Do something

“40 days for life” is one of those vile anti-abortion events where they spend 40 days harassing healthcare workers and patients at women’s health clinics twice a year (or once a year, when you happen have a winter the poor dainty warriors for god can’t handle). Well, the internet blackout I’m suffering from caused me to miss the fact that they’ve started again earlier this week, and will be continuing until November 6th. I’ve already messaged the clinic here to ask if they still need help, and will be trying to figure out if there’s counter-protests staged at any point.

I very much want to encourage everyone to do the same, so here’s the list of cities they’re scheduled to show up and be the nasty little anti-women creeps that they are, sorted by state:

Alabama
Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Tuscaloosa

Alaska
Anchorage

Arizona
Chandler, Flagstaff, Glendale, Goodyear, Phoenix, Tucson,

Arkansas
Fayetteville, Little Rock

California
Bakersfield, Carmel, Chico, Downey, Fairfield, Fresno, Gilroy, Glendale, Hayward, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Montclair, Napa, Pasadena, Riverside, Rosemead, Sacramento, San Diego/El Cajon, San Diego/Miramar, San Diego/San Marcos, San Fernando Valley, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa,
Stockton, Vacaville, Vallejo, Watsonville, Whittier, Yucca Valley

Colorado
Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins

Connecticut
Hartford, Norwich

Delaware
Dover, Wilmington

District of Columbia
Washington

Florida
Clearwater, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Naples, Pensacola, Sarasota, St. Lucie County, St. Petersburg, Tampa, West Palm Beach,

Georgia
Atlanta, Columbus, Lawrenceville, Marietta, Savannah, Toccoa,

Hawaii
Honolulu

Idaho
Boise

Illinois
Aurora, Champaign, Chicago, Downers Grove, Granite City, Ottawa, Peoria

Indiana
Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Lake County, South Bend, Warsaw

Iowa
Ames, Ankeny, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Fairfield, Sioux City, Storm Lake, Urbandale

Kansas
Overland Park, Wichita

Kentucky
Lexington, Louisville

Louisiana
Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport/Bossier City,

Maryland
Annapolis, Baltimore, College Park, Frederick, Germantown, Silver Spring

Massachusetts
Attleboro, Haverhill, Lynn, Springfield, Worcester

Michigan
Ann Arbor, Bloomfield Hills, Brighton, Dearborn, Eastpointe, Flint, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Southfield, Sterling Heights, Traverse City,

Minnesota
Alexandria, Duluth, Mankato, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Rochester, St. Cloud, Walker

Mississippi
Hattiesburg, Jackson

Missouri
Columbia, Lebanon, St. Louis

Montana
Billings, Helena, Kalispell, Missoula

Nebraska
Bellvue, Lincoln, Omaha

Nevada
Las Vegas

New Hampshire
Concord, Greenland, New Jersey, Cherry Hill, Hackensack, Manville, Plainfield, Shrewsbury, Toms River, Trenton, Woodbridge

New Mexico
Albuquerque

New York
Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Cobleskill, Goshen, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Niagara Falls, Plattsburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Schenectady, Spring Valley, Syracuse

North Carolina
Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Raleigh, Winston-Salem

North Dakota
Fargo

Ohio
Akron, Bedford, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cuyahoga Falls, Dayton, Lima, Painesville, Sharonville, Toledo

Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma City, Tulsa

Oregon
Beaverton, Bend, Eugene, Forest Grove, Portland, Salem

Pennsylvania
Allentown, Bryn Mawr, Chester County, Collegeville, Hanover, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Reading, Warminster

Puerto Rico
Bayamón

Rhode Island
Cranston, Providence

South Carolina
Charleston, Columbia, Greenville

South Dakota
Sioux Falls

Tennessee
Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, Tri-Cities

Texas
Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont, Bryan-College Station, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Grimes and Waller Counties, Harlingen, Houston, Killeen, Lufkin, McAllen, Montgomery County, San Angelo, San Antonio, Taft

Utah
Salt Lake City

Vermont
Burlington

Virginia
Alexandria, Charlottesville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Newport News, Richmond, Roanoke, Virginia Beach

Washington
Everett, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver

West Virginia
Vienna

Wisconsin
Appleton, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Wausau

And their non-US targets:

