Thank you for an, as usual, wonderful article.
On "God help us," I have some recent experiences that worry me. I've written before that some of my friends are making contingency plans to leave the country, if Roe if overturned. Well, I recently attended a party thrown up by an organization related to my profession, which it is the first time I've attended such a function since my health took a crash about a month ago. The hosts and guests are sex workers, their significant others (yes, prostitutes love like everyone else), and activists for whom sex worker rights is an important issue; politically, they range from libertarians to left-anarchists to pro-sex feminist progressives.
Well, while there, I heard one couple, lesbians, said that they had already decided to leave the country, for Belgium. Another (heterosexual) couple was making plans to leave for New Zealand, while a third- at the urgings of his mother, if I heard correctly, was considering following them.
Please understand that while, admittedly, sex workers are actors and we tend be be much the overdramatizing type, this is also a setting where honesty within the Life has to be taken very seriously. And I'm scared. Perhaps what scared me the most is that there was one person, a libertarian decriminalization activist, who seemed in a very stormy mood particularly because he doesn't share the estimation of the recent election as a political disaster. I talked to him, and was very vehement not only in warning of the threat of an expanding Islamic culture, but in sounding rather disgusted with many of the rest of us there for leaving, stating adamantly that he would 'stay and fight' and defend everything 'America stands for' from the Chrisitan right, which did not make much sense to me as the way he said it sounded like he was saying honour demanded one fight a severe danger, yet he was at the same time saying the danger was not so severe and secondary to foreign policy issues.
What I felt from his tone and voice and radiating defensive tenseness- things I've never seen in him before- is that all this talk of leaving in the country suddenly was something that deeply alienating to his sense of the world. And the same thing is true on the other side; not only were there a couple of Bush-bashing t-shirts, but in this venue- sex workers are factually, even if a lot of them have a kind of touching patriotism, at a state of war with the American polity- there was a great sense of a chance to live for a few hours "our kind of world" instead of an outside America; it seemed to hang an a subtle text to the whole gathering.
I see more and more of this. This makes nine people I've heard so far talk seriously about leaving this country, either definitely or (more conmonly) if certain policies are enacted, and moreover I see more and more of a sense, among leftists and some libertarians, of taking a defensive, circling the wagons position. I think part of it is that liberal are finally admitting that "the people" aren't basically with them, and for those who care more about their social values than a populist identity, they're finally realizing they are a minority in a hostile culture, and incidentally are becoming a lot more frieddly to libertarians, who seem to be (excepting Objectivists), wecoming more freindly to the left.
I've talked to you about incompatable cultures and the culture war turning ugly before, but I am personally, again, just scared. I hear my friends and colleagues talk about leaving the country, and I think about it myself, and for the first time I really I don't want to leave this country. I've finally built a life, a life I want, finally found a place in this society, a city where I can settle down (until I get in trouble as an 'escort') and even friendships, and I have the sinking feeling that unless I'm a fool who can't learn from history, I'm going to just have to leave it all behind. With the end of abortion as a right, or a looming draft, or a society patriotically mobilized through continuous war- I hear drums rumbling in Iran now- this just is not a place where a perfect social scapegoat can live- citing Bob Jones speech, I am a Pagan. And if these kind of thing politically happen... I just have trouble believing it's fully real. I met one woman who fought herself, personally, for abortion rights, in the 70s, who was on the verge of tears saying she just felt numb at the idea of going back to all that- she had lost friends to backstreet and Tijuana abortions in the days before Roe.
Chris, tell me this really won't happen. Do you think there is any will left in this country to fight for freedom- freedom when it's not freedom for the respectable and the mainstream who personally won't be touched (today) by the destruction of freedom for 'different people'? I personally get the feeling that those on the cultural 'pro-America' side are disgusted with the cultural left and don;t consider our freedom a priority, even if they are libertarians. There is just such a shocking cultural war, though the sad thing is that the best of each side really aren't that different- but I've hear cultural rightists libertarians say over and over somethign like 'to fight Islamic extremism, social freedom for irresponsible hedonists can take a back seat', while I hear cultural-left grocery store clerks on the other side just say they've given up on this country.
Is this real? My sense of history says this is all bad, very bad, very bad news, but even I, who have reasons to hate this country which you know, but most here don't, can't fully believe that the nation of the Bill of Rights is so hopelessly divided that the losing side is really starting to think about getting out. Yet it is really happening- one person at the party said the metaphor that's been running through my mind- that if you were in Germany in the 30s, there was a time you could see what was coming and you could get out, and you'd better, because there might be a time later that you couldn't. I know that's farfetched for most Americans, but it's not farfetched for a sex worker, or for a GLBT in say, Mississippi, where I was told 89% of the people approved a gay marriage ban.
Again, Chris, is this real? I hate to act the proverbial blind question, but, at least for those who are already marginalized and just tolerated, can it really happen here?
my troubled regards,
(Edited by Jeanine Ring on 11/21, 11:37am)