Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Second "Letter to the Editor" In These Times Declined to Publish

I wrote a second "Letter to the Editor" to the left newsmagazine In These Times commneting on another article in its January 2016 issue, Jill Hopke's "Free Speech and Campus Protest," [Linked here at http://inthesetimes.com/article/18667/Campus-Protest_University-of-Missouri_Racism] in which the author interviewed activists at the University of Missouri protesting raicism and demanding press-free "safe spaces" for the protestors, which the author naively, and unconscionably, supported.  In my "Letter" I vigorously defend the idea of a free press that's given unfettered access to all events noteworthy, and chide the notion of "safe spaces" free from press scrutiny.  This "Letter" In These Times also declined to publish, and again for the same lame reason Editor Joel Bleifuss gave for refusing publication for my first--"We don't publish all letters submitted."  Ironically, in this post-Trump-elected-President time of later 2016, with President-elect Trump, thundering against a press criticizing him, and threatening to drive independent media out of existence through lawsuits alleging libel, In These Times is now trying to rally support and financial donations for itself by championing a free and unfettered media that vigorously goes after any and all who are noteworthy!  Same as the University of Missouri protestors were earlier, when In These Times shamelessly acceded to their demands for journalist-free "safe spaces"!  But now that the Trump Administration is demanding "safe spaces" free of discomforting journalists who question it, In These Times has reversed course!

But it is indeed a free and unfettered press that is the greatest protection for dissident and left-wing movements!  Even when the press "embarasses" the activists and dissidents by exosing their flaws, inadequacies, gaffes, and troubling positions--which is what it is supposed to do.  Same as, as I pointed out in my "Letter," the Boston Globe did so admirably when it "violated" the "safe space" of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston on priest-pedophilia and its deliberate cover-up!

Truth is, even when it exposes that which is "embarassing," the free press does the left a service; most notably, as did John Reed's first-hand account of the unfolding of the Bolshevik Revolution, Ten Days that Shook the World, where he revealed not only that Stalin played no significant role in the Revolution whatsoever, but also exposed the deep divisions within Bolshevik ranks over the policy of Lenin and Trotsky to establish a "go-it-alone" exclusively Bolshevik government, with many leading Bolsheviks openly expressing support for a unity coalition socialist government that would even invite the Mensheviks and right and center Socialist revolutionaries to participate--for which, as Reed noted, close allies of Lenin, Zinoviev and Kamenev, were retaliated against for their temerity!  But such "unpleasantries" exposed by a free press could only serve the socialist nature of the social transformation Lenin and Trotsky envisioned, as their later, reluctant, reaching out to the Left Socialist Revolutionaries to join with the Bolsheviks in forming a socialist coalition government demonstrated.

Unfotunately, this new Millennial left of the late 2015-early 2016 campus protests displayed all-too-common totalitarian procilvities when it comes to journalists, expsoed their censorious vent to shape the news they way they wanted it to go. and sadly, such has been part of the left ofr a long time--the desire to stage-manage the reproting on its goals, activities, programs and outreach.  But a truly free and independent press is not there either to be a cheerleader, or a constantly sniping critic, but to be an impartial reporter, telling its readers exactly what is happening, and how it is happening.  For truth is the best way for the left to reach its goals; not propaganda, not stage-managed selective reporting, not acquiescing to deamnds that certain things be kept secret "for the good of the cause," and not caving in to demands that only the "correct" version be published.  Such censoriousness embraced by the left can only hurt the left in the long run, and even in the short run; as well as give ammunition to the left's nemeses on the right and center to demand the same thing.  Transparency is the greatest advocate for freedom and self-determination there is, and the left needs to also realize it--GF.

 This second "Letter to the Editor" follows below:

To the Editor:

 
I recently saw Spotlight [later awarded an Oscar for “Best Motion Picture of the Year,” 2015—GF] , the most engaging movie of how the Boston Globe violated the "safe space" of Boston Archdiocese's Cardinal Bernard Law and his coterie of high-up Catholics that had allowed them to cover up the vicious predation of Catholic priest-pedophiles in the Archdiocese, and exposed what turned out to be an international scandal within the Catholic Church, the widespread molestation of children by such priest-pedophiles, who'd gotten away with it unnoticed for decades.  Same as Woodward and Bernstein of the Washington Post had violated the "safe space" of Richard Nixon and his political cronies in promulgating the abuses of Watergate.  Same as the muckrakers of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries had violated the "safe spaces" of political bosses and predatory capitalists in promulgating economic misery and political corruption on millions of ordinary people.  Same as reporters such as the New York Times' David Halberstam and Seymour Hersh had violated the "safe space" of the policy wonks, military chiefs and political heads who promulgated the Vietnam War.   And same as iconoclastic 1920s journalist H.L. Mencken had violated the "safe space" of those he sneered at as the "booboisie" and other assorted obfuscators and promoters of political illiteracy and cultural mediocrity back then.  But that's what a serious free pressed is supposed to do—afflict the comfortable, and expose those "safe spaces" of the rich, the connected, and the powerful in keeping from public view that which they didn't want known.

 
Which is why I cannot sympathize with in the least the whining about the press and its alleged violation of "safe space" by the young activists of the University of Missouri interviewed in the January 2016 issue of In These Times, http://inthesetimes.com/article/18667/Campus-Protest_University-of-Missouri_Racism. A proper free press, even if it is comprised of "mere" student photojournalists who are fellow students in Missouri, are supposed to do--report on all events and affairs that the public has the right to know about without "fear or favor," a duty incumbent on the press to do no matter who is involved--and which we of the socialist left rightly excoriate when the press does not fulfill this adversarial duty, but instead reduces itself to being mere mouthpieces for those it is covering, or else decides, due to hostility on the part of the newsmakers, to refrain from covering lest it "ruffle feathers."  To oppose a truly free and independent, even adversarial, press, no matter how supposedly "well-intentioned," as is the case with these young activists, is to transmogrify the press from a source of genuine news and opinion into a mere public relations vehicle on behalf of certain partisans at the expense of the public's right to know--and it's the same whether the press is represented by journalism school students, or by organized partisan private media such as Fox News, or by supposedly "neutral" but corporate-dominated media such as CNN, or favorable media such as Rachel Maddow, or even "official" media at the beck and call of the powerful and influential who happen to be the "good guys," such as Cuba's Granma, China's Renmin Ribao, the pro-protestor Nation, or house organs for vested interests who report very selectively, such as Putin-dominated RT, or even often reliable Al-Jazeera, which leaves out much while selectively publicizing much that needs to be publicly known.  The independent, adversarial press is a mainstay of any truly free and democratic society, and its' duty is to expose  and properly comment on all the laundry, clean and dirty, regardless of whether it's the laundry of the "good guys" or the "bad guys." 

