Making the Political Personal

crunktastic asks a great question:

Can I feel safe in the softness of your touch if you don’t feel led to question a culture where other men routinely touch other women violently?

Its a great question, and one worth considering beyond gender politics as well.

ps – Note to crunktastic, throwing in a historically inaccurate cheap shot doesn’t bolster your arguments:

In addition to accompanying their men to the polls to monitor their votes, Black women banded together and encouraged each other to withhold sex from any man who voted against the community’s interests. These sisters knew how personal the political was long before white women said it.

Using sex to influence politics has been around as a tool for ages across world cultures.

UPDATE: I totally goofed the ps note due to utterly missing the historical reference!  Oops.  So please disregard the post script above.

Fear Leads to Violence

You don’t have to be Yoda to understand that fear leads to hate and ultimately to violence.  This post by Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon is worth reading in its entirety:

I do think there’s value in talking about the use of inciting language, like Sarah Palin is fond of doing, but I have to say that is probably less of a problem than paranoia. The violent rhetoric encourages people to see violence as a solution, but it’s the paranoia that gives them cause to get that wound up, or in the likely case of Loughner, to latch onto right wing paranoia as a delusion.

It isn’t the violent rhetoric, its the eliminationist rhetoric that is the main language side of the problem.  When the right talks about the left as traitors, scum, or in any way attacks their humanity – they are lowering the intrinsic ethical barriers to entry for violent actions against the left.  That is a huge part of the problem.

That said, Amanda (and Jon Stewart) are right on when they not the large place fear has in stimulating political violence.  Let’s get inside the head of a potential right wing terrorist:

You believe the President is a foreign national from Kenya bent on becoming America’s next hitler.  You think liberals are working to help him destroy the economy, establish death panels and concentration camps, and morally corrupt the nation by attacking Christianity and Christian laws.  You think liberals murder babies and have wet dreams about bringing stalin-style communism to the US.

How could those beliefs not lead to violence?

I think that is the interesting question out of all of this.

The Attack on Giffords Was NOT Senseless

To be clear, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her staff was not senseless* nor unspeakable. We MUST speak about it. It was not meaningless. It was the act of yet another crazed and violent far right conservative – and targeted a conservative Democrat.  That is the political atmosphere we live in, and if we are going to stop this violence we need to see it as it truly is – political violence aimed at repressing anyone to the left of Sarah Palin and Rand Paul.

The gunman has been identified as coward Jared Laughner.  His youtube channel favorites one video: America: Your Last Memory in a Terrorist Country – in which a flag is burned to “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor”.  His potential Facebook page indicates an interest in Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.  In addition to staff and the Congresswoman, he shot others who were at the scene, including a young child who died from the wounds.

UPDATE: The Facebook page appears to be a fake.

Via American Politics Journal, it looks like Gifford’s opponent Jesse Kelly held an event to learn to shoot a fully automatic M16 and Remove Gabrielle Giffords.

This is the face of the Tea Party and the Extreme Right Wing politics of the modern Republican Party.  This is what we face as we approach 2012.

Continue reading

Today in Stupid Hate Crimes…

Two homophobes were charged with assaulting a gay man… in a gay bar:

Two men have been charged with a hate crime after an attack on a gay man in the bathroom of a historic gay bar in downtown Manhattan early Sunday morning

Could this be as depressingly stupid as we are thinking?

The 34-year old victim, whose name is not being released, was at a urinal inside the Stonewall Inn when one of the defendants allegedly asked him if he was gay, according a news release from the district attorney’s office.

When the victim responded yes, Matthew Francis, 21, allegedly yelled, “Get away from me f—-t. I don’t like gay people.”

How stupid do you have to be to experience surprise at finding a gay guy in a men’s room at a gay bar?  Not that homophobic assholes have been known for their brilliance, but this just sets a new standard.

