Sunday, June 5, 2016

Re: Violence Directed at Trump Supporters

Video surfaced this week of anti-Trump protesters throwing eggs at a Trump supporter in California. The video quickly spurred conversations among the left of the ethics and efficacy of such protest.

Perhaps the most common defense of violence directed at Trump and his supporters I have heard is the retort: "if you could go back and kill Hitler, wouldn't you?"

Now that's an interesting question full of all sorts of moral quandaries (and if you're interested in an in depth exploration of the moral implications of such an action I strongly encourage you to read some of the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran Minister who actually tried to kill Hitler), but if we concede the ethics of killing Hitler we must first decide if egging a Trump supporter is killing Hitler.

One, Trump may or may not be Hitler. Certainly his framing of a religious minority as a danger to nationalistic dominance and his insistence that resident foreigners and international regulation are to blame for robbing the nation of it's presumed former glory would would suggest that his is, but whether he is or is not it seems clear that this lone supporter isn't. She's not even Goebbels or Himmler. At worst she's Isherwood's neighbor Fraulein Mayr - slapping on a swastika because it gives her a pride the realities of a changing world does not.

Two, egging won't stop Hitler (or Fraulein Mayr) - it will only convince them that the persecution they imagine they face for being a proud real German is real.

"But," you might protest "perhaps seeing the opposition to the rise of Hitler/Trump in such a dramatic fashion might stop someone else from joining his ranks." Now that's an interesting idea, but it's where the Third Reich analogy falls apart.

Germany in 1932 is not America in 2016 - and the biggest difference is in how our national campaigns work.

In the 1932 German federal elections 84% of registered German voters turned up at the polls (to give you some context the turnout in America for the 1932 presidential election - at the height of the Great Depression mind you - was 52%, and no American presidential election has ever had 84% turnout). That's not an anomaly. The 1930 German federal election had an 82% turnout; The 1928 election had a 76% turnout.

Compare that to the massive "Obama Surge" voter turnout in 2008 at 57%, or the "Tea Party Wave" in 2010 at 38% turnout.

Modern American elections start with the knowledge that there is a massive untapped reservoir of voters who don't vote and then compete to see who can best tap the share of that reservoir that agrees with them.

American federal elections in 2016 are not about convincing people to agree with you. They are about convincing people who agree with you to actually turn-up and vote. This is part of the appeal of Trump to the far right. There is a belief that people who largely agreed with the more milquetoast Johns (Kerry and McCain) but who weren't excited enough to turnout and vote will be motivated by this candidate who speaks the language of fear and American nationalism.

The danger of egging Trump/Hitler, or egging Fraulein Mayr, in 2016 isn't that someone who previously thought Trump/Hitler was an abomination will feel sympathy and now vote for him. It's that someone who previously thought of the Democrats as the lesser of two evils but worth voting for to defeat Trump/Hitler will stay home because they perceive the left as just as bad as the right.  Modern campaigns aren't about changing minds. They're about convincing people it's worth their time to get involved. That's what led the Obama surge in '08 and the Tea Party wave in '10. Not people switching sides, but who stayed home and who showed up.

The moral argument on killing Hitler, or egging Trump supporters, isn't the point. It's not the ethics it's the efficacy. There is too much at stake in the Trump ascendancy to risk center-left voters staying home.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Interview with KOOP's Issues for your Tissues

Check out this clip of my appearance on KOOP Radio 91.7 in Austin's Issues for your Tissues - a radio show about reproductive justice. I spoke with host Katie about North Carolina's HB 2 and the growing transphobia of our Texas Lt. Governor and Attorney General. The interview was recorded on May 24, the day before Texas sued the federal government to allow school districts to discriminate against transgender students.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Interview on KPFT 90.1's Tell the Word

Check out this clip of my appearance on KPFT 90.1's Tell the Word. Many thanks to Brian and Jason for inviting me on to talk about the potty police, North Carolina's HB 2 and what to expect next legislative session.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Interview on KPFT 90.1's Queer Voices

I had the distinct pleasure tonight of returning to my old stomping grounds at Queer Voices on Houston's 90.1 KPFT. Thanks to Jack Valinski and the gang for inviting me. Check out the clip of the interview below.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On the Shooting At The US Capitol

Yesterday a Christian pastor, motivated by his religious beliefs, fired a weapon at the US Capitol.
I'm not going to call for a ban on Christian immigrants until we "know what's happening."
I'm not going to suggest Christian neighborhoods be patrolled.
I'm not going to advocate for Christian institutions to be outlawed.
I'm not going to question why Christian leaders aren't condemning radical Christianity.
I'm going to remind myself that we, as Americans, decided a long time ago that we aren't going to set public policy based on a person's faith.
I'm going to remind others that the law can and should provide reasonable accommodation for individual faith.
I'm going to recognize that the actions of one person, or a group of persons, or a host of people are not a reflection on the broad and diverse population of believers who might share a common holy text and cultural label,
and I'm going to ask you to do the same.

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Good Friday Prayer

For those who hear of Christ crying out for water on the cross, who cannot see Christ in the children of Flint, we pray.

For our leaders who hear the story of Pilot convicting Christ for the sake political expediency, who cannot see Christ in a generation of young people felled by tough on crime policy, we pray.

For creation, beaten for the sake of humanity's selfishness, flesh torn to serve our greed, forced to bear the burden of its own destruction, and for those that cannot see Christ in in the firmament, the land or the sea, we pray.

For ourselves, when we see ourselves in Simeon, in Veronica, in the multitudes crying 'Hosanna,' but never in the throng hissing 'crucify' through clinched teeth, never in the majority benefiting from the cruelty of those with power, we pray.

For the church, tonight a widow, and for those who look upon the dispossessed, the grieving, the ill in body or mind, the cast-out and cannot see Christ's beloved, we pray.

For those who see the anguish of Sybrina Fulton, of Lesley McSpadden, of Maria Hamilton, Gwen Carr and Tressa Sherrod and cannot see Mary, the mother of Christ, beside the cross - her son killed by a government more concerned with order than justice, we pray.

For all the ways we have denied Christ by denying Christ's presence in every person we meet, not three times, not three times three times, not three nine times over but in a countless unceasing denial like the crowing of all earth's fowl across all time, a restless din of conviction and remembrance, for that - on this darkest of nights when humanity glimpses but for a moment the specter of a world absent your presence - for that - we pray forgiveness - Amen.