 
The young activists of the University of Missouri don't seem to understand this, as evinced by what they said when interviewed; they also don't seem to understand that, just because you're the "good guys" who are supporting the just and noble cause (and they are), there is no arbitrary changing of the rules and delimiting of access simply because the "good guys" wish it to be.  An that no group of appointed leaders automatically speaks for all, has the right to decide what shall be and not be the rules, what access shall be allowed and what shall not, and that, even if ruling by "consensus," it does not, and cannot, speak for all; and also, that even the best-intentioned of "good guys" do not simply always remain so, and never have to answer to their adversaries, their opponents, or even their partially-dissident or just questioning followers.  The ideals of transparency and accountability are at the core of any truly functioning democracy, and their past "misuse" doe not justify abrogating them--even for the "best of reasons."


This is what our young activists of today fail to understand; further, their very addled notion of "safe space" as a space free from criticism and dissent, that always remains a warm fuzzy haven for the activists free of "contention," is not only unrealistic and is at direct variance with the real world, it is fundamentally destructive of truly democratic give-and-take that is at the core of any really vibrant social movement for substantive change.  It transforms those movements into mere shells, and silences those who are supportive but somewhat  laden with doubts and questions, making them into enemies of the cause itself.  That has become clear from the student protest movements that have occurred to date, and is clearly demonstrated by the course of events not only at the University of Missouri, but also Yale, Princeton, Oberlin and elsewhere, where young activists have veered from demands that were fully justifiable at first to becoming ridiculous and untenable later on.  Movements that have far too often pitted students against the faculty an derided professors' legitimate concerns over academic freedom, but have even improperly aligned supposedly protesting students with university administrations in imposing a false harmony of quashing dissent and criticism over those with legitimate, or just questioning, concerns.  Just the opposite of what we, as young protestors in the 1960s, were about--then, from the civil rights movement through the Berkeley Free Speech Movement through the rise of antiwar and New Left movements on, we young protestors then wanted to be treated as adults, not as children who wanted to be guided by benevolent administrators acting in loco parentis; and we wanted liberated spaces where we could engage freely, even in disagreement and dissent.  The last thing we wanted was to be confined in "safe spaces" where no dissent, disagreement, or mere questioning, was permitted, and where we were delicately  managed and "taken care of" as children under the tutelage of some "benevolent" Orwellian Big Brother who "protected" us from "contentious" forces.  Back then, we dealt with students and others who disagreed with us, sometimes very hostilely, by marshaling our forces and our arguments, by trying to win over whenever we could; but not impose our will on others through intimidation or aggression (though, certainly, sections of the protesting left did that later), with the always-"helpful" university administrators readily available to "smooth things over."  We were aligned with supportive faculty to extend the boundaries of speech and constructive action, to confront positively those who disagreed with us, and opposed, and were opposed by, the university administrators who saw us as "fomenting contention."  That, as Josh Zeitz's recent article in Politico,
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/12/campus-protests-1960s-213450, and in the blog post of leftist writer and academic Fredrik de Boer, http://fredrikdeboer.com/2015/12/22/yes-virginia-there-is-a-left-wing-reform-movement/, have pointed out, is the big difference between the activists of then and the activists of today.  We noisily wanted to be adults; but today's activists, sad and unfortunate as it is, only want to remain children coddled in, protected by, "safe spaces."

 
George Fish,
Indianapolis, Indiana

 
[Author's note:  I am a socialist writer and a left activist since 1965; my activities in the anti-Vietnam War Movement at Michigan State University, 1965-1971, are extensively chronicled in Kenneth Heineman's Campus Wars (NYU Press, 1993), a well-regarded history of the antiwar movement of then on non-elite state campuses, a book I reviewed as reviewer-participant in the February 1994 Monthly Review under the title, "The Vietnam War at Home."

 
       

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A "Letter to the Editor" In These Times Declined to Print

In the January 2016 issue, the democratic socialist newsmagazine In These Times (ITT) published two whiny, hand-wringing articles on Islamophobia that were filled with "leftist" anti-Western masochism that I felt compelled to responsd to through the "Letter to the Editor" posted below.  These two articles, Saqib Bhatti's "Our Best and Bigoted," and Jane Miller's "Paris and Provocation" [both of which are linked below], were just too much typically "politiclly correct" (PC) masochistic beating of breast, as well as too much beating up on fellow citizens for alleged "insensitivity" to persons of color generally, and Muslims in particular, despite three murderous, cold-blooded atrocities perpetrated in the name of a particularly vengeful, bloodthirsty version of Islam itself--the 9/11 attack on the World Towers by suicide operatives crashing planes into these buildings' sides and thus killing not only the perpetrators, but thousands of others who had nothing to do with the wars in the Middle East; and the late 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris that followed the murder the editorial staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo nearly a year earlier for allegedly "insulting the prophet Mohammed."  The gist of these two articles was, "What do you expect?  the West caused all this, on all three counts!" something I profoundly disagreed with--as a socialist opposed to all real forms of racism and discrimination, certainly, but also as a civil libertarian of the political left upholding the rights of free speech, including "offensive" speech, and the right of persons to be "safe and secure in their persons" despite the foreign policy of their government, over which they have very limited, if any real, control.  However, ITT evidently disagreed that this was a "legitimate" political position for a left publication to publicize in a "Letter to the Editor" concerning articles it itself published.  Joel Bleifuss, Editor and Publisher of In These Times, finally responded to numerous einquiries abbout my "Letter" with a terse "In These Times doesn't publish every letter submitted," nothing more.  Yes, I suppose not--especially, comrades of In These Times, a publication/website which has published several articles of mine in the past it had no ideological quarrel with, but somehow can't find within itself the intellectual honesty to published a concerned editorial letter critical of two articles it did publish? Or is the purpose of  ITT's readers' forum only to publicize "Letters to the Editor" that it agrees with, or which praise what it does publish?  Yes, oftentimes the left does indeed have a very selective understanding of "free speech," notably on topics such as "Islamophobia," where properly adhering to PC guidelines is very important.  Be that as it may, my "Letter" below was very fulsomely praised by a prominent extensively-published socialist writer of my acquaintance, and I still believe, was indeed worthy of publication by ITT.  Whose decline to publish I can only see as PC self-censorship.--GF

To the Editor:

Jane Miller's and Saqib Bhatti's whiny articles in the January 2016 In These Times  do a disservice to ITT, to leftist and socialist values, and to true religious tolerance and fighting honest simply because they are Muslim, and does not mean refraining from criticism of Islam or Islamic organized groups). [Miller’s article can be accessed on the Internet at http://inthesetimes.com/article/18646/Syria_ISIS_Paris_UK-Parliament, Bhatti’s at http://inthesetimes.com/article/18647/why-race-relations-on-campus-must-be-challenged-and-transformed.]  Both authors conveniently overlook that al-Qaeda and ISIS openly bragged about their complicity in 9/11 and the Paris attacks, along w the bragging and complicity of self-identified Muslims in other terrorist attacks, all the way from the murder of the Charlie Hedbo cartoonists of a year ago right up to the celebration by ISIS of the lone-wolf but Islam-inspired killings in San Bernardino.  Tellingly, while professed Muslim Bhatti has nothing to say about direct Islamic complicity in 9/11, as admitted at the time by al-Qaeda itself, and while also refusing, same as Jane Miller, to admit that al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, the repressive authoritarian regimes of both Iran and Saudi Arabia are, in fact, just as Islamic as Pat Robertson is Christian (both reprehensible, of course, but both equally supported by direct reference to their respective Holy Books, the Qu'ran and the Bible, both of which I have read completely, without cherry-picking only for the "good parts"), and while Bhatti does properly denounce and make us aware of the individual acts of bigotry and intimidation that followed in the wake of 9/11, he would rather lecture Westerners on Islamophobia after 9/11, despite clear Islamist gloating over this despicable terrorist attack.  Further, while I certainly have no interest in justifying in any regard the acts of blatant racism he scores, I also have no interest in being, like so much of the "regressive left," silent about the clear links to 9/11 and other acts of Islamist terrorism deliberately promulgated in the name of Islam itself.  Now, if Bhatti and Miller wish to blame such atrocities on a rogue Islam, a dangerous deviant from "mainstream" Islam, they need to say so directly, and not somehow backhandedly support or justify such actions committed in the name of Islam.   Because, frankly, as one of those supposedly benighted Western socialists and upholder of Enlightenment ideals, I am sick and tired of all the cant promulgated by Ben Affleck and others about "devout" Muslims who wish only to be left in peace and who are supposedly foes, not silent partners of, Islamist terror, correctly called Islamofascism--by, among others, persons of Muslim background themselves!  (Such as ex-Muslims of distinction as British humanist, socialist and atheist Maryam Namazie, author Salman Rushdie, the American Muslim magazine, and many others).   I do not apologize in the least for regarding Affleck's "devout" but silent Muslims as every bit as complicit in the spread of Islamofascism as were all the "good Germans" who were also noticeably silent about the Nazis and their atrocities, and were thus at least de facto collaborators with the Nazis rather than resistance fighters against it.   (But of course, all too many of these "devout" European Christians actively collaborated with the Nazis and informed on the whereabouts of their Jewish and other "undesirable" neighbors, so that they could be carted off to the Final Solution.)

Jane Miller is equally disingenuous in her tortured attempt to somehow paint some sort of "moral equivalence" between aggressive acts in the Middle East by US and other Western forces and the targeting of individuals or groups of individuals by Islamist-inspired terrorists.  She is simply committing the logical fallacy of comparing apples and oranges here, and though she tries to justify this somehow by the same tortured logic that the Weathermen used in the 1970s to defend their bombing of unconnected, or only vaguely-connected, groups of individuals to the foreign policy of the US and its allies in Vietnam, it simply doesn't hold--it didn't hold then, and it doesn't hold now.  That somehow, rock concert attendees and restaurant patrons are as "complicit" in the foreign policies of the US and France in the Middle East same as their governments, and have no more claim of innocence than direct Islamist repressive, terroristic organizations as ISIS, al-Qaeda, and their devotees are internationally, and as Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban are in their national homes. No, I do not see the bombing or ISIS headquarters in Raqqa and Europeans and others willingly, even eagerly, travelling to join ISIS as the "moral equivalent" of Islamist terrorism in the West.  The unfortunate fact of modern warfare is that the doctrine of "total war" in which civilians are as "justifiably" attacked as are military forces has prevailed everywhere ever since the Civil War; but no, that does not make Sherman's March to the Sea, or the firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden, or even the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the "moral equivalent" of the Confederacy's war to preserve and extend slavery, the Rape of Nanking and Japanese atrocities in the Philippines and elsewhere, or the Nazi death camps and puppet governments such as Vichy France, all to be "equally condemned."  There are obvious moral differences, despite the atrocious nature of the first five, and in defense of "benighted" Western values, I would pointedly note that while groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other Islamists have arms and territories, not to mention--Yazidi and other "non-Muslim" sex slaves!--the "benighted" Enlightenment-inspired secularism of the West grants to the likes of Pat Robertson and his ilk only TV stations, or the ability to run for office and publish in print and social media, despite the wishes of his (and their) rabidly religious followers to be able to do what ISIS and others do, not only to non-Muslims, but to what they consider to be "bad Muslims" in their controlled territories!

Last, I would extend to Jane Miller and Saqib Bhatti my eager hand in building a truly socialist movement that would extirpate the likes of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and other Islamofascists of the East as thoroughly as an earlier generation of socialists, Communists, and democrats extirpated the threat of state-controlling Western and Japanese fascism.  Are they game for it, or will they shamefacedly refrain from such a necessary task in our time?  Same, I might add, as the Quaker socialist I know here in Indianapolis who stated that "It would "have been all right with me" if Hitler had conquered the world rather than have fought World War II, conveniently overlooking the fact that, had Hiller prevailed, he wouldn't have been talking such to me, but would, instead, have been a casualty of the Final Solution to the Quaker/Pacifist Problem! 

George Fish,
Indianapolis, Indiana

[Author's note:  I am a contributor to both ITT in print form and to its website since the 1990s, most recently having published on its website two articles on social justice advocate Roy Bourgeois, in September 2012's "Boy Bourgeois' Journey" and August 2011's "The Rebel Feminist Priest."]