Canada
Alberta
Calgary, Edmonton

British Columbia
Vancouver, Victoria

Manitoba
Winnipeg

New Brunswick
Fredericton, Moncton

Nova Scotia
Halifax

Ontario
Guelph, London, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Sudbury

Québec
Montréal, Quebec

England
Birmingham, London

Australia
New South Wales
Sydney/Westmead

Queensland
Brisbane

South Australia
Adelaide

Tasmania
Hobart

Victoria
Melbourne

Argentina
Rosario, San Luis

Germany
Saarbruecken

Spain
Barcelona, Badajoz, Cantabria, La Granja de San Ildefonso, Lugo, Madrid, Medina Sedonia, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Segovia, Sevilla, Toledo, Valencia

On sexism, being a sexist, and doing sexist things

First, a caveat: absolutely no one is going to use the words consistently the way I’ll be using them here; the concepts are fairly well agreed upon, but how people choose to apply our extremely fuzzy language to them varies from person to person.

With that out of the way, let me say right out that we’re all guilty of sexism, because sexism is a structural thing (sexism = prejudice + power), and since our whole society is still sexist, we contribute to sexism simply by being part of it. We do this primarily in two ways: for one, because the structure itself perpetuates sexism, and few people function outside that structure (meaning, we all pay the price for dry-cleaning assigned to our clothes’ gender(!); we all, to some degree, submit to social definitions of what is “feminine” and what is “masculine”; etc.); two, growing up in a sexist culture means we learn how to act, what to consider normal, how to interact with people, how to assess them, etc. in ways that are in some way or another sexist; hence the studies that show lower levels of respect for women, from both men and women. So in that sense, every person who hasn’t been raised by (egalitarian) wolves and/or is far enough on the Autism spectrum to be immune to social clues is a sexist. That’s however not how people generally use the word “sexist”. When people use that word, they generally mean someone who is prejudiced against women; I would say though that that prejudice should be called “misogyny*”. The reason for that is that, as I said, sexism is structural. If no power accompanies the prejudice, you can’t really have sexism. As such, “misandry” is a real thing, but it isn’t sexism since there’s no real power to enforce anti-men prejudice**.
Now, the problem is that most people who are aware of the effects of being stuck in a sexist culture also don’t usually refer to everyone as sexist. so we get the distinction between “being a sexist” and “doing sexist things”; which, if we for a moment ignore my last paragraph and use “sexism” in the casual sense of meaning prejudice, is also a sensible distinction: being a person who is prejudiced, and inadvertently doing something, usually out of ignorance, that originates in prejudice are two different things. The distinction also might make sense in the context of the previous paragraph in the sense of there being a difference between being sexist, being a sexist, and doing sexist things: the first is the default for people in a sexist society; the second is someone who actively promotes, approves of, and willfully engages in sexism (i.e. what people usually think of when they hear the word); the third one is simply an isolated act that is borne out of the first, but doesn’t (yet) imply that one is the second: it does imply that the behavior is correctable and that a single sexist act does not yet condemn a person to being a sexist.
Anyway, this vagueness of language and the difficulty of accurately and consistently describing the concepts is what causes at least half the drama whenever sexist or misogynist behavior*** is pointed out: people feel like they’ve just been accused of being hateful, prejudiced assholes, when all that actually happened was that they did something that our sexist culture taught them to do; something they now have been given the opportunity to un-learn, and thus divest themselves of one more piece of inadvertent misogynist acculturation. Something similar happens with accusations of being “tools of the Patriarchy”: that’s not an accusation of outright hatred of women; it’s a rather blunt way of pointing out that an action/behavior/state of affairs that one is defending is patriarchal in nature, and as such, the defense serves to bolster patriarchy. Most people who act as “tools of the Patriarchy” do it not out of malice (though those exist too, of course) but out of sheer ignorance of how the thing they’re defending fits into the systemic structure of sexism. But of course, due to the charged nature of the insult as well as due to the Dunning-Kruger effect, people so labeled aren’t going to respond smartly to it. Especially when they’re very young, because as previously mentioned, most people under 25**** are fucking idiots who know a little bit of everything, and think that means they know everything.

