Notes and Comment Blog


Holding placards at various rallies and protests

Jul 23rd, 2019 5:02 pm | By

The Guardian has more on the murder of Yelena Grigoryeva:

Russian campaigners have said that a woman found murdered with multiple stab wounds in the city of Saint Petersburg was a well-known activist who had received threats over her protests for LGBT rights and opposition causes.

Authorities said they had found the body of a 41-year-old woman with multiple knife wounds in St Petersburg on Sunday, but did not identify her.

Activists and media reports in the city named the victim as local campaigner Yelena Grigoryeva, who was a regular participant in rallies supporting a range of unpopular causes in modern Russia, including LGBT rights and freedom for Ukrainian political prisoners.

In Putin’s Russia, activists for unpopular causes get killed. Trump wants to see the US go that way.

In recent days, activists at an LGBT resource centre in the city of Ekaterinburg said they had received a threatening letter, signed by “a liquidator of gays”, warning that if they did not close down the centre “something very bad and very sad” could happen.

Photographs posted to Grigoryeva’s Facebook page in recent months showed her holding placards at various rallies and protests. One called for “A Russia which people will not be scared of, but be inspired by”. Another read: “In Russia there are more than 5 million gay people. Because of backwardness and hatred, they have to live secretly.”

And if they don’t, look what happens to them.



Critics say that Pink News is out to lunch

Jul 23rd, 2019 4:41 pm | By

Ah, Pink News.

Shock horror!

Wait. Is it? Is it bad to present being transgender as something that children should be encouraged out of? At least when the issue is “being transgender” in the sense of getting medical interventions,  hormone blockers or surgery or both? Should children be encouraged to make irreversible changes to their bodies on the grounds that they “feel” like the other sex? Should children be encouraged to do that in this climate in which “being transgender” has become a craze like sitting on flag poles or accusing daycare workers of Satanic ritual abuse?

What about children who are not encouraged out of it, and get those irreversible changes, and then in five or ten years realize that they’re not transgender after all? What if their sex lives and love lives are permanently limited because of irreversible physical changes they made when they were 8 or 12 or 15? What if it turns out that that cohort has a much higher suicide rate than trans people have ever had?

It’s as if there were a huge evil corporation, The Acme Trans Your Kid corporation, busy PRing everyone into jumping on the bandwagon…except that then the left wouldn’t be cheering it on.



Hunted

Jul 23rd, 2019 12:12 pm | By

What happens when you put a target on people:

A Russian LGBTQ activist, Yelena Grigoryeva, was fatally stabbed in St. Petersburg Sunday night after her name was listed on a website that encourages people to “hunt” LGBTQ activists, inspired by the torture-themed film “Saw.”

Reports in the Russian newspaper Fontanka said that a suspect, a “40-year-old resident of Bashkortostan,” had been detained by police.

Grigoryeva, 41, was active with Russia’s Alliance of Heterosexuals and LGBT for Equality and other activist causes, according to the Russian LGBT Network.

According to friends’ and colleagues’ online posts, Grigoryeva was worried about her safety after she found her name and personal information listed on the snuff site.

“I learned today that Lena asked a mutual friend to take care of her cat in the event of her death when she was threatened with murder,” friend and fellow activist Dinar Idrisov wrote on Facebook.

The friend and activist also posted a lot of photos of her. Here’s one:

Image may contain: 1 person, standing



Diplomatic skills

Jul 23rd, 2019 12:01 pm | By

Oddly enough, Afghanistan has not reacted with pleasure to Donald Trump’s brainless exclamations that he could wipe the country off the map.

Afghanistan has demanded the United States clarify remarks made by President Donald Trump, who said the country “would be wiped off the face of the Earth” if he wanted to win the war in Afghanistan.

“The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate,” Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesman for the President of Afghanistan, said in a statement. “Given the multifaceted relationship between Afghanistan and the United States, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan calls for clarification on the US President’s statements.”

Trump on Monday had suggested that he could put an end to the Afghanistan war in a week, but that it would cost millions of lives and wipe the country “off the face of the Earth.”

