Tag Archives: Tea Party

Thanksgiving 2010

Laurie and Debbie say:

We keep having difficult years, and yet there are always important things to appreciate, be thankful for, and celebrate.

Last year at this time, a national health care bill had passed in the house and was being debated in the Senate. Now (for all its limitations) we have the first national health care law ever in the United States, and early provisions are in place and doing good. The most recent changes (as of September) include requiring insurers to provide health care to children with pre-existing conditions, requiring that customers have a chance to appeal denied claims to an independent reviewer, and allowing people with insurance to go to the nearest emergency room without being penalized by their health care company. There’s lots more at the link.

The next two are documented here, and we were tempted to include more from that site. Click the link on a day when you need encouragement.

In 1990, 42% of the world’s population lived on less than $1.25 (constant 2000 dollars, PPP “purchasing power parity”). In 2005, that number had fallen to 25%. The UN estimates that by 2020, only 10% of world citizens will live in absolute poverty. Of course, ten percent is ten percent too many, but 42% is a lot worse. This shows that all the effort and energy that has been poured into world poverty is having an effect.

Access to safe drinking water is also improving. The industrialized world has had nearly 100% access for decades, and the developing world is catching up: In 1970, only 30% of people in developing nations had access to safe water, 71% in 1990, 79% in 2000 and 84% in 2004. The UN estimates that by 2030, 98% of the world’s population will have access to potable water. Wow!

As our own Marlene blogged here some weeks ago, the Obama administration has been reassuringly transpositive overall. Just one example from her post: transpeople can now get passports in their identified gender whether or not they have had genital surgery.

Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner and social justice activist Aung San Suu Kyi finally was let out of house arrest this month!

Everyone will tell you that the U.S. elections were a huge victory for conservatives, tea party types, and Republicans, but it’s not as true as it looks. Not only California, but just about all of the American west, including Nevada, Colorado, and Washington, rejected the short-sighted and often fraudulent claims of the right and elected or re-elected liberals and progressives. Even less noted is the fact that more than half of Tea Party-identified candidates lost their races.

In what was often not a good year for the environment, the Obama Administration kept its promises at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) talks. As a result, the ban on commercial whaling will stay in force.

Enormous advances are being made in the science of antimatter. CERN in Switzerland has trapped “a sizable amount” of antihydrogen. Scientists describe this as a key step in understanding why matter is the stuff of the universe and antimatter is so rare. Maybe not everyone agrees, but we really like it that this is a huge scientific discovery without any known practical applications.

Despite naysayers and warnings everywhere, South Africa hosted a wonderful soccer World Cup, which ran smoothly and brought delight to millions and victory to Germany.

And our very favorite TV director, David Simon (The Wire, Treme) won a MacArthur “Genius” Grant for his work.

Have a great holiday! We’ll be back early next week.

Color Change: If the Tea Party Were Black

Debbie says…

Anti-racist activist Tim Wise has been thinking about the Tea Party Movement. Specifically, he’s been thinking about what happens if the Tea Party protesters were simply re-colored.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protesters — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans?

He goes on in excruciating detail, bringing in many news items from the period of the Obama presidency, switching the skin colors.

First of all, the piece is brilliant. It needed to be thought of, it needed to be written, and Tim Wise was clearly the man for the job.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Second of all, it reminded me forcefully of Joanna Russ’s excerpt from the end of The Female Man (1973) which uses the opposite technique to provide the same strength of imagination:

It’s very upsetting to think that women make up only one-tenth of society, but it’s true. For example:
My doctor is male.
My lawyer is male.
My tax-accountant is male.
The grocery-story owner (on the corner) is male.
The janitor in my apartment building is male.
The president of my bank is male.
[and twelve more[

I think most of the people in the country are male.
Now it’s true that waitresses, elementary-school teachers, secretaries, nurses, and nuns are female, but how many nuns do you meet in the course of the usual business day?

Sometimes we can see certain kinds of things at an angle that we can’t see when we look straight at them.

Which brings me to my third point about Wise’s article. Here at Body Impolitic, one of our missions is “making the invisible visible.” We usually talk about that in physical terms: the proud visibility fat women, people of color, disabled people, trans people, and more. The phrase also applies to “the emperor has no clothes”: finding ways to show up inexcusable (and illegal) behavior for what it is, to illuminate the direction we seem to be going in, to make a point in a way more people can hear.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

If you have people in your life who send you extremist right-wing emails, or cartoons, or polemics; if you have people who support the Tea Party and don’t understand why you don’t; if you have people who listen to Glenn Beck and his ilk and spew their hatred at you, try to get them to read this. It won’t change most minds, of course: minds are hard to change. But it’s the best thing I’ve seen in a long time to open a few eyes, to redirect a little bit of the anger, and (just possibly) to open up some real discussion of what’s happening.

Seen a few places, but Carol was first.

* Googling around to find this excerpt on line, I found a 2006 book discussion group where a woman was asking if Russ was “exaggerating for effect” when she wrote this, because it’s so different now (in some places, anyway). In case anyone reading this is wondering, no, she wasn’t.