless opportunist again, those who think being an American is only being willing to step on or even kill those who aren’t like them, is—how dare you? How dare you shit on my country. How dare you pretend to be a patriot when the very principles you claim to revere are the very opposite of what you believe? How dare you presume to threaten my friends because you don’t like the way they talk, dress, eat, feel, love? How dare you hold yourselves to be an example of True American when all that seems to flow from your mouths is disrespect, violence, and hatred? How dare you base all your judgments of others on either the color of their skin, their choice of partners, their gender, or their bank account?
How dare you force your narrow conception of “appropriate” on everyone around you so you can feel comfortable?
In my opinion, what we are seeing and hearing from them is the death wail of a soon-to-disappear culture that has no valid place in our future. Regressives, not conservatives. I have rarely seen such a wrongheaded embrace of everything odious in our history or culture and such a rejection of a better world.
But before they’re gone, they can do a world of damage.
They are passing laws to make it illegal to talk about certain things. Take a minute. In the guise of “protecting the children” they are forcing restrictions on talking.
And if you don’t see what the big deal is, then you are a major part of the problem.
I beg you all, you who see this and wonder and are dismayed, do not let them prevail. You have the future to gain and a world to lose.