And then perhaps some other nuclear power would wipe much of the US off the face of the earth. Granted the US is a lot more sprawling, but much of the population is quite concentrated.

“If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said, seated beside Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House on Monday. “I have plans on Afghanistan, that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone. It would be over in — literally, in 10 days, and I don’t want to do — I don’t want to go that route.”

Such a wise thing to say, especially while sitting next to the PM of Afghanistan’s neighbor.

He also annoyed Modi while he was at it.

Trump had claimed that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally asked him if he would like to be a mediator in the decades-long conflict between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region.

A spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, denied Trump’s claim, saying on Twitter that “no such request has been made” by Modi.

Whatevs.



Library banned

Jul 23rd, 2019 11:27 am | By

This just in: Vancouver’s Pride Society has told the Vancouver Public Library it can’t participate in the Pride Parade.

The Pride Society says the Vancouver Public Library is no longer permitted to take part because it allowed “transphobic and anti-sex worker” speaker, Meghan Murphy, to book space for an event in January.

Meghan is not “transphobic” and she is not “anti-sex worker” unless you restrict the meaning of “sex-worker” to pimps.

“VPS asserts that the conduct reflected both at this event, and in past public comments by these speakers, are discriminatory in a way that violates the British Columbia Human Rights Code,” the society says in a statement.

It can assert all it likes, but that doesn’t make it true.

Earlier this month, the University of British Columbia was barred from marching in the Vancouver Pride Parade because it hosted a controversial anti-SOGI speaker in June.

There will be fewer but better Russians marchers.



Slash that safety net

Jul 23rd, 2019 10:55 am | By

The Trump administration wants to make more poor people starve.

The Trump administration wants to change the way states determine who qualifies for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, also known as food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 3 million people would lose their food assistance as a result.

The administration says it wants to close what it calls a “loophole” that allows states to give benefits to those would not otherwise be eligible by raising or eliminating income and asset limits. Forty states and the Washington, D.C., now take advantage of this option, and have done so for many years.

“This proposal will not only save money, but more importantly it preserves the integrity of the program while ensuring nutrition assistance programs serve those most in need,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in announcing the proposed rule, published in the Federal Register. His agency estimates the change would likely save $2.5 billion a year.

Which is to say, it will withhold $2.5 billion worth of food from poor people. What a goal for a rich country!

But proponents of the current system say it helps low-income families who work, but have huge child care, housing and other expenses that leave them with insufficient money to buy food.

Let’s not forget, Senate Republicans refused to take up a bill to raise the minimum wage passed by the House last week. The minimum wage is far below a living wage, mostly because housing and child care are so expensive. An enormous chunk of the population don’t make a living wage and do have sky-high housing and child care expenses. Trump and his gang want to make them even worse off.

The proposed rule change is one of several the administration has made or is considering that restricts safety net programs for low-income individuals and families.

Because that’s what we need to do: not create programs that lift people out of poverty but tweak the few existing programs to push people down into poverty even more firmly.



They call him Britain Trump

Jul 23rd, 2019 10:19 am | By

So the UK has decided to join us in Crazytown. I don’t recommend it!

Boris Johnson has been elected new Conservative leader in a ballot of party members and will become the next UK prime minister.

He beat Jeremy Hunt comfortably, winning 92,153 votes to his rival’s 46,656.

The former London mayor takes over from Theresa May on Wednesday.

Donald Trump told an event in Washington “a really good man is going to be the prime minister of the UK now,” and Mr Johnson would “get it done”, referring to Brexit.

The president added: “They call him Britain Trump. That’s a good thing.”

No, it isn’t. It really isn’t.

Princess Ivanka was quick to send her congratulations.

Kingston’s all right. It’s on the other side of the river from Hampton Court and Bushy Park. Pleasant enough but not much to be Prime Minister of.



