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“Our Milestone Moment”: Hillary Clinton Is The Warrior Women Have Been Waiting For

On Tuesday night, after Hillary Clinton had delivered her first speech as the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, it didn’t take long for some of us expressing our joy over this historic moment to feel the burn of reprimand.

We should show more understanding toward those who are disappointed, the critics said.

We should not “rub it in.”

We were “gloating.” We were “insensitive.” We should be “more gracious.”

I leaned back from my computer in the wee hours of Wednesday morning and thought, “Why does this feel so familiar?”

It didn’t take long for me to remember. I called up the column I wrote last June after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. The reprimands were virtually identical.

Here we are again, expected to suppress our happiness so that we don’t injure the feelings of those who see nothing to celebrate in this milestone moment of equality. I was impatient last June with this argument, and I find that an additional year of living has done nothing to temper my resolve.

We are not trying to hurt anyone with our enthusiasm, yet it is so very female to lower our voices and dim the signs of our happiness to avoid upsetting those who have no business trying to tamp us down. Let us be done with that.

It’s not that I don’t understand the pain of Bernie Sanders supporters’ wounds. Isn’t it true, after all, that what we dislike most in others are the weaknesses we recognize in ourselves? In 2008, it took me a while to bounce back from the heartbreak of Hillary Clinton’s primary defeat to Barack Obama. Let’s just say you wouldn’t have wanted to hang out with me. If that is always true of you, I can’t help you here.

In hindsight, I can see that my injury was self-inflicted, a human response to disappointment. Nobody was looking to hurt my feelings, and no one from the Obama camp felt the least bit obligated to court or cajole me out of my sour mood. The duration and course of my recovery were up to me, and by golly, I got there.

Likewise, a lot of Sanders supporters will sulk until they get bored with their grudges, and then most of them will join the fight to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office. It’s not up to me or anyone else who voted for Clinton to do the hard work of healing for them. Soul-searching is, by definition, a solo act.

Now that we’ve had a day or so to get used to the idea that the Democratic Party is about to nominate the first viable female candidate for president, it’s time to figure out what comes next.

I am delighted by the prospect of a national discussion fueled by the assumption that every issue is a women’s issue. That’s just one of the life-altering changes sweeping in on the wings of a Hillary Clinton candidacy. Another is the full stop it brings to patronizing speculation about what women — and what girls — cannot do in this world. The reality of a female president blows that door off its hinges.

On Monday, Clinton is scheduled to be in Cleveland, where I live, to emphasize the need for unity. One of her greatest challenges in this campaign is to convince white men who feel abandoned and invisible that she sees them and that she cares. So many women in America will readily believe that she does because this is a central truth of our lives, too. We care about our men, and too many of us love men who are hurting.

We also understand the enduring legacy of negative stereotypes about strong women. Too often, we are cast as everything that is now wrong with America.

Donald Trump will attempt to exploit such suspicions of us because fear is his only strategy. He is living proof that small people come in all sizes. The last thing he thinks he should have to do is compete with a woman. He is the bully we know, the giant boor we’ve been trying to topple for much of our lives.

At the risk of sounding joyful, I think Hillary Clinton is the warrior we’ve been waiting for.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s School of Journalism; The National Memo, June 8, 2019

June 10, 2016 Posted by | American History, Hillary Clinton, Women | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Tough Guy Assertiveness”: Membership Has Its Privileges; Donald Trump’s Man Card Pays Off

Donald Trump cut to the chase after his big wins Tuesday night: “Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the women’s card.”

Which is a hell of a thing to say after almost 250 years of American presidential candidates implicitly playing their “men’s cards”—perhaps no one more so than Trump himself, whose campaign rests largely on tough guy assertiveness and machismo bloviating. For many of his supporters, his appeal is very much that he’s a white man.

Don’t believe me? Try to imagine a woman of color running for president on his playbook. “Trump’s attitude coming from a woman or minority would make that person even more beloved by Trump supporters,” one person tweeted me. Which is not only incorrect but preposterous.

First of all, I can’t think of a single woman of color in American politics today who would back the sorts of ludicrous attacks on women and people of color that Trump supports. I can’t name one woman of color who wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States, summarily round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants—let alone who habitually calls other women like “dogs” and “fat pigs.”

