In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

The January insurrection shocked a nation. It didn’t shock prochoice advocates.

For outside observers, the attempt to overturn American democracy on 6 January might come as an eye-opening surprise. But for anyone who’s paid attention to the news or cracked open a newspaper, it was the natural conclusion to the decades-long mainstreaming of American extremism and its normalisation of both violent rhetoric and violent action. Its contempt for reality and basic facts is built on a bedrock of lies, conspiracy theories, and threats of terror against its political opponents.

But long before lies, conspiracies and terrorism came together in that very public January attempt to overturn a democratic election, American extremists honed their playbook for successful violence and politics through the anti-choice movement. Long before American extremists weaponised lies and alternative facts to delegitimise everything from vaccines to facemasks to election results, they devoted years to perfecting their strategies and terrorism through their anti-choice attacks on women’s rights.

I’m not talking about the fact that so many anti-choice leaders and convicted terrorists participated in the January insurrection. Everyone’s already heard the jokes about how anti-choice superstar Abby Johnson spoke at the Capitol insurrection, before later turning around and claiming it was organised by antifa once she realised the legal consequences. You likely wouldn’t be surprised if you knew convicted clinic bomber John Brockhoeft also participated in the insurrection, just months after shaking hands with anti-choice leaders in Ohio – the same leaders who claim their movement opposes violence. Let’s face it, picking on these idiots is low-hanging fruit.

Nor am I talking about the role of the anti-choice movement in providing the blueprint for radicalising half of America to oppose not just abortion but masks, medical experts, and democracy itself. Sure, we know that decades of demonising medicine and government alike laid the groundwork for American conservatives to believe the pandemic is a myth and masks are a socialist plot. From there, we saw the anti-choice playbook redeployed in service of radicalising Americans, through lies and conspiracy theories, to believe coastal elites are using vaccines and antifa to secretly declare war on white people, take away their guns, and steal an election.

But as we think back to the armed militias and white supremacists who stormed the Capitol, waving Confederate flags that 400,000 Union soldiers gave their lives to keep out of Washington for 160 years, one may believe the anti-choice movement’s playbook of radicalisation and terrorism gave birth to the racist militias that stormed the Capitol.

That is not correct. Racist militias were the ones that gave birth to the modern anti-choice movement. The movement did not recruit militias to turn its violent rhetoric into violent action. Militias birthed the modern anti-choice movement through their paranoia that Jews and immigrants would soon supplant America’s white Christian identity.

In the 1980s, white extremists like the KKK began developing wanted posters for abortion providers, publicising their personal details and encouraging their assassination. The anti-choice movement quickly adopted and popularised this tactic. As multiple abortion providers died as a result, militias like the White Aryan Resistance organised rallies in support of the killers, claiming such killings “protected Aryan women and children”. When Operation Rescue popularised the use of protests to threaten and intimidate patients and providers alike, it recruited enthusiastic protesters from white nationalist groups like the American Front.

Perhaps today’s anti-choice movement knows that associating with the same violent militants that it claims to denounce is a bad look. If so, the movement hasn’t shown much evidence that it’s ashamed. Cheryl Sullenger was convicted in 1987 of attempting to bomb a clinic on the West Coast. She now serves as Operation Rescue’s senior vice president. Previously she served as senior policy analyst, where she provided information that assisted Scott Roeder in his assassination of Dr George Tiller. Most recently, anti-choice extremists like Derrick Evans have begun openly deploying the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia opposed to racial equality, to provide armed “protection” for anti-choice extremists.

The anti-choice movement has devoted half a century to perfecting its playbook for radicalising violent rhetoric into radical violence. Because most of its victims have been marginalised women and the medical professionals trying to help them, society has been able to ignore the anti-choice movement’s escalation from attacking women to defying democracy itself. Police and even presidents sneered at the concerns of prochoice advocates who warned that far-right radicals were fuelling anti-choice terrorism and anti-government militias alike. In January, we saw how our failure to acknowledge those canaries in the coal mine led to an attempt by armed white supremacists to overthrow our democracy.

On 20 January, Joe Biden became the first President to acknowledge white supremacy in his inaugural address, promising to tackle it with the full force of his federal government. But our fight against American extremism will outlast Joe’s presidency. The forces that literally overran our democracy have had half a century to mainstream themselves from the fringes into the White House itself. For prochoice advocates, their work has become more than fighting for reproductive rights. It is now about protecting our nation.

The Las Vegas shooting was a tragedy. That doesn’t mean mental illness is at fault.

In Las Vegas Sunday night, a gunman in the Mandalay Bay hotel used many, many automatic weapons to rain fire on fans at a country music festival, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500. We currently have absolutely no idea why. And while it’s natural to speculate and distance ourselves when we’re scared and confused, declaring it a mental health issue without evidence indicating that it’s so isn’t helpful to anyone and is actively harmful to people with mental illnesses.

Yes, this is America.

