Tag Archives: police brutality

Selling libertarianism

TW: racism, heterosexism, cissexism, sexism, classism, police brutality, appropriation

This past Veteran’s Day, the American Civil Liberties Union did something strange. They paid Macklemore to appear in an advertisement for ACLU membership – a $35 dollar card that, according to their newest representative, is a literal ticket to certain political freedoms.

There’s a number of ways of understanding this video, but let’s start with what’s happening on the surface – a musician is promoting an organization that will protect people from disenfranchisement and state policies that don’t effect him, as if they do. Following the awkwardly staged I-was-just-finishing-a-track introduction, Macklemore explains that “being beaten with a club, pepper-sprayed, and tased for expressing my political views would really slow [him] down”. He then name checks marriage being reformed to be more inclusive of queer people and regulations on cisgender women’s sexuality.

The ad is fundamentally an extension of Macklemore’s primary means of self-presenting himself – as someone who either directly experiences the difficulties a perceived audience faces or who at least deeply understands those issues. It then builds up from that an ACLU membership as a solution to those problems. The slip of paper the ACLU mails you in return for your support “lets [his] gay friends marry the hell out of each other” and apparently tells cis women “it’s your vagina”. Except, of course, if you live in one of the parts of the US where state governments have seen fit to limit those and other rights.

The liberties listed as needing to be shored up in this ad are presented as negative – freedoms from intrusive government policies – and yet, no level of government is mentioned at all. The distance that Macklemore has between him and these various issues does seem to matter here, because at least in how he’s presenting the issue, the mere act of support for these liberties is what matters. It seems that what he believes (and what he wants this ad to convince others of) is that the act of supporting the ACLU resolves inequalities and oppressive attitudes inevitably. This ad is very much a political assertion on his part that, in a word, simply identifying as an ally or advocate means something, contrary to all evidence otherwise.

Macklemore and Le1f
(On the left, Macklemore, a straight and White rapper. On the right, Le1f, a queer Black rapper who has alleged that Macklemore plagiarized his work, from here.)

Admittedly, the ACLU does sometimes spend money and time on issues pertaining to queer liberation and reproductive freedoms, but those are part of a larger pie. It also works with events like Stop Watching Us, tinged as they are with islamophobic implications, and defends free speech rights to an honestly implausible degree at times. That long history of supporting and financing racist speech is perhaps alluded to by Macklemore’s concern that he might face repercussions for his “political activism”. His other primary means of presenting himself to the public is of course as part of the gaining trend of White musicians who speak in code about people of color being materialistic. Even when showing himself as an ally, however, he often implies that heterosexist rhetoric is a fundamentally Black phenomenon.

The initial concerns he displays in the video about being subjected to brutality, presumably by the police or “community safety volunteers” seems tone deaf in light of the events of the past year. A few months ago George Zimmerman was acquitted for the death of Trayvon Martin and just within this week the grisly murder of a young Black woman faced speculation about whether her murderer would even be charged with a crime. For Black people in particular (and people of color generally), you don’t have to be saying or doing something “political” to face extreme violence, you can just be walking home from the store or knocking on a door asking for help after an accident. Before it ends, the video includes Macklemore asserting his right to call the president, the US’s first one of color, a dick if he wanted to (which he quickly says he doesn’t).

In a nutshell, it seems vital to ask what freedoms the ACLU and Macklemore thought they were promoting here. It seems that what they think of as promoting certain queer and feminist causes is tied up in self-aggrandizing attitudes in almost total isolation from the lived experience of dealing with heterosexism and sexism (to say nothing of the cissexist way that trans* people are excluded from the conversation). What they seem to think of as promoting freedom of speech and freedom from surveillance inevitably tracks back to tacit acceptance of racism and the quintessential embodiment of it among “liberals” – a sort of self-important ignorance of what their complaints sound like to communities that are targeted at the drop of a hat.

Their concerns are also decidedly libertarian – in that they’re exclusively about freedom from (usually) state intervention in daily life. There aren’t constitutional guarantees to the freedom to work without facing discrimination, for marginalized communities to be given additional assistance, or for economic redistribution to be political policy at all, and the ACLU and Macklemore’s framing here highlights that almost reflexively anti-state libertarian attitude that won’t serve many benighted groups very well.

This is not political activism which draws on the wants and needs of groups dealing with oppressive attitudes and actions by the larger society. This is an advertisement through and through which is working to sell you membership in an organization which potentially is designed to advance your rights in a way that won’t actually benefit you.

