Being first to call out smaller and smaller transgressions

Valerie Tarico tells us how the Progressive Champions have trashed a local Planned Parenthood:

Planned Parenthood in Seattle recently fired a CEO who has been a hero of the reproductive health and rights sector for the last forty years. It’s not hard to find public examples of the Left eating our own to the detriment of real change (herehereherehere). But when it comes to reproductive health and rights, this is one of the most stark examples of form over substance that I have witnessed. And given the expected evisceration of Roe v Wade, it couldn’t come at a worse time.

Chris Charbonneau was terminated abruptly under a cloud of implied racism after she accurately described, behind closed doors, a donor’s use of the “n-word” to characterize how women in Texas are being stripped of dignity and bodily autonomy with six-week abortion bans. I’ll come back to that story. But first, I want to underscore that Planned Parenthood has just sidelined one of the most strategic thinkers, unflinching fighters, and accomplished leaders in reproductive health and rights—one who has been formally recognized by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Bill Clinton and others for her tireless work in underserved communities. If I were a conservative Catholic bishop, I would think that God had just answered my prayers.

Now go read Valerie’s piece for the detailed account of Charbonneau’s success stories.

It’s only the “progressives” who do this – who kick the legs out from under our own work via warped purity campaigns.

None of this was enough to keep Charbonneau from being fired after she uttered the words “quote-unquote n*****” out loud, loud in a private space when asked to recount “exactly” the frustrated donor’s comment to her VP of Development, Erika Croxton. According to various insiders, Croxton reported the transgression to a board member, complaining further that Charbonneau had failed to reprimand (humiliate?) the donor at the time. A subset of board members then hired an external DEI consultant, who concluded that no harm had been intended and advised sensitivity training. That took place, and Charbonneau believed the affair was settled.

There was no need for consultation. Three words should be enough: use-attribution distinction. These two things are not the same: calling someone a [nigger or cunt or faggot] and mentioning someone else’s use of derogatory epithets of that kind.

When Croxton found that Charbonneau was not to be fired, she quit along with Chief Learning Officer Anna Kashner who called Charbonneau’s failure to reprimand the donor and her use of the n-word “inexcusable and unforgivable.” Croxton said, “I cannot in good conscience continue to be part of an organization that fails to seriously respond to this degree of racism.” (Note 1: Both Croxton and Kashner are white.)

Of course they are. It’s that hideous dinner party all over again – the one where two prosperous women of color are lavishly paid to lecture women of pallor about their privilege over a luxury dinner provided by one of the pallid women. It’s a form of literal puritanism: looking for hidden forgotten “sins” so that self-chastisement can begin.

Fearing a broader staff exodus and public accusations, the board anointed an ad hoc committee of three, led by Jeff Sprung and Colleen Foster, who opened a second inquiry, this time soliciting opinions from staff broadly via a remote town-hall event. (Note 2: All of this coincided with COVID-strained relationships and fiscal challenges within Planned Parenthood, pay cuts, rising Millennial resentment of older white leaders in the nonprofit sector, and the Great Resignation.) Not surprisingly, the process elicited a variety of dissatisfactions and disagreements with leadership style or decisions. As one nonprofit leader put it, “None of us would survive that kind of a process right now.”

I wonder if the resentful Millennials think the older white leaders in the nonprofit sector should all just retire right this minute, taking their experience and knowledge with them.

Some Black critics call this sort of public outrage performative anti-racism—an attempt on the part of (often white) progressives to loudly signal “I see racism” by being first to call out smaller and smaller transgressions of verbal or behavioral taboos. 

How many gold stars can you earn?

In some progressive advocacy communities, historical hierarchies based on race and gender have been inverted, and privileged white people can compete for status only as allies. But we humans are hierarchical social animals, instinctively vying for inclusion and rank, and progressive activists are no exception. Nuns compete by trying to out-humble each other; chickens peck, squirrels bite, some progressive activists strive to be the most activist-y allies in the room. Melodramatic displays of vicarious outrage have become all too familiar, followed by firings and groveling on the part of self-protective nonprofit boards or corporate managers.

Emphasis mine, because I love that sentence.

This type of behavior is called performative by Left-leaning critics (ranging from Black linguist John McWhorter in the center to Black Sanders-Socialist Briahna Joy Gray to queer Marxist Freddie DeBoer) because it typically does little to nothing for the people who are struggling with consequences of bigotry, or cascading intergenerational effects of historic racism, or residual racism in our cultural institutions. In this case, the actions of Croxton did tangible harm to the populations Charbonneau served.

But…they’re fun? Valerie doesn’t exactly say that, but I’m pretty sure it’s the case. Displays of righteous anger are fun, and when they’re directed at a “Karen”…well, you know the rest.

Read on.

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