Friday, April 15, 2016

“Love for My Comrades, Hatred for Patriarchy!” on Bronies, Bernie Bros, Sexism and Policy Differences as the election heats up and ACT UP and Black Bloc Zap Trump ‪#‎BigotrySpreadsAIDS

"ACT UP New York's huge banner spread across this whole intersection near the Hyatt creating a wall from the NYPD leaving them perplexed on what to do next. ‪#‎DumptrumpNYC"
Barbara Ross photo

Bottom photo   ©Stacy Lanyon

Donald Trump has a first amendment right to be obnoxious.  And we have a right to call him out for it.  Rather than shut anyone down, lets hash out. At least that’s what I was thinking on my way to the NYPL at 5th Ave and 41st St, yesterday.

Arriving at the steps of the New York Public Library, I was delighted to see a number of fantastic signs and people as well as members of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra and ACT UP.   The Library was the meeting space for the “Protest Homophobic Presidential Candidates” “Bigotry Spreads AIDS” march organized by ACT UP and a pink/ black black bloc.   Many of the signs featured “My Little Pony” and unicorn iconography, made popular by fans of shows such as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  My favorite was of a unicorn taking on Trump with the words, ““Love for My Comrades, Hatred for Patriarchy!”  Such friendship opens a messy space where guys can be friends, show solidarity, and reject machismo simultaneously.  This is an aesthetic that favors femininity that does little to diminish masculinity.  Male "My Little Pony Fans" are referred to as Bronies.

“There’s something gloriously queer going on here,” notes Mitch Kellaway, writing about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. “something more than numerous straight-identified bronies partaking in, and sometimes undergoing the common queer experience of being harassed for, situational gender nonconformity…taking brony fandom as an indicator, we could look forward to a waning of the fear that engaging in “girls” culture weakens masculinity.”

The action was a welcome respite after a long day of meetings and heated discussions about Hillary and Bernie on facebook.  While Bernie has condemned Bernie Bros, known for swarming pro Hillary comments on social media with long, sometimes sexist critiques, the day before Bernie thanked a surrogate who referred to Hillary and “Corporate Democratic Whores” at a rally at Washington Square Park.   (Bernie later condemned the statement.  But sadly it is part of a pattern).

Later I wrote, “My frustration with the discourse here is the implication that neither Clinton nor Obama tried to get single payer health care through. With a majority of 60 dems they still couldn't get the single payer proposal through the finance committee. Chuck Shumer and Jay Rockefeller tried. How will Bernie get a single payer system through congress? Seriously folks?”

I spent the day discussing the question with friends.  Most lay out smart policy differences.  But the conversation got heated in a way that has become all too familiar this year. 

Amanda Taub describes the dynamic.  She notes: “many women began to notice that when they criticized Sanders online or praised Hillary Clinton, male Sanders supporters would reliably turn up in swarms to tell them they were wrong. And that this swarming occasionally escalated further, into misogynistic abuse that was upsetting or even frightening for them.”

Certainly, there are female Bernie supporters who do the same thing. It is a strange phenomenon.
The intensity of the debate online is astounding and intense, even rattling.  More than my usual facebook comment. Over the last few months, I have been accused of “not being an ally”  and not being “rational” or "delusional" for questing Bernie’s chances of winning or supporting Hillary.  I have had people I have not heard from in fifteen years ask how I could possibly support Hillary instead of Bernie, even though I supported Al Gore in 2000, Obama in 2008, etc. I  hope I am wrong and Bernie can prevail if he wins the nomination.  If he gets the nomination, I’ll support him.  But as a Dad of two girls who really wants to beat back the right wing Cruz / Trump agenda, I am supporting Hillary and the reasonable supreme court nominees she will nominate, despite her flaws.  I am concerned Bernie will face a brick wall of red baiting that will be hard to withstand.  Further, I’d like the US to have our first female president and not have her be a right winger. I think Hillary is one of the most qualified candidates I have seen, with unique experience in multiple branches of government.  I adore Bernie and his support for workers rights and direct action.  I also appreciate how he’s made our democracy stronger, infusing new points of view and people into the conversation.
The reasons for criticism Hillary are many.   She supported the Iraq War.  Her positon on fracking is very vague.  Still, Tom Hayden, who is against fracking, came out in favor of Hillary because of her position.

And as of today, Hayden is a Hillary supporter. It was her nuanced position on fracking that contributed to his switch — that, and the tactics of California fracking opponents. Hayden explains:

Hillary wants limits on fracking: a ban where individual states have blocked it, like in New York; safeguards against children’s and family exposures; a ban where releases of methane or contamination of ground water are proven; and full disclosure of the chemicals used in the process. Bernie’s position is that he’s simply against all fracking. But Hillary’s position goes beyond what virtually any state has done.

As Hayden points out, Bernie’s fracking ban doesn’t include a strategic plan for implementing his policy.”

Even Bernie fans are starting to grow weary of the explanation that a "political revolution" will solve the problem.

I appreciate Tom’s view. Lets not let the perfect get in the way of the good.

As far as I’m concerned, keep fossil fuels in the ground.  The climate movement has called for this for ages.  And we need to keep on pushing it. 

There are multiple issues in this race, including Planned Parenthood and guns.

After Bernie’s failure to support the Sandy Hook families in their efforts to sue gun manufacturers and his stumble in his Daily News interview Gina Quattrochi, the Chief Executive Officer at Bailey House, wrote:Criticize policy differences you have with the opposing candidate. But we are going to have to be in this together when all this is done. And from the tone of the rhetoric on both sides--at least from the extremes--I don't know if that is going to be possible. Let's try to be a little more positive, shall we?

Bernie, white male privilege will only get you so far. I'm tired of hearing you spout rhetoric without substance. Say what you want about Hillary, ---- she's one of the smartest most strategic person the planet. And she sure triggers mommie issues for a lot of men. All I can say is grow up.”Criticize policy differences you have with the opposing candidate. But we are going to have to be in this together when all this is done. And from the tone of the rhetoric on both sides--at least from the extremes--I don't know if that is going to be possible. Let's try to be a little more positive, shall we?

There is certainly an underlying gender issue taking place in this election. And while biology is not destiny, we do know that the US is rated 33 out of the 49 highest income countries when it comes to women in national legislature. As we hash out our differences, I hope we can all stay civil, discuss policy, and respect each other.  After all, as Andy Humm and Cleve Jones have pointed out, we all need each other. 

Democracy is not a spectator sport. We want more people involved. This is part of the solution.  It starts with participation and openness to multiple points of view. I am more of a supporter of organizing and direct action than political officials.  I just want a few who will nominate reasonable judges.  From here, I'd rather join my comrades to help build a community through our bodies in the streets, gardens, and public commons.

Onto the action. 

“Get on the homo train, make America gay again!” AIDS and queer activists chanted as we kicked off leaving for the Grand Hyatt where Trump was scheduled to speak Thursday.  The RMO lead the parade.

“A anti anticapitalista!” we chanted as we marched East away from the library.

And then we ebbed North.

My favorite moment at the trump rally was when we  marched against traffic on Lexington with the black block! “No trump, no kkk, no racist/fascist usa!”

“We’re here.  We’re queer. We’re faaabulous, don't fuck with us!”

Criticize policy differences you have with the opposing candidate. But we are going to have to be in this together when all this is done. And from the tone of the rhetoric on both sides--at least from the extremes--I don't know if that is going to be possible. Let's try to be a little more positive, shall we?

The whole street seemed to swell as we chanted, “ACT UP Fight Trump, Fight AIDS.”

It was great being in the streets, making our point that we want something wonderful and bountiful. We can create it together in the streets, through our actions, not through politicians.

“No Boyfriends, No Masters” one of the signs read as we marched. 

No need for politicians to save us.  We can save ourselves.

"It was a powerful day of action with so many groups including many out there for racial and economic justice marching together in solidarity," noted Barbara Ross, who started the evening marching with ACT UP and was later arrested.  As she later explained: "I'd rather spend four hours in jail then attend a fancy gala with Trump and other hate-mongers"

Later that night, Bernie and Hillary duked it out.  Bernie was wonderful.  And so was Hillary.  The process has made of them better.  Hopefully it can make all of us better if we can respect each other and hear each other out.  After all, solidarity still matters.  But so does respect for all our points of view. And we need more of them.

Protest Donald Trump at the NY State Republican Gala,
Midtown Manhattan, NYC
April 14, 2016
©Stacy Lanyon

ACT UP New York notes: "The coolest pic from earlier! May be the first time there's been an AIDS banner this big in Grand Central in 20+ years. ‪#‎BigotrySpreadsAIDS" ©Stacy Lanyon

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