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The downside to Glenn Greenwald

TW: police detention, mass surveillance, police brutality

You may have heard about the controversy earlier this week as Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was detained while returning to the UK from a visit to Brazil. Greenwald was understandably incensed and wrote several thousands of words on the subject for The Guardian over the course of these past few days. While this incident has been largely pushed aside in light of the sentencing news for Chelsea Manning, I think this story from earlier in the week in illuminating in terms of the flaws in Greenwald’s journalistic practices.

To be clear here, this is not to suggest that Greenwald’s reporting on these events was biased or that either he or his partner “deserved” the scrutiny or restrictions placed on them by the UK government (and, as Greenwald and others have alleged, at the US government’s request, which the Obama administration has wholly denied). There’s something of a media campaign underway to paint this issue as reasonable comeuppance for Greenwald and Miranda which is obviously an elaborate profession-wide apology by the highest echelons of US-based journalists who hope to be the best stenographers to power that they can be. Greenwald’s bucking of that trend is something that we should all appreciate, and even if failing that, we shouldn’t hold Miranda culpable for Greenwald’s actions.

That said, the way that Greenwald’s role in reporting international surveillance systems has expanded to experiencing them as well is worrisome. Concerns about bias are understandable, but in this case seem unfounded. Instead, I think the real damage is in how this limits the most public reporting on these issues of the increasing use of mass surveillance by the US and UK governments. As David von Ebers wrote at This Week In Blackness, the UK has its own history of using these same methods of surveillance and detention to crackdown on both anti-colonial activists that had been displaced from British colonies as well as against locally marginalized and anglicized Irish protesters. There’s more than a past pattern of those tactics, actually, as across the UK and other EU countries anti-surveillance protesters took to smashing CCTV cameras (publicly placed video recorders) this very week.

(One German dissident dismantling a public surveillance camera in January, from here.)

On the distinct but related issue of the wave of UK riots two years ago, which were prompted in part in opposition to police brutality, Greenwald struck an odd tone. While he admitted that the riots were rooted in opposition to exploitation and “the system,” he likewise reduce them to being nothing more than “opportunistic criminality and inchoate rage“. Instead of attempting to sort through the diverse motivations for the riots, Greenwald essentially gave up, and missed out on reporting a connection between this larger backdrop of protest and resistance and the state systems he now takes so seriously.

As long as he’s reporting on the US’s possible involvement in detaining Miranda and likewise the US’s National Security Agency’s broad surveillance programs, why can’t he also mention Stop and Frisk, which as near as I can tell, he’s never covered? It’s also rather timely this week, given how New York’s Mayor Bloomberg has responded to the declaration of that policy as unconstitutional with calls for mass fingerprinting in poor, predominantly Black and Latin@ neighborhoods. Both that former policy and Bloomberg’s interest in replacing it with a similarly overpowered form of policing has gone chronically underreported and could do with a larger name like Greenwald’s throwing some attention its way.

The problem here, to repeat myself, isn’t his choice to cover the surveillance state and police overreach as it affects him personally, but his decision to primarily cover it then and only describe the system’s hostile actions as violence in that case. The contours of his reporting on this issue leave so much beneath the surface, unexplored.

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It’s bad

TW: police brutality, military government, 2013 Egyptian coup, islamist violence

It seems that we’ve reached the place in Egypt where there shouldn’t be continued debates about whether the interim military government rose to power during a coup or adequately respects the will of Egyptians. The world got it’s answer today as to where on the murky boundary between playing with fire and burning the house down the Egyptian military’s current governance falls: and it’s not a good answer.

(Protesters dislodging a police vehicle from a raised road, from here.)

Ahram online is documenting (among other issues) how the increasingly close relationship between Christians and the military is fueling the sectarian elements to this crisis, as populists target Christians assuming they supported the coup and Christians respond by backing the violent security forces. Contrary to claims by non-Egyptian Christians, the military is arguably aggravating the religious conflict dimensions to this crisis.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has posted more of those fascinating (and seemingly, in the international press, increasingly iconic) images of protesters overturning a police vehicle and then pushing it off of the higher road where it had been. As was unfortunately unacknowledged by too many at the beginnings of this, a large part of Morsi’s ouster is attributable to his loss of legitimacy with nearly every faction in Egypt. A common assumption, especially outside of Egypt seems to have been that the military would fill that vacuum of respected government. It’s clear that a significant number of Egyptians have rejected that idea, and seem to view the military as equally if not more so unacceptable as the ruling order.