I have absolutely no solution to this clusterfuck; if I were emperor of the world, I’d make everyone use these words in exactly the way I used them here, plus invent a new word for inadvertently promoting sexism, but without being prejudiced. Short of that, people will continue to (choose to) misunderstand and get pissy about being called on acting sexist or defending the patriarchy (and no, not calling them out is not an option)

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*it seems people use “misogynist” as a stronger version of “sexist”: someone who’s sexist is merely prejudiced, someone who’s misogynist is someone who actually hates women. On occasion, I also see “misogynist” simply being a subset of “sexist”, in the same way that “polygyny” is a subset of “polygamy”. Personally, I think the word is really more useful as the word for the specific prejudice that fuels sexism, in the same way that homophobia is the prejudice that fuels heterosexism. In fact, I wish there were such a distinction for racism, too, but there the systematic discriminatory outcomes and the prejudice are conflated and labeled with the same word, leading to all sorts of stupid drama. Like I said, language is incredibly, inconveniently messy.

**there is such a thing as sexism against guys: it’s that “Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too” thing: prejudice about how men are supposed to be and behave, and the social power to enforce this. homophobia is a huge example of this. This, however, is sexism against men borne out of prejudice against women (misogyny), not prejudice against men (misandry)

***since I earlier mentioned that sexism is structural, sometimes our sexist acts don’t even include any subconscious prejudice, but are merely ignorance or lack of knowledge of how to get something done without perpetuating the sexism of it; the best example was an article I read recently about a women consciously resisting from complementing a little girl on her looks, and instead asking about her interests. The woman clearly isn’t prejudiced, but does occasionally catch herself promoting sexism with small things like squee-ing at a baby-girl in a cute outfit; because it’s almost automatic, and socially expected. So, one can perform a sexist action, or one can perform a misogynist action (which would be one that did include prejudice, even if maybe only subconscious and/or unexamined prejudice). I wish there were a word for perpetuating sexism without being prejudiced, to avoid confusion *sigh*

****oh, the stupid shit I’ve said and done in defense of d00dz, for the goal of being seen as one of the “cool” girls… *groan* … and worst of all, I actually thought I was right! I wish at least I could say I was being cynical and manipulative and making the patriarchy work for me, but no: I was just stupid.

Intersectional Atheism

There is absolutely nothing on the internet about intersectionality within atheism/skepticism. I checked. The entirety of what’s out there is about atheism as part of the Matrix of Oppression in society as a whole, but nothing about the how the Matrix of Oppression works on and within atheism or the skeptical movement.

Which is why I’m writing this post despite the fact that I’m just about the last person who should, since I have a small audience, and one that’s made up to a very large degree of white, straight(-ish), guys. Someone has to make this post, and at least once it’s written, it’ll be out there on google for more relevant people to pick up on it. Plus, maybe some good ideas will come of it even here.

So, for starters, intersectionality means looking at oppression and discrimination not from the POV of identity-politics, but from the POV of the three main dimensions of oppression: the institutional, the symbolic, and the personal. We don’t think much about this in atheism/skepticism, especially as it relates to the skeptical/atheist movements themselves. We just take for granted that certain aspects of being or becoming an atheist and being/becoming a part of the atheist movement, are universal because they apply to most of the atheists we know. “most atheists we know” most often happens to be other white/straight(-ish)/male atheists (and the occasional white/straight(-ish)/female atheist who happens to live a life that closely resembles that of the male equivalent). These non-intersectional, most likely unconscious, assumptions are very likely what explains the abysmal lack of diversity in the atheist/skeptical movement.

If the goal of the atheist/skeptical movements is really to broaden the base and make atheism, and especially skepticism, attractive, acceptable, and attainable by as many people as possible, then solving the lack of diversity is essential, because white, straight, cis, middle class or higher, ex-christian(or cultural christian), anglophone guys make up a minority of the population even in Western Europe and the USA, where they’re most common. Hence the need for intersectional atheism: if we can’t figure out how the perspectives, issues, and problems of people from completely different backgrounds differ from ours, we will never be able to make our ideas acceptable to them, even if they’d otherwise already agree with us. Because people aren’t going to accept a worldview/contribute to a movement that behaves as if they didn’t exist, creates an environment in which they feel unwelcome, unneeded, or even threatened, and expects them to give up more than just their attachment to irrational ideas and/or superstitions.

