Monday, October 17, 2016

Republicans Aim Low, Democrats Help Them Aim Lower

Description: Two figures, one colored like a
Confederate flag and the other a rainbow flag,
the rainbow figure embracing the Confederate flag
figure. Below it it says "Forgiveness 2016."
Over it it says "This is not OK."
So yesterday I wound up getting out of bed after I just laid down because there was a total shitstorm afoot that I felt the need to get myself wrapped up in for some reason.  A Republican office in North Carolina was firebombed, messages spraypainted on it such as "Nazi Republicans leave town or else."

Once this news broke, a bunch of Democrats--in a sudden haze of damage control, I guess--raised thousands of dollars to get the office repaired and back up and running.  The best part is that this isn't going to make Democrats look better anyway, because quite frankly the Republican party's perception of them is so skewed they think that they're somehow a part of the radical left.  And really, does anybody who actually knows Democrats think that this was done by Democrats?  The Democratic party is full of cowards that are barely willing to try making serious institutional change through the ballot box or meaningful legislation, do you really think they're going to go out and firebomb a building?

A Democrat would also be aware of the possibility of retribution, something which also terrifies me to my core right now.  This took place in North Carolina, a state which is viciously transphobic and racist, possibly one of the most openly antagonistic places for a trans person to be in the United States and which is on a significant number of "Top Ten Most Racist States" lists.  And this sort of thing is championed by the Republican party in that state.  The point is, the people running that building are actively and maliciously harming people on a regular basis.  I don't give a damn about the building, but I do give a damn about the fact that marginalized people there are likely to pay the price.  Maybe I'd be less pissed about those donations if I thought that damage control had a stone's chance of working, just as a harm reduction strategy, but they won't.

After a lot of this shitstorm Transadvocate decided to chime in with one of the worst things I've ever seen, which is the above picture (minus my strategically-placed commentary).  When I saw this my heart started racing (in the bad way).  I went to unfollow them before realizing I already had at some point, an incident I only barely remember but which probably was pretty goddamn bad...but not this bad.  The motif is, if you can't see the image, of two human figures, one colored in a Confederate flag motif, the other in a rainbow flag motif, the rainbow-flagged individual embracing the other over the word "Forgiveness 2016."

And, well, fuck that shit.  When you make bullshit like this, there are a lot of things that you are willfully forgetting, personalized of course to this particular incident:

First off, it might very well not be your place to "forgive" them.  Are you a trans person, person of color, or other marginalized person living in North Carolina?  Because I don't think I've seen even one person from there who was like "oh let's forgive these poor souls they had a bad thing happen."  The very few trans people I've seen espouse this belief are white and not from the area.  Although we are all affected by what's going on in North Carolina, we are not all affected equally.

You just can't forgive somebody when you weren't the person they were harming.  And we can't assume that "I'm a trans person" is enough to be the bearer of forgiveness for something that is still fucking happening to North Carolina trans people... and will continue to happen.

Second, forgiveness itself is overrated, especially when the "forgiven" party hasn't apologized or made any sort of amends for what they've done.

The Republicans of North Carolina and elsewhere aren't going to stop oppressing marginalized people because you made a shitty decal "forgiving" them or raised a bunch of money to "rebuild."  The attack on their building didn't take place in the middle of some transformative experience among the GOP where they were starting to change their ways, it took place at a time when they have been doubling down on the harm they do others with no sign of stopping.

Trans people have responded to this by trying to put a human face on the issue, by sharing statistics showing that trans bathroom use does not harm cis people, by all sorts of nonviolent and non-antagonistic campaigns, and it did nothing.  So what in Gods' name makes you think this was a constructive thing to do?

The idea of forgiving people who didn't do anything to earn forgiveness is deep within a lot of peoples' psyche, they get the idea in their heads that it's good for them to forgive every single wrong done against them.  This kind of forgiveness is permissiveness.  If you forgive people who you know will continue to do the same thing over and over again, especially when the "forgivers" are not the ones at the highest risk, you are validating their behavior.

Finally, watch what symbolism you're using and adapting, I mean Jesus Christ.  This is a mashup of symbols from entirely different areas.  The original decal--in which the Confederate flag figure was beating the rainbow flag figure--is a symbol that had nothing to do with the burning down of a Republican building, in which a literal hate symbol (and yes, the Confederate flag is a hate symbol, there is no way getting around that) was used to show the creator's violent antagonism against queer people.

Because it utilized such a brazenly obvious hate symbol that has most historically been used to oppress, enslave, and murder black people, there is no context whatsoever in which it's appropriate to portray it being coddled by anybody, let alone a queer person.  If they really for some reason believed in this bullshit forgiveness lesson, they should not have used this particular symbol.  There was no way to adapt it to this purpose without it being a bunch of shit.

So basically not only the Democrats with their monetary donations but also the Transadvocate and everybody else pushing these insensitive "forgive and rebuild" campaigns are further marginalizing queer people and people of color for the benefit of an openly racist, homophobic, and misogynist group.  And no, that's not OK.