Between the Lines
I’m writing something positive today. Usually I write about the myriad ways in which we are just totally screwed. Admittedly, it’s hard to be positive and honest at the same time. I do not wax rhapsodic about unicorns, rainbows, furry bunnies, or the coming of the New Age. What I’ve got is a little bit more down-to-earth.
Since the media is reactionary, and the majority of what we see through the media consists of right-wingers being reactionary about one thing or another, we need to practice the fine art of inference in order to chart actual progress in our society.
What I’m trying to say is that the degree of hysterical, fear-mongering reaction to any given social phenomenon is, in a curiously backhanded way, a direct measure of the progress of whatever is being reacted against.
Feminism, then, continues to gain ground in the consciousness of women and men worldwide, precisely because the public reaction against feminism remains intense. The sexist statements coming from the mouths of wingnuts seem more primitive than usual, which means they’re afraid. And that’s good news.
There is also a gradual but steady lessening of racial prejudice in this country. Why do I say this? Because the fear and race-baiting from white supremacists in this country have sharply risen since Obama became President. The behavior of the racist yahoos has been much less sophisticated, i.e. cruder and more obvious, which indicates that they’re losing. The younger segments of the population increasingly don’t give a shit about race, and are in fact more and more openly hostile to racism. So, paradoxically, the bigots scream louder than ever, trying to convince someone, anyone, that there’s something very scary about racial equality. This is desperation on their part.
Fundamentalists are fighting rear-guard actions against gay rights, and the struggle is difficult. In this area there’s still a lot of prejudice to overcome, but the gains made in the last few years alone are amazing. Less than ten years ago, gay marriage seemed like an impossible goal. Now the rightists have to keep putting up referendum blockades in order to stop it. The blockades, however, will not stand for long. People are turning against the ugly pseudo-Christian haters because they have nothing hopeful to offer people—all they’ve got is anger and repression, which won’t sustain them in the long run.
There’s a lot more awareness in general of the predatory nature of Wall Street, and the servile nature of the media. People are actually questioning the idea of free market capitalism. The massive looting by the banks is a big wake-up call. On the media front, more and more people get informed through blogs or Twitter rather than relying on TV news with its “village” mentality. The morons are still watching Fox, but a majority of Americans are not being fooled by that blatant propaganda tool.
There was a time when progressives felt permanently isolated. The Bush regime woke us up, and now there is a much larger and diverse progressive community. We’re still very weak in funds, especially compared to the rightists with their corporate cash flow. But we’re a hell of a lot more vocal than we were even just five or six years ago.
What I see is a gradual and steady awakening of a lot of people from the self-satisfied apathy that has plagued us since the 1970s. There still remains the challenge of concerted action against imperialism and for peace. But never before in my lifetime have I seen the right-wing so desperate, fearful, incoherent, and self-destructive. And that’s good news.