The person we have been told doesn’t exist

Jul 22nd, 2019 5:01 pm | By

Glinner on Yaniv:

Because Jonathan Yaniv is the person we have constantly been told doesn’t exist: he is the sexual predator desperate for access to adolescent girls, he’s the privileged male determined to ruin the lives of women who fail to pander to his narcissism, he’s the misogynistic scheister who’ll dive on any opportunity to fuck women over. Many of us have been ringing alarm bells for the past year, but he merely has to yell “Bigot!” and major corporations step in to silence his accusers. He’s very far from being a member of any kind of oppressed community; he is an entitled white man exercising power over women.

And he has big plans. Suing 16 women for declining to wax his genitals is not his final prank; no indeed.

Perhaps most horrifying of all is Yaniv’s latest gambit– trying to arrange a swimming event for children where parents will be barred and clothing will be optional. Yes, you read that right. He has applied to hold what he is describing as an “All Bodies Swim” for LGBTQ youth aged 12+ at the civic pool in Langley Township. Parents and guardians will not be allowed to attend and “Individuals will be permitted to be topless”.

A 32 year old man wants to be alone in a swimming pool full of semi-naked children.

But we were told such things would never happen. We were told it was transphobic to talk about them. We were told to die in a fire TERF.

Sneeringly dismissed as a figment of the imagination of hysterical women, Yaniv is the embodiment of feminists’ objections to Self-ID and gender ideology.  The nominally progressive Left have been so busy calling women bigots and transphobes, they never stopped to listen to what they were actually saying; that gender ideology is the perfect Trojan horse for predators, paedophiles and grifters.

They smeared those who were trying to raise the alarm. Now a court is deciding if women have a legal right to refuse to handle a man’s penis and testicles. This is where we are.

Nearing social justice utopia, I gather.



Who has the Chiclet?

Jul 22nd, 2019 4:43 pm | By

Not exactly what we want cops to be doing, I think.

Louisiana police officer Charlie Rispoli was fired Monday following a social media post in which he suggested Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) should be shot. This firing comes on the heels of various police departments bolstering their social media policies, in no small part due to the work of the Plain View Project.

Rispoli allegedly shared a fake news post claiming that Ocasio-Cortez said U.S. military personnel are “getting paid too much.” In sharing it, Rispoli also commented: “this vile idiot needs a round…and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve.”

Charlie Rispoli Post

Nope, I really don’t think we want cops doing that.



The sad pile of ice and snow

Jul 22nd, 2019 4:07 pm | By

Goodbye Ok glacier.

Iceland has lost its first glacier to rising temperatures. Now, scientists from Rice University and Iceland are planning to install a plaque near the sad pile of ice and snow formerly known as Ok Glacier. The researchers say it’s the first memorial to a disappearing glacier, but climate change ensures it almost certainly will not be the last.

Glaciers are more than just ice. They’re defined by receiving more mass from snow than they lose from summer melt, which allows them to slide down mountains and grind up rock. Climate change has, of course, changed the equation by causing more glacial melting, causing ice to recede around the world. An increasing number of glaciers have turned into stagnant, rotten ice patches or disappeared completely. The OK Glacier reached the latter status in 2014, making it the first glacier in Iceland to disappear. Researchers expect all glaciers to melt away by 2200 on the island, which led to them memorializing Ok.

Meanwhile, much of the Arctic is on fire.

Hot weather has engulfed a huge portion of the Arctic, from Alaska to Greenland to Siberia. That’s helped create conditions ripe for wildfires, including some truly massive ones burning in remote parts of the region that are being seen by satellites.

Gizmodo has some extraordinary photographs of the fires.

Intense hot conditions have also fanned flames in Siberia. The remote nature of many of the fires there means they’re burning out of control, often, through swaths of peatland that’s normally frozen or soggy. But as Thomas Smith, a fire expert at London School of Economics, noted on Twitter, there are ample signs the peat dried out due to the heat and is ablaze. That’s worrisome since peat is rich in carbon, and fires can release it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

And that’s worrisome because it means that the warming could speed up much more than was predicted, eating up that vague generation or two that seemed to give the world time to start planting trees and stop electing trumps.

