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This has been a painful time, while the old hegemonies have been massing together to try and suffocate what is inevitably coming to birth in our Republic, in the world. Yet the flip side has been that we’re living through a golden age of journalism. When the Executive branch of government was kidnapped, when the Judicial is endangered by being packed, and when half the Legislative seems silenced, we are still here, in fact still advancing, only because of investigative reporting by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and others.

Because journalism is a human activity, sometimes guys who think they’re its bosses snore on in their corner office wet dreams of more advertisers via tabloid gossip and lazy republishing of government handouts, while reporters pace, drink, and start smoking again in wild frustration. Until stringers in far countries get murdered, and then in near countries get imprisoned, and then even at home get threatened with jail.Then, journalists get pissed off when the president of their own country calls them the enemy of the people, because of unflattering stories they do manage to tell since they happen to be the truth.

We are actually damned fortunate to live in a period like that.

I never thought I would be in any sense of the word a journalist. I never thought I even wanted to be. Oh, I knew I always loved words, in any shape or form, in any use, from a grocery list to an epic poem. I read about great journalists, but they all seemed to be tough-guy correspondents, like Ernie Pyle. Nobody ever taught me about the great Ida B. Wells. Then I saw Rosalind Russell in the movie His Girl Friday—and thought I’d die with longing to be a newspaperwoman, but where were they in real life? Once I discovered poetry, though, I knew why I’d been born in the first place. Worlds opened up. Fiction. Essays. Political polemic. Wow. And I was off–with what in the 1940s and 50s they called (redundantly) “creative writing.” As if, even in a grocery list, there was any other kind. Think about it.

But in order to sustain my love of words—especially poetry, stories, novels, and essays—I found myself, and I admit this to my shame, looking down on journalism. This got intensified because for me, as a young woman, any job in journalism at the time would have been covering fashion or flower shows at newspapers, or else at women’s magazines, which were considered second-class journalism, “cash cows” for advertisers, virtual catalogs of products telling women how to dress, cook, keep house and “please him.” It took years of feminism before I grasped how subversive women editors and writers at those magazines had really been producing “how to survive” manuals (womanuals?) on home economics, environment