Finally, the Guardian has an interested blueprint for what an idea international response might be. It’s biased towards the anglophone world, focusing on the US and UK especially, but it contains an extremely interesting point that

“it is worth exploring whether countries with their own history of internal strife, civil-military conflict, and reconciliation, and respected international leaders, have a constructive role to play. Leaders from government and civil society in South Africa, Turkey, Serbia, Greece or Spain, South Korea come to mind (as would Aung San Suu Kyi, were it not for Myanmar’s own mistreatment of its Muslim minorities).”

A truly international and consensus-driven group of countries coming together to address this issue would be an amazing and arguably most likely to succeed response to this crisis. I hope it comes to pass.

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It’s not just Trayvon

TW: George Zimmerman’s acquittal, racism, racist criminalization, police brutality

By now you’ve hopefully realized that a defining feature of the still on-going Zimmerman case (there’s always civil suits!) was how racist ideas about Black people create an image of them that’s inevitably, invariably criminal. This phenomenon has a terribly academic name, racist criminalization, that unfortunately rolls off the tongue about as easily as a brick does. In spite of its regrettable inaccessibility, it’s a really useful term for describing the fears that are now rippling out of this specific case and into the depiction of Black people’s reactions across the US to it.

As Jenée Desmond-Harris, herself Black, put it – many White people seem almost disappointed in the lack of a riot, since that would have confirmed every idea about Black people as violent, criminal, and unstable (never mind the context of yet another man getting away with murdering one of them). A lot of attention has been placed on a few sporadic instances of vandalism in Oakland, with minimal to no attention paid to more dangerous conditions which were typically created by police in response to protestors.

Below is one video account of a confrontation between protesters on Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles and LAPD. Obviously, the mostly young and of color protesters weren’t the most polite as at :57 they begin to loudly greet the police with the chant “I believe that we will win” (that is, that Zimmerman will eventually be convicted). By 1:14 however, they’ve begun moving away from the police, only for a loud noise to interrupt the few remaining chants. At 1:30 it’s revealed that the noise was a police officer driving through the crowd on a police-issued motorcycle which elicited shouts of “be careful with that”. A confrontation ensues, resulting in the protesters shouting various slogans (including the Vietnam War era favorite, “how many kids have you killed today?” and the more modern “stop killer cops”) at the police.

By 3:51, shouts for people to move on from the confrontation had caused almost everyone in the crowd to look away from the police and move away from the area where they had been arguing. As they’re leaving, however, one officer, who appears to be the same one that initially drew the crowd with his reckless behavior, raced through the group and grabbed one particularly young, Black teenager. He pulls the teen away from the others who begin shouting at him to stop, and one of whom (at 4:04) pulls him out of the officer’s grip. You can hear the protesters at this point calling for someone (it’s unclear if they mean their fellow protesters or the police) to “back up”. The police move forward and begin firing “warning” shots at 4:14. The tape ends shortly after, once the protesters have fled out of range of the police amid calls to “keep marching”.

To be clear: there were multiple points where the crowd began moving away from the police – once before the incident with the motorcycle, after they decided that that incident wasn’t worth arguing over, and during the calls for people to “back up” after a police officer grabbed a young Black person. That indicates pretty strongly that the protesters, while clearly wanting to criticize the behavior of the police then and generally, also hoped to avoid a physical conflict. The police officers, on the other hand, indicated otherwise through their unprofessional endangerment of the protesters (first by using a motorcycle in the crowd, then by grabbing one protester with a nightstick in the other hand, and finally by using warning shots against a retreating group of protesters).

It’s important to hold on to those facts in the next coming days, if what coverage has happened so far is an indication. The narrative of Black people as violent criminals is an extremely established one.

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The unfolding disaster

TW: islamophobia, racist criminalization, police brutality, violence against protesters, institutionalization, sexual assault

(Until recently, almost all substantive coverage of this has been actually from foreign media, like the above protest sign that explains “We don’t want a spying, lying NYPD commissioner” which was published in the UK newspaper, The Guardian.)

There’s astoundingly little for me to say about Alex Pareene’s piece on the on-going early contest for the position of mayor of New York. It’s rare to see the larger context of corruption, racism, and fear mongering so effectively pulled together to provide a detailed account of what the current political situation in that city is, so it seems definitely worth a quite read. To give you a taste:

Let’s run down the record quickly: Kelly’s NYPD acts (to the annoyance of the FBI) like an international intelligence agency devoted entirely to spying on Muslims. The department has a network of informants spying on American Muslims known as “mosque-crawlers.” NYPD spies monitored Muslims in Newark as well, compiling a vital list of… restaurants. The NYPD even spied on Muslims who sought to ally themselves with the city against terrorism. (You can read the Associated Press’ award-winning coverage of the NYPD’s inept/counterproductive spying operations here.)

