Friday, November 11, 2016

Thoughts of fleeing

Wednesday morning I wrote:
I’m not moving to Winnipeg any time soon for a simple reason. I have responsibilities here in Michigan.
My sister’s wife called me out. If I didn’t have those responsibilities, would I move? So I’ll explore that question.

Towards the end of the Bush II years I thought about moving out of the country. Canada was obvious. Melbourne and someplace in New Zealand sounded good. I wasn’t to the point of actually exploring what would be involved and certainly not house hunting or packing. (There was once when I used the internet to check house prices in Nanaimo, BC, a ferry ride from Vancouver, but that was more about an interesting place to retire – that was about the time I retired from the auto industry – not a thought of fleeing.)

In my thinking I imagined scenarios in which I had to leave stealthily, having drained all of my various savings accounts, used the money to buy diamonds because currency couldn't be taken across the border, and only when I’m safely across do I mail my house key to family members with a note explaining what I had done, that I won’t be able to come back, and would you be so kind as to put the house up for sale.

I can’t say I had read lots of stories about escapes from East Germany or the Soviet Union, but the influence and plot line were there.

So, yeah, I’ve thought about it. I’ve even talked a time or two with my friend and debate partner – we’d buy houses on the same street and wondered whether life would be better in Toronto or Montreal. Whatever city it would have to be one with a great orchestra – which most major Canadian cities have.

But things didn’t become bad enough for me to consider it seriously, to actually do it. Then Obama came along and things have been looking pretty good.

My sister-in-law’s question becomes: Is it bad enough now? The answer is no, or not yet.

I mentioned yesterday that pundits of all types are sifting through the tea leaves to pontificate on What It Means. I now turn to Aphra Behn of Shakesville and her answer, which is to the point and directed at (straight) white male pundits. If your analysis doesn’t feature racism and misogyny it is wrong.

The nasty guy was endorsed by the KKK. A favorite slogan of his supporters was “Trump that Bitch!” Since Obama became president hate groups have proliferated. They have been loud supporters where at rallies crowds roared their approval of breaking up immigrant families, oppressing Muslims, and “doing something” about black neighborhoods. The political effect of this is not zero.

No, Bernie Sanders would not have done better. The nasty guy’s anti-Semitic rants were as strong as his anti-Muslim rants. No, Hillary wasn’t a “weak” candidate. She trounced him in three debates and had the stamina for non-stop campaigning. And compare her credentials – lawyer-advocate, First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State – with his – alleged business success. Every woman who has been passed over for a less qualified man knows exactly what that’s about.

As for low minority turnout you had better be denouncing the racism behind the voter suppression efforts that played a major part in Wisconsin and which Republicans bragged about in North Carolina.

What about a world where women are able to brush off serial abuse and vote for the nasty guy? Why aren’t white women alarmed about that? Why aren’t white men?

A majority of white voters voted for a guy who mocked and attacked the disabled, who threatened religious minorities, who wants to undo same-sex marriage. A majority of white voters voted for hating the Other.

Need more? Let’s put the nasty guy’s policies into context.
You simply cannot wrench away their hatred for NAFTA from their racist claims that undocumented immigrants are taking away their rightful jobs. You cannot take their anti-abortion obsession away from the misogynistic version of Christianity that fuels it. The voters who voted against Hillary Clinton because she “kills babies” are more concerned with controlling women than in addressing the reasons that women seek out abortions. That’s misogyny. That’s the context.
Behn concludes:
Trump was elected in a wave of backlash against progress of many sorts, against the reality that white able-bodied straight male Christian privilege is no longer a guarantee of power and preference in the United States. This is not incidental; it is fundamental. Those who analyze this election as if it existed outside of patriarchal white supremacy, that it all comes down to deracinated economics or ungendered media coverage, or whatever, are a danger. They are enabling the very things they ignore.

To fix a problem we must first understand it.

Listen to us. Learn from us. And then, let’s attack the hate together.

Mark Sumner of Daily Kos takes on the idea that people voted for the nasty guy in spite of his repeated bigoted views against everyone who isn’t a male white Anglo-Saxon Protestant (been a while since I’ve heard that term). Nope. People voted for him because of his racism. How is it the most unfit candidate won the White House? Racism and misogyny. And that whole “Make America Great Again” thing – it isn’t about uplifting those who voted for him. It’s about providing those voters with someone to look down on – something useful when GOP policies make their economic situation worse.

Sumner concluded by quoting Ijeoma Oluo of The Stranger:
We have elected violent white supremacist patriarchy into office because the vast majority of white American voters chose to elect violent white supremacist patriarchy into office.

The nasty guy said today he wants to be everyone’s president, for all of us to come together. Nice try, buddy. But no. If you want be the president of everyone you have to act like it (which, we see above, will seriously annoy your base).

Want to be everyone’s president? Then don’t do things like this:

Ken Blackwell was brought onto the transition team to head domestic policy. Blackwell is from the Family Research Council, which has been tagged as a hate group for their virulent attacks on LGBT people. A commenter adds that Blackwell, in his role of Secretary of State in Ohio, was instrumental in suppressing the black vote.

Be everyone’s president? Then soundly condemn stuff like this:
Police are investigating a wave of alleged hate crimes against Muslims, Hispanic Americans, black people, ethnic minorities and the LGBT community in the wake of the US election.

Attackers professing support for Donald Trump have been accused of numerous attacks in the 24 hours following his shock victory, including death threats, physical assaults and racist graffiti.

Maha Abdul Gawad said she was shopping in a local Wallmart on Wednesday when another woman approached, pulled off her hijab and said: “This is not allowed anymore, so go hang yourself with it around your neck not on your head.”

A woman in Delaware described overhearing four white men near her at a petrol station discussing Mr Trump’s victory and “how they’re glad they won’t have to deal with n*****s much longer”.

Back to my answer to the opening question. Is it bad enough now for me to consider leaving the country? The answer is: not yet. But it looks like it could come to that. I agree with my sister-in-law that I have an advantage she doesn’t. Most of the time I can pass for straight. I don’t go into gay bars. I don’t walk down the street holding a husband’s hand. My answer is: not yet.

I’m aware I run the risk of waiting too long and have to live out my stealthy fantasy.

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