On Remembering Who Is The Enemy
One of the most challenging things about being an advocate for a specific group of oppressed people is the task of remembering who — and what — the enemy is.
This is followed, rather consistently, by a strong difficulty in adapting to changes.
Seems counter intuitive, I know, but there it is.
One off the best ways to express this is the understanding that if any argument you present only has two options, you are fucking up.
Example of this: “You are either with us, or you are against us.”
That kind of thinking is, factually, conservative, and so antithetical to progressive efforts (which all human rights efforts are).
The more accurate statement is “You can be with us, beside us, outside the fight, or against us.”
Note that there are four options there. Now, the standard response to this is that to do nothing is to let evil prevail, and this is true. However, it is still a position people can take, and, in terms of human rights, the best we can do is argue that they really need to get off their damn fool asses since they are going to suffer regardless of the outcome (this is evil, after all).
But understand something about all the different groups fighting for human rights. First off, they often think of themselves as “civil rights” and “social justice” advocates, and usually for a specific group.
Black Civil Rights, Trans Rights, Feminists/Women’s rights, Disability Rights, Religious Liberty Rights, etc. The variations are as broad and as varied as the different kinds of people being deprived of their human rights.
In the world of “civil rights” and “social justice”, we speak about Allies, a lot. A whole lot. Allies are those people who are not part of the group we are advocating for — and they often lack knowledge and skill in the particulars of the other groups’ oppression.
For example, white folks tend to not really get the struggle of Black, Latinx, or Asian people. Straight folks don’t really get the ways in which gay and bisexual people are oppressed. Cis people have as hard a time with trans folk as able bodied folks do with those who deal with disability.
The phrase we use to describe the fact that all of them are struggling for Human Rights is “intersectional”, meaning that all of these forms of oppression rely on and are interconnected with each other, as well as the fact the all operate in the same basic manner.
When a person is liminal in their existence, such as myself, they dwell in a space where they often have a greater ability to see these intersections in action, see how they play out and how the Structure functions to reduce Agency and how it uses the oppressed as Agents of their own oppression.
One of the best ways that Structure achieves that is through the division of these issues — the separation into silos that tend to be bubbled around their own specific issues and that are in turn, buffered and reinforced by the way others are doing the same thing.
This is especially prevalent in areas where the effort crosses the Whiteness or Patriarchy Lines. That is, where white folks are involved. In those cases, things often become deeply divided among other lines — racial being the most obvious, but also misogynistic stuff.
The short version of all of that is to say that even though we know and understand that all these forms of oppression exist and operate in the same general way, we become focused on the distinctions and so do the work of Structure — the oppressive forces themselves — for the oppressive forces by separating into our little clusters of “hey, we are being treated like shit”.
This isn’t a new argument, of course, as I’m not saying this in any sort of “hey, maybe” or theoretical way — this is a known fact and truth, and it just gets lost in the messaging and the effort and we forget to teach it to the next generation a great deal.
What happens, though, is that we run into the issue of forgetting that Allies are not our friends. We tend to expect Allies to not screw up, to put us first, to do the right thing and always be good at it.
Except that if they did that, we’d call them Friends, and not Allies.
Allies are the ones that are “Beside us.”
And this is important. In the recent Women’s March, we saw a lot of people pointing out that 53% of White Women voted for the orange fuckup. This is a true statement, and if that offends white people who are Allies to people of color, then they are not looking towards the truth to guide them, and they aren’t focused on the issue of Human rights.
At the same time, there were a lot of Trans folks who were upset about the protest signs and such that depicted the issue of women’s rights as linked to parts of their bodies — parts which do not necessarily go well with Trans people’s lives. This means that it is factually incorrect to say that women’s rights has anything to do with a woman’s uterus. Because not all women have a uterus, and some men do. But that, in turn, doesn’t change the fact that the chief, specific way in which cis women’s rights are violated is through the social ownership of that uterus. This is akin to the social ownership of Trans people’s genitals, which is why it rankles at times, but one would expect that we wouldn’t be shitting all over each other around that particular issue.
There is more — native Americans were mostly shut out from the March, and encountered a great deal of prejudice. The efforts were not particularly well suited to those with disabilities (there wasn’t a lot of thought given to sign interpretation for example, or to the needs of the visually impaired).
I could go on — but the point here is that these are failures of intersectionality, on the part of all the different groups within the effort, and yet…
The Women’s March was the single largest protest in Human History, and involved seven continents, and, in a massive evidentiary corollary to my consistent insistence that “we” outnumber “them” by 3 to 1, in numbers in DC alone that swamped and overwhelmed the numbers of people attending the previous days inauguration of a fascist fuck.
That march, then, is just as unprecedented as the election of said orange asswipe, and for good reason: he is an active, willful, intentional White Supremacist and an unrepentant misogynist, transphobe, and homophobe with little empathy or consideration for those who are disabled.