So, here’s a list of stuff that needs analyzing and possibly changing, and that most importantly could really need the input of atheists/skeptics from these backgrounds:

1)Most prominent atheists are deconverts from the mainstream religion within their cultures, specifically Christianity. This creates issues and perspectives quite different from those who would be deconverting from a minority-religion, and especially from a religion closely tied to a discriminated against ethnic community. The problems WASP-y future ex-christians face are completely and utterly different from the issues facing Native Americans thinking skeptically about their tribal religions, or members of Middle Eastern diasporas thinking about leaving Islam. To them, the perspectives of secular diasporic Jews would probably be far more valuable than the perspectives of millions of cultural Christians living in cultures that are Christian or even secular-but-formerly/predominantly-Christian.

2)Related to the former is the assumption that secularization equals Westernization. Meaning, it seems to me that too many atheists assume that deconversion from a non-Christian religion automatically means also becoming part of the mainstream western culture (and on a larger scale, that secularization of a country means abandoning traditions derived from their cultures in favor of Western culture), which, in case no one noticed, is to a large degree de-religioned Christian/Euro-pagan culture. Secularism won’t ever win in non-Western countries if the choices are traditional religion vs. neo-colonialist secularism. The secularism of non-Western cultures must be a home-grown secularism that manages to separate the harmful and supernatural aspects of their culture without destroying the culture as a whole. And since the West managed that, there’s absolutely no reason to assume this cannot be accomplished with non-Western cultures.

3)Simply talking about how well feminism (and anti-racism or LGBT-activism for that matter) and atheism/skepticism go together won’t do any good if this is not something the atheist/skeptic movement actually acts on. Skeptifem said that she started her blog specifically to fill the niche of analyzing things critically from a skeptical feminist perspective. This perspective is still extremely rare within the skeptic movement, which is idiotic, because the Matrix of Oppression, and especially the symbolic dimension of oppression, lends itself spectacularly to skeptical analysis. So why isn’t there any of that?

4)Going from theory to praxis, atheist/skeptic events are also never intersectional. Part of the problem is that they’re lecture-based. The grass-roots, interactive level happens after the events, in the evenings over beers. This perpetuates already established hierarchies. And while one way to fix this is to invite more speakers from different backgrounds, another is to make grassroots participation an inherent part of the events. Interactive workshops, children’s events, and safe-rooms have been some of the things mentioned as possibilities to attract a more diverse crowd and faciliate more diverse conversation. I’d add that these sort of things need to be also part of the smaller interactive events. People with small children, people who work non-traditional hours, etc. may not be able to participate in the standard atheism/skepticism in a pub format.

5)Women who grew up within and still live in very conservative, religious, rural communities, especially if they’re also poor, depend on their church communities for social networking, influence, help etc. While internet communities help, physical rural support networks for people who think of leaving a religion are absolutely essential, because people are never likely to cut themselves off from their social safety network if there isn’t an alternative network. (this has worked somewhat on Pharyngula’s TET, both in terms of financial help and personal support. It’s still extremely spotty though)

Well, that’s all I can think of right now, and I’d definitely welcome other ideas or issues that might need to be addressed. It’s not muc right now, because there simply isn’t much to go on right now. That fact alone means that what atheism needs is something like Womanist Musings but for atheism instead of feminism, just so different perspectives can be shared between diverse writers and a wide audience. Obviously, I and my blog are entirely unsuited for that endeavor for the aforementioned reasons and because I suck at organizing people (I wouldn’t be able to convince a starving person to buy a sandwich from me, nevermind convince a bunch of diverse people I don’t know to start blogging together on the issue of intersectional atheism). But I’m curious if anyone has any ideas about which bloggers would make a good contribution to such a collective?

Booker T Washington — The Teabaggers’ favorite African-American

If you go back to the post about the Teabagger Magazine, you’ll notice that there’s an article about Booker T Washington in it. There is a reason that teabaggers would do this, and why they like this man. I wasn’t aware of this, because I didn’t, until last week, know shit about Booker T Washington. But I had to read one of his essays for class recently, and a lightbulb went on. So, I’m going to share what I’ve found out. I’m sure it won’t be too difficult to see why the teabaggers like him.

