It’s been hard to know where to start with this week’s news. Earlier this week, I had a whole post drafted out; it was written at the height of a feminist rage, and I thought it was best to let it sit in my drafts for a while, until the red mist dissipated slightly. That was the writing equivalent of taking a deep breath and counting to ten.
I haven’t abandoned the original post, but I have edited it significantly. As the news piled on further shock and disappointment, I found that there was a recurring theme, and that’s where my title started to appear from the mist. In the end, I went for a quotation from Battlestar Galactica*. References to post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian texts are currently as ubiquitous as demonstrations of Godwin’s Law, but we have got to a point when they require very little stretch of the imagination.
My theme for this week: history repeating itself. Ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
It started with an executive order that effectively sentenced thousands of women to death under the guise of being in favour of life. Predictable, yes, but horrifying nonetheless.
I’ve always tended to think of Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life as a false dichotomy. I am passionately Pro-Choice because I am pro life. I care about the women whose lives and psychological wellbeing are threatened by pregnancy. I care about the lives of women who will lose access to contraceptive and reproductive services because some men in Washington feel squeamish about a medical process that, let’s face it, is never going to be someone’s first choice, never going to be something fun to do, and never going to be a decision that is made lightly.
I respect people’s right to have different opinions on abortion. But you know what? If you don’t like it, don’t have one. Don’t ban it, or feel that a woman’s uterus is within your moral jurisdiction. Mind your own bloody business.
A few days ago, I found myself saying, “At least Gilead only went this far because there was a population crisis…” That’s how angry I was.
Was this all Trump? Not convinced by this… unless it was a revenge move against the women who humiliated him last weekend by, you know, turning up to marches, trying desperately to prevent this sort of thing happening again.
Was this just to keep Pence on his side? Possibly. Was it just because it’s become a Republican tradition? Again, possibly. But I thought he wanted to do things differently?
He could have played a blinder here. If he had openly declared a change of heart on this issue, he could have portrayed himself as a president who listened and wanted to do things differently. It would have momentarily wrong-footed his opponents. He could have portrayed himself as a moderate, single-handedly keeping the extreme Christian right at bay. And it might have worked. (Yes, I have a Machiavellian side. Apparently more so than his team – that’s worrying…)
But that’s not the only scary development of the week. This was the week that also brought us:
- The wall. Historically, when have they gone well?
- The Orwellian press conferences, and “alternative facts”.
- The denial of climate change and the silencing of scientists who spoke an inconvenient truth.
- Trump’s idea that torture’s not that bad really.
And then, finally, on Holocaust Memorial Day, the edict that finally broke me.
I mentioned Godwin’s Law earlier, and how it requires no stretch of the imagination any more. It’s not even like it is evidence of an argument being taken to its extreme, or reductio ad absurdum any more. It’s right there on the surface, and we need to call it what it is. If we start using euphemisms like ‘alt right’, we are letting fascists hide in plain sight. Let’s describe the attitudes here- what we have is the demonisation of human beings who happen to have a different theological perspective. These are people who are suffering, and turning to the USA in desperate need of sanctuary, only to be turned away; people who will die unless they are given aid; people who are viewed with suspicion because leaders don’t understand that national, political and religious identity are separate things that can co-exist peacefully. The comparison makes itself. Has America not learned from the past?
Can we break the cycle? I don’t know. But we can certainly try. The best tool we have at our disposal right now is refusal. And fortunately, for the world and for my blood pressure, there have been some heroic tales of refusal this week as well. My favourites? The park rangers who wouldn’t stop tweeting. Not all heroes wear capes.
Refusal and resistance are not the same as rebellion. They are not mutinous. They are merely a reminder to leaders that they rely on the consent of the governed.
In case this all blows up as horribly as it could (and as horrendously as it has in the past), I would like to leave a note here, to the historians of the future, who are reading the online outpourings of this generation in order to understand how it all began: yes, we could see it starting. No, we did not accept it.
Peace and love x
*If you really want to be a pedant, a very similar line appeared in Peter Pan, but the wording isn’t exactly the same, and the context is different. So there.