 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The "Correspondence" Monthly Review Declined to Prnt

I submitted the "Correspondence" to the long-established socialist magazine Monthly Review in January 2016.  Since its founding in 1948, Monthly Review has been a theoretical mainstay of the Marxist left, especially the self-styled "revolutionary left."  In December 2015 it published an article by French Marxist Michael Lowy, a leading figure in one of the sections of the Trotskyist Fourth International, that was uncritically laudatory of Pope Francis's enclclical on climate change, Laudato Si'.  As a socialist influenced strongly by Marxism and Trotskyism as well as an ex-Catholic atheist, I found Lowy's paean to what was a mundane eucyclical that only repeated what scientists themselves had been saying for over a decade really over-the-top, and his embrace of "papal socialism" most untoward.  While in the absence of major activity of a strongly socialist charcter absent from the working classes in especially the advanced capitalist countries apparent for some time now, many Marxists have shifted ground in search for a new "revolutionary" substitute for the moribund proletariat--some, such as the Maoists, have embraced the peasantry and the dispossed in the Third World, while others have cast their lot with various racial and social "vanguards" that Marxist intellectuals can oorganize through the all-purpose means of the Leninist party.  But to see the Catholic Church as suddenly a force for socialism, for a new political consciousness, for a new critical awareness, given its nearly-two-millennia record of obfuscation, obscurantism, reactionary social and political policies, and open support for reactionary and repressive political regmes?  For this decidedly ex-Catholic who was himself a victim of Catholic abuse, that was too much!  Hence, this "Correspondence," whch Monthly Review declined to prnt, thus casting its lot with those who would align with alleged "Catholic social conscence" and its new PR-frendly Pope rather than those who were abused and dispossed by Catholicism itself--GF


To the Editors of Monthly Review:
 

Michael Löwy’s paean to Pope Francis’s “ecological encyclopedia” (as he calls it) in the December 2015 issue of Monthly Review, “Laudato Si—The Popes Anti-Systemic Encyclical,” http://monthlyreview.org/2015/12/01/laudato-sithe-popes-anti-systemic-encyclical/,
is, by far, too much a glossing-over of the dark side of both the Pope and the Catholic Church;   it is able to extend fulsome praise to Laudato Si’ only by overlooking, by separating it out abstractly from, the many other failures and considerable limitations of Pope Francis’s refurbished Catholicism itself.  For ex-Catholic atheists and Marxists such as myself, these failures and limitations are especially glaring; and while we are perhaps willing to march partially with the Pope on ecological concerns, on so many issues which still fester in Catholicism, issues on which leadership and eloquence from Pope Francis have been noticeably lacking, we must dissent and demur.  The supposed “anti-systemic” critique of global capitalism, which Löwy sees in Laudato Si’, simply cannot cancel out  the inaction, indeed even the hidebound reaction, that is still integral to the Catholicism of Pope Francis just as much as it is of his predecessors, and which is still part and parcel of Catholic theology and ethical teachings.  The Pope is more than “naïve,” as Löwy would have it; despite certain advances he’s promulgated in some areas of Catholic teaching (which have actually garnered more favorable publicity than actual substance would justify—i.e., they are more achievements in public relations than they are in loosening the grip of reaction on official Catholicism), the Pope is still preaching doctrine that, while partially recognizing the Twenty-First Century, in other crucial ways is still mired in the medieval scholasticism that is the Catholic Church’s continuing legacy as a whole—whether we wish to recognize it or not. 


These concerns of mine as precisely an ex-Catholic Marxist and atheist moved me to prepare the following flyer I distributed to a meeting here in Indianapolis, Indiana, that was convened to discuss Laudato Si’.  In trying to write with an appropriate balance, especially to the audience gathered that was primarily comprised of religious believers, I think I achieved precisely this in the short space of less than 650 words, and summed up my arguments appropriately in my very subtitle:  “Kudos to the Pope, but Not to Catholicism.”  I present this flyer below as a contribution to discussion of the Pope’s encyclical and the ongoing nature of Catholicism itself.

 

POPE FRANCIS’S CLIMATE CHANGE ENCYCLICAL—
KUDOS TO THE POPE, BUT NOT TO CATHOLICISM!
written on June 22, 2015
 by George Fish, Indianapolis, Indiana:
ex-Catholic, atheist, democrat, socialist, humanist, secularist

 
While we can indeed take heart at the Pope’s recent, very positive and needed, affirmative encyclical message and call for action on climate change, Laudato Si’—a message issued so strongly, so urgently, and with such scientific validity it upset climate-change denialists and conservative Catholics to a degree that drove them into frothing rage—let it not stand as a vindication or a prettifying of a still-ugly and ominously regressive Catholic Church.  Of course, we who are secular and democratic in our instincts should be delighted at the viciousness and obtuseness it has excited among the likes of the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue and Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum, notoriously right-wing Catholics and ardent opponents of both science and secularism.  Yet that not serve as pretext for overlooking the still-seamy underside, indeed, even the public face, of official Catholicism:  as illustrated by remarks, and their lack, from Pope Francis himself.


In all honesty, even as we celebrate the Pope’s directness and scientific correctness evinced in Laudato Si’, let us also pointedly note that scientists and secularists have been saying the very same things as the Pope is now saying, and for a good decade previously.  And in honesty, let us also pointedly note that Pope Francis, ever true to official Catholicism even in its open obscurantism, felt obliged to gratuitously insert into his climate change encyclical yet more inappropriate, dogmatic and obscurantist screeds against not only abortion, but even birth control, “officially Catholic” positions even much of the forced-to-remain-silent Catholic lay body objects to; not to mention all of us outside of the Catholic Church who are sick and tired of hearing these monotonous, one-sided mantras that indicate so firmly that Catholicism has yet to actually enter the 21st Century.


Let us not also forget the Pope’s, and the Vatican’s, denunciation of the recent historic vote in traditionally-Catholic Ireland firmly upholding same-sex marriage, a fundamentally decent political and human rights position the still-viciously homophobic Catholic Church insists on repeatedly negating and denouncing; thus denying in its ecclesiastical fulminations the fundamental dignity and humanity or non-heterosexual humanity.  Let us not forget either the Pope’s own backhanded approval given to the Muslim fanatics who committed the Charlie Hedbo massacre, as the Pope himself gave backhanded justification to the murders of the magazine’s staff for “offending” another religion—as if the magazine’s open secularism and anti-clericalism even justified horrific mass murder!  Let us also note the Pope’s own glaring silence on the ethnic cleansing being carried out today in Myanmar (Burma) and Sri Lanka that is being fomented by chauvinistic Buddhist monks.  As well his silence on the ever-prevailing atrocities continually carried out in the name of Islam not only by supposedly “rogue” groups such as ISIS, but even by Islamic states themselves, as in Saudi Arabia and under the military dictatorship in Egypt—not to mention the Islamic suppression of the Arab Spring!

 
Nor let us forget the still-festering scandal within Catholicism due to rampant priest-pedophilia, and the Vatican’s still-prevailing do-nothing-effective approach to it (Pope Francis did nothing more except appoint yet another commission to “study” the problem).  Nor let us forget the centuries of abuse and suffering meted out to Catholics and non-Catholics alike through the official actions of the Church, in the rampant abuse and abuse of power in the Catholic school system, and the systematic oppression meted out to whole populations, even those that were comprised of stalwart Catholics, in such Catholic countries as Ireland, Spain, and throughout Latin America.  Despite the Pope’s new encouraging words on climate change, Catholicism still has a lot to answer for before the body of secular, democratic humanity.