All told, northern fires released as much carbon dioxide in June as the entire country of Sweden does in a year, according to data crunched by the European Union’s Copernicus program. The agency said the wildfire activity is “unprecedented” amidst what was, incidentally, the hottest June ever recorded for the planet with the Arctic particularly sweltering. All that carbon dioxide released by fires represents one of the scarier feedback loops of climate change as hot weather ensures more fires, which releases carbon dioxide and makes climate change worse.

Scarier indeed.



Someone drove by and yelled “what the fuck”

Jul 22nd, 2019 3:28 pm | By

Lucky lucky Detroit.

When nonbinary trans artist Jonah Welch went to check out their gorgeous new billboard in Detroit, someone drove by and yelled “what the fuck” at them.

“This is exactly why I made this billboard,” they told BuzzFeed News.

The billboard sits at 7 Mile and Kempa Street and proclaims, “Trans people are sacred.”

Well that’s modest.

Welch said their work delves into abstract surrealism and often goes to a place where trans identities and magic and mysticism meet. The billboard isn’t the first iteration of “trans is sacred,” but it’s definitely the largest.

Jonah Welch/Instagram

The phrase itself is something they heard from a friend years ago that always stuck with them. It made them feel like their trans identity wasn’t just okay, but a gift.

And in fact sacred.

This is good, because it’s not as if trans ideology is already riddled with narcissism and grandiosity.

Jonah Welch

See the pretty phallus collection. Very sacred.



Men men men, as far as the eye can see

Jul 22nd, 2019 3:09 pm | By

Oh lord.

Seemingly led by men on Twitter? Maybe just Twitter that’s depressing?

There is no “Twitter” in that sense – no universal or general Twitter. There’s only the Twitter each person sees because of which people she follows. Ok you can see a less curated Twitter via trends and the like, but it’s still not some generalized “Twitter.” It’s a selection.

And, no. It’s not the case that the debate is led by men.

Many women told him as much.

So what did he do? Ignored every single one of them, and replied only to men.

And they wonder why we pay attention to this gender stuff.

He ignored them and all the others. No wonder he thinks the discussion is led by men.



Not very smart

Jul 22nd, 2019 11:43 am | By

Trump as adult and reasonable as ever.

Six hours ago, ranting and raving about the Federal Reserve, followed by ranting and raving about the Washington Post, which brought him to the scary media in general.

Where exactly would Donald Trump be without the media? Nowhere. He’d be a Queens landlord.

#TrumpsTerrifiedOfMueller is trending.

Finally the cherry on top.

Who is out of control, bonkers, indifferent to what is right or wrong, sick, phony, inexperienced, not very smart, bad for our country?



Nary a ripple

Jul 22nd, 2019 11:23 am | By

More on the Laurel Hubbard question aka the trans women competing against women in sport question:

Hubbard is a transgender athlete, who as a male named Gavin did not make a ripple on the international stage until becoming a woman in her mid‑30s. Now, though, Hubbard is a realistic contender for an Olympic medal and creating a tsunami of protests from women who fear she has an unfair advantage because of the residual benefits of being a male. As the Australian weightlifter Deborah Acason put it: “I feel that if it’s not even, why are we doing the sport?” The Samoan prime minister has also weighed in.

The women don’t so much fear Hubbard has an unfair advantage as know he does. It’s not just some random weird inexplicable coincidence that he wasn’t a blip competing as a male but won all the things as a female. That happened for a reason.

But when it comes to the science, a new academic paper in the BMJ Journal of Ethics argues that elite transgender women do maintain an advantage when they transition – and that the current International Olympic Committee policies create what they call an “intolerable unfairness”, because testosterone has much more of an advantage on nearly every sport as opposed to say, being tall, having a large wingspan, or coming from a richer country, which the scientists say is more of a “tolerable unfairness” as it only provides a benefit in some sports.

As the academics note: “These differences largely underwrite the significant differences in world record times and distances set by men and women.” That, of course, is why women’s sport is protected. If it [weren’t] there would be no Serena Williams, no Dina Asher-Smith, no Megan Rapinoe as role models for millions: Novak Djokovic, Christian Coleman and Lionel Messi would smash them into dust every time.

