Both my reading page here and my Facebook feed are overflowing with accounts of marches from all over the world. I haven't seen this strong a spirit for resistance and change since the 60s, and I hope that the sheer size of the response means there is that critical mass of committed activists and participants to keep the spirit strong and growing.
I couldn't march here in Toronto, but friends in Boston and Victoria offered to carry my name in their pockets, so in a way i did march with them, and with all of you who stood up today for human rights, for human dignity, for cherishing the earth and all its peoples, for democracy and freedom of speech and all the other things we must fight for in the midst of this savage move toward fascism that's oozing out of the deep recesses of our past in places around the world.
We've made our opening statement, fired the first rally in this war. Let us continue as we have begun.
I am saddened and ashamed.
A Muslim woman was picking up her children from Grenoble Public School on Monday when she was attacked. Two men approached the woman and started hurling anti-Islamic and racist profanities at her. Police said the men started calling the woman a “terrorist” and said “go back to your country.” One of the men started punching the woman in the stomach and a second man ripped off her hijab during the assault.
A Toronto couple put a sign on their property, asking Muslims if they were sorry for the attacks in Paris.
Police are investigating a fire deliberately set at Peterborough’s only mosque. Police and fire officials arrived on Saturday at around 11 p.m. at Parkhill Rd. west of Monaghan Rd. to Masjid Al-Salaam after receiving a call of smoke coming out of the mosque. Peterborough police have confirmed that the fire was deliberately set.
Police in Kitchener, Ont., are investigating vandalism at a Hindu temple. Ram Dham Hindu Temple president Dilip Dav says several windows at the rear entrance of the temple were shattered late Sunday night.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall wants the federal government to suspend its plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year.
And this is just what I know about, what has been reported in the news I've read so far. It's not only that responses like this mean the terrorists have won. It's that when we act in this way, it shows that we are lost, lost to the light, lost to humanity and empathy and compassion. Doing evil in the name of good is still evil. We may think that we are defending something, protecting something, avenging something - but in truth, when we respond to hate and fear with yet more hate and fear, we are destroying light, destroying love, and destroying ourselves.
In the wake of the Bernie Sanders Seattle appearance incident, I've seen a lot of white folks on the Net lecturing black folks on how misguided their criticism of Sanders is, because he marched with MLK and he's a good guy who wants justice and equality for all and they should be happy to work with him because he's far more an ally to them than all the other politicians running. And the hard thing for them to understand is that while all they say about Sanders is true, it's not relevant in the way they think it should be.
Which got me to thinking about one of the most insidious aspects of white privilege - insidious because it's primarily found among white people who are honestly trying to be allies, to work for social justice and equality, to fight the good fight.
And that insidious aspect is that we white liberals start thinking that we're doing all this work, all this fighting, "for" other people, and that we deserve something in return - gratitude, a pat on the back, a bit of slack when we backslide, some acknowledgement of what we're doing.
I totally get that. Sometimes I feel that way myself. And then, because I'm a white woman who is therefore lacking privilege on that axis (and a few others, but let's not get complicated here), and have known men who want some kind of acknowledgement for what they think of as their efforts on my behalf, I get myself out of that space of white fragility pretty damn quickly.
Because there's no way I am going to - or should be expected to - thank a man for not raping me, for not harassing me, for not limiting the work I can do, for not thinking he owns me or has some kind of natural rights to my emotional work or sexuality or submission and service, for not doing any of those things that demean, devalue, or limit me as a woman. There is no reason why I should have to be grateful to another human being for treating me, and others like me, as human beings. You don't get accolades for the basic social requirement of not being a total jerk.
It's easy to understand why white people (and indeed anyone in a position of privilege who is working to be an ally and bring about social justice) feel they deserve something in return. It's hard work, coming to understand your own privilege, rooting out all the institutionalized racism we imbibed with the very air we breathed as children. It's difficult, challenging yourself, your friends, your family, your community, your government. And we live in a society where things we define as work - even if they are things that are enjoyable, or personally rewarding, or obviously the right thing to do, receive a return. We are paid for the work we do for employers or clients, and if we do a particularly good job, we expect bonuses or promotions or raises or repeat business. If we do community or church work, we expect to be recognised for it. We want the acknowledgement of our peers for our generosity, our charity, our kindness, for the things we do for others.
But there are kinds of work we don't expect praise or perks or payment for. No one is going to reward us for keeping our house clean, for washing our dirty socks and underwear. We do these things for ourselves, because a house with shit on the floor is not a great place to live, because clean underwear feels better than crusty underwear. We do these things because they are part of the basic life functions we engage in for ourselves.
And that is what white liberals sometimes don't realise, or remember. We aren't engaging in social justice action "for" other people, like a white knight or lady bountiful, we are not saviours who deserve cheers and special considerations - we are doing it because not to do it would be to fail at the basics of being a human being.
There is no reason why anyone should be grateful when I treat them like human beings, because that is the bare minimum to be expected of one human being in relation with another. And there is no reason why I should get a break when I fail to respect the humanity of others, just because there have been times when I didn't fail. It's my own responsibility to behave like a human being, and my own reward when I get it right is knowing that I did.
