It’s Still Not Safe to Read The Nation

by Falguni A. Sheth on November 11, 2012

Originally posted here.

I thought it was safe to read The Nation again, since election season is over. I was wrong.  I know. People tried to warn me–those who couldn’t bear to turn away from the luridness of liberalnews porn–that the insipid “now the real work begins” trope was gaining steam. So I resisted. For a day. And then, someone tweeted out that Katha Pollitt had a new column. That was it. I was sucked into the vortex.

Truth be told, I’m with Katha on this:

After all, if you can hold people solely responsible for their problems, you can ignore them, deprive them, even hate them.

LOVE it. Katha and me, finally two feminists on the same page. Multiracial solidarity at last. Yeppers. Maybe this Democratic victory thing isn’t going to be so bad after all. Y’know. We can hold Liberals’ feet to the fire together. Maybe warm up a bit of brandy to toast each other while we’re so close to that fire, holding feet up and all.

But wait. Right before she makes that awesome point, she says this:

The logical corollary of “You’re on your own” is “You’re your own damn fault.” Americans in general are keen on seeing social problems in terms of individual weakness—look at how we demonize fat people, as if the reason so many are overweight is just a lack of willpower. But that mindset is particularly part of the right-wing DNA.

She, my feminist ally of righteous liberal persuasion–points out that it was “rightwing DNA” that turned the “we’re all in this together” mindset into the “You’re-your-own-damn” fault mindset.

It’s true: the Romney/Ryan crowd does do that with that durn 47% who want handouts. And binders full of women. And rapey-guys like Richard Mourdoch and Todd Akin. The conservative white guys who don’t give a hoot about anyone else do that.  Sheesh.

Glad no one in the Democratic Party does that. You know, that thing, where victims get blamed. Because it would embarrassing and hypocritical—you know—if someone in the Democratic party, say, blamed Black men for being AWOL, or missing from the lives of their children, or were told to buck up and get a job. Right? And that would be, as Katha says, from rightwing DNA. Right.

Fast forward to 2:30 to get to the serious condemnations quickly.

“Too many fathers are AWOL.” “Too many fathers are missing from too many lives and too many homes.” Hm. I’m wondering if any of that has to do with a ramped up drug war, expanded and exploited under this Democratic Administration? 3 strikes laws? Racial profiling?

Again: 1 in 3 Black men can expect to go to prison. 1 in 9 Black men is in prison. Mortgage Foreclosures. Massive unemployment.

“You’re your own damn fault.” Rightwing DNA. Right.

The irresponsible fathers trope apparently is really popular among the Democratic Party folks. Remember Chief Advisor Robert Gibbs on how the murdered 16-year old kid of Al-Qaeda #2 Anwar Al-Aulaqi should have gotten a more responsible father? You don’t? Well, here it is. Starts at 2:00. Gibbs’ response at 2:40:

Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki should have gotten a “far more responsible father.” “You’re your own damn fault.” Rightwing DNA. Right.

How about another? Remember our buddy Bobby Gibbs? Dispenser of “more responsible father” wisdom? Remember his comment about “The Professional Left” and how crazy they are and ought to be drug tested? Here you go (couldn’t find the original clip, but I thought this analysis by Alyona on RT was on point).

The professional left. Reflecting the hopes for change of that part of the crowd that voted in dear POTUS in 2008. “You’re your own damn fault.” So…does that make the Democratic Party hypocritical? Or rightwing? You pick.

“We’re all in this together.” Really. The Dems and Feminists are in this together? Under the ACA act which gave us health insurance negotiated and mediated by the private, for-profit insurance companies, POTUS enshrined the Hyde Amendment in the ACA. Why didn’t feminists complain about the severe and legalized restricting funding for abortions back in March 2010?

As Matt Stoller, apparently a white privileged anti-feminist man, pointed out:

Obama is the president who insisted that women under 17 shouldn’t have access to Plan B birth control, overruling scientists at the FDA, because of his position ”as a father of two daughters.” Girls, he said, shouldn’t be able to buy these drugs next to “bubble gum and batteries.” Aside from the obvious sexism, he left out the possibility that young women who need Plan B had been raped by their fathers, which anyone who works in the field knows happens all too often.

I didn’t hear Katha, whose primary concern is reproductive rights—from which all other rights, including economic rights, apparently stem—complaining about this remarkably misogynist policy.  Maybe I missed it.

Pollitt asks:

Of all the divisions between the candidates in this election, perhaps the deepest was over whether, as President Obama put it, we are all in this together. Do we believe in solving our problems by sharing them… Or do we believe, with Mitt Romney, that each of us is on his or her—maybe especially her—own?

In which way can we interpret the Democratic platform as one in which “we are all in this together” when more than a thousand Muslim* men have been detained, incarcerated, pre-emptively arrested without evidence, placed in solitary confinement, extradited from UK when their “white” counterparts are allowed a free pass? How is the deportation of 1.4 million people from the US a victory for minorities?  How is the Democrat White  House-led separation of hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants from their US born children a sign of anything other than “you’re your own damn fault”?

I’m not a religious person, so I’ll skip the quotidien mantra about the ways in which the Democrats have eviscerated so many segments of the population, I’ll just link to my first response to Pollitt herself, Emily Hauser and a couple others on Safe StatesDemocratic Achievements, and Election Day victories.

Pollitt lists a number of social policies passed under the Democrats. And some of them are good (if they exist): progressive taxes, low-income grants, infrastructure, scientific research. But these policies are good for those who get to live. For those who do not have to live in fear of being beaten, tortured, jailed, bombed or droned to death.

Maybe at the end of the day, that is the difference between Pollitt and myself. I’m absolutely in favor of economic and social improvements that enhance the lives of those who struggle.  But in our society, where extra-constitutional murder and assassinations and solitary confinement and incarceration are literally everyday occurrences, life is a privilege. Not a right. A privilege. And I’m unwilling to accept that as a policy position from liberals or progressives or Democrats. Or Republicans. Except that the Republican’s political platform doesn’t fool liberals.

Try as I might, I’m fundamentally unable to appreciate those improvements by forgetting about the heinous ways by which we assault brown and black populations—in the US and internationally. And for liberals, ultimately, those two facets are constantly pitted against each other. Well, hey, but we can marginally lower our payroll taxes, yeah! And…well, yeah, the same party that helps the lives of SOME of the vulnerable…their Prez kinda kills people arbitrarily (or maybe not…but we’ll never know cause we can’t see the evidence). And, at the end of the day, not much help was meted out to the living as it was.

Here are some events that have occurred since Tuesday, when the great victory for Liberals occurred:

I understand that neither Pollitt nor her liberal or feminist pals give a good goddamn about foreign nationals, or black or brown men (or women who have a myriad of other issues as a result of heinous Democratic policies) in the US. That’s fine. But it’s the hypocrisy of it all that is so galling.

People who claim to be feminists should care about what happens to women—and men of color–in all of their dimensions—reproductive, social, physical and psychic. But the list of people who count as deserving, for liberals and feminists in the US, doesn’t include Muslim women–in the US or in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, whose lives and bodies and communities are torn apart because a Black Democratic President and his liberal Democratic cronies. It’s fine to be angry with the Republicans for being indifferent-but I’d much rather that the same critics be as honest about their own indifference.

That way I get to know exactly who my allies and adversaries are, and I don’t waste time wondering why if someone claims to be a “feminist,” they only seem to care about one dimension, applied to a small segment of a population—those who fit their image of who “deserving” women and men are.

Katha and I probably won’t be sharing that brandy after all.

****************************

*This number has been corrected from a previous version, which stated that “thousands of men are detained…” My previous reference was to Muslim and undocumented Latino men, who together would have numbered in the hundreds of thousands, but I’ve revised for clarity.

Update I: Several examples of Liberals holding Democrats’ Feet to the Fire:

1. Mother Jones has a photo retrospective that illustrates how much Barack Obama Loves Kids, Chairs, Fedoras, Pirates, and Nancy Reagan.

2. Here’s an article by Tom Junod about how much Barack Obama loved 16 year-old Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki. To paraphrase Mother Jones: Awwwwww. h/t/ @byroncopley57

3. Here is a link to a clip where POTUS sheds a tear. As Mother Jones tweeted:  “Obama tears up thanking young volunteers. Their accomplishments will be greater than his. Awwww.: bit.ly/S2inxP

4. Here is The Nation journalist Jeremy Scahill take on photogalleries andweeping.  Scahill is an accomplished national security reporter Middle East issues and war. Perhaps a sign of hope for The Nation. or Twitter.

 

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