Bear with me…let me do a little philosophy here to set up what I want to say. So this one feminist writer talks of the “birdcage.” When we look at single instances of apparent wrongs against women (e.g., lower pay, lower status jobs, terrible representation in science/computer/engineering fields, etc) and consider each individually, each can be easily explained away, it is said, with a host of non-sexist economic and cultural factors. But once we start looking at all these instances together, it is as if a pattern emerges and we begin to realize that maybe they are all connected and forming something ugly. Where we before only saw the “spokes of the cage” and didn’t think they were amounting to anything substantial on their own, we now see the “birdcage” they are forming and realize that women are actually within a cage, the cage of sexism. The thought is that once one sees the pattern of sexism these instances form, simple explanations cannot dissolve away the reality of the sexism.
With the metaphor of the birdcage in mind, I now turn to politics. And as I am fucking pissed at what happened yesterday to Representative Gabrielle Giffords, here is my argument, or rather a list of what could be seen as unrelated events.
1. Gabrielle Giffords (Democrat) was targeted and shot point blank by a 22-yr old crazy guy who had radically conservative ideas (view his last YouTube posts).
2. Westboro Baptist Church is going to protest the funerals of the six dead from the Giffords’ shooting. They also protested Elizabeth Edwards’ funeral as well as many of our fallen soldiers.
3. Eight abortion clinic workers have been killed since 1993, the latest being George Tiller in 2009. Also “since 1977 in the United States and Canada, property crimes committed against abortion providers have included 41 bombings, 173 arsons, 91 attempted bombings or arsons, 619 bomb threats, 1630 incidents of trespassing, 1264 incidents of vandalism, and 100 attacks with stink bombs…also 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers.”
4. Greater than 20 Democrat offices and homes have been threatened with violence (or had minor violence done) since health care reform was passed on March 21, 2010.
5. Oklahoma City bombing.
6. Michigan Militia.
7. Sarah Palin (need I say more?) using inciting remarks and imagery against individual Democrats. For instance, she has a graphic of the US and gun crosshairs over the districts of Democrats she is targeting.
8. Glenn Beck (need I say more?) frequently uses inflammatory rhetoric, such as last August he said, “If we do not put God at the center of our own personal lives and the center of our country, we will not survive. The country will be washed with blood and then someone will have to start over, and God only knows how long that takes.”
9. Michelle Bachmann (need I really say more?) has a litany of interesting quotes. “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.” She frequently calls on Americans to take up arms to defend what is right and to take back our country.
10. The Tea Party rhetoric and signs. Oh, just take a brief look at their signs – such a sight to behold. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCpwjvVaqyE
Alright, let’s just stick with those. Now one might argue that if we take any one of these incidents or people in isolation from the rest, we shouldn’t think twice about any pernicious movement or nefarious undercurrent. But, but, but! when you start considering them all together, I cannot help but see an evil birdcage forming around me, around our country. These events/people are related! They are related by an insidious form of conservativism that has been slowly growing and now appears to be blooming! Republican politicians do not have to be fearful of violence; the Democrats do! The sheer bulk of harm, intended harm, and vitriolic words are aimed at Democrats.
Conservatives have become really scary. I am genuinely scared now. I might start going to church and register as a Republican just to survive. If there is a God, “God help us all.”