Trying to listen to conservatives

I don’t, often. That’s because conservative/right wing/Republican thought has been, in my lifetime, so filled with hypocrisy and religiosity and virulent racism, that I just figured – okay, no point in making an attempt to understand where they’re coming from.

But ya know, while my life experience confirms my reasons for disdain for this kind of thinking, which so often seems but a thin mask for white supremacy, I had a minute, so decided to do some listening.

First up: this podcast episode from the excellent show ‘Our Body Politic’ produced by Farai Chaideya

Listening to the guest, Ms. Cabrera, describe her background and why she clings to Republican politics, was surreal. It’s like there’s an empty space where human empathy should be. It’s like she floated, content, on the surface of right-wing thought, and couldn’t even crack open the door to admit that other people might see it differently. She started out liking Reagan. And right there, that requires a blindness to the racist, plastic figurehead he really was. The fact that it was Black people and gay people and others who weren’t of her tribe who suffered at his hands was irrelevant. I have to hand it to Ms. Chideya: she did push back gently, but mostly she let Ms. Cabrera incriminate herself.

Then, I picked up on this 538 interview:

Where does the Republican Party go from here?

I’m not normally a big 538 fan because of their lack of Black voices. Ms. Chideya talks about working at 538 here and it’s certainly not a place I’d invest my time:

But I’ll use 538 as a resource when there’s something worth considering. Listening to ‘Where does the Republican Party go from here?’ reinforced my sense that there is an innate callousness in right-wing thought. Henry Olsen clearly prides himself on being a data guy, yet at the same time, he promulgates the big lie that poor misunderstood right-wingers feel that their religion, for example, is not respected enough. What America does that guy live in? You can’t get away from the Christian religion in America. It pervades supposedly secular life like perpetually enraged kudzu.

At least Pres. Biden, in his approach to religion, has the self-awareness and grace to say that he doesn’t speak for others, but prayer works for him. I can respect that. But I don’t respect the constant hum of faux victimized right-wingers, whinging about the fact that everyone isn’t them, and enraged that they need to share a country with people who don’t think religion is important. I have so little respect for their complaining: tt’s performative nonsense that sometimes turns lethal.

So, that was my attempt to listen to ‘the other side’ – not the raving lunatic right (no time to waste on them), but the ones who can speak in reasonable tones so that you can actually hear the message and judge for yourself. The US is in whitelash trouble, and mainstream white Americans need to wake up and take their local racists out of power, besides voting Democratic up and down the ticket. The ugliness will not go away on its own, because it’s been ignored for too long. Now, the racism, sexism and general allergy to the truth has to be exposed, and taken out of power. Everywhere.

And I’m not the only one who gets it:

This Black man made himself bait.

This is the story that has made me erupt in tears and rage and sorrow and just about all the gigantic, unwieldy, jagged feels that come with being a Black American.

A Black officer faced down a mostly White mob at the Capitol. Meet Eugene Goodman. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/goodman-capitol-police-video/2021/01/13/08ab3eb6-546b-11eb-a931-5b162d0d033d_story.html

Bait. For racists who had decided, egged on by their horrific leader, to attack the government. I remain horrified. Enraged. And then when I see that this officer is ambivalent about the attention because the threat of white racist retaliation is so real, that brings me further down the rabbit hole. Because this is not a first. Racists who were stupidly angry about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reasonable response to a global pandemic where planning to kill her, to make her an example. To make Democrats of all kinds live in fear. And on back into the history of white terrorism in America, from the founders on.

There’s no coming back from this. There’s no unity with people who have the impulse to kill as their first resort. There’s no false equivalency with Black Lives Matter that anyone with good will believes. These wretched right wingers keep trying to turn the zeitgeist of public opinion to their side. They truly believe they are the majority, in one part of their brain, and yet they won’t stop whining about being overmatched by what they see as ‘leftist’ culture. In fact, they are trying to take over a culture that is rejecting them, and it is driving them mad. Again.

You have religious people overstepping their boundaries on everything from my right to do with my body what I will, and your right to stay out of it, to insisting that schools need to inculcate religion into the mix. Never mind people like me, who see religion as the tool Black people needed at first because it was the only place white people allowed us to control our lives, and now many of us have caught a habit. I’m not a fan of that tool now, and you only have to open your eyes to the hypocrisy of religious word and deed to at least question it. But I’m not an angry atheist; I generally don’t give a darn what you do, although the constant declarations of religion on social media (the public square) are a tiny bit irritating. Y’all do you.