 
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:  George Fish is an ex-Catholic Marxist atheist and writer whose work has appeared in many publications of the socialist and alternative press.  He contributed what many regard as one of the best short expositions of Marxist atheism so far published, “Two Kinds of Atheism,” in the February 1988 issue of Monthly Review.  He may be contacted via e-mail at georgefish666@yahoo.com. 

 

 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Protest Vote, November 2016: Saying “Yes” to Bernie, Decidedly “No” to Clinton and Trump!

This post was finally completed on June 9, 2016, after extensive criticism by my good friend and comrde Barry Finger, who pointed out some galring weaknesses in the original.  I then hoped to get it published, but that didn't happen--however, I think this piece does have considerable analytical and quantitiative merit, even if my prognostications at the time of writing were far too optimistic.  For one thing, I hadn't expected either the fervor with which Bernie Sanders would come out in support of Hillary Clinton after she clinched the nomination, nor the major collapse of the Bernie or Bust movement in wake of that (before long 90% of former Sanders supporters had expressed support for Hillary Clinton in November 2016).  Second, I hadn't predicted that the Trump/Clinton race would become so close, essentially neck-and-neck as i write now, September 19, 2016, with the inability of Clinton to clearly prevail over such as despicable candidate as Donald Trump.  And third, I had anticipated a larger showing for third-party candidates Jill Stein of the Greens, and Gary Johnson of the Libertarians, as protest vote.  However, recent polls as documented by Real Clear Politics given Stein only 1-6% of the electorate, and Johnson only 4-14%, far below what I had anticipated as of June 9.  Yet, I think my brakedown of numbers in the 2012 election and their projection on 2016 still is useful and informative, which is why I do not think this piece completely outdated and overtaken by events.  I also think my new "Biographical Note" at the end will be of interest to readers--GF


As an avid Bernie Sanders supporter and Bernie or Bust proponent who wanted to make sure my November 2016 vote counted, I checked recently with the Indiana Election Commission of the Indiana Secretary of State’s office on a Bernie Sanders write-in vote.  But what I got in response from Brad King, Co-Director of the Electoral Division, Indiana Secretary of State, was discouraging:  he wrote me back saying that Bernie Sanders had only until July 5 to submit paperwork declaring himself a write-in candidate (which is a deadline well before the Democratic Convention), that any declaration after that would not be recognized, and that, sans an official declaration of his presumptive availability as a write-in, no write-in votes for Bernie Sanders in Indiana would be counted at all, no matter how numerous.  My state of residence, Indiana, is one of 43 states that allow for write-ins, each with its own set of rules; and I would imagine that the response in terms of Indiana holds for the other 42—absent a declaration of write-in candidacy by Bernie Sanders, no write-in votes for him will be counted, even if quite numerous.  They will be ciphers, signifying nothing.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  So that road for registering a protest vote for Bernie is decidedly out. 

 

Of course, I’m assuming that he will not get the Democratic Presidential nomination, which appears likely, and that he will do what he’s always pledged, endorse Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee—which appears to be the most likely course, despite all the hard work, enthusiasm, and massive support shown for the Sanders’ candidacy, and the active resistance to his candidacy by the Democratic Establishment from Day One—although he has also said correctly he cannot dictate to his followers who to vote for.  Which opens up the second possibility for effectively registering a protest vote for Bernie, and decidedly rejecting the candidacies of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump:  voting third-party, but not necessarily limiting it to Jill Stein and the Greens. 

 

That is because a vote for the Libertarian Party could also register as a protest vote, given the specific circumstances of 2016; and I know it’s true here in Indiana, and I’m sure elsewhere, many Bernie supporters regard themselves as left-wing libertarians,[i] advocates of freedom and justice who oppose government repression, control and censorship on a variety of issues, and who are strong on so-called “social issues.”  These pro-Bernie forces may not necessarily be drawn to the Greens. 

 

But that has been one of the strengths of Bernie’s campaign—that, despite his calling his campaign and his movement one for “democratic socialism” from the beginning, his appeal has been so broad and extensive that he’s drawn in a lot of people who don’t identify with any part of the traditional left.  He has, in fact, built a popular base not just around disaffected Democrats and independents, or “inside/outside” socialist strategists, or people who would “naturally” be inclined to vote Green if Bernie were not available, but also forces considered more of the traditional center-right:  libertarians, of course, but also many self-styled Eisenhower or moderate Republicans, who are now openly disgusted with the far-right GOP that threw up for Presidential nomination the evangelical Christian fanatic Ted Cruz, and the clearly semi-fascistic demagogue Donald Trump.

 

Bernie’s appeal to a broad swath of the electorate on issues that concern them directly is a lot broader than that of the traditional US socialist or capitalism-critical left, so merely advocating a vote for Jill Stein and the Greens would leave out a lot of Bernie supporters and others who aren’t necessarily drawn to the Greens, but who are clearly disaffected enough not to vote for either Hillary or The Donald.  Would we want to leave them without a place to go?  After all, recent polls show that 58% of the potential electorate would not vote for Trump, while a third of Bernie Sanders supporters say they will not vote for Hillary Clinton.

 

That is why the organizing of a protest vote for disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters must be a lot broader, and more inclusive, than simply saying, cajoling, or advocating, “Vote for Jill Stein, Presidential candidate of the Green Party, as an alternative, since you can’t vote for Bernie Sanders.”  Not only for the reasons given above, but also because the Greens have done nothing to effectively appeal to disaffected Bernie supporters.  Stein and the Greens have assumed that disillusioned Bernie supporters will simply fall into their lap because they have nowhere else to go.  Wrong!  Already the Libertarians, and Libertarian-supporting publications such as Reason magazine, are making direct appeals to disaffected Bernie supporters to vote for the Libertarian Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, as an alternative.  As I’ve mentioned, since many Bernie supporters do see themselves as left-leaning libertarians, such appeals will have considerable traction. 

 

Further, despite the strong personality and admirable stance on the issues of Jill Stein personally (one would indeed be hard-put to distinguish any position on which she sharply disagrees with Sanders, even though she claims a vote for Sanders in the Democratic primaries is a de facto vote for Hillary, because all votes for Democrats are), the Green organization is in shambles.  Although around since the 1990s, the Greens have yet to establish themselves as a credible, as opposed to merely marginal, political force; and outside of California and New York, have effectively no organizational base.  Nor is that very likely to change, despite the commanding personal presence of Jill Stein.  In many states, there is no Green Party whatsoever, outside of a few individuals who call themselves Greens.  That is certainly true here in Indiana, where there isn’t even a party established, only the “presence” of an Indiana Green Party Facebook page that’s almost entirely ignored.  So organizing for an effective protest vote for Bernie and decidedly against Clinton and Trump is going to have to appeal far beyond those who might be inclined to vote Green.

