Sunday, December 4, 2016

More on either or

In response to the Bernie bashers on Facebook, reacting to something he wrote back in 1969 in a Montpelier Vermont paper The quote goes thusly:  

"The revolution comes when two strangers smile at each other, when a father refuses to send his child to school because schools destroy children, when a commune is started and people begin to trust each other, when a young man refuses to go to war, and when a girl pushes aside all that her mother has 'taught' her and accepts her boyfriend's love."

These folks took exception to the language, especially girls leaving their mothers to follow their boyfriends, and the fathers taking their kids out of school.

Well, I don't know what the schools in Vermont were like in those days, but I do know about the girls following their boyfriends.

And the "Revolution" we were sure was right around the corner. So I wrote this little piece in response:

"I have to start by telling you I came of age in the sixties. In those days, the days of Vietnam and just post-Selma and the height of the Civil Rights movement. The mantra for those of us in what was known as “the Movement” was “Girls say yes to boys who say no.” Yeah, gross huh? Boys were burning their draft cards, and resisting the war, some going to Canada or to Federal prison. Soldiers with consciences took sanctuary in churches.
"That’s how I got involved, in the first sanctuary in 1968, in Arlington St. Church in Boston. I stayed involved with the New England Resistance. The men were in charge. We were the “resister sisters.”

"We were the “office chicks.” Then something remarkable happened. We heard about something called Women’s Liberation. We realized that we were just as exploited as factory workers or other women not getting paid for equal work or being harassed on the job. We weren’t housewives, but we got their oppression too. So we rebelled. We started consciousness raising groups. A large group, Bread and Roses, grew up around all those women taking charge of their lives. Men did not like it. They feared it, they didn’t know what to make of newly angry women. Many of the old organizations fell apart. New ones popped up.
Then came Stonewall and the “gay liberation” movement. This was just too much for some, even our enlightened brothers. I was working at a movement paper at the time, one that tried very hardtop be egalitarian with all, men and women alike, and even they were very uncomfortable when I insisted we cover gay rights. 

"Yes, identity politics. At the same time, we identified as anti-war, anti-imperialist, and anti-income inequality, although we didn’t call it that at the time; we just thought it was important to understand and to help the “working class.” (And yes, many of the movement people came from privilege; this was Cambridge, teeming with Harvard graduates. As one of the few who actually grew up in a working class family, who had experienced foreclosure, unemployment and a broken family, I often felt out of some of the more abstract discussions people would get into.). We actually believed the Revolution would happen before we all turned thirty. 

"So, should I be thrown under the bus for past beliefs and cringeworthy statements? Should all my colleagues from those days? I surely hope not. 

"And neither should Bernie. You may not think so, but I believe Bernie gets it, he gets the nexus between so called ”identity politics” and economic politics. That it’s not an either or situation; it’s a both-and. That’s how I see what he has brought to this discussion. And why I was proud to be a delegate for him in Philadelphia. We can all learn from each other; we can all learn from history. And we all, I believe, must stop talking past each other (I know I’m as guilty of it as anyone else), and work together, to defeat Trump and to build the kind of society that serves us all.

"Just fyi, context for myself, today, I run campaigns for progressive candidates, mostly Democratic women. We have an excellent win rate. I work with a Women’s Political Action Committee, serve on the California Democratic Party and its Executive Committee and Platform committee. I was a co-founder of our Progressive Caucus in 2005, a caucus which is still going strong. Thanks for listening."

What we ate in the sixties while working for the Revolution:

Dunkin' Donuts and black coffee. And you can still get them both.  (But I recommend better quality baked goods and coffee, unless you are feeling very nostalgic.)