I've seen variations on this meme mocking Sarah Palin's lack of knowledge about key U.S. Supreme Court decisions in a few places. This one I swiped from xochiquetzl:
Sarah Palin managed to get Roe v. Wade, but was stumped when asked to name any other Supreme Court decisions. In the spirit of remembering that there is more to law than that one case, I am participating in this meme.
The Rules: Post info about ONE Supreme Court decision, modern or historic to your lj. (Any decision, as long as it's not Roe v. Wade.) For those who see this on your f-list, take the meme to your OWN lj to spread the fun.
I'll pick Griswold v. Connecticut. This 1965 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturned a law that made the distribution of contraceptive devices to married couples illegal, and by arguing that privacy is protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, established the concept of right to privacy.
Griswold v. Connecticut was later used as a precedent in such cases as Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), which extended the right to possess contraception to unmarried couples, Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 decision that decriminalised sodomy between consenting adults in private.
It's been announced that Dr. Henry Morgentaler is to receive the Order of Canada, our highest civilian honour, in recognition of his "commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations."
Henry Morgentaler is one of my heroes. Without his courage and commitment and steadfastness and leadership, the struggle for a woman's right to control her own body would not be as far along as it is today in Canada. At the risk of his livelihood, his freedom, his health and his life, Dr. Morgentaler fought for women's right to choose, and he made it his life's calling to provide safe abortions to women who wanted them, even when to do so was illegal in Canada. And he's continued to speak out for the need for access to abortion for all women.
Congratulations to Dr. Morgentaler for the recognition he so richly deserves.
Naturally, the usual suspects are horrified. Our weasel right-wing government is desperately trying to distance itself from the award, reminding everyone that it had nothing to do with the decision, that the honour list is decided by an independent advisory council, chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada. As if anyone thought for a minute that our weasel overlords would do anything truly honourable, or recognise a real hero when they see one.
And of course the Catholic church has said that it's truly shocking that such immorality should be honoured. As if the Catholic Church actually knew anything about what is and is not immoral, as opposed to what they think their version of a deity gets all worked up about - such as responsible people choosing to use condoms to avoid exposing themselves or their sexual partners to sexually transmitted diseases, which is apparently the height of immoral behaviour.
But enough about clone minds who are more concerned about foetuses than the actual women who, thanks in great part to Dr. Morgentaler and all of the other Canadians who worked for the right to safe and legal abortion, have the absolute right to choose whether they will bear a child or not.
Thank you, Dr. Morgentaler, for your courage and your humanity. May you wear your Order of Canada with pride.
So The Canadian government has finally, formally, fully and respectfully acknowledged the deep and damaging consequences of the decades-long policy of family separation and forced integration of aboriginal peoples, the cornerstone of which was the Indian Residential School system, and apologised to Canada's Aboriginal peoples on behalf of both the government and the people of Canada.
It was a powerful moment. All business of the day in Parlianment was set aside, so that only the speech of the Prime minister, the responses of the leaders of the opposition parties, and finally the voices of selected representatives of the major organisations of Aboriginal peoples would be heard in the House this day.
It was an emotional moment. Many of the politicians appeared to be profoundly affected. Many Canadians, Aboriginal and otherwise, have been quoted in the media since, saying that they were touched, that they choked up, that they cried, that they felt some kind of visceral response to the public naming and owning of one of our greatest national shames.
It was a deeply symbolic moment.
But I can't help but wonder what's coming next. We have acknowledged the stolen children, but we're still trying to avoid returning the stolen lands, still fighting land claims. We set up a racist system of reserves and did our best to force Aboriginal peoples who would not assimilate the way we wanted them to, to become a marginalised people living under a paternalistic governance that eroded self-confidence and self-reliance. We allowed conditions on those reserves to fall well below the minimum health and safety standards of any other part of this country, to the point where many aboriginal communities live in substandard and often unhealthy housing, have no safe drinking water, have no local industries where people can work and no recreational facilities where young people can play and learn. And on it goes. The list of injuries committed against the native peoples of this land we call "ours" is a lengthy one.
We have apologised. For some of what we've done, anyway.
When do we start making meaningful, long-lasting amends?
6 décembre, 1989
Barbara Maria Klucznik
Se souvenir pour agir contre toutes les formes de violence envers les femmes.
From wolfinthewood (her post is here):
The British government has refused asylum to Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian refugee who fled Iran two years ago following the arrest, torture and sentencing to death of her partner. Ms. Emambakhsh is a lesbian, and under Iranian law, she too could be tortured and killed if she returns to Iran.
British authorities plan to ship her back to meet this fate on Tuesday morning, unless something happens to make them realise just how much of a human rights abuse they are about to commit.
Brits can follow the above link to information on who to contact and how. It probably won't hurt if nationals from other countries make presentations to the British governemnt on her behalf as well.
Anyone living in a country where government persecution of gays and lesbians is considered an abuse of civil rights might consider contacting their government to urge that it protest the British government's treatment of Ms. Emambakhsh through diplomatic channels. For Canadians interested in doing so, here are the contacts I sent email to (for whatever good it will do):
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier, Bernier.M@parl.gc.ca
Liberal foreign affairs critic, Ujjal Dosanjh, Dosanjh.U@parl.gc.ca