This isn’t how we want America to be. This doesn’t fit into the ideals we have for America. This isn’t how we see America when we squint at it like we’re looking at a Magic Eye painting whenever reality gets scary or disappointing. But it’s America.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

It seems appropriate, in that horrible way that sometimes things seem darkly appropriate, that it’s on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that Donald Trump signed an executive action limiting the flow of refugees into the U.S. It’s called “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” but like so many other duplicitously named bills, it’s less about protecting the country than keeping out Others, banning certain refugees, suspending the refugee program, more than halving the number of refugees who will be allowed into the country, and prioritizing Christian refugees over Muslims.

It’s horrible-appropriate because 80 years ago, those same policies, and those same actions, for those same reasons, turned away thousands of Jewish refugees who were left to die in the concentration camps of Nazi-occupied Europe.

The guilt that comes with having no sympathy

A lot of attention has been paid to the mystery of why, God, why, and how, and why again, any marginally intelligent person could support. How has a man who is completely unsuited, in character, temperament, knowledge base, intellect, and home training, to be the president of the United States make it as far as he’s made it? The obvious answer is that there are a lot more bigoted, closed-minded, hateful, ignorant people in the electorate than we’d originally thought possible. But we, as a society, don’t generally like to think of people that way — for all the whining about “PC culture,” we give a lot of passes to be people who absolutely don’t deserve them — and so we’ve sought out other options.

That’s where we’ve gotten “>so many articles profiling the “realTrump base — salt-of-the-earth, working-class white voters who are stumbling into a new world of multiculturalism, who are suffering from economic woes, and who just want some support for their very real problems. And yet, for all of that, I haven’t been able to escape the feeling that they need to cry themselves a river and canoe on home.

Super-angry guy shoots up Planned Parenthood for totally unknowable reason

On Friday, a man armed with a long gun and several propane tanks killed three people and injured nine more at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. The shooting guy said to police, “No more baby parts,” and made rambling, hostile comments about Planned Parenthood, which we can only assume are unrelated to the Planned Parenthood clinic he was shooting up. Indeed, we have absolutely no idea why he committed this horrific crime, and we may never know.

White men with guns

So, ludlow expressed some confusion over the intent of this post. Here’s the story:

The most embarrassing thing to me about it is that I used the wrong word. Should be “rein.”

The post was originally supposed to be a modest proposal to tag Christian white guys, with the phrase “a modest proposal” in it as a tip-off. But by the time I got done finding all the links I was actually too upset to actually maintain the requisite tone, and it spilled over into just feeling bitter and tired and powerless. So there you go. It’s somewhat facetious, but genuinely upset.

White cis Christian men with guns are simply too big a threat to the rest of us. They gun down black church-goers. They shoot up Planned Parenthood, injuring several cops (and still get taken alive, because apparently that’s not as big a threat as a 12-year-old black kid with a toy gun). They kill people for no discernible reason. When they have badges, and even when they don’t, they kill unarmed black men and women. They kill waitresses for asking them not to smoke. They kill random people because they can’t get laid. They shoot up their schools. They kill their own children and former wives. And then members of that group, that same group, white cis Christian men who are pro-gun, have the balls to publicly question the morality and motives of other people.

And I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of following these news stories. I’m tired of getting minute-by-minute news on Twitter. I’m tired of seeing innocent people turned into hashtags. But if white, Christian, pro-gun, cis men can go on TV and question the integrity of Syrian refugees and US Muslims on the basis of nothing rational whatsoever, if France feels justified using its state of emergency to police environmental groups, then I feel perfectly justified here in calling white Christian men with guns out as the menace they are. Because they exist at the perfect intersection of a number of self-satisfied, entitled, rage-filled streets, and they do these things and then their brethren have the nerve to call the rest of us irrational, emotional, dangerous, subhuman.

And somehow in movies and on TV, we still pretend they’re the good guys. It’s sickening. I’ve always been anti-gun. And I know some regular commenters on this site have always argued strongly for the importance of gun ownership. I’m beginning to think they’re right. Guns aren’t the problem. White cis Christian men having them is the problem.

Fair warning: I’m going to completely wipe any comment accusing me of reverse racism, misandry, cisphobia, or any such imaginary nonsense. I’m tired and angry. You don’t like this characterization? Then reign in the men who keep making the news.

Quick hit: Malala Yousafzai aced high school, naturally

Malala Yousafzai survived a gunshot to the head from the Taliban in retribution for her passionate activism about education for girls starting when she was just eleven. She started a nonprofit to promote and enable education for girls, including those threatened by the Taliban in her native Pakistan. She won a Nobel Prize at age 16. She’s spoken to the UN. She’s traveled the globe to speak with world leaders. She’s also declined to speak with world leaders when it would conflict with her high school class schedule, which is why her grades are better than yours.

Confederate battle flags are coming down — in some places

In the wake of last week’s shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, one theme has come up repeatedly: that white supremacist terrorist Dylann Roof often surrounded himself with the Confederate battle flag, that even the license plate on his getaway car had the emblem, and that as he murdered nine people, the flag flew in a place of honor next to South Carolina’s state house.