But even if some Trump-ian woman of color Trump were to exist, it’s impossible to imagine her suffering the same landslide of critiques as Trump and yet emerging similarly unscathed. Women and people of color are simply held to a higher bar in our society. When you’re the only white woman in the corporate board room or the only black man in the legislature, you’re under constant pressure to prove that you’re as smart and qualified as everyone else and that you deserve to be there. It’s a bar white men are simply presumed to meet.

That’s the very definition of privilege—which is not just about where you come from, but what’s assumed about you the moment you walk in a room. And we know from study after study that the sexism and racism baked into American culture means that women and people of color are presumed less than—less than qualified, less than talented, less than deserving.

Try to imagine a woman of color skating by in a presidential primary with Trump’s thin soup of policy “ideas.” Imagine a white woman candidate reading a meandering, inconsistent and impractical foreign policy speech off a teleprompter. Imagine a black male candidate asserting he doesn’t need to give specifics on his policy proposals or how he’ll get things done because people should just trust him. Imagine a woman of color saying she only likes the soldiers who don’t get captured.

You know as well as I do they would be laughed out of politics.

Meanwhile Trump’s entire appeal is based on hyper-masculinity and machismo. He critiques Clinton, saying it’s “always drama” with her and she “doesn’t have the strength” for the job while he calls his Republican opponents names like “little Marco” and “low energy” Bush. He brags about his hot wife and how rich he is. Hand size innuendo aside, Trump is literally and figuratively boasting that he is the biggest guy in the room and as president will be the biggest guy in the world and will “Make America Great Again” because he’s great.

To buy into Trump’s candidacy, you have to buy into the Trump persona— because, let’s be honest, there’s nothing much else to go on there.

And his appeal is most directly to those who feel they have nothing else to go on themselves—mostly working-class white men who feel somehow that the ever-so-modest increase in rights for women and people of color in America has somehow meant less rights and opportunity for white men such as themselves. These voters would not, very simply, vote for a woman or person of color because that’s who they implicitly blame for their lot in life. Data have shown that, among white voters, higher levels of racial resentment correspond with higher support for Trump.

When Trump bases his entire campaign against political correctness, he’s implicitly evoking opposition to those who traditionally support political correctness—namely people of color and women. It’s no coincidence that Trump is running to succeed the first black president while running against the first major woman candidate. As Jamelle Bouie noted in Slate, this doesn’t feel like change to these voters as much as an inversion: “the end of a hierarchy that had always placed white Americans at the top, delivering status even when it couldn’t give material benefits.”

These Trump supporters—clearly not all, maybe not even most, but definitely many—are arguably the same people who think that racism against African-Americans isn’t really a problem in America today but believe in the myth of “reverse racism” against white people as a growing danger.

The impossibility of it aside, Trump supporters would never vote for Trump if he were a woman of color because they see women and people of color as a symptom of if not the actual cause of America’s problems today. These voters are clinging desperately to their white maleness and to their white male candidate.

 

By: Sally Kohn, The Daily Beast, May 1, 2016

May 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, War On Women | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Back To The Future, Way Back”: Trump’s Core Supporters Long For A Bygone Era

For nearly a year, Donald Trump has been pitching a vague slogan: Make America Great Again. Even if we put aside the questions about how Trump intends to do that – and how, exactly, the Republican candidate defines “great” – it’s a phrase that inevitably leads a question about when America was great, if it’s not great now.

Margot Sanger-Katz explained in the New York Times today that Trump’s followers don’t necessarily agree on an answer, but they have a few ideas.

The slogan evokes a time when America was stronger and more prosperous. But Mr. Trump doesn’t specify whether he’s expressing nostalgia for the 1950s – or 10 years ago. That vagueness is reflected by his voters, according to the results of a new survey, conducted online by the digital media and polling company Morning Consult.

When asked to select America’s greatest year, Trump supporters offered a wide range of answers, with no distinct pattern. The most popular choice was the year 2000. But 1955, 1960, 1970 and 1985 were also popular. More than 2 percent of Trump’s supporters picked 2015, when Mr. Trump’s campaign began.

The same Times article flagged a Pew Research Center report from last month in which 75% of Trump supporters said life was better 50 years ago. Most Republicans also endorsed the idea, but it was Trump backers who were the most enthusiastic about it.

I don’t imagine many will find this surprising, but it’s nevertheless a notable validation of a broader thesis. Much of Trump’s core base includes older, white men, who’ve seen generational changes with which they’re generally uncomfortable. Over the last half-century, the United States has grown more diverse; women have made great strides towards overdue equality; and the current role of African Americans and LGBT Americans in society would have been difficult for much of the public to imagine 50 years ago.

