Here are my lovely daughters in Washing D.C. in the spring of 2009. We felt it so very important to take them there in the year of the inauguration of Barack Obama. We felt that the presence of a beautiful black family in the White House was something to share, to mark, to honor, to celebrate. As married women with two Asian daughters, this was a time when we could feel safe, joyful, hopeful.
I had campaigned in New Hampshire for a month before that 2008 election. I had supported Hillary, but became a fierce advocate for Obama, and campaigned again in 2012. I am back in New Hampshire this year. If I thought that confronting overt racism was hard, the grotesque misogyny of this election is much, much worse. I did not know the extent to which we are still fighting this ugly, sexist woman-hating fight.
I hear this a lot: “I just don’t like her.” Just as “make America great again” is code for “white again”, not “liking” Hillary is code for not trusting or respecting women, especially powerful women with a voice. Full stop.
I am currently watching an excellent documentary series on Netflix called “The Ascent of Woman” I HIGHLY recommend it. It is a beautifully filmed and narrated survey of the place (displace) of women from ancient times until now, by writer and scholar Amanda Foreman. Every woman and man should watch this, to understand how deep the currents of manipulation, control and misogyny run, and how cruelly implemented they have been across all cultures and times.
On the way home from canvassing today, I heard a stunning episode of This American Life, focusing on the question of why immigration is such a paranoid, obsessive issue for Republicans. Here’s the blurb:
One way to understand the split inside the Republican party is to look at immigration. It’s this urgent, emotional issue for so much of the party these days. But why? Over the past year, as producer Zoe Chace has covered the election, she has wondered, why immigration NOW? She had a hard time getting any answers — and then she stumbled upon a small city in Minnesota called St. Cloud.
Zoe connects the anti-immigrant sentiment in St. Cloud with a national network of organizations promoting anti-Muslim views and spreading fear about Sharia law. We hear how the Somali immigrants in town deal with their neighbors’ fears. And then a violent attack at a local mall inflames both sides.
Listen to this program. The rabidity of the speakers, the involuted, contagious nature of their misinformation is scary. But it is out there, and we need to know about it.
And then we need to speak truth to distortion and deceit. We need to break the spell of the orange man with the noxious spew of lies and his sickening ability to tap into the basest of human instincts. We need to bring all of our caring, kindness, goodness and compassion to the table, hard as that may be. Just do it.