The NYPD has “trained” its officers with a virulent Islamophobic movie called “Third Jihad,” which claims that “much of the Muslim leadership in America” has a “strategy to infiltrate and dominate” the U.S.. Kelly appeared in this movie in an interview. When questioned about this, NYPD spokesperson Paul Browne lied about Kelly’s appearance, because everyone in the NYPD, from the highest levels to the beat cops, lies constantly, to juries and judges and the press.

Kelly’s NYPD costs the city a lot of money. Not just in the “buying drones and military-grade noise cannons while people starve in the streets” sense (though that is one way) but in the constantly getting sued for brutality and wrongful imprisonment and so on way.

The 2004 Republican National Convention took place in New York, and in preparation for the convention Kelly and Bloomberg spent a lot of time spying on activists in order to figure out how best to illegally arrest hundreds of protesters. A judge ruled the NYPD tactics unconstitutional, opening the door to more lawsuits.

The NYPD is a world-leader in marijuana arrests. The vast majority of those arrested have been black men, a group the city has explicitly persecuted under Kelly and Bloomberg in a depressing variety of ways. Between 2002 and 2012 the NYPD made 440,000 arrests for low-level marijuana possession. Until Kelly finally told officers to stop doing so in 2011, a common police tactic was to trick or coerce people being frisked into taking drugs out of their pockets themselves, putting the marijuana in “public view” and making it an arrestable offense. (This is also illegal.)

Of course, another common NYPD tactic is to simply plant drugs on suspects.

And we haven’t even gotten to the massive ticket-fixing thing, which led to charges against 16 officers. And the mass demonstration of NYPD officers outside the courthouse following those arrests, in which the cops said they were “just following orders” and mockingly chanted “E.B.T.” at people lined up to receive benefits across the street. (And the officer indicted for trying to pay to have a witness against him killed.) At least the ticket-fixing was one of the very, very few incidents of NYPD criminality that was actually uncovered by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, which has otherwise failed to police the police.

There are also the tapes produced by Adrian Schoolcraft, an officer who recorded NYPD activity in Bed-Stuy and revealed the widespread manipulation of arrest data designed to game “CompStat,” the much-vaunted Bloombergian data-driven police management program. Schoolcraft found that an NYPD cop “is expected to maintain high ‘activity’—including stop-and-frisks—but, paradoxically, to record fewer actual crimes.” Schoolcraft also confirmed the existence of “quotas” for arrests, summons and frisks — something else the NYPD lied about for years. Cops were told to arrest people for petty crimes (or for nothing at all) and downplay more serious ones, in order to show that the police were busy but that serious crime wasn’t a problem. Schoolcraft’s superiors sent the whistleblower to a psych ward for six days. Kelly then kept the NYPD’s own internal investigation into his allegations secret for two years.

And let’s not forget the gun-running, the rapes, the various incidents of casual racism, and arrests of black public officials at the West Indian Day Parade. And, of course, lying about arresting journalists at Occupy Wall Street, and destroying the library, and everything else.

It’s hard to be more damning than that in my mind, and keep in mind that’s just a portion of the article.

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The lack of space for queerness

Something quite terrible is going on within the struggle for queer liberation. That’s not a new idea. In 2011, Bell Hooks famously said that marriage equality was primarily rooted in expanding the number of couples that could share resources, access to healthcare, and other economic privileges, rather than actively fixing the problem that anyone lacks those resources or the ability to fully access them.

Spurred by the recent court cases in the US involving marriage laws, similar points have come up a few times. A popular response to the cissexist Human Rights Campaign’s campaign on Facebook explained that “marriage is often touted as important because it grants access to immigration, healthcare, etc. but … we really need immigration reform, universal healthcare” rather than a minimal expansion of access. In a similar vein, pictures from older protests have been shared anew which presented mutually exclusive options of legally recognizing queer marriages or dismantling the prison industrial complex.

(“Now that I can’t plan my wedding I guess I’ll just destroy the prison industrial complex.”)