And so would “Laurel” Hubbard, despite the lowered testosterone.



Drifting into incompatibility

Jul 22nd, 2019 10:18 am | By

Aw, trouble in paradise.

Tracie Harris, Jen Peeples & Clare Wuellner got on YouTube to discuss the right-ward slide of the Atheist Community of Austin, and their experiences with the transphobic takeover of that organization.

You may have noticed that FtB hosts The Atheist Experience, the blog for the call-in show of the ACA. Although I’m sure the blog isn’t a major contributor to their popularity — it’s primarily driven by YouTube traffic — it does get a good number of comments each week.

We’re currently discussing dropping the blog from our network in our backchannel, because it has drifted into incompatibility with our mission statement, which I’ll remind you is:

Freethoughtblogs is an open platform for freethought writers. We are skeptics and critics of dogma and authoritarianism…

Mmhmm. They are skeptics and critics of dogma and authoritarianism, and if you drift into incompatibility with their mission statement you’re banished.

Our network of blogs is designed to encourage independent thinking and individual autonomy…

Their network of blogs is designed to encourage independent thinking and individual autonomy. and if you dispute the dogma on Trans Idenniny you need to gtfo.

The discussion went the way everyone knew it would.

I’ve emailed the president of ACA, the vice president, and the board, and have received no response. We’ve discussed the matter on the FtB backchannel, and the comments there so far have been unanimous: the ACA is now incompatible with the mission of Freethoughtblogs. Therefore, and regretfully, I have disabled comments on the AXP blog and demoted all of their administrators. Nothing is irreversible yet, but I can’t imagine what kind of defense they could put up that would reverse our decision.

The great and powerful Oz has spoken.

There are many things we will not tolerate on any of the blogs here: racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia are all grounds for ejection from the network. The ACA is guilty of the last.

What about trans people expressing misogyny? Who wins in that conflict of non-tolerateds?

You know the answer. She was asking for it.

H/t Holms



12 philosophers

Jul 22nd, 2019 9:42 am | By

At Inside Higher Ed today:

How should the discipline of philosophy respond to current discussions of sex and gender identity?

Recent conversations among academic philosophers have given traction to proposals to censure or silence colleagues who advocate certain positions in these discussions, such as skepticism about the concept of gender identity or opposition to replacing biological sex with gender identity in institutional policy making. Those who support such sanctioning have appealed to various considerations, among them the contention that these positions call into question the identities of trans people, thereby making our discipline less open and welcoming to all.

We, all scholars in philosophy at universities in Europe, North America and Australia, oppose such sanctioning. The proposed measures, such as censuring philosophers who defend these controversial positions or preventing those positions from being advanced at professional conferences and in scholarly journals, violate the fundamental academic commitment to free inquiry. Moreover, the consequent narrowing of discussion would set a dangerous precedent, threatening the ability of philosophers to engage with the issues of the day.

And trans ideology very much is one of the issues of the day, because it’s a new ideology and one that is ratcheting itself upward into ever more wild assertions, so we all need to be free to talk back and ask questions.

Accordingly:

  • We affirm the right of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals to live free of harassment and abuse, and we welcome them enthusiastically as fellow participants in the profession of philosophy.

I have to say, that’s putting it more strongly than I would if I were a participant in the profession of philosophy. I would withhold the “enthusiastically” part. Here’s why: I think trans ideology, by its very nature (the ever-ratcheting extreme assertions), attracts narcissists and bullies. The more cultish and irrational it gets, the more attractive it is to narcs and bullies and the less attractive it is to reasonable people.

  • We affirm the right of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals to live free of harassment and abuse, and we welcome them enthusiastically as fellow participants in the profession of philosophy.
  • We reject calls for censuring or deplatforming any of our colleagues on the basis of their philosophical arguments about sex and gender identity, or their social and political advocacy for sex-based rights.
  • We condemn the too frequently cruel and abusive rhetoric, including accusations of hatred or transphobia, directed at these philosophers in response to their arguments and advocacy.
  • We urge that the philosophical discussion of sex, gender and related social and political issues be carried out in a collegial and mutually respectful manner, reflecting the full range of interests at stake and presuming the good faith of all parties.