It’s hardly shocking that Trump, pushing a nativist nationalism, has supporters who’d prefer to roll back the clock.

As for what Americans in general consider their country’s greatest year, apparently 2000 “was the most popular choice, a preference that cut across political party, candidate preference, gender and age.”

In all candor, without giving it a lot of thought, 2000 was my first choice, too. The economy was booming; there was relative international peace; and the nation’s reputation abroad was sterling and unrivaled. George W. Bush had not yet taken office, which means we’re talking about a time before 9/11, before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, before the Great Recession, and before the radicalization of Republican politics reached a fever pitch.

There’s plenty of reason to believe we’ve achieved greatness since – marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, etc. – and have bright days ahead, but is it really that surprising that so many would point to 2000 as the greatest year?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 26, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | America, Donald Trump, Trump Supporters | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“From Warmongers To Conspiracy Theorists”: CPAC 2015 Wants You To Know: You Are In Terrible Danger

Welcome to the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three-day-long performance from an improv troupe whose hat has only one statement in it: you’re in terrible danger. But that doesn’t mean you’re in terrible danger right now. Right now, there are seminars. About the danger. I have been to them, as part of my quest to be America’s Most Impervious Man. I don’t even care to what.

After a lunch consisting of a bowl of nails and a mean old dog, I attend the “America at Risk” seminar featuring speakers “Callista Gingrich” and “Newt Gingrich.” Technically, this statement is true, because they speak, and their words come out of speakers. Unfortunately, neither are here. Instead, after spending approximately one jillion dollars to attend CPAC, everyone in the Gaylord Hotel’s Chesapeake Rooms 4-6 gets to watch a $9.99 DVD. From 2010.

“America at Risk” is a well-shot piece of propaganda, with appropriately sinister documentary music and Ken Burns-esque pans across pictures of bad people. At one point, we are informed that, in 2009, “There were over a dozen terrorist cases in the United States.” The vague wording really works for me. I immediately wonder which of the dozen involved that white Nazi from Maine trying to build a dirty bomb or the white Nazi patriot shooting people at the Holocaust museum. Then I realize that these terrorist “cases” probably did not include white people, militias, separatists or sovereign citizens, since the number would probably be off by an order of magnitude.

Still, I enjoy seeing Marc Theissen claim that waterboarding works, that the Muslim Brotherhood controls one third of all mosques in America, and listening to a man explaining that we are currently experiencing Islam’s “third great jihad.”

Of course, what I enjoy is irrelevant. What the audience revel in is hooting at the screen whenever Barack Obama says anything divergent from what they agree with. “Islam has a proud history of tolerance”, Obama says in 2009. “Yeah where?” answers the audience, who call him an “idiot” and “liar,” before subsiding with a lot of sheeshes and head-shaking. “We see it in Andalusia, during the Inquisition,” Obama goes on to say. “Yeah, when they killed everyone” adds someone who does not seem to be aware that neither history books, the Muslims of Cordoba or Barack Obama can hear him.

I eventually leave the room and start heading to the other side of the Gaylord, where former UN Ambassador John Bolton, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Montana Representative Ryan Zinke answer the question: “When Should America Go to War?” And, folks, lemme tell you, it is all the dang time.

Watching these guys is amazing. Bolton, inventor of FreeRepublic.com’s mandatory mustache, opened early with, “We should have stopped Hitler at the Rhineland in 1936.” Cotton says, “If any state in the west had stood up to Adolf Hitler,” then sort of trails off into nothingness, perhaps remembering 1939-1945. When talking about how extreme force acts as a deterrent, Cotton says, “America is like Rome,” without mentioning Rome’s unnecessary wars of profit that served as a distraction from domestic political unrest. Churchill’s name comes up twice.

Bolton’s core thesis is that, “American strength is not provocative. American weakness is provocative”. Hence the allusion to Rome and the old Roman expression, Si vis pacem, para bellum. He then says that, “This is not a debate between interventionism versus non-interventionism, or between unilateralism or multi-lateralism,” which seems fairly obvious as soon as he starts talking about unilaterally going to war to stop anything he can think of. Cotton adds that the world has to know that we are willing to go to war to defend our national security interests, especially against trans-national terrorist groups. In a span of only few words, he has defined US interests as “everything everywhere.”

