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Of Movements, Rights, and Big Mouthed Allies

Of Movements, Rights, and Big Mouthed Allies

So there’s been major issues over on LiveJournal about conservative political ads (as well as some with other objectionable content) appearing on the pages of people who are not exactly the target market. And the ads are indeed offensive, but they are also an indication of what’s going on in the oppression business these days. It’s not a comfortable conversation from a business (or social) standpoint, but it is a necessary one. For a while now I’ve had thoughts brewing on the whole marriage protection movement and why Perez Hilton’s face off with Miss California isn’t quite the coup he thinks it is as well as on why these groups are proliferating courtesy of slick campaigns like the one behind The National Organization for Marriage and their (effective!) fear mongering tactics and pre-written talking points for supporters. Like it or not they have a coherent cohesive approach to achieving their goal, and the reaction to them (while certainly fun from the standpoint of easy mockery) isn’t anywhere near as well organized or packaged. Perez Hilton looks like a big old bully in that pageant clip and that’s a problem. So is the fact that the gay marriage movement is lacking in the charismatic leader department. And on the unified message front. Grassroots movements are great, but in order for them to be successful a focus and a leader are pretty much required or it winds up being much ado with nothing significant accomplished.

Lots of comparisons are made to the Civil Rights Movement and even when I don’t agree with the analogy I can see how it can be used as a framework, but then we come back to history and the use of strategy to achieve a desired goal. Make no mistake Rosa Parks didn’t just happen to refuse to give up her seat on that bus. In fact the person who gave them the idea of organizing a boycott was another young woman entirely, but they decided she wasn’t a suitable test case because she was a single mother. Fair? No. But, totally understandable given the need for black people to have a movement as far above reproach as possible in order to effectively change the staus quo of Jim Crow laws being viewed as acceptable. All along oppressors have used specific tools to sway people to their way of thinking and I see it happening again in this situation. POC have (at various points to achieve various goals) been painted as dangerous, lazy, whores, incompetent, and even subhuman. We’re already on the “They want to destroy our way of life and silence us” as the primary message. And yes, I know the idea that gays getting married will somehow destroy marriage as a social construct is utterly insane, but you know logic generally has very little to do with these sorts of things. It’s all about the hyperbole and the carefully constructed propaganda. Not to Godwin my own post, but Hitler didn’t sell the Holocaust as “Let’s kill all the Jews in horrific ways” because that wouldn’t have been remotely effective.

And no, I’m not saying that the people opposing gay marriage want to kill anyone (well some might, but I don’t think that’s a primary goal) but they do have an agenda that they want to advance and it’s useless to expect them to keep that agenda out of sight. Does that mean I want to hear their bullshit on LJ? No. But then I didn’t want to hear one of LJ’s biggest racist trolls (one rx_suicide) either. Or any of the people that periodically find their way to my LJ (and my inbox) to call me a nigger or a racist or whatever the word of the day is for their issues with my big mouth. I suppose I could figure out a way to lock my LJ (and my inbox) down, but that wouldn’t change the fact that those people are out there pushing their agenda. Post-racial America isn’t a particularly different place from racial America and I imagine that America really isn’t ready to be post-oppression so folks might want to consider coming up with useful ways to fight it. In my opinion that includes knowing your enemy (and their tactics) as well as coming up with your own methodology for combat. And I know someone is going to tell me that I don’t get to dictate how to run a battle that isn’t about me or tell people how to react to their content sharing space with hate. And on the one hand that’s totally true and valid. On the other…I’m just trying to help and while people are certainly welcome to tell me I’m doing it wrong (and I swear I will listen) I really want to see someone doing it right. I don’t want these people to win and as of right now? That’s what is going to happen if someone doesn’t push back effectively and start winning the people on the fence over.

6 comments to Of Movements, Rights, and Big Mouthed Allies

  • Chuck B.

    As a straight Black Male, I realize that I may not have a “dog in the fight” you are referring to, but I don’t see why your advice would be taken wrong.

    I do remember however when I was on a Unitarian Universalist (my faith) website and a white gay minister was enraged because prop 8 passed and some critics were pointing out the shoddy organizaion of the opposition. He also reacted to the preliminary reports that stated black voers had supported Obama and prop 8 with anger that blacks did not support gays enough.

    His argument came down to “Prop 8 is inherently wrong, so we shouldn’t need good organizaion.” When a person on the ground in CA stated that there was no attempt to reach out and connect to the African American Community he responded that the AA community was not deemed a group of priority.

    I know, I know, if they aren’t a priority then why are you upset? He seemed to miss that logic.

    ANYWAY: His indignation really seems to me at least to highlight your point. Smart Organizaion.

  • Chris Diaz

    I totally agree with your point. Those who identify with social justice are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to organization. The reason for this is that those who identify as progressives/leftists/socialists, etc…, as a rule, have at least some concern for all human beings. It is this concern that causes us to be concerned with particulars and have many crises of conscience. This, in turn, means it is harder to reach consensus and there is often “splintering”.

    Many of the social Darwinist right-wingers don’t have this logistical problem. As long as it does not affect them directly, it is irrelevant if a policy is unfair or causes suffering. That’s why you see them act like drones. I watched a few votes on C-Span when they were in power and they would literally vote like 98% the same way on everything. To make matters worse, that same social Darwinist outlook means they do not hesitate to play dirty.

    I don’t know what the solution is, but your point is well made.

  • I know this has nothing to do with your point… but at this point, there’s no derailing the thread, either.

    You’re right that Hitler didn’t call for killing Jews in “horrific ways.” You’re right that it wouldn’t have been effective. But there are two subtle points in there. First, he was pretty clearly genocidal and lots of people just didn’t recognize that. As important as that, I consider it much more interesting that, second, it’s not quite right to characterize the Shoah as “horrific” in its methods of execution. Certainly, those methods could be horrific at times. But more specifically, the overall campaign of genocide was industrialized and unemotional compared to other genocidal acts against Jews. I think it’s worth pointing out because I’ve often found people take the details of the Holocaust for granted – and say strange things about what antisemitism is and isn’t.

    See Moishe Postone, eg:

    The Holocaust was characterized by a sense of ideological mission, by a relative lack of emotion and immediate hate (as opposed to pogroms, for example), and, most importantly, by its apparent lack of functionality. The extermination of the Jews seems not to have been a means to another end. They were not exterminated for military reasons or in the course of a violent process of land acquisition (as was the case with the American Indians and the Tasmanians). Nor did Nazi policy toward the Jews resemble their policy toward the Poles and the Russians which aimed to eradicate those segments of the population around whom resistance might crystallize in order to exploit the rest more easily as helots. Indeed, the Jews were not exterminated for any manifest “extrinsic” goal. The extermination of the Jews was not only to have been total, but was its own goal—extermination for the sake of extermination—a goal that acquired absolute priority.

  • Melissa

    Matt;

    Good information thank you.. I recently viewed a movie called “The boy in the striped pajames,” if you get a chance check it out.

  • pitbullgirl65

    Hey karnythia I don’t understand why the people at MetaStupid had/have a problem with this post. As a matter of fact, it makes sense.

  • meopta

    You’re not wrong. I’ve been working in gay rights for more years than I care to admit, and a big problem has been a lack of focused leadership. I think part of the reason good strides were made recently in marriage and especially in gov’t bennies was the surge of high profile leadership making it happen.