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“Anyone who makes a comfortable living off of anything having to do with resistance is part of the problem.”
– Marc Salomon
Self-anointed Resistance spokesperson Rebecca Solnit’s nasty, pro-Obama attack on the anti-Empire/eco-left and, to a much lesser degree, my response to her, have set off a storm on the liberal/left blogosphere; not to mention, my e-mail in-box.
Her piece is up on CommonDreams, The Nation blog, Salon, Michael Moore’s site, Truth(sic)out, et al., in addition to having first been posted on Tom Englehart’s site: TomGram. Comments on the sites are running pretty much 20-1 against/aghast over her mean-spirited drivel. (Though, TomGram disabled Comments soon after the first ones ran similarly against.)
Her one response to my piece that I saw (and luckily captured off FB before the site’s owner defriended me and denied me access)?
“Male writer explains how Solnit couldn’t possibly have had the interactions she says she had. Wow! This guy’s free-floating rage could replace the fuel in our nuclear submarine fleet …”
Let’s start there. Sexism: if a male writer had used the word “hysteria” to describe her musings, he would quickly be labeled a sexist. But, her substance-less use of “rage” as an anti-male pejorative is just as sexist, as is the first sentence. I posit that any “progressive” that stoops to using anyone they disagree with’s gender, age, race or sexual orientation to buttress any argument certainly reveals themselves. In fact, isn’t that progressive dogma by now? – that such is a tactic of scoundrels?
Then again, maybe I shouldn’t take it as personally as she meant it (one of the problems with the left that I see is that so many take political disagreements personally and thus, fail on the facts.) And, I admit we live in a patriarchy where men clearly have more power; (though western women just as clearly have more power than the women and children on the receiving end of Obama’s drones), so maybe the parallelism of those words used as cudgels is unfair – I just think her use of it this way should be examined. Reader Peter wrote: “Her dismissal of honest rage and dissent as ‘whining’ sounds all too much like Democratic Party subterfuge to me.”
Since, I never questioned her interactions (why would I?) and since there was also no import to the rest of her short missive (other than a disingenuous whine about how much she gets paid for her screeds), there is nothing more I can respond to. However, there will forever be her original assault and I highly recommend that people read the compelling responses – most, way more so than mine – in the various Comments sections.
“You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.”
– Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, directed to his clergy critics.
Solnit either has never read MLK’s Letter or she completely missed its “let’s not be wishy-washy here” sentiment. Would she cavalierly dismiss King as one of those ineffective “complainer” straw men of her presumptuous take on the Civil Rights Movement? As someone who marched with Dr. King in Detroit when I was 14 and who was a founding board member of the Flint Urban Coalition at 18, I found that part of her piece particularly egregious, which is why I liked this rebuttal most of the many excellent ones her piece engendered.
And then there is this, regrettably not at all uncommon, despicable mind-set that bubbles under the surface of Solnit’s writing: “I prioritize my vagina over drones” — “Angry Black Lady” blogger Imani Gandy
So, Immoral Gadfly, tell me again, “Why do they hate us?”
“Dismal” Leftists Weigh In
Among the many cogent Comments to Solnit’s piece that I found outstanding was this one:
“So here I want to lay out an insanely obvious principle that apparently needs clarification. Nine years ago I began writing about hope, and I eventually began to refer to my project as ‘snatching the teddy bear of despair from the loving arms of the left.’ ” – Rebecca Solnit
Well, there she is, friends. A walking, talking personification of what Chris Hedges meant when he wrote:
“Liberals…talk of glory and honor. They vow not to abandon their core liberal values….They fight for nothing. They stand for nothing. And at a moment when we desperately need citizens and institutions willing to stand up against corporate forces for the core liberal values, values that make a democracy possible, we get the ridiculous chatter and noise of the liberal class.” – Chris Hedges
“You could argue that to vote for Obama is to vote for the killing of children, or that to vote for him is to vote for the protection for other children or even killing fewer children.” – Rebecca Solnit
Who thinks like that? Maybe the Commandant at Auschwitz did, when he decided which people would go to the left or the right: to be gassed or to be spared.
Reader Chuck wrote me this first-rate response/question:
I got to the last part where you said…
“I have no problem with people admitting Obama’s the Lesser Evil, holding their noses and voting for him.”
In that you know ahead of time that Obama is going to continue his drone missions, with their heavy losses of innocent lives, what would you gauge a voters responsibility for that loss of life when they vote to continue the drone missions?
Is a voter that votes for drone killing not responsible at all, somewhat responsible, or fully responsible for killing these innocent peoples?
“You have “no problem” voting for these killings…or telling others that you have no problem with it either?
Would you have no problem if it was your own daughter taking a Tomahawk missile?
We can no longer afford to advance evil at a lesser rate.
Lesser evilism IS war.
To which I responded:
What I mean is that while I certainly don’t like it, I won’t condemn people who, at least, admit this all and vote for Obama because they fear worse…there’s not much I can do about it anyway, other than do my best to inform them of the likely result – then again, that’s gonna be the reality no matter who is selected as the latest face of Empire…and, it’s either the silver spoon bully plutocrat or the slick corporate lickspittle con man this time around…a disgusting choice.
I DO have a problem with people like Solnit, who clearly know the facts, completely dismissing this likely result – she even dismissed the entire history of it – and, then viciously badgered people to vote Obama anyway….all the while, calling for others to have more “generosity” and “kindness.” And, that NOT voting for Obama destroys “movement-building” – even pointing out Obama’s crimes would “Suppress the Vote,” like that’s some horrid outcome. Sheesh! The woman needs clinical help…
…In a way, I feel we ALL are responsible for the killings (of people and the planet) as we all reap the benefits of Empire just by living here – Example: this relic computer and the dead salmon it takes to run it (here in the NW) or the destroyed mountains, species and communities for the coal used nationwide. The coltan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coltan that is a critical component in iPads, iPhones, laptops, wind turbines, most other “renewable” energy scams, etc. involves thousands of deaths (many of children) where it is mined. I can’t condemn ALL of us for simply being born into this situation – we even defecate in perfectly good drinking water, while about 2 billion people on the planet have no access to clean water on a daily basis. We don’t even note, much less question, such stuff.
So yeah, I give scared, deluded, and/or ignorant Obama voters a pass, just as I do computer users, fossil fuel drivers, imported food eaters, toilet users, etc. I won’t tolerate, however, those who absolutely know the facts and still maliciously attack those who DO choose to opt out of the Obama “fairy tale.”
And, yes if it was my own daughter, I would still not place the blame on voters (naive though they may be) who at least were hoping for better or at least hoping to avoid worse, but squarely on the Empire and the ruling class behind it. We won’t win regular citizens over through condemnation, anyway, and the Resistance is gonna need everyone we can as things get worse.”
What to do?
I mentioned some other alternatives to voting for the latest corporate Imperial candidates – the Green Party and the Libertarians – in my piece. I unpardonably forgot about the Rosanne Barr and the inimitable Cindy Sheehan ticket, which is on the ballot in a handful of states. And, I also inexcusably – since Linh Dinh and others have already written about it on CounterPunch even – didn’t mention the principled Election Boycott 2012 option.
We’re all in this dreadful mess together. In a way, we owe Tom Englehart and Solnit a bit of thanks for firing things up and getting people taking a deeper look and asking the right questions.
Though, it’s disgraceful that Solnit would assault the most aware part of the Resistance with her name-calling, straw man and Projection-filled gibberish – worse that such hostile crap was written by someone who then claims the high ground of “generosity and kindness.” She merely uses that peaceful-sounding rhetoric to mask what she is really doing – exactly like Obama uses similar empty expressions – as a weapon defending the status quo; a status quo that’s been very, very good for them and very, very bad for the rest of planet and all the species She supports.
MICHAEL DONNELLY lives in Salem, OR. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org