When asked if he would have supported the Iraq War, Cotton says he would have agreed with “Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who made the right decision to support president George W. Bush.” This audience hoots, too. That is, until Zinke says that he would not have supported the 2003 invasion. The comment stings, since Zinke was a Navy SEAL and also opened his comments moments earlier by noting that he’d been to more funerals than there were people in the packed room. I guess you can’t win ‘em all.

Somewhere after the actual veteran has Debbie-Dowernered things, the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano tells the assembled crowd that “we need to get back into the missile defense business in a big way.” What a funny way of phrasing that.

Still Bolton is on his game. You don’t get to be the Ur-Stache by being a slouch. “The war was correct,” he says, saying that Saddam would have had uranium-enriching centrifuges up and running immediately. “This saved the world from a nuclear disaster,” he says, which is a good job, considering all the other disasters just around the corner.

He then goes on to explain that we should have spent the last ten years better integrating the Baltic states into NATO, to discourage further Russian expansion.

“We’re past that,” he says, sadly. “That’s why we’re in such danger.”

 

By: Jeb Lund, The Guardian, February 28, 2015

March 1, 2015 Posted by | Conspiracy Theories, CPAC, Neo-Cons | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In Ferguson And Beyond, Punishing Humanity”: Subordinated People Are Mistakenly Viewed As Brutes Or Even Nonhuman Animals

On Sept. 26, two peaceful protesters were arrested in Ferguson, Mo. Watch this video (warning: includes profanity) and you will see two white officers arresting a young black woman who is wearing a red hoodie. One tackles her in a chokehold and yanks her hands behind her back. She whimpers, and they force her face down on the pavement. They then carry her off with one officer holding her by an arm, and the other holding her by a leg. Her body has gone limp; they dangle her between them carelessly. Why were these two men handling her “like an animal?” asks the protester recording the scene with her cellphone. It is a good question. And its answer is not obvious.

One possibility is that people are treated brutally because those who mistreat them fail to grasp their common humanity — or, similarly, their personhood. The idea is that seeing another person as a fellow human being is not only a prerequisite for ethical relations with her, but also strongly disposes us to treat her as we ought to. In George Orwell’s experience, when you see another person as “visibly a fellow-creature, similar to yourself, [then] you don’t feel like shooting at him.” (Or her — presumably.) Moreover, man’s inhumanity to man (and women, too) often stems from overlooking our shared human capacities, an appreciation of which would tend to give rise to empathy. Subordinated people are mistakenly viewed as brutes, subhuman, or even nonhuman animals.

This line of argument regarding the most virulent forms of racism has been developed in detail by David Livingstone Smith, among others. It is also accepted in some form by many different kinds of humanists in philosophy, variously inspired by Aristotle, Hume, Kant and Wittgenstein. And it has echoed loudly in the blogosphere in the two months following the Ferguson protests — which erupted when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was killed by a white police officer. It is not hard to see why. When, three days after the shooting, another white officer called the (primarily black) protesters “[expletive] animals,” it cemented many people’s fears that Brown had been slain in a similar spirit — the thought being that the officer responsible, Darren Wilson, saw Brown as an animal, or at least as less than human. Witnesses are on record saying that Brown had his hands up, that he was posing no threat to the officer, but that Wilson “just kept shooting” — even after Brown backed down, in a classic gesture of surrender. Wilson shot at Brown as if he felt powerless to stop him, almost as if he were faced with a bear or an ape or a zombie.

I used to be a humanist in this sense of the term. But I am fast losing my religion. Dehumanization increasingly seems to me to be merely a symptom of the problem. The problem being precisely that black people are being seen as people — and they are seen as being threatening, and taken down, because of it.

The humanist line on Ferguson is unduly optimistic, and rests on a psychologically dubious assumption. Namely, that when people who have historically enjoyed a dominant position in society (in this case white men) come to recognize historically subordinated people (racial minorities, women) as their moral and social equals, they will welcome the newcomers.  But seeing others as similar to ourselves can lead to hostility and resentment under certain conditions. It’s true that Orwell’s vision of a person running across the battlefield holding up his trousers during the Spanish civil war transformed an enemy combatant into a vulnerable human being in his eyes — someone who must have been undressed or indisposed moments before the gunfire started. But this humanizing vision involved no loss of status for Orwell. He felt sorry for the man. He saw him as ridiculous.