Booker T Washington was born in slavery, and he was very active in African American politics in the South, especially after Reconstruction, between 1890 and 1915. He was a very prominent figure, especially because he actually had a good number of white sponsors to his cause. This was primarily because of something called the Atlanta Compromise.

Here are some excerpts from and about his speech at the Atlanta Exposition, from his autobiography:

“The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we prepared for the exercise of these privileges. The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in in an opera-house.”

“My own belief is, although I have never before said so in so many words, that the time will come when the Negro in the South will be accorded all the political rights which his ability, character, and material possessions entitle him to. I think, though, that the opportunity to freely exercise such political rights will not come in any large degree through ouside or artificial forcing, but will be accorded to the Negro by the Southern white people themselves, and that they will protect him in the exercise of those rights. Just as soon as the South gets over the old feeling that it is being forced by “foreigners” or “aliens”, to do something which it dies not want to do, I believe that the change in the direction that I have indicated is going to begin.”

“I believe that it is the duty of the Negro — as the greater part of the race is already doing — to deport himself modestly in regard to political claims, depending upon the slow but sure influences that proceed from possession of property, intelligence and high character for the full recognition of his political rights. I believe that the according of the full exercise of political rights is going to be a matter of natural, slow growth, not an over-night gourd-vine affair.”

“As a rule, I believe in universal, free suffrage, but I believe that in the South we are confronted with peculiar conditions that justify the protection of the ballot in many of the states, for a while at least, either by an educational test, a property test, or by both combined”

bonus quotes:

“then, when we rid ourselves of prejudice, or racial feeling, and look facts in the face, we must acknowledge that, notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, the ten million Negroes inhabiting this country, who themselves or whose ancestors went through the school of American slavery, are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally, and religiously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe”

“To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to my own race, […] Cast down your bucket* among these people who have, without strikes and labour wars, tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, and brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and helped make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South”

I’m not going to comment on what cultural work Washington’s accommodationist writing was performing during his lifetime, because I’m really not familiar enough with the political and social context. Suffice it to say that he did have contemporary African-American critics, most notably W.E.B. DuBois. However, aligning yourself with these sentiments today speaks volumes, and not necessarily in favor of those who do so, I think.

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*metaphor for seeking what you want where you are, instead of looking for it elsewhere

Dispatches from an alternate dimension

1)Apparently, the way to ease traffic congestion is not to build more public transit and get people to walk and ride bikes, but to build more roads (just ask LA). Because “For most Americans — make that most of mankind — the car is an instrument of mobility, flexibility and speed” (just ask the Dutch and the Danes)

2)there are palm trees growing in Wisconsin

3)Wisconsinite palm trees also involved in teabagger having to go for x-rays and treatment of injuries from 3 seconds of shoving. Teabaggers must be very fragile individuals, no wonder they like Medicare (and on a tangentially related note: to this German, anti-fascist skinheads are a novelty)

4)Corporations paying nothing in taxes means they’re paying too much

5)Also, did you know that Planned Parenthood is invested in promiscuity? Because everyone knows non-promiscuous people don’t need pap smears, birth-control, diabetes screening, UTI tests and treatment, mammograms, or testicular and prostate cancer screening,

UPDATE: In a moment of serendipity, The Young Turks posted a segment on the same topic a moment ago: Fox Lies

“Interpol seeks to apprehend man accused of rape”

sounds unlikely?

