Tag Archives: Donald Duck

On Dehumanization

I want to write about Legion (it’s all about an abusive dad, guys!!) and Ursula Le Guin (she hates technology, guys!!) But there is nothing to say, really, while babies, toddlers, kids, and their parents are victims of this spectacle of political cruelty.

  1. These families are seeking asylum, which is legal
  2. They seek asylum because they are already traumatized by violent conditions in their homes
  3. They enter a country expecting kindness–or at least a stable fucking legal process–and instead face horror perhaps equal to what they tried to escape.

I used to think that racist and misogynist cruelty depended on the abuser having already dehumanized their* victim. This conception of abuse was the only way I could make sense of my own trauma: my abuser must not have seen me as human, because what human could hurt another human so much, so often, so deeply, so intentionally, if they were fully immersed in that person’s humanity?

Then this article, which has haunted me since November, has transformed how I think about cruelty.

A victim’s humanity is the point. If an abuser did not engage with the rich, beautiful humanness of their victim, their cruelty would be less there’s-really-no-other-way-to-put-this meaningful. From the article outlining this transformative model of cruelty:

Timothy Snyder offers a haunting description in “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning”:

The next morning the “scrubbing parties” began. Members of the Austrian SA, working from lists, from personal knowledge, and from the knowledge of passersby, identified Jews and forced them to kneel and clean the streets with brushes. This was a ritual humiliation. Jews, often doctors and lawyers or other professionals, were suddenly on their knees performing menial labor in front of jeering crowds. Ernest P. remembered the spectacle of the “scrubbing parties” as “amusement for the Austrian population.” A journalist described “the fluffy Viennese blondes, fighting one another to get closer to the elevating spectacle of the ashen-faced Jewish surgeon on hands and knees before a half-dozen young hooligans with Swastika armlets and dog-whips.” Meanwhile, Jewish girls were sexually abused, and older Jewish men were forced to perform public physical exercise.

The Jews who were forced to scrub the streets—not to mention those subjected to far worse degradations—were not thought of as lacking human emotions. Indeed, if the Jews had been thought to be indifferent to their treatment, there would have been nothing to watch here; the crowd had gathered because it wanted to see them suffer. 

I read and click out and re-open and skim and shut down so many reports of the cruelty imposed on these children and families. I don’t need to rehearse any of that here. Nonetheless, every time I think about those kids, which is often, I return to this image of the Jewish surgeons crawling on the ground in their suits. I think of white people bringing picnics to lynchings.

And I return to what we knew from the first day of this administration: cruelty is its foundation. Mocking, defiling, fracturing the humanity of others (people with disabilities, black people engaging in free speech, women, immigrants from the Global South, people with expertise, etc etc etc) is the base upon which they construct every action.

We can shout at them all the ways this policy will destroy lives. We can list out the long long list of what we know about attachment, trauma, the deep need children have for a loving, attentive caregiver. We can throw the entire fucking UCLA med school curriculum at his head. That would only encourage him and his goons.

Our facts, our passion, our desperation about the lives these policies destroy are like cans of hairspray thrown onto the bonfire. Destroying lives is the point. Enflaming liberal ire is the point. Spreading hate is the point.

Sure, the US has destroyed families for white supremacist political expediency since its founding–Black families, native families, immigrant families. Even Obama wasn’t cool about migrant family reunification.

We now have an opportunity now to repudiate all of that disgusting history.

Let’s each one of us do a little more than we think we can to stop this horror.

 

*Post script/announcement, speaking of the ennobled humanity of our beautiful allies: Thinker for Hire now embraces the gender-agnostic singular them. It took me too long. Thanks.

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On Medicaid Work Requirements

As expected, and I’m shocked they took this long, Donald Duck’s administration announced that they will allow states to institute work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

A few panic-staving reminders: Continue reading

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Facticity Plasticity

The New York Times has apparently told its reporters they can’t tweet anything partisan.

If only the Times had called me (hey Baquet! call me!). I’d have reminded them that, as they surely know, facts themselves are now partisan. The fact of transgender/genderqueer/nonbinary children and adults. The fact of climate change. The fact of resurgent neo-Nazi rhetoric. The fact of white privilege. The fact of the legacy of slavery persistently restricting opportunity for black people.

Lefties tend to refer to these phenomena as factual because they are. And righties tend to dispute the nature of such facts. Because anything from a liberal is biased and therefore untrue. Continue reading

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Your GOPPer Mom

I’m heading west this weekend for another heroic 36 hours not talking about politics. Lefty thinkpieces about your racist uncle, your DT-voting parents, your post-C-ville family ties don’t help much when you have one non-abusive, basically accepting parent who’s getting older, whom you very much want to get along with, and who maintains a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell stance on her 2016 pick-a-card-any-card blue state throwaway GOP vote.  

Adam Kotsko’s sensitive discussion of political dissent within families actually helps. What if the smug liberal elite that so many parents/grandparents have heard mocked for decades in conservative media are their kids and grandkids? How must they feel?  

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Streetfight: Trumpocalypse Vs Gilead

I read The Handmaid’s Tale this week and anxiously calculated the chances of Atwood’s theocratic/woman-hating coup manifesting in the Donald Duck era.

Atwood’s dystopia sorts women into four classes: Wives (duh), Marthas (domestic servants), Handmaids (pregnancy surrogates for infertile Wives), and Unwomen (“gender traitors” and dissidents). But as Foucault taught us, exceptions to the (gender) rules better enforce the (gender) rules. Though she fears for her life under the brutal regime and is coerced into breaking more and more of its codes, Offred (“Of Fred”) finds herself wresting what pleasure she can out of a system that denies her autonomy, sociality, love. The book is about how much we will give up to stay human.

Thus follows a catalog of qualities our current government may or may not share with Atwood’s Gilead. Which totalitarian, repressive regime wins?

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ACHAWUUUUUT: Block Granting Medicaid

Yes, the list of preconditions that states may adopt to limit health care coverage astonish in their cruelty. That’s covered (and fact checked), as is the reverse Robin Hood jujitsu that should not surprise us from an Administration whose only principle is endless expansion of profit. Covered less is the AHCA’s devastating impact on the Medicaid system. So here are a few pretty good analyses of how block-granting Medicaid might work. Research!
Indeed, AHCA curbs spending, which sounds great to small government folks. But it does so by simply not paying for health care for people who need it most–low income people with disabilities and chronic conditions. People with health problems and an inability to pay for care on their own. Gutting Medicaid will blow up emergency room costs as well as indirect costs in the criminal justice system, special education, welfare, and other places that people with no health care end up.
AHCA’s Medicaid provisions will set up a tiered society in which health care is a privilege reserved for those who can pay for it. Health care austerity will cost our society in ways comparable to climate change: pervasive, universal, tune-outable for the less vulnerable and willfully ignorant, and devastating for the rest of us.

Continue reading

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