Some will argue that he is not homophobic or transphobic, and yet, this man’s history and actions effectively prove that the only thing that makes him back down from those positions is money — which does not mitigate his still present misanthropy.
This being an unprecedented election, then, with an unprecedented threat, requires us to engage in unprecedented action ourselves.
Chief of which is we have to remember who the Enemy is.
Harsh word, that — Enemy. noun, plural enemies. 1. a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.
Fitting word, though. An Enemy is someone who is inimical towards you, not someone who is amiable (all important in terms of their being derived from the same source).
We cannot say that about those who stand aside, nor can we say that about those who stand beside. The Ally and the Uninvolved are not our enemies. The latter may give no resistance and through their inaction and apathy generate defacto support, but they are still not the enemy.
Only about 20% of the population really and truly supports this horror show. The rest are fair weather friends who will shift with the tide if we who are progressive and radical can give compelling emotional arguments that appeal to self centeredness.
We can get back to bitching about how Allies are not freinds after we take out the threat to all of us, to everyone, to the world as a whole.
Because make no mistake, that is what is going on. He is an isolationist in an era of globalization, an upper 1% member who has installed more of the 750 people who control 90% of all the money in the world, who has threatened to destroy the very systems and tools by which human rights have been advanced over the last sixty years.
Yet he, really, only personifies what our enemy is. Our enemy is the Structure around him, the 150 year old pledge to oppose progress that is, ultimately, derived from the same ancient people who fought against the very idea of freedom for Black people.
Really. Not kidding in even the slightest. We call winning them over “the Southern Strategy”. They have been called Dixiecrats, and these are the cultural and spiritual heirs of the Confederacy, from Women’s rights to LGBT rights to Civil Rights to the very notion of progress.
This was the collective win on the part of the Religious Right, the xenophobic White Supremacists, the “Small government, fiscal conservative” shitheads who operate out of ignorance and gullible insecurity because they do not understand what human rights are and why they are so damned important — if they did, they would realize that you cannot have that as a focus without causing harm to Human Rights.
This was gamergate misogynists and anti-feminist “meninists”. All of them fringe movements coalesced into a sick and twisted distortion of social justice, who’s language they have stolen and corrupted.
“Alt-Right” they call themselves, and they are the Radical Extremists of the US — little different from the muslim extremists they condemn so virulently and without nuance of thought.
There are no more moderate Republicans. Even Senator Susan Collins now has to bow to the will of these horrific people. People who once called themselves “Culture Warriors” in the way they now call us “Social Justice Warriors” but with far less rancor.
They are, overwhemingly, white, male, cis, heterosexual, christian, able-bodied, eurocentric, conservative, war mongering, imperialistic, colonizing fucks without morality, lacking ethics, and greedy beyond all reasonable measures.
Less than 20% of their total differs from that basic outline.
This is what we are dealing with.
So put down your “feel the Bern”, your “Stein it”, your faux-libertarian foolishness, your white privilege and fragility, your instant umbrage at the inevitable mistakes that Allies make, and focus on what matters here:
We have to win back the government of the US. We will have exactly two shots at it. After that, we will not get another chance for a decade.
The 2018 elections are unimaginably important. Way, way, waaaaaaaaaaay more important than the 202 one, right now. We need to take back our States — because in case you didn’t notice, the fascists have those, too.
We need to make sure that not one race for anything in the next two years goes unchallenged — not one. We need to be able to be Trans people who will risk their livelihoods for a cis woman and white folks who understand that pushing a black woman into a position of leadership is incredibly important because People of Color understand this kind of fight and this kind of social trauma far better than any white person *ever* will.
We need to fight for human rights as the basis of all laws, and to make Justice the focus of our fight. For everyone — even the 20% of fascist crapturds out there.
If we do that, we will win. If we focus on the politics of money, we will lose.
Why is 2018 so important?
Because it is easier to keep hold of a spot than it is to claim it in the first place. And because in 2020, a census will happen, and that will determine the redistricting for the next decade. Redistricting which will be much less restrictive because Regressive party stalwarts will dismantle all the gerrymandering laws they can. Meaning if we control Congress and State Legislatures in two years, we have the chance to draw those maps ourselves.
Which we need to do, because then, we will be able to defend our nation from shit like this happening, and when we win in 2020, we can carry that power forward for a decade, and have a new resurgence of Progressive ideals, and set up laws and pass amendments to end the Electoral College and improve Liberty and Freedom and Justice for all.
This we can do if just a few million of us spend 20 hours a month on this goal.
And in doing so, we can ensure that future generations can live in a nation of Freedoms, and one that leads the world.
Provided, of course, this asshole doesn’t wall us off from it first.