It certainly hasn’t been a good couple of days for intelligent, progressive, open-minded Americans. It’s been a tough few days to be hopeful about this country. The Texas legislature passed a restrictive abortion law that seeks to take Texas back to the pre-Roe v Wade days. It wouldn’t surprise me if next week they passed a law making birth control illegal too. Meanwhile in Florida, George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Apparently, the people on this Florida jury heard a different case than, well, than just about anyone I know.
Quick glance around the rest of the country. Oh, yeah. North Carolina, where the crazies attached a massive abortion restriction statute to a bill about Sharia law. This is a daily double as it speaks of fear of Muslims and Women in the same bill. When folks caught wind of what kind of sneaky stuff the legislators in NC were pulling, the North Carolina legislature tacked the abortion bill onto a Motorcycle Safety bill. All this in the wake of six states (Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Utah and Tennessee) taking up anti-abortion legislation in the last six months.
So instead of letting out with a huge expletive, I’m going to take a stab at why. I’m searching for some kind of explanation, even a partial one that leads to hope. Here’s all I have at the moment. The old, white, angry, Christian men who make up a disproportionate majority of both state and federal legislatures are making a desperate last stand to try and stop social and political and cultural change that is sure to happen as the population and the electorate and society as a whole becomes younger, less hateful, more tolerant, and more diverse. When that change happens, and it will, the old, white, angry, Christian men will no longer have a lock on positions of power and authority. And that scares the living Hell out of them.
I firmly believe that as much as people don’t like change, most people are not afraid of change. People are afraid of loss, and the reason most people don’t like change is that they know or at least sense, they will lose something when change comes a-calling.
The old, white, angry, Christian men will do anything to resist, oppose, ignore, and fight the change to a more diverse, open, reasonable, inclusive society because it means they lose everything. They lose power, privilege, access, money, title, position…they lose the world as they’ve known it. The entire rug of the universe is being ripped out from under their feet. Like a cornered animal, they are fighting back with ferocious abandon.
Their last gasp attempts at stopping the evolution of our society will cause a lot of pain to those of us already desperately trying to live into the brave, new, open, equitable world. Perhaps their stand is good for us. There is no guarantee society continues to become more open, more tolerant, more reasonable, more just, more inclusive, and more compassionate. We must take care to continue to press forward and our march must be unrelenting because, as Frederick Douglas taught us, “Power never concedes anything without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
As the old, white, Christian men (and their allies among women and other people who have bought into and benefit from their patriarchy) dig their heels in, we must remember to not quietly submit to any of it. Our endurance must be negligible because the old, white, angry, Christian, male tyrants will endure only as long as we let them.
And while the news about Texas trying to legislate 1955 back into reality and the absurdity of Trayvon Martin’s murderer being acquitted is sickening, remember that we are pressing the fight to the old, white, angry, Christian men and it’s because we are winning they are digging in so fiercely.
While you lament the recent news from Texas and Florida, remember to cheer the news of Kathleen Kane from Pennsylvania, the Attorney General who is refusing to defend the state’s ban on gay marriage in court because she “can’t ethically do so as a lawyer.”
Take courage, keep fighting, and hold each other up.