 

Further, for a protest vote against Clinton and Trump to be effective, it’s going to have to attract far more than the paltry numbers for third-party candidates that has traditionally been the case.  This is borne out by an analysis of overall voter turnout and third-party/independent candidates’ Presidential votes in 2012.  From Statistic Brain,   http://www.statisticbrain.com/voting-statistics/2012/, 218,959,000 U.S. citizens were eligible to vote; of these, 146,311,000 were registered to vote, and 126,144,000 actually did vote, or of those eligible to vote, only 57.5 % actually did—but that’s typical of U.S. elections, where voter turnout is among the lowest in the bourgeois-democratic world.  A somewhat different set of statistics on actual voter turnout in 2012, from the official tallies of CNN, http://www.cnn.com/election/2012/results/main/, shows that a total of 126,226,713 votes were cast for either Obama or Romney, of which Obama got 65,455,010 votes, or 51% of the total, to Romney’s 60,771,703 votes, or 47% of the total.  This accounts for 98% of the total votes cast in the Presidential race, leaving 2%, or 2,576,055 votes for third-party/independent candidates, of which the free-market fetishist Libertarians got half.  This is borne out also by Whiteout Press, http://www.whiteoutpress.com/timeless/2012-general-election-presidential-results-for-all-candidates/, which gives the totals for Obama, Romney, and the top twelve third-party/independent candidates with 95% of the precincts counted.  Of these twelve, the Libertarians got the most, and actually topped the one million vote mark, with 1,275,176 votes.  Jill Stein of the Greens came in a distant second (only 36.8% of the Libertarian vote), at 469,572 votes.  The even-further-to-the-right-than-the-Libertarians Constitution Party came in third, with 122,378 votes, and fourth and fifth were two dissident left candidates who broke with the Greens, Roseanne Barr (star of the TV series Roseanne) of the Peace and Freedom Party, with 67,359 votes, and former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson (remember him?—now a trivia-question stumper!) of the Justice Party with 42,995 votes.  But this list of twelve doesn’t exhaust the list of all third-party/independent Presidential candidates, as it only reports those who got 12,000 or more votes, or 0.01% or more of the total votes cast.  So the Socialist Party didn’t make the list, as in 2012 it only garnered 4,428 votes nationwide, from the official record for all Presidential candidates of the Federal Election Commission (FEC)[ii].  http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2012/2012presgeresults.pdf

 

As is seen, third-party vote totals are generally dismally small, invariably well under the 3% threshold that historically has marked a “spoiler” Presidential candidate (though to be honest, neither Ralph Nader in 2000, nor Henry Wallace in 1948, even achieved 3% of the total Presidential vote,[iii] though they showed far better than left Presidential candidates have traditionally done after Eugene Debs garnered 6% of the vote in 1912).  However, 2016 could change that—and in doing so, give a real boost to the left.  The reason for that is, of course, the Bernie Sanders campaign, unconventional, blunt-spoken, vigorously raising the issues of economic inequality, corporate dominance, the erosion of the “middle class,” calling for a minimum wage of $15/hour, and other issues of concern, which has galvanized and excited people in a way rarely seen in U.S. politics.  Millions resonate with Bernie and the issues he’s raised so forcefully and aggressively.  That is why, even though he does trail Hillary Clinton in number of primary votes cast, he’s still garnered 9,957,889 votes as of May 17, according to Real Clear Politics, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/democratic_vote_count.html, and has won 22 Democratic primaries.  If, as has regularly been noted, a third of Sanders supporters have declared they will not vote for Hillary Clinton, that gives 3,319,296 anti-Clinton votes just among primary voters, a greater number than the whole of those who for voted third-party/independent candidates in 2012!  Further, Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, is already polling nationally at 10% versus Clinton and Trump, according to an article on statistical pundit Nate Silver’s 538 website, http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/pay-attention-to-libertarian-gary-johnson-hes-pulling-10-vs-trump-and-clinton/.

 

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the most disliked major-party Presidential candidates who’ve ever run, according to numerous polls. The public considers them both untrustworthy by majority margins, and clearly they are both very unpopular among potential 2016 voters.  This means that the “plague on both your houses” vote in 2016, expressed in voting third parties, will likely be numerically significant; really, for the first time since the (decidedly non-left, unfortunately) George Wallace and Ross Perot campaigns of decades ago now.  This is an opening for the left that didn’t exist previously.

 

But it’s important for the left to realize that this won’t necessarily be a vote for Jill Stein, or even for Gary Johnson.  It will be a negative vote, a vote against the idea of having either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.  For the first time in a long while, a considerable sector of the US electorate is willing to break away from the “two-party shell game” the left has consistently railed against; only not much listened to previously.  As Lenin himself pointed out in January 1918, “Politics begin where the masses are, not where there are thousands, but millions.”  For the first time in a long while “millions” are willing to break with the two major-party Presidential candidates, not the mere “thousands” formerly willing to. 

 

The organizing task for the left, then, is to deepen this rift and encourage people to vote third-party of their choice (while, of course, favoring a vote for the Greens), in order to “send a message”—we will not settle for the “lesser of two evils,” we will not allow ourselves to be limited to a Hobson’s choice of either Clinton or Trump.  The Clinton campaign is already running scared on this issue, making fulsome noises that a Clinton Presidency is the only alternative to a Trump Presidency, and accusing the Sanders campaign of playing into Trump’s hands by its strong criticism of the policies and the politics of Hillary Clinton; and though much of the left would prefer that this protest vote be expressed in a vote for Jill Stein and the Greens, we of the left should realize that this same protest is also latent in a vote for the right-wing “free market” anarchists represented by Gary Johnson and the Libertarians.  Indeed, as I’ve already noted, many Sanders supporters consider themselves left-leaning libertarians rather than Greens.  A vote against both Trump and Clinton as expressed in a third-party vote for whatever such political party is already a potential gain for the left, and a major broadening of a constituency that will finally be receptive for a left-wing view, as certain libertarian support for Sanders has already demonstrated.  It is our task ahead to deepen this anti-Establishment sentiment by encouraging people to vote against the Democrats and Republicans, to vote for whatever third party they feel most comfortable in voting for (i.e., accepting their freedom of choice, while of course suggesting they vote Green), even if they are drawn to the Libertarians (as the myth of “competitive free market” as social panacea and guarantor of individual liberties still has significant hold on the American public).

 

This is but another illustration of the impact the Sanders campaign has had in opening possibilities for the left.  Already, Bernie Sanders is taking to new heights what can only be called class struggle within the Democratic Party itself:  his raising of fundamental economic and social issues, his endorsement of other progressive Democratic candidates, his demand for a progressive platform, and his insistence on the removal of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as head of the Democratic National Committee.  No, things are not playing out according to the way the left has traditionally viewed unfolding class struggle; but it is playing out nonetheless.  The potential for a mass political grouping for a democratic socialist politics is now present—and a chance exists to finally rebuild that left politics of “millions” not merely “thousands” (or, all too often, only hundreds or even dozens) that hasn’t existed in the United States since the halcyon days of Socialist Party strength in the early 20th Century, or in the left upsurge of the 1930s. 

