Questioning/challenging Clinton’s (or anyone’s) history and positions, and their impact on our future, cannot be silenced because someone else might be worse. Those demanding such silence are encouraging more suppression in a period already painfully marked by suppression. And too many are doing it hatefully.
A chilling escalation of vitriol is being directed at Bernie Sanders supporters (or really anyone) who, for valid substantive reasons, expresses criticism of or grave concerns about Hillary Clinton. And it needs to stop. (That also applies to animosity toward anyone who questions the faulty-equation “false choices” being forced on us regarding Clinton-Trump; election fairness; media bias; the DNC’s machinations; or anything else we might legitimately challenge at this moment.)
I wrote about this months ago and I’ll say it again today, because at this stage this counter-movement is intensifying with a fervor and nastiness that is deeply unsettling: criticism or raising issues of profound concern is not “hatred.” Being disgusted by something disgusting, horrified by something horrifying, or angry about something infuriating is not “hatred.” And speaking about it is not verboten. This kind of sloppy conflation, where “hatred” becomes synonymous with any kind of dissent—a conflationary tendency too long a hallmark of many Clintonites’ argument styles—must be called out.
Daring to suggest that we should not be bullied into a false choice, or that it’s not insane or foolish to at least broach the substantive notion that Clinton poses significant threats too, is not hatred. To say that fracking a frying planet to death is not much better than a wall that will never actually happen—that is not hatred. To suggest that one who threatens populations in the future is not necessarily worse than someone who has already repeatedly harmed them in the past is not hatred. It is a reasonable rationality. (And there are many, many other such examples.)
Yet such speech is irrationally being vilified as irrational. And those who decry this purported “hatred” are ironically, in too many cases, hatefully beating up on people who dare to express or point out these matters. They are cluttering Facebook feeds with comments that insult—well, half the country.
Asking someone not to have opinions or feelings about or to speak about something disgusting, horrifying or infuriating (or even just worrisome) is not only unreasonable—it’s a form of suppression as fascist-leaning as anything the orange-haired buffoon proposes. People are being asked not to speak any more about the ways in which enormously relevant issues might affect our future. They suggest it is not important for buyers to know what they might be buying, and what the costs might be, and that no such information be shared now. They don’t even seem to hear what they are suggesting in this, or the slippery slope we slide down when we ask about half the country to shut up and not raise issues about one candidate because “it might hurt her” against the other candidate.
Just like that, they would have us cowed into silence and submission. They would allow all manner of malignancy to go unchallenged and unchecked in the supposed service of blocking some other malignancy. (Besides, many say dismissively, any malignancy we think we see on that side is all our own tin-foil-hat whimsy anyway.)
After an abominable primary election process that lands us in the company of third-world nations, as we reel from an awakening to the depth of this disgrace, we are now asked to turn the other cheek to this insult on top of injury, this assault on democracy. Say even that, and you are (hatefully) branded a hating, conspiratorial outlier. (Or just a whiny baby. Et al.)
Under no circumstances should we ever cease to call out unconscionable behavior or character by a presidential candidate (or a government or media conglomerate). The fact that one candidate is horrid is not a reason to stifle all expression about the other; that’s just a setup to give the one candidate a greased path and give the gullible masses a false sense of choice and purpose. Yet many of those playing into this playbook show zero willingness to consider that is what’s happening, even as they ask us to accept meek acquiescence and the slapped-on label of “naive” or worse. They are as sanctimonious as can be—while apparently utterly unconscious to the scripted role they have willingly taken on.
The fact that such people cannot see how they are doing the bidding of the establishment, right on cue—as they mock the supposed ignorance of dissenters—is rich indeed. This isn’t so very unlike other nations in which “media” urged tribes to turn on their neighbors, and they did. While in this case it’s not at the bloody, base level of the Hutus and Tutsis, it is a form of violence.