I agree that these are vital points to make about the limitations of marriage equality. Much like the enfranchisement of male-female marriages, it assists very few people immigrate, access healthcare, or avoid unreasonable incarceration. But when the right of couples to “traditionally” marry (in a romantic sense that’s not much more than a century old) is raised, it’s seldom framed as a solution to systemic injustice with dimensions related to racial, economic, and other hierarchies. Rather, marriage is in part a means of regulating custodial rights, a person’s next of kin, and ceding right of attorney in cases of medical or other emergencies.

It seems necessary to ask why the recognition of (some) queer families needs to be justified by the solution of other broad, discriminatory policies that primarily relate to what we might call other modes of oppression. Should the Civil Rights Act have had to prove that it would have positively impacted queer and genderqueer communities? Should the Equal Rights Amendment have been expected to crack down on extralegal yet widely tolerated police brutality against people of color? The need for policies to acknowledge and examine intersectionality – that is, how a person can simultaneously be genderqueer, queer, of color, and female – is obvious, and policies should be criticized and avoided that reduce inequality in one of those fields but with extreme affects in others. It’s a few degrees removed from that, however, to expect improvements in one of those territories to actively resolve historied and systemic problems in another.

And again: what has created that expectation that legally recognizing same-sex and same-gender marriages is a remotely acceptable replacement for healthcare, immigration, and public safety reforms?

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Looking away and laughing

TW: Argentinian “Dirty War”, torture, indefinite detention, police brutality, violence against protesters

So yesterday, amid assorted allegations (re)surfacing about the now sitting Pope, this happened:

Erick Erickson tweeting
(Tweet from yesterday, by former CNN commentator Erick Erickson.)

Um, okay then Mr. Erickson. There’s quite a few things that could be said about that type of joke, which I already jumped a bit into last week, but in the meanwhile let’s talk about the humor that people often deploy while trying to distance themselves from and trivialize violence. If you, as Erickson later explained himself, are able to somehow twist this into something else entirely, I honestly have no idea what to say to you.

For those of you who are still reading, allow me to clarify: some of the allegations against the current Pope are indeed false. The Guardian has retracted what they originally published about him in 2011 (namely that he might have allowed the Argentinian junta to move political prisoners onto Church-controlled islands in order to hide them, which seems to be what Erickson was basing his complaint off of). But aside from that, there’s the small matter of him having informed the Argentinian government of a fellow Jesuit he suspected of coordinating with feminine religious orders, guerrillas, and otherwise earned being deported (after being detained and tortured by Bergoglio’s own admission). Isn’t that pretty Pontius Pilate of him?

Bergoglio's memo to the Argentinian government urging the deportation of a Jesuit Priest
(The original document he had sent to the Argentinian government to request the deportation of another Jesuit priest.)

There’s a sort of confusing response that seems to typically crop up over these sorts of situations – where an ostensibly “conservative” or “traditional” government is killing and torturing thousands of people. It seems to be that many celebrate and are entertained by the violence against those they deem as deserving it, but on some level realize that that will be frowned on and deemed unacceptable. So, they joke about those disappeared, while denying that the disappearances happened (or, at least, that anyone prominent in Argentinian politics at the time could possibly have been involved). It’s a strategy of simultaneously reveling in and denying the existence of terrible violence.

That’s unfortunately a very relevant perspective to watch for appearing around Brooklyn today. In the wake of the police shooting Kimani Gray, a purportedly unarmed sixteen year old Black youth in the East Flatbush area, protests against those sorts of incidents failed to pass the police’s test of what was acceptable. As people were imprisoned and homes searched without warrants, the police also managed to remove most professional media from the area. In a very real sense, violence has been doled out in the past few days against an entire community in Brooklyn, and most our society has decided to look the other way.

Still, some accounts slip through. You can read descriptions like this one:

Towards the end of the night, a group of teenagers standing on a curb were taunting a few cops standing several feet away in the street. After a few minutes and seemingly unprovoked, an officer reached onto the sidewalk to grab one of the teenagers, who took off running. This sparked an all out foot-chase, with officers in hot pursuit of the runner and some of the NYPD’s less athletic members cheering their fellow officers on. The runner cut down a side street, media and police giving chase. The suspect got away, but about halfway down the street police briefly detained a separate young man who was going home for the night. He was black—as was the runner—and immediately informed the police that he wasn’t the person they were looking for. One cop was heard explaining that he was on orders from his sergeant to arrest him. While several white cops walked the wrong man toward a police van, they ultimately decided to let him go.

Or you can simply see a few of the clandestine photographs of the situation. Or you can hear about how everyone arrested under suspicion of “rioting” is being held for an extended period. Hopefully those sorts of depictions of what’s actually happening right now in one part of the most populous city in the United States will make you think.