 

If we can avoid a sectarian divisiveness that insists the only way to express a protest vote is to vote for Jill Stein or some other clearly left party (marginalized as they may be), if we are willing to concentrate on building around that massive anti-Trump and anti-Clinton sentiment, if we are willing to consider that what is essentially a left (or potentially left) political viewpoint lies precisely in fomenting support for such a “negative” politics, we can now begin, in 2016, to lay the groundwork for a continuing, significant left political presence in U.S. life that will extend far beyond 2016.  For the first time in a long time we have that notable convergence—for not only is abstract, theoretical “history” on our side, but also, very significantly, math, numbers, are on our side.  This is the opening we have been waiting for; certainly encourage a vote for the Greens, but don’t automatically nay-say a vote for the Libertarians, or a vote for a marginalized Socialist Party or some other small left grouplet.  The size of the anti-Trump and anti-Clinton vote is what counts at present.

 

Realize here I am decidedly not stating that a vote for the Libertarians as a protest vote against both Clinton and Trump is the equivalent in power and political consciousness to a vote for the Greens.  In fact, what I wrote above should’ve made this clear, but a pointed discussion with a fellow socialist who claimed I was somehow stating that makes further clarification necessary.  By writing above that we socialists should “certainly encourage a vote for the Greens, but don’t automatically nay-say a vote for the Libertarians” does not place them politically on the same footing.  They aren’t in terms of political consciousness; however, there are likely to be, given the particular bent of U.S. politics which tends to favor the individualistic right over the left, many people who despise the idea of voting as the “lesser evil” either for Clinton or Trump, and will thus be drawn to the Libertarians as a protest vote. 

 

This is not “advocacy,” this is simple fact; it is simply fact that, while we of the left will properly deplore it, many people drawn to Bernie Sanders also consider themselves not “democratic socialists” as much as disgruntled left-leaning libertarians or even moderate Republicans!  Such people have already indicated in the polls that they want neither Clinton nor Trump, and they may well be more attracted to voting Libertarian as a protest over voting for the Greens.  Indeed, the 10% of the potential electorate already leaning Libertarian indicates this; and given the almost-1% of the vote the Libertarians garnered in 2012, 1,275,000 votes, it doesn’t take a math genius to realize that represented here is around 10 million potential voters. 

 

Indeed, it is realistic to expect that, in November 2016, the number of voters willing to vote third-party rather than vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump could well be 20% or more of the electorate, significantly larger than the 14% of the electorate that supported Ross Perot in his first Presidential run.  Based on the numbers I cited above, the 2% of the electorate that was willing to vote third-party in 2012, some 2,576,000 voters, could increase by a factor of ten, which would bring this potential 2016 electorate to—25,760,000 voters!  Subtracting from this, and also multiplying by 10, the 2012 votes for the Libertarians and the Constitution party, which came to 1,397,554 (and multiplied by 10 and rounding, 13,397,500), still leaves 12,362,500 potential anti-Clinton and anti-Trump voters not drawn to voting for the two leading parties of the non-GOP right.  If, by the same reasoning, we note all those voters in 2012 who were willing to cast their for the Greens or for their two leading left rivals, the Peace and Freedom Party and the Justice Party, 579,926, and multiply that by a factor of 10 and rounding, we get 5,799,000 potentially left voters who are also clearly articulating they won’t vote for the “lesser of two evils” represented by Clinton and Trump![iv] 

 

Clearly, this is a textbook case of exactly what Lenin was talking about when he said “Politics begin…not where there are thousands, but millions” This is a potential constituency of numerical substance for further consciousness-raising and political activism by the left that hasn’t existed in a very long time—for the audience that will be receptive to left appeals just suddenly expanded mightily, thanks in large part to the Sanders campaign!

 

As for “not…nay-saying” the Libertarian vote, while certainly not advocating that people vote Libertarian, we of the left must realize that many of those in the U.S. who style themselves libertarian do so not out of allegiance to right-wing economics, but more out of concern for individual liberties and fear of repression, denial of basic rights, for racial minorities and women, non-heterosexual communities, and political dissidents.  After all, there are assuredly not a large number of people who have actually read the political platform of the Libertarian Party,[v] which is substantially to the right of the Republicans on basic economic issues.  Indeed, it is part of the “stealth strategy” of the Libertarian Party itself not to promote its economic agenda, but to present itself as a champion of individual liberties and freedom of choice. 

 

Further, much support even for Trump among the electorate, particularly among blue-collar workers, can be considered an addled form of economic populism based on erosion of economic security, stagnant wages, and corporate-friendly trade pacts that take U.S. jobs to foreign lands.  Indeed, the demagogic Trump has recently played into this sentiment by expressing his wish to turn the Republican Party into what he actually called a “workers party” based on economic nationalism, chauvinism against “foreigners,” and supposed protection of the social safety net!  In fact, there are among Trump supporters many who are also attracted to Bernie Sanders, and recent polls indicate that, while Hillary Clinton is running neck-and-neck against Donald Trump, or even losing to Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders handily beats Donald Trump as a Presidential candidate!  (But, unfortunately, will probably not get the Democratic Presidential nomination.)

 

Not only that; the Sanders forces are also now looking ahead to continuing the “political revolution” he calls for.  Already, coalitions of Sanders-supporting groups are forming and reaching out, and the Sanders campaign has the active endorsement and involvement of both the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and MoveOn, which were formerly as tied to the Democratic Party and its candidates as though they were Siamese twins.  Again, a substantive numerical base at least tacitly committed to continuing Bernie Sanders’s “political revolution” is already forming.  As yet, these coalitions and groups are not reaching out to the Greens; but then, the Greens aren’t doing much to reach out to Sanders supporters, either. 

 

Last, it should be pointedly noted that not voting is not a serious option.  People who don’t vote are not only ciphers, zeroes, in terms of electoral influence and expression, they are also defaulting to Trump and Clinton voters who will vote “on their behalf” due to their absence!

 

So does the class struggle in the U.S., 2016, unfold and deepen—but we must be aware, serendipitously, not through “socialist orthodoxy.”  All this together indicates for socialists the way here and now we can carry out Bernie Sanders’s “political revolution”—starting with an eye on the results for November 2016.