Cordelia Fine is one of the signers.



Too much evolving

Jul 22nd, 2019 8:36 am | By

Is it hypnosis? Terror? Room 101? Hostage taking?

The Vancouver Dyke March assures us it is “centering” trans people. Cool. Next up: anti-racism march to center white people. Poor People’s March to center billionaires. Union march to center scabs. Atheist march to center Westboro Baptists.

In a bid to stamp out trans-misogyny and transphobia, the Vancouver Dyke March is centring the voices of trans people at this year’s march, which takes place Aug. 3, in East Vancouver.

Actual dykes can just stfu, right?

Dannielle Livengood, secretary treasurer of the Dyke March said the group invited WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre to be grand marshals of the march, because it admires how the centre has evolved to include trans, non-binary and gender diverse people in its sexual assault support services.

Aw yeah, evolving is so admirable. Shall we all evolve to include Trump in our anti-Trump campaigns?

Last year, a group of about 30 people showed up to “antagonize” trans people, Livengood said.

“The biggest problem of having these TERFs, or Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists … is that their tactics are often very subtle,” she said.

“To the uninitiated observer (their signs) can be very innocent, often with things like ‘Stop lesbian erasure,’ or two Venus symbols, and these seem like really legitimate things that most people would overlook, but often are weaponized against, particularly, trans women.”

How shocking. So let’s by all means erase lesbians and ban double Venus symbols, for the sake of men who claim to be women. Let’s center men who claim to be women in everything, and most especially in dyke marches.

People who are anti-trans don’t see trans women as women, said Livengood, who hesitated to explain what the protestors might have meant with their slogans for fear of giving them another platform.

That is, for fear of revealing the fact that what the protesters meant with their slogans was simply to point out the truth: that men are not women, and that women need and have a right to organize as women.

“Unfortunately, these people see biological and genetic sex traits as immutable and unchangeable, so they see trans women as taking over women’s spaces, or erasing lesbians, however the Dyke March proudly asserts that trans women are women and everyone who identifies as trans has a valid identity.”

The Dyke March also proudly asserts that bears are peaches and hammers are the Mississippi and climate change is Fake News. Whee!



A major leap forward in life chances

Jul 21st, 2019 5:16 pm | By

Last month the Australian Associated Press reported:

Trans, gender diverse and intersex Victorians will no longer need to have gender reassignment surgery in order to change the sex on their birth certificate, under proposed new laws.

The state Labor government will on Tuesday introduce a bill to parliament which, if passed, will allow applicants to self-nominate the sex listed on their birth registration as male, female or any other gender diverse or non-binary descriptor of their own choice.

I wonder how the “any other gender diverse or non-binary descriptor of their own choice” is evaluated. It’s their own choice but it has to be gender diverse or non-binary – so is there a master list of approved terms somewhere? Or can they just say it’s gender diverse or non-binary and that will be good enough?

Simona Castricum is happy but cautious:

As a transgender Victorian, our community have been here before: in 2016 a bill to reform legislation around gender identity on birth certificates was introduced by Labor but denied by the Liberal National Coalition.

“As a transgender Victorian, our community have been here before” – I do wish people would pick one subject (as opposed to object) and stick to it. That part of the sentence should read “As part of the Victorian transgender community, I have been here before” or “We in the Victorian transgender community have been here before” or some other similar variation, but it should not start with I and then lurch to our community while using the same verb for both. Does the Guardian not have editors?

Anyway.

If this new bill is passed, the proposed legislation presents a major leap forward in life chances for gender diverse Victorians…Changing the legislation presents a critical step in ensuring the life chances of trans and gender diverse people are realised to their full potential.

Why? How? Because all women will change their birth certificates to male and thus stop facing discrimination at every turn?