That’s because it fucking is. In the most egregious case of “we’re doing it for the wimminz!” since the invasion of Afghanistan, the USA is seeking to eliminate political enemies by hijacking a feminist issue, thus actually doing great damage to it. Already the misogynist left is all over the women, claiming that they’re CIA spies who “tricked” Assange and that the accusations are therefore false.
Because women do that, and these particular ones were “radical feminists”, and wrote about how to get back at ex-boyfriends, and all sorts of things that somehow make it completely impossible that a risk-addict and someone who defies people and breaks social rules pretty much for a living could possibly actually have committed what he’s accused of.
Because of all the likely ways a CIA operative could have “trapped” a target, an accusation that under other circumstances wouldn’t have gotten him to trial in an American court, or even arrested (and in many other countries, as well) was, like, the best they could do? Polanski didn’t get arrested in forever for what was undeniably and invariably a rape, of multiple kinds (i.e. both a statutory rape for the age of his victim, and “rape-rape” for the fact that she said “no” and he ignored it), so the CIA decided to go with an even less likely charge, i.e. that of refusing to stop after the woman changed her mind?
In most cases, that wouldn’t even have been considered rape by anybody. In fact, I’m mildly curious about how the Right will react to this, since acknowledging that what Assange was accused of would, on the one hand, fit into the “Assange is evil” narrative; on the other, it would require admitting that “sluts” can be raped, too, and that consent to sex can be withdrawn at any time (instead of just being buyer’s remorse).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not precluding that Assange is guilty; but I don’t find it impossible that he could be guilty, especially since none of the reasons why he supposedly isn’t are anything other than the standard slut-shaming themes. I’m also more than a little pissed off that a feminist cause (getting the world to take rape seriously, even when perpetrated by famous people doing important things) is being so cynically abused for political reasons. Because let’s face it. He didn’t get arrested for sexual assault; interpol didn’t look for him for sexual assault. We feminists WISH the world would take the violation of women this seriously.
And just like with the “we’re liberating Afghanistan’s women!!” narrative, it will become impossible to disentangle the two, thus making anyone who is against the political imprisonment of Assange into a “rape-defender”, shutting down any reasonable discussion on the point.

The whole thing just fucking stinks.
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UPDATE: I just noticed Amy Goodman had an excellent interview with Glenn Greenwald on this issue, so I’m linking to it for clarification purposes

Accommodationism: the enemy of progress

As a “Gnu Atheist”, I run across the accommodationist trope in the fight against the toxic shit that comes from religion on a daily basis. But it’s not the only area in which it is present, and in all of them it is the enemy of making actual progress. The call for politeness, for measuredness, for being nice to to the haters and reactionaries who take away and deny us rights, has always been present. The suffragettes were being called unladylike and both anti-women and anti-men (yes, the suffragettes were the first feminazis!) before they ever started throwing stones, and even today people are disputing whether their actions actually helped women gain suffrage (I guess it’s just coincidence that suffrage was achieved after the moderate methods of the suffragists were abandoned in favor of civil disobedience and eventually real militancy). And this has not changed since. Even today, women are still told that “the effectiveness and inclusiveness of women’s advocacy is inversely proportional to its radicalism”.

The Civil Rights movement also had the famous “Uppity Nigger” trope, and MLK himself expressed his frustrations with the “moderates” and accomodationists among the white population in the Letter from Birmingham Jail*:

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

The same is being asked of LGBT activists who are called strident for kissing in public like everyone else, mentioning their partner in casual conversation like everyone else, and participating in those shrill, loud, Gay Pride Parades which corrupt children and somehow shove sexuality down people’s throats (as opposed to, you know, simply loudly proclaiming that gays are real people that really exist, not abstracts).

And in all these cases, it’s bullshit. The moderate stance is not accomplishing anything.

Or, if I want to be generous, it’s not accomplishing anything by itself. The moderates need the radicals. For one, without the radicals shifting the Overton Window, they themselves would be seen as the radical end of a spectrum (and in some cases, they are called that anyway). Two, throughout history it took serious threats of social disruption and violence (and sometimes ACTUAL social disruption and violence) to get anyone to do anything. Rights are taken, not politely asked for. Even the two most famous non-violent movements that were successes, were successful because everyone at some point realized that the choice was between dealing with MLK/Ghandi, or dealing with the seriously radical, violent elements (Malcolm X and Subhas Chandra Bose respectively). And let’s face it, even those non-violent movements made the real accommodationists clutch their pearls, since they WERE breaking laws and disrupting the existing social order. they just did it in such a way that none of their opponents were hurt (and nevermind that their opponents definitely didn’t have such scruples. but accommodationists never see that, do they).

Not that, at this point, I’m advocating turning to violence to get our points across, but at some times in history, it seems the threat thereof is the only way to get some social justice. Plus, I wanted to underscore how much less radical the “radical, strident, and militant” feminists/atheists/anti-capitalists/environmentalists/etc. of today are, compared to some of the social justice movements in the past. And yet, the accommodationists whine.

Well, fuck them. Sideways, with a Stinging Tree

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*and also against the “time is on our side, so just sit and wait” BS I wrote about in my last post. But that’s not the point right now.