 

****

 

Biographical note:  George Fish is a socialist writer, union member (UFCW), and senior citizen receiving Social Security who must still work to support himself, living in Indianapolis.  He has published in New Politics, In These Times, Socialism and Democracy, Science and Society, Against the Current, and other left publications and websites.  He is also a member of Labor for Bernie and an enthusiastic proponent of Bernie or Bust.  A militant atheist, published poet, and Lenny Bruce/George Carlin-inspired stand-up comic, he can be contacted at georgefish666@yahoo.com.  (Yes, that is the Mark of the Beast from Revelation!)                   

 

 

 

 



[i] By using lower-case here and throughout I am distinguishing between those who consider themselves libertarian in political orientation, but not committed members or supporters of the Libertarian Party.  They lean toward, vote for, the Libertarian Party by default, not through clearly-articulated political understanding.  More on this difference below.
[ii] This official FEC report, dated January 17, 2013, lists a total of 26 third-party/independent Presidential candidates plus Obama and Romney, listed alphabetically by candidate’s last name without party affiliation.  Vote totals differ slightly in the FEC report from those given above for CNN and Whiteout Press without changing any of the rankings.
[iii] Nader received 2.74% of the vote, while Wallace garnered 2.4% of the vote, same percentage as Strom Thurmond gathered that year running for President on the segregationist States Rights Party, but with a higher vote total.
[iv] But this also understates the total potentially left protest vote, as it excludes those who might vote for the Socialist Party, or other small left parties that run Presidential candidates in 2016.  Further, it doesn’t take into account the increase in eligible voters due to population increase, or that because of the nature of the 2016 Presidential race, more people than previously may be drawn to vote rather than sit the election out.
[v] Or of any political party, be it Republican, Democrat, Green, Socialist, or any other.

Monday, August 22, 2016

FOR ALL YOU AHISTORICAL FEMININSTS OUT THERE (A Poem)

 
(A poetic argument against Gloria Steinem, Sady Doyle, and other pro-Hillary Clinton feminists of the "left" who think making her President would be absolutely peachy-keen for women's empowerment:  a look at the historical record of women in power, hoping to clarify a few issues--GF)
 
So you think women’s
political empowerment
began with Hillary Clinton?
I guess you never heard of
Eleanor Roosevelt,
or Frances Perkins,
or perhaps the influential
Jackie Kennedy,
or (heaven forbid!)
even Barbara Bush!
Or Betty Ford, President
Gerald Ford’s wife,
upsetting the
Catholic Church
with her pro-reproductive
choice comments, including
open support for abortion rights! 
 
 
Or, for that matter,
on the opposite side
from that supposedly “leftist”
feminist political agenda
(women in political office
automatically means
advancement of progressive
and humane social policies
and political priorities, not
mere distaff office-holding;
or so it was said),
Britain’s Iron Lady,
Margaret Thatcher,
whom feminist icon
Gloria Steinem
gushingly called “a sister”
even while demurring,
“I don’t agree with her politics.”[i]
Indeed not (we would hope),
for the Iron Lady built a
political career on pleasing
the stodgy old men of London’s
financial district while vigorously
attacking the working-class women
who depended on the British
social safety net, which she
enthusiastically shredded!.
Or the ascent to power
of Indian despot Indira Gandhi ,
with which another U.S. feminist icon,
Betty Friedan, was excitedly pleased.[ii]
 
 
But we need not stop there, in what
to many people is merely
history, something that
occurred before they were born.
We may merely look at women’s
obvious political empowerment
in such “noted” personages
as in those women taken seriously
by millions whether we (of both sexes)
who style ourselves
“leftist,” “liberal,” or “progressive”
like it or not—Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter,
Michele Bachmann, Condoleeza Rice,
even Joni Ernst and Melania Trump!
(Though it does confirm the
invidious judgment of  nasty male
Karl Marx, who wrote, 
“Hegel remarks somewhere that
all facts and personages of world history
occur, as it were, twice.  He forgot to add:
the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”[iii]) 
Not to mention “liberal” women and
Hillary Clinton supporters Nancy Pelosi
and Madeleine Albright!  (This latter who
gave then-Chief of Staff [mere nasty male!]
Colin Powell “almost an aneurism” by insisting,
 “What’s the point of having this superb military…
if we can’t use it?”[iv])  
 
 
But oh, the “glass ceiling” has
been broken, can’t you see?  But didn’t
Carly Fiorina’s abortive Presidential
candidacy break it as well?  And isn’t
Jill Stein’s Presidential candidacy doing
the same thing?  Both showing
from opposite ends of the political
spectrum that women Presidential candidates  
are indeed taken seriously in 2016, even when
their names are not Hillary Clinton!  Same as
Barack Obama showed  for African American
Presidential candidates in 2008.  Can we ask,
Aren’t there enough glass ceilings
to break, or that haven’t been broken
already?   Because a 74-year-old Jewish
male socialist, Bernie Sanders, broke a
few of them too!  Or need we enumerate:
first Jew, first avowed socialist, to be taken
seriously as a major U.S political party
Presidential candidate!  Not to mention his being
a septuagenarian taken very seriously by, and
attracting enthusiastic mass support from,
Millennials young enough to be his grandchildren!  
 
 
And shouldn’t character count for something?   
After all, public opinion consistently shows
Hillary Clinton leading by only a few percentage points,
as regards basic untrustworthiness,  against an openly
quasi-fascistic, fraudulent and bombastic Presidential
candidate, Donald Trump!  Fact is, Clinton and Trump
are the two most disliked and most distrusted major
Presidential candidates in recent history!   Their joint
bamboozlement in 2016 rivals only that of the worst
days of the corrupt 19th Century! 
 
 
But that doesn’t address the other issues in the race, nor Clinton’s political baggage elsewhere:  her pro-corporate economic orientation, her hawkish approach to foreign policy and warfare, that she is the overwhelmingly favored recipient
of Wall Street largess, her pandering to the African American vote on strictly symbolic cultural issues to show she’s “one of them” (carries hot sauce in her purse; really!), or what progressive stances her campaign does embody, she stole from Bernie Sanders!
 
 
So just what are you crowing about, all you supposedly
progressive pro-Hillary ahistorical feminists?


[i] I believe it was in her 1983 book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, as it is the only Gloria Steinem book I personally own and have read; but I am relying on memory here.  The index in the book is horribly inadequate.
[ii] Betty Friedan, It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women’s Movement, New York: Random House, 1976, pp. 265-287.
[iii] Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1954, p. 15.  Originally published in 1852.
[iv] Michael Dobbs, “With Albright, Clinton Accepts New U.S. Role,” Washington Post, December 8, 1996, quoting from Colin Powell’s memoirs. Michael Dobbs, “With Albright, Clinton Accepts New U.S. Role,” Washington Post, December 8, 1996, quoting from Colin Powell’s memoirs.