The situation is different when it comes to white men’s perception of non-whites and women. Over time, as the fight for equality has allowed some advancement and social mobility for racial minorities, as well as for women, toward what we might call the inner circle of humanity, white men have experienced a relative loss of status. And they now have more rivals for desirable positions. Add to that the fact that they may find themselves surpassed by those they tacitly expected to be in social positions beneath them, and we have a recipe for resentment and the desire to regain dominance.

None of this is likely to be conscious, nor to manifest itself at all times; nor is it true of all white men, obviously. Rather, it is likely to come out in momentary flashes of aggression for some white men when they are feeling threatened. That “Bring it, you [expletive] animals, bring it!” that the Ferguson police officer spat at the protesters back in August should be heard in this vein as a slur and a battle cry. As Kwame Anthony Appiah has argued, those accused of dehumanizing others often “acknowledge their victims’ humanity in the very act of humiliating, stigmatizing, reviling and torturing them.” The cop put these people down by likening them to animals — an insult that depends, for its humiliating quality, on its targets’ distinctively human desire to be recognized as human beings. The cop also declared his readiness to fight for his position in the existing social hierarchy. And the hierarchy assumes that we are all people — some of whom are more equal than others, naturally. This is the nature of domination and subordination relations, which have been theorized by Catharine MacKinnon and Sally Haslanger, among others. They require that there be people ranked above and/or beneath you. And it is important that we all know our place, if only tacitly.

Consider, too, what the people involved were doing in two of the above cases. They were engaged in that uniquely human activity of protesting. They were behaving as no animal besides us ever behaves. They were being “political animals,” to use Aristotle’s term for human beings. Many philosophers say that it is our capacity for rationality that distinguishes us as human. But at least as distinctive, one might think, is our capacity to be political.

The humanist line on Ferguson hence fails to explain what seems to provoke the aggression — namely, acts of political and personal defiance, which only people can demonstrate. Moreover, it is hardly surprising that historically subordinated people should be perceived in this way when they try to assert themselves around, or over, dominant group members. They are liable to be perceived as belligerent, “uppity,” insubordinate or out of order.

This is a plausible hypothesis about what happened in Michael Brown’s case as well. The exact events remain in some dispute, but most agree on the same basic sequence. What seemed to set Wilson off was that Brown challenged his authority. The incident began when Brown ignored Wilson’s orders to get out of the center of the street, where he and his friend had been walking. Wilson drove off, apparently cowed. He then seems to have changed his mind, decided to stand his ground, have a do-over. He slammed his car into reverse; by some accounts, he was taunted by Brown, following a physical altercation. In the end, Wilson shot Brown at least six times, including twice in the head, and reportedly kept shooting after Brown surrendered. But at that point, it seems, it was too late for deference.

The humanist line on Ferguson also fails to explain the quality of the aggression, which has a resentful, vindictive tenor. After he was killed, Brown’s body was left uncovered on the street for some four hours afterwards, to add deep social insult to fatal physical injury. And when another young black man, Kajieme Powell, was shot and killed a mere 10 days later in St. Louis, the police officers who shot him did something extraordinary. After they had killed him, they handcuffed his dead body. Powell had been staggering around with a small knife, apparently trying to commit so-called suicide by cop. The man clearly needed some help to raise him up again. Instead, the police shot him down, and arrested him post mortem.

These actions, as well as being shameful, reveal a resentful and punitive mentality behind the aggression, which are classic examples of what the English philosopher P. F. Strawson famously called the interpersonal “reactive attitudes.” These attitudes are held to be both distinctive and central to our dealings with other human beings — that is, with people who we recognize as such, or as fully paid-up members in this club we call humanity. When it comes to animals and children and people we regard as (temporarily or permanently) not in control of their actions, we may try to correct, manage, deter or restrain their behavior. But, ordinarily and ideally, we do not resent it. They are not moral agents. We can’t really blame them.

And resentment and blame, along with punitive behavior and the associated social practices, are precisely what black people in this country are being systematically subjected to at present, at every level of the criminal justice system. Black people are proportionately far more likely to be stopped, frisked, searched, arrested, tased, charged, tried, convicted, incarcerated and executed (by means that are often grossly unconstitutional). Black bodies are routinely being policed and punished without mercy. And we don’t police animals in this way. Nor do we punish them in this spirit.

Unfortunately, seeing people’s humanity is only the moral beginning. Sometimes people will be punished for the crime of being people.

 

By: Kate Manne, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University; Opinionator, The Stone, The New York Times, October 12, 2014

October 14, 2014 Posted by | Ferguson Missouri, Law Enforcement, Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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