I’ve been a girl my whole life. I’ve been told to speak softly, sit with knees together, excise most of my vocabulary iin conversational speech to not appear snobbish. I’ve learned to cover my body, how to shrink it, and how to make it pleasing to others. I know the arts of tact and diplomacy, and I know that everyone hates a nag.
I know how to be a nice, polite, good girl. And I know the limits of what it can get me. Being personable with store clerks and bus drivers gets me better service. Being polite to my landlord gains me understanding when the rent is a few days late. Treating ride share drivers with basic respect earns me a high passenger score.
What civility won’t get me is civil rights. It won’t get me laws or protect me from abuse. It won’t stop an individual from assaulting me, or a corporation from taking advantage of my poor credit and worse income, or my government from declaring discrimination against me a sacred right for the majority. Being nice won’t get me compensation for childcare.
This morning I spotted a meme from the Facebook page of Occupy Democrats. It takes respectability politics and civility theater to an absurd degree. The image reads:
“I don’t hate Donald Trump, nor his supporters, but I do hate the fact that an ignorant, racist, bigoted, and unqualified man is embarrassing our country on a daily basis. We are a laughing stock in the eyes of the world.”
Silly me, hating Nazis and fascism instead of primarily focusing on image! Embarrassment, wow, clearly much worse than the fear and suicidal depression plaguing black, immigrant, Muslim, Latinx, and queer communities. It reminds me of nothing so much as the Margaret Atwood quote: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”
I’m not laughing about fascism and the latest rise of Nazis to power. I’m not concerned the world is laughing at me. I’m afraid the new administration starting in three weeks and its support base want to kill me. We don’t all have the same risks but the least the safe ones could do is shut the heck up if they’re most worried about their reputation and not our safety. At least pretend to be the allies you want so much gratitude for being.
I hate Hitler. I hate Nazis. I hate Cheeto. I hate neo Nazis, the “alt right” and the Westboro Baptist Church. I hate the Ku Klux Klan and the Knights of Columbus. I hate fascists and brown shirts. And that hatred is a good thing! It fuels me and keeps me going when I might otherwise fall to hopeless despair. We should hate Nazis and everything they stand for, not because it makes us look bad, but because it is bad.