While trans and gender diverse people in the eastern mainland states wait for the democratic process to recognise their basic human right to self-identify, they are subjected to discrimination through existing birth certificates that indicate incorrect sex or gender. At the core of systemic transphobia is administrative violence. “The categorisation of people works as a key method on control,” writes Dean Spade in his 2015 book Normal Life, meaning sex or gender indicators on our birth certificates adversely affect basic rights to education, employment, social security, health insurance, public amenity, international travel and incarceration.

Basic rights to incarceration? But more to the point, their basic human right to self-identify? There is no such basic human right. That’s not a thing. I can’t identify as Donald Trump and transfer all his ill-gotten money to myself. Donald Trump can’t identify as a Nobel Prize winner and get respect and admiration. Ivanka Trump can’t identify as a head of state and get other heads of state to listen to her babble at the G20. That’s not how any of this works.

As the American writer and activist Julia Serano said in her 2013 book Excluded: “To shatter the glass ceiling, we must first learn to move beyond biology and give ourselves permission to become anything we want to be.”

We can give ourselves permission all we like, but that doesn’t mean we actually can become anything we want to be. Words are not magic, life is not a fairy tale, reality is not playdoh for us to shape any way we like. That’s not how any of this works.

Ultimately legislating for trans and gender diverse people to self-identify breeds self-esteem: a good start at best. Our gender – at birth or throughout life – is not for others to decide.

Assuming by “gender” he means “sex” it’s not for anyone to decide, it’s just a given. It just is what it is.



The worst of our past

Jul 21st, 2019 4:44 pm | By

It was a big party. They had a lot of fun.

The chanting was disturbing and the anger was frightening, but what I noticed most about the president’s rally in Greenville, N.C., on Wednesday night was the pleasure of the crowd.

His voters and supporters were having fun. The “Send her back” chant directed at Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was hateful but also exuberant, an expression of racist contempt and a celebration of shared values.

What values? The values of racist contempt, white triumphalism, belligerent patriotism, paranoid nationalism, generalized anger.

To watch raucous crowds of (mostly) white Americans unite in frenzied hatred of a black woman — to watch them cast her as a cancer on the body politic and a threat to a racialized social order — is to see the worst of our past play out in modern form.

A few decades back it would have been a lynching. Those too used to be exuberant festivals of hatred.

Ah. I typed that before I scrolled to the next paragraph.

To be clear, the Trump rally was not a lynch mob. But watching the interplay between leader and crowd, my mind immediately went to the mass spectacles of the lynching era.

Quite. They really did have a party atmosphere of the same kind as Trump’s foul “rallies.” People used to send postcards of lynchings. Jamelle Bouie goes on to describe one such lynching.

It is important to take history on its own terms. We shouldn’t conflate the past with the present, but we should also be aware of ideas and experiences that persist through time. A political rally centered on the denunciation of a prominent black person demands reference to our history of communal, celebratory racism.

Trump has no understanding of that, and wouldn’t care if he did. You could tell him that his rally had set off a mob that very night and that they had burned down several houses with people in them, and it wouldn’t slow him down for a second.



White man’s country

Jul 21st, 2019 11:38 am | By

Nell Painter in the Guardian:

In the 1970s, I thought changes in US laws and customs had put cries of “get out” and “go home” to rest. I thought the legislation of the 1960s on immigration, civil rights and access to the vote had put all that behind us, in law, at least, if not totally in practice. I thought the United States had turned a corner, had moved away from “this is a white man’s country” and relegated “go back to where you came from” to schoolyard taunts.

I didn’t quite think that, but I thought the changes and legislation had made the more overt behavior more shameful and thus less practiced in public.

Trump has made us admit that the “white man’s country” past – the past of publicly uttered white supremacy that Trump channels, the unabashed bigotry and xenophobia, the long, long past of race hate in the American south, but also in the west and the north—flourishes among us. His followers chant “send her back” and he preens in their enthusiasm.

He’s done that, and he and his allies and fans are also busily educating a new generation straight into racism, noisy shameless unabashed public racism. This isn’t going to fade away once Trump is gone.