But the right wing religious apologia is a bridge way too far. It’s a flimsy shield for overwhelmingly putrid behavior. And that, in fact is what is most important. If you hate me because of my dark brown skin, that’s in your mind. It’s stupid, and evolution will probably leave you behind, but that’s your problem.

It’s when actions, behaviors, deeds are rooted in racism that the line must be drawn.

It’s a line white America hates drawing, because that’s your auntie and your grandfather, and your boss’s boss, and maybe even you. But that is where the line is, whether you like it or not. And I know and love a good group of white Americans who live with the knowledge of, respect for, and actions dictated by that line. Some grew up in explicitly racist families. Don’t tell me it can’t be done.

Everybody in America grows up in a racist culture. It hits Black Americans differently: some few take on the self-hate, many try to be aware and fight it. But we don’t have the systemic power to make racist actions stick: only white people have that.

I know I need an objective to this rant, so my objective is: please check the line. Do you think it’s okay that this Black officer needs to be afraid of white supremacist backlash. Are the folks who are white backlashing living in your neighborhood? What power has your neglect of this truth given them? How do you join with folks like you to take them out of power? I mean down to the school janitor.

Anyway, in the midst of my rant, I saw this John Amaechi video about white privilege that may make it easier to understand. So I’ll end with something gentle, and go have a big glass of Tansan.

Watching the Senate trial of former Pres Trump with a lump in my throat

Just like 9/11, I find myself in Tokyo watching the results of hatred befall my deeply dopey country. On 1/6, I watched in horror and absolutely no surprise, as white supremacists, urged and arranged by trump and his group of racists, entered the capital, killed people, and looked for more people to hurt.

No surprise at all. I wish I didn’t have to say that. But, as a Black American with even a cursory knowledge of history, America seems to always be ready to prove that violence, for many people, is the first resort. But then, I read (paraphrasing) ‘well, these people were brainwashed. if you thought the election was being stolen, wouldn’t you have resorted to violence? They didn’t think they had any choice and they saw no reason to doubt that the election was stolen. After all that verdict came from the president.”

Then there’s the usual insistence on false equivalency as if any event (usually police or inflitrator-driven!) at Black Lives Matter marches is equal somehow to the terrorism of white supremacy on 1/6, when of course, these events are not equal in any way. Black people and many in the coalition marching for equity in this country is a cause that ought to be common amongst Americans. Athough it seems to have dissipated.

So, I’m reading Julian Shapiro on writing (https://www.julian.com/guide/write/first-draft). He, very reasonably, suggests that my pieces need to have an objective. Well, my objective here is to point you to a tweet that fairly succinctly lays out how Republicans have damaged the country:

And, as the start of an antidote, here’s a heads up about a presentation by Mike Monteiro:

I got up at 5am to watch the first presentation. It was very honest, and deeply felt. Mike’s a Bernie guy, which usually raises my hackles immediately, as I’m one of the supposed ‘low info voters’ who had so much unnecessary strife with many of those folks. But, I do have a few that I still respect and learn from, and when it comes to design, and being open about white supremacy, he’s moving towards being a good egg.

So there. My objective is to get you two to read two tweets, reflect, and maybe join me on the next actually multicultural iteration of Mike’s talk.

One point I took from the presentation this morning: discomfort is inevitable when it comes to dismantling white supremacy. But discomfort isn’t the point – it’s the price paid to get somewhere so much better!

Truth aka quit messing around with your American citizenship

Black people and Native people have told mainstream white Americans that racism would be America’s undoing. You didn’t listen because you were comfortable. That impulse to ignore is human.

We didn’t have that luxury.

How many Black Americans or Native Americans are your neighbors? Your beloved elders? If none, why is that?

Liberals and pragmatic progressives have been telling you to watch out for the republican party for years. We built up receipts while right wingers like the Lincoln Project people ignored that truth. Media types are all in the ‘elite’ media club, so that means the liberal voices who’ve been right for decades don’t get heard.

Change that – find your local liberal voices and amplify the heck out of them.

Quit bashing the Democratic Party. We’re the real bulwark against this traitorous shit. Both-siderism is a conservative ploy, a permission structure for knee-jerk responses from media and citizens who aren’t paying attention. Pay attention!