The irony I am seeing is that a faction of these proponents—who receive a lot of “yeah! yeah!” from their followers—are calling anyone who raises such issues things like “ugly, hateful, divisive, conspiratorial, unsubstantiated”…while themselves speaking in utterly ugly, hateful, divisive, conspiratorial and unsubstantiated terms. The projection is thick enough to cut with a knife. They paint simplistic pictures, omitting vast amounts of context and facts, and assert that theirs is the final word. They set up false dichotomies and brush their hands, satisfied that they have made an open-and-shut case, brooking no dissent. They call for unity, yet splinter us further with presumption, arrogance, condescension, and peremptory dismissal. They call us ignorant while revealing their own apparent illiteracy.
On top of all that, let’s show some respect for those grieving: not only for Orlando and our repeated failures as a society that led to that tragedy, but the brutal robberies and rapes represented by our elections (the most recent being the most grievous, the grand finale in a series of thefts), the blunt-force trauma inflicted by the AP and other media, our democracy in hospice before our eyes (no, not hospice; hospice implies compassion). And the potential loss of a dream: that of a President with a once-in-a-lifetime blend of integrity, authenticity, real courage, principle, sanity, compassion, humanity, consistency, tenacity, generosity, morality and the right experience.
Many people are, to varying degrees, coming to terms with all of these losses and sickening realizations. When someone is grappling with the imminent even possible loss of a partner, you don’t call them names and bully them to extract promises that they will marry someone else (especially someone they cannot trust, for real reasons) immediately. And then call them more names when they protest this callous, belligerent shoving.
This is a liminal space, a time of tumult, upheaval, uncertainty. It’s a time of awakening and denial, grieving and reorienting. There is a great deal of processing and integrating under way, both individually and collectively. It is an integration of the last year; of the last few months, weeks and days; of an ever-deepening loss of illusion about our democracy; and of a different future (possibly/probably, depending on one’s current degree of optimism/pessimism) than many of us worked hard for and envisioned. These things take time. If you are one who likes to rush to simplism and close books quickly, go ahead; do not vilify those who are not rushing with you.
Also, as much as certain powerful forces would like everything tidily wrapped up, it is not. Even for those who feel skeptical about the impact that election fraud lawsuits, Wikileaks emails and indictments might have—whoever you support now, and wherever you are on the spectrum of belief or hope—the truth is that it’s very difficult to know what exactly might transpire between now and the convention.
Among even the most passionate and determined Sanders supporters, some now suspect that the California grand larceny indicates there are forces capable of neutralizing even the most damning revelations. Regardless, most of those with any humility know that we just don’t know. This is an historic and unprecedented time; this election was like virtually no other, in both incredibly wonderful/powerful and horrifically draconian ways. Further, Sanders has remained vague and opaque on some key issues at this point. While some leanings seem inevitable, he remains uncommitted on several counts. There is much speculation, but we know this movement is headed to the convention and the world seems to be bursting at the seams with unpredictability. I say this as someone not currently among the most (nor the least) hopeful—but as someone respectful of where each of us may be.
I refuse to be muzzled about legitimate concerns and issues regarding a Clinton presidency, as I don’t agree that is either constructive or appropriate—but never, never do I contribute to the Facebook feed any hateful namecalling of Clinton supporters and their thinking or actions, no matter what I might privately think of their arguments.
Likewise, we need to let things unfold, let people figure out what they are going to do and what the best course of action is for a movement that was always much bigger than a Presidential campaign anyway. The machinations of this primary season showed us more than ever just how badly that movement is needed.
There is more to what has happened, is happening, and is going to happen than the pat, false-construct, “now you have to support Clinton and if you don’t you’re an idiot/baby/conspirator/wacko/etc.” Millions of deeply sane, intelligent and informed people—including some very respectable figures—are grappling with the spectacle that was just perpetrated, and the emerging one that is now upon us.
So stop the browbeating—because besides being just plain ugly, and besides being the pot calling the kettle in umpteen ways, it’s not going to get you what you say you want.
If you need us—and by most math, you certainly do—please don’t be so obtuse as to think that insults will force us to abjectly submit to a simplistic scenario you narrowly impose as the only viable one. If you don’t intend to think through or talk about the complexities, vagaries, and permutations of that scenario with some depth, please lay off those who will. If you truly want a discussion, show some respect and humility.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.