Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday Snacks for Thought: On Citizens United, Religious Fertility Wars and Some Fun

1.  Jane Mayer has written an excellent and important piece about the longer-term consequences of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision which gave every dollar the same political power.  Most of us could foresee what that might mean:  The very rich can now legally buy almost any administration they wish and create almost any laws they want.

And Mayer shows us, very carefully, how that led to Trump and the large number of white supremacists and possibly even a Nazi or two in his administration.  These shadowy super-billionaires Mayer writes about, using Mercer as her example, are the true deep "state" in the United States, our true overlords.

Granted, we still have voting for the hoi polloi, though it's more and more restricted for the black Americans every day.  But if you think of voting somewhat like picking a meal in a restaurant, remember that it's people like Mercer who wrote the menu, who decided what dishes should be on it.

2.  The religious-race wars.  When I first began writing this blog, eternities ago, I wrote a post about the way I felt as if I was between two fronts in these religious-race wars, how neither army thought that people like me should have many rights.

That seems to be true even today, though the ordinary voters who oppose that war are still many.  But consider the statements about Europe made by certain weirdos and weird dictators.  Libya's ex-dictator Gadaffi said this in 2006:

We have 50 million Muslims in Europe. There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe—without swords, without guns, without conquest—will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.

Note the war-like language.  Then, this year, we all heard about the Republican representative from Iowa, Steve King, agreeing with Holland's Geert Wilders on the importance of doing something about Muslim immigration to Europe:

“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” the Iowa representative wrote, linking to another tweet in praise of Wilders, who has espoused anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, and last month called Moroccans “scum”. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” King wrote.
The Iowa Republican has aligned himself with the European far right before. He met the French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen with fellow a Republican congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, last month in Paris. In September, he posted a photo of himself with Wilders and wrote: “Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.”

And now the dictator of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, has hinted at some agreement with Gaddaffi's statement:

Calling Turks the “future of Europe,” Turkey’s president on Friday implored his compatriots living on the Continent to have multiple children as an act of revenge against the West’s “injustices.”
“Go live in better neighborhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday in the city of Eskisehir, while campaigning for a referendum that would solidify his power. “Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you.”

Note the language in all of those quotes.  It's war-like, angry, about a battle that will take place in women's wombs.  It's not about living side by side, in peace.

I want to make two points about the fertility wars with that religious undertone:

First, it's easy for secularists, progressives and feminists to underestimate the importance of fundamentalist and literalist religion for many, and, in particular,  to underestimate the impact of the extremely gender-oppressive parts of religions.

This underestimation seems to then result in the odd assumption that religious people, deep inside, are truly like secular progressives, with beliefs in gender equality or in the rights of sexual minorities, or that at least they are relatively accepting of modern human rights concepts.  I have not found this to be true on my tours of analyzing fundamentalist Christian or Muslim websites or their comments sections.

It's equally easy for those groups not to understand that the crusades which took place a very long time are still very much about the history of wounded-masculinity in many Middle Eastern countries, just as the equally ancient Ottoman invasions of Europe are still spoken about on the European right-wing political sites.

All that is battle talk, largely based on emotions which cannot be directly affected by logical reasoning about the truly shocking outcomes of any wider war today, especially one which would engage countries with nuclear weapons.

So the idea of fertility wars serves as a good substitute.

But, second, the basic problem in fertility wars for women is that women's bodies are the very weapons in those wars, and it is extremely important that the power to use those weapons does not belong to the women themselves, but to  the patriarchs who govern the religions or dictatorial countries.

Thus, neither Recep Erdogan nor Steve King wants women to have any rights to abortion, and I believe that neither really wants women to have jobs outside the home or any kind of general decision-making power.  That would be as if guns walked away from the arsenal, got in their cars and drove home to watch Torchwood.

If I could rewrite my 2003 or 2004 post now, I would add a third front to the battles, and that would be the human rights front.  Which, right now, doesn't seem to be winning.  We must fix that, for the sake of the future.

3.  This is an interesting angle to the white working-class voter choices in the 2016 elections.  Its message is not new, but it places the perceived loss of white male status in a slightly different framework, pointing out that the white opposition to various forms of the welfare state began to rise at roughly the same time when minorities and white women began to get greater access to those benefits.

When I read that article I thought of the history of Social Security.  The program was initially created in a way which excluded most employed women and/or minorities from old age pensions and unemployment insurance:

Most women and minorities were excluded from the benefits of unemployment insurance and old age pensions.[9] Job categories that were not covered by the act included workers in agricultural labor, domestic service, government employees, and many teachers, nurses, hospital employees, librarians, and social workers.[10] The act also denied coverage to individuals who worked intermittently.[11] These jobs were dominated by women and minorities. For example, women made up 90 percent of domestic labor in 1940 and two-thirds of all employed black women were in domestic service.[12] Exclusions exempted nearly half of the working population.[11] Nearly two-thirds of all African Americans in the labor force, 70 to 80 percent in some areas in the South, and just over half of all women employed were not covered by Social Security.[13][14] At the time, the NAACP protested the Social Security Act, describing it as “a sieve with holes just big enough for the majority of Negroes to fall through.”[14]
It would be interesting to know if opposition to that program was created by its expansion to those previously uncovered groups.

4.  Finally, some fun.  This singing is incredible.  A papa cat caring for kittens.

And we here that Rex Tillerson is tired.  Tired, I say, because being the secretary of state is such hard work:

I have added that exchange because it tells us something about generalizations:  One of the very first female secretaries of state could not have cut one of her very first foreign visits short by blaming fatigue.  That would reflect on all women, because of the sexual stereotype that women are weaker than men.  But Tillerson can use the excuse, as it doesn't link to similar stereotyping.

By the way, start looking for group generalizations.  They have truly become fashionable.  I see them everywhere.  Whether it's a good thing that now "our side" uses them as often as the sexists and racists is an important question.

P.S.  Please answer my question in the previous post if you have the time.