I recently listened to a fabulous (albeit, disturbing) podcast on the most recent, and most virulent form of all of “cancel culture” currently being waged by the conservative wing of the United States of Our Kind of America – Moms for Liberty, book banning, and the whole-sale closure of public lending libraries.
That a group that seeks to define what the entire community may read can, with a straight face, call itself the “Moms for Liberty” begs the question – does this gang of self-righteous women who know better than everyone else (and have zero respect or tolerance for values that don’t line up with their own) actually have a sense of humor?
While it’s discouraging in the extreme to hear that a coalition that represents perhaps 30% of the American public has been surgically successful at removing books like “Gender Queer” and “Not All Boys Are Blue” – perhaps the only texts available to young people questioning their own gender identity – I look back at the arc of American history and the efforts of the haves to oppress the have-nots.
It is undoubtedly true that we still live in a country plagued by systemic racism, sexism, ￼anti-Semitism, misogyny, and xenophobia -we can thank the flatulating water buffalo who likes to call himself 45 that most of the country now mostly understands what those last two words mean. Add to them transphobia, body dysmorphia, gender reassignment surgery, and perhaps we are even richer in our vocabulary.
To be a person of color in America today remains dangerous. To be a woman is to see years of progress tossed into the trash like yesterdays’s lunch.
To be gay is to continue to fear rejection by one’s family and community, be fired from one’s job (even though that’s illegal), and yes, even 25 years after Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence and beaten until he died for the sin of being gay, be killed for it.
To be a member of transgendered community, though…that’s the new precipice. If you really want to show what you’re made of. I currently know 2 whom I count to be adored, adopted sons, and their honesty, courage, and determination to live authentically is of the kind we should be lauding the way we do Ivy League admissions, NCAA championships, and Silicon Valley IPOs.
I’m not going to go long or deep on the bravery it takes to set aside all everyone has ever know about you and say, “that’s not who I am, it’s never who I was,” and know that even the most loving and supportive people in your life may have to take a deep breath and sit with it for a while, not because they don’t love ever particle of your being, but because it just never entered their mind that you weren’t who they thought you were, and that is an adjustment.
Others are far less understanding, kind, supportive, or aware that your decision is not a statement about them, their values, their sexuality, or their god, because it doesn’t, and if they’d met you after, as you are and we’re meant to be, they’d never think twice about who you are.
It’s appalling, and wholly unconscionable, and unconstitutional, and contrary to the principles upon which this country was established by founding fathers who could not have fathomed hypocrisy the size of mega-churches, or the Moms for Liberty who recruit women who have never read the books they believe are intended to indoctrinate the precious children they have no problem exposing to violent and oversexualized media from a very young age (Toddlers and Tiaras, anyone? Seen a pageant where 6 year old girls shake their booties, have you? Watched the kind of videos your kids are playing by the age of 10?)
A thoughtful liabrary in Ferndale, MI got smart and organized with the same Union as the Detroit Free Press, then implemented a book challenge protocol that puts the burden of proof on the challenger – not the library – and requires the challenger to write a three-page report setting forth specific complaints as to why the book is not of value to the collection or the community and requires the challenger to certify that they have actually read the book. The challenger must also include reviews of the book, pro and con, as to why the book does, or does not, deserve a read.
Brilliant, and something librarians in Florida might want to think about adopting, lest that state be slow-walked to the swamp of defiant ignorance into which some seem so determined to lead it.
Right now, the focus is on drag queens and the transgendered, and I will admit, with some degree of embarrassment, that drag queens make me very uncomfortable. I don’t know why, but I do know that it’s NOT because a drag Queen ever followed me into a restroom and tried to assault me, or ever did anything to me, because I’ve never actually met a drag queen in person. Whatever the reason, (1) that’s for ME to work out; and (2) it’s NOT a reason to limit what drag queens can and can’t do as drag queens.
But here’s the good news (though it might not sound so great right now, and it’s spoken by a straight white woman):
The “haves,” however you define them (white, male, straight, Christian, cis) have always tried to keep the “have-nots” down.
Things are not perfect. Problems remain. There is so much work to be done.
But the ”haves” trying to keep the “have nots” down?
It hasn’t worked.
Barack Obama. It took too long. It’s not enough. But it happened.
Four women on the Supreme Court (okay, one’s a bot). It took too long. It’s not enough. But it happened.
25% of the 118th Congress is made up of POC, and 44% is female. 13 members are members of the LGBTQ Community. It took too long. It’s not enough. But it happened.
And so on, and so on, and so on.
In fifty years, “white” will be a minority race in the country. Women will far outnumber men in the C-suite. And it will be Dobbs that gets tossed out like yesterday’s lunch.
It’s coming, because it always does. The human heart is born understanding that it is meant to be just, and fair, and helpful whenever possible. As Rogers and Hammerstein put it so well, “You Have to Be Carefully Taught.”
Given a normal person a neutral situation, and they will act justly. There is still evil and injustice and always will be, but for the last 3,000, we have mostly, eventually, gotten it right.
We just have to do it better, and faster.
So, Moms For Liberty, you can try to take our books. Go ahead. You aren’t going to stop people from reading, or trans people from living their life authentically, or librarians from fighting back, because as between a Mom for Liberty with a printed set of talking points downloaded from the internet and a librarian, I’ll bet on the librarian every time.
When I used to go to church, the service would end with the celebrant saying, “now, go in peace, to love and serve the lord.” I’m pretty sure the lord would consider it a better use of my time to read to my grandchild, walk my dog, visit my mom, work in my garden, put new books in my little free library, take a little snooze, text with Hanna, or snuggle with my kitty, than exert myself trying to get books banned, which was something Adolph Hitler did, and while the lord may have loved Adolph Hitler because I guess that’s the lord’s thing (love the sinner, hate the sin), you can see how this could be a hot button issue for the lord, because burning books is in oh so many instances the first of many steps towards the formation of a totalitarian regime that singled out the “have nots,” and, well, you know what happens then…
Don’t be a dick and make sure everyone gets fed.
Support your local library.
Trans people really just want to live their lives without having to answer the questions no polite (or even borderline rude person) would ever ask someone else. Yes, they pee and poop, too, the end, infinity.
Have a great day.