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Divide and Deceive

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There has been an ongoing attempt to divide the people of the United States in diametrically opposed groups. The groups have been framed in various ways over the decades as this has evolved. It has consistently been framed around so-called "values issues" which pits the "Christians" against the ... "humanists" ... "secularists" ... and now "secular fascism" according to Newt Gingrich. It has been an attempt by the "new" Republican party to redraft the United States. The question still remains if it will work. California's Proposition 8 passed. The explanation from the voter's guide was unambiguous:
ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. * Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. * Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Summary of Legislative Analyst's Estimate of Net State and Local Government Fiscal Impact: * Over the next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly from sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. * In the long run, likely little fiscal impact on state and local governments.
The passage of Prop 8 presented a California Constitutional amendment to overturn a California Supreme Court ruling which determined that the California Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. The California DOMA was passed in 2000, and overturned in 2008. The passage of Prop 8 sparked demonstrations across the country. It is, in part, these demonstrations that the "Right" (and FOX) are pointing at as violent "secular fascists." The movement for equal protection under the law has been long, and it is incomplete. From the efforts to gain citizenship by immigrants who were not "white" to the long struggle for people of color and women, to Constitutional protections for Gays and Lesbians. Throughout the history of the United States there has been an unceasing effort to expand the umbrella of equal treatment and equal protection to all of our people. Every step of this struggle has been met with fear and hatred by those who held the privilege of equality. Yes, the "privilege," for if equality and equal protection does not belong to all, it is a privilege. The language of division is meant to inflame. It is meant to make targets of certain populations for random and mass attack, It is meant to create fear on the part of the targeted and drive them back to their places of invisibility and second-class citizenship (or no citizenship). It was what drove the witch trials of the early United States, the horrors of lynching, the brutality of the reservations, the disenfranchisement of Japanese and Mexican Americans, and the incarceration, beatings, and murders of gays and lesbians from the twentieth century to today. The language of privilege and division enrages me. I am sick of arguments over "special rights" of the disenfranchised thrown by those who have those rights. I am sick of the privileged saying that the unprivileged are "violent" and "harassing" them. I am sick of the language of reversal that seems to be the rhetoric of choice by the "Right Republican." But more than that, I am sickened by what this rhetoric is intended to inspire - violent suppression of the marginalized populations. It is nothing more than an incitement to hateful action, and those doing it are fully aware of what they are doing. Gingrich knows that the hatred he inspires may cost lives. O'Reilly has to know that his ongoing vicious rants against "illegal aliens" is resulting in death. Both McCain and Palin were well aware that their rhetoric of "terrorism" and appealing to "real Americans" was an appeal to violent white backlash against people of color. And now, in the wake of Obama's win, racism, race related hate crimes, and death threats against the President Elect are skyrocketing. Who wins by such hate? Certainly not those who carry it out, but those who promote it do - and the big interests that back them. One would think that after almost eight years of nothing but the politics of fear, folks would have wised up. One would have thought that after almost 30 years of this drumbeat rhetoric that people would turn a deaf ear. But they don't and it continues to work to mobilize people to protect their "privilege" from the cries of those who want only to have equal protection under the law. On one level, it is dis-spiriting. On the other, it is the reality of the ongoing efforts to achieve a nation (and a world) where all are equal under the eyes of the law and the eyes of their neighbors. The history of the United States has taught us a clear lesson - achieving and maintaining the rights and liberties and protections of the Constitution require constant vigilance and effort. A good society is not an end - it is a process. However, one would hope we could follow this journey without inciting the privileged populace to violently suppress others.

 

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Rowan Wolf is an activist and sociologist living in Oregon. She is the founder and principle author of Uncommon Thought Journal, and Editor in Chief of Cyrano's Journal Today.

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