Hopefully, the last thing they’ll make you do is laugh.

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The broad progressive coalition fails to emerge in Israel

TW: suicide, indefinite detention, police brutality

If you care to peruse the Israel tag here you’ll come across a number of different developments in the past few months that haven’t boded well for any civilians in the region. Police violence has long been endemic in Israel, but a recent report by +972 has tried to shed light on the powers behind the brutality. In short, there’s a culture of impunity particularly for those viewed as moderates because they don’t support quite as extreme measures against Iran and Palestine. Those who are highly ranked in the military are given glowing mentions in the New York Times and touted, even by their more humanist critics, as Israel’s great last hope.

Now, if only they weren’t imprisoning Israeli’s with secret evidence. And if only those detained weren’t kept in solitary confinement for so many months that they became suicidal. And if only there wasn’t a legitimate case to be made that they were a literal “shadow government”. Darn.

(The facility in Ramla, Israel, where Ben Zygier committed suicide after multiple months in solitary confinement, from here.)

Unfortunately, even in how their failings are being noticed and called out you can see the cracks in a hypothetical broad coalition of those against war mongering, those against systemic disenfranchisement and criminalization of  Arabs and Palestinians, and those against the transformation of Israel into a police state. One of the core cases examined by the article was that of Anat Kamm, who I’ve commented on before. Indeed, what has happened to her was monstrous and reflective of the growing power of the military and similar martial forces in Israel.

But as I pointed out when her case initially became public in October, her imprisonment coincided with the killing of a Palestinian woman and her daughter who were in the process of signalling that they were non-combatants by waving a white flag. If there’s an undemocratic autocracy developing in Israel, its effects are felt unevenly. A few Jewish Israelis are imprisoned for inadequate fealty to the emerging order, but Palestinians are harassed and locked away on a much larger scale. The purported moderate-ness of the effective governors of Israel is just that – purported. The systemic inequalities against Arabs and Palestinians in territory Israel claims are not only continuing but worsening under their rule.

An effective challenge of the increasingly undemocratic norms in Israel needs to criticize the constant violence doled out rather than be selective about it.

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Your struggle is not the only struggle

TW: nativism, violence against protesters

Earlier today, the southern Californian chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union posted this on twitter:

(They were publicizing their meeting with Sandra Fluke, which admittedly would be what I would do in that situation too. From here.)

In the contextless post on twitter, it might be hard to realize what they’re talking about is the right to access an abortion. There’s misinformation out there, and not enough efforts in California to counter that, but no actual violations of the right to bodily autonomy, at least as far as that branch of the ACLU apparently sees it.

Twitter’s already started calling them out for the various other problems that such a statement ignores, but I think it’s worth noting here the lengthy history of undocumented immigrants throughout this country having basic protections denied to them. Since we’re talking about the threat to equality in California specifically, why not mention the lengthy history of police brutality against undocumented immigrants who politically organize? Or the campaigns to keep Spanish out of the public eye? Or the fact that some of the victories in extending equal rights to undocumented individuals has involved campaigns and policy solutions that focus on exceptional cases? As UCLA’s understandable push for equal student rights be extended to students without legal resident status worryingly put it, “[m]any undocumented students are honor students, athletes, student leaders, and aspiring professionals”. Will those who aren’t seen as remarkable get grandfathered in?

If anyone should be familiar with this sort of situation, you would think it would be advocates for reproductive freedoms and related feminist struggles. If there’s a short summary of what they’ve worked against in the past few years, it would be normalized inequalities and the struggle against them having to be expressed in terms of how exceptional and therefore worthy some marginalized people are. In other words, precisely the sort of nonsense undocumented immigrants have to wade through at the moment in California and much of the US.

We’ve moved beyond the time of Seneca Falls, where the Declaration of Sentiments, which decried the sexist legal codes of that time, protested that many rights were “given to the most ignorant and degraded men—both natives and foreigners”. We’ve gotten to the point where the core of the feminist movement has shed that past interest in the “right” women having a clear advantage over the “wrong” men, but that’s simply a negative space. To the extent that we can talk about it as a singular thing, feminism has stopped directly colluding with heterosexist, racist, classist, and assorted other hierarchic systems, to advance only the cause of comparatively privileged women. That’s great, but is that really enough? Haven’t we reached a point where feminist advocates would recognize that their struggle, no matter how important and far reaching, is not the only legitimate one? Haven’t we reached a point where feminist organization might not forget about those other modes of oppression?

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