When Religious Insanity Maims and Kills Children

Religion – throughout history – has on occasion stoked the fires of ignorance, hate, and violence.  The attacks on witchcraft – often a cover for overt misogyny or the elimination of competing religions – are a particularly brazen example.  Witch hunts continue to this day in NigeriaSpecifically targeting children (nytimes – may prompt you for registration – if so visit bugmenot.com):

Those disturbed by the needless immiseration of innocent children should beware. “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” follows Gary Foxcroft, founder of the charity Stepping Stones Nigeria, as he travels the rural state of Akwa Ibom, rescuing children abused during horrific “exorcisms” — splashed with acid, buried alive, dipped in fire — or abandoned roadside, cast out of their villages because some itinerant preacher called them possessed.

some have read her book “Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft,” where she confidently writes that “if a child under the age of 2 screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.”

in her sermons, Ms. Ukpabio is emphatic that children can be possessed, and that with her God-given “powers of discernment,” she can spot such a child. Belief in possession is especially common among Pentecostals in Nigeria, where it reinforces native traditions that spirits are real and intervene in human affairs.

Since “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” was first shown in Britain, in 2008, Mr. Itauma’s home state has adopted a law against accusing children of witchcraft. But Ms. Ukpabio went on the offensive by suing the state government, Mr. Foxcroft, Mr. Itauma and Leo Igwe, a Nigerian antisuperstition activist.

In the lawsuit, Ms. Ukpabio alleges that the state law infringes on her freedom of religion. She seeks 2 billion naira (about $13 million) in damages, as well as “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents” from interfering with or otherwise denouncing her church’s “right to practice their religion and the Christian religious belief in the existence of God, Jesus Christ, Satan, sin, witchcraft, heaven and hellfire.”

In other words, in the name of religious freedom, Ms. Ukpabio seeks a gag order on anyone who disagrees with her.

This is Christianity at its very worst.  The strategies employed by Ms. Ukpabio mirror those we see in the US from conservative Christians – claim persecution and vigorously defend their “right” to persecute and vilify others – often with violent results.

In general one wants to say people have a right to preach and spread ignorance.  One’s will to defend this right begins to erode when that ignorance clearly leads to violence.  What is absolutely clear is that we do have a right to criticize that ignorance and do our best to counter it.  That means everything from explaining the difference between autism and witchcraft to tackling a belief system that was founded on bronze age fears of the unknown – and fears of competing belief systems.

Religious Conservative Incestual Rape Apologists

Sharron Angle is making public a textbook psychotic position on the horrible matter of incestual rape that leads to a pregnancy.  Digby Reports:

Sharron Angle has a plan for girls who are raped by their fathers and get pregnant. Force the little girl to have a child and then adopt both of them out to a new family!

Angle: I think that two wrongs don’t make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. Well one girl in particular moved in with the adoptive parents of her child, and they both were adopted. Both of them grew up, one graduated from high school, the other had parents that loved her and she also graduated from high school. And I’ll tell you the little girl who was born from that very poor situation came to me when she was 13 and said ‘I know what you did thank you for saving my life.’ So it is meaningful to me to err on the side of life.

No word on what happened to the incest victim, but that’s really not something anyone should waste much time worrying about.

And anyway it just shows that God provides many good alternatives to abortion for for young girls who are raped by their fathers — perhaps we could just bend the rules a little bit and the little girl could marry her daddy so they could make a new family all their own.

That she leaves out the rape victim – aka the baby carrier (you know, the non-woman as per fellow Republican Christianist David Vitter) – is telling.  Nuts like these really don’t give a shit about mothers.  They aren’t anti-choice, they are anti-mother.  And God help you if you become a mother against your will, or if becoming a mother poses serious health risks.  Because they sure as hell won’t.  At that point you cease to be a woman, cease to be a rape victim, and become an incubator.

Let’s put the positions of these religious nuts who advocate forcing raped girls to bear their father’s children into context.  Consider the biblical story of Lot and his daughters.  He offered them up to be raped by strangers, and later had offspring with them.  Is this what religious conservative mean when they suggest using the Bible as a basis for law in our country?

What Police Murder Says About Us

The Police Officer who murdered an innocent man on San Francisco’s public transit system gets a lenient verdict – essentially concluding that the fear of black people is legally defensible.  As Digby notes:

He was just trying to teach the little bastard a lesson by swearing at him and then shooting him full of electricity while he was already on the ground. People have to learn to obey transit police officers unquestioningly and when they curse you out and threaten you out of the blue you have an obligation as a citizen to take whatever they mete out — including death if they accidentally pick up their torture device instead of their killing device. Shit happens.

Its not enough that we live in a police state.  We live in a racist, sadistic police state.  What does that say about us as a country?