Friday, October 29, 2010

Jari Askins may have lost my vote...

...with this statement made during a recent debate:
"I am an Oklahoma Democrat. Oklahoma Democrats are conservative. We are not extreme," Askins said to open the hourlong debate at the University of Central Oklahoma. "I am a pro-life, pro-gun, pro-education, pro-business, protect-our-borders Democrat."
I am a Democrat of a different sort. I am a pro-choice, pro-worker Democrat, in favor of sensible and humane immigration reform. Askins seems to imply that Democrats such as myself are extreme, or even non-existent. If she is going to try steal votes from Mary Fallin by using rhetoric similar to Fallin's, maybe she doesn't want my vote. I am going to vote on Tuesday, but I am sorely tempted to abstain on the governor's race.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why might the right wing prevail in mid-term elections?

Truthdig has posted one answer by commentator Chris Hedges:
The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, which looks set to make sweeping gains in the midterm elections, is the direct result of a collapse of liberalism. It is the product of bankrupt liberal institutions, including the press, the church, universities, labor unions, the arts and the Democratic Party. The legitimate rage being expressed by disenfranchised workers toward the college-educated liberal elite, who abetted or did nothing to halt the corporate assault on the poor and the working class of the last 30 years, is not misplaced. The liberal class is guilty. The liberal class, which continues to speak in the prim and obsolete language of policies and issues, refused to act. It failed to defend traditional liberal values during the long night of corporate assault in exchange for its position of privilege and comfort in the corporate state. The virulent right-wing backlash we now experience is an expression of the liberal class’ flagrant betrayal of the citizenry.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Human rights are indivisible

My life has become very busy and full. One of the things that has kept me from making regular posts on this blog has been a women's studies class I've been taking at the University of Oklahoma, WS 3220, US Women's Movements. We've just finished our study of the first wave of the US women's movement, up to the time that women won the vote in 1920.

One of the saddest features of this history--and one of the elements that has much applicability to social struggles today--is the way that the rich white men with the most power are able to set everyone else at each other's throats, women, people of color, workers, and so forth.

In an effort to protect the safety of freed slaves after the Civil War, was it justifiable for human rights advocates to push for African American men to get the vote, while leaving out all women? In the early 20th century, was it okay for white woman suffragists to tolerate discrimination against African American voters to win the support of the racist South?

Martha Gruening said no.

A Google search doesn't reveal much information about who she was. There doesn't seem to be a Wikipedia profile. There is a link to a New York Times article about her arrest in 1910 for inciting women workers to strike in Philadelphia. There is a brief biographical essay here. She was a lawyer and human rights activist who seems to have been a written brief articles for The Nation.

In September 1912, she also published this eloquent essay in The Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP. If I'd been alive in 1912, I hope I would have had the sense to write something like this. Here is an excerpt:

If such incidents have been less frequent in recent years it is not because the profound and close connection between the Negro and women movements no longer exists. The parallel between their respective situations is as clear to-day as it was in 1848, but it is too frequently ignored by the reformers on both sides. Both have made some progress toward complete emancipation, the gains of women in the direction of enfranchisement being seemingly the more lasting. Both, however, are still very largely disfranchised, and subject to those peculiar educational, legal and economic discriminations that are the natural results of disfranchisement. And finally, both are being brought with every onward step nearer to the identical temptation -- to sacrifice the principle of true democracy to the winning of a single skirmish. So when one sees a national body of suffragists refusing to pass a universal suffrage resolution, one is compelled to wonder at the logic of those who, knowing so well what disfranchisement means, would allow it to be inflicted on others. "Let us not confuse the issue," these suffragists plead, some in good faith. Yet the confusion, if any, exists only in their minds. Here are not two distinct issues at stake, but merely the vital principle of democracy. Others insist that the granting of the ballot to women must precede all other reforms because "women have waited long enough" and recall the fact that women were forced to stand aside and see Negro men enfranchised at the close of the Civil War. This is undoubtedly true and was quite justly a source of bitter disappointment to the suffrage leaders of that day -a disappointment we should not underestimate -- but merely to reverse the principles in an unjust occurrence is not to work justice. It is strange to see so many suffragists who point with pride to the action of Garrison in withdrawing from the anti-slavery convention, blind to the larger significance of that action. Stranger still to see them following, not Garrison's lead, but that of the convention in their attitude toward colored people, and forgetting that no cause is great to the exclusion of every other. This Robert Purvis, a noted colored leader, understood, as is shown by his noble reply to the suffragists' appeal: "I cannot agree that this or any hour is specially the Negro's. I am an anti-slavery man. With what grace could I ask the women of this country to labor for my enfranchisement and at the same time be unwilling to put forth a hand to remove the tyranny in some respects greater to which they are exposed?" This is what all suffragists must understand, whatever their sex or color -- that all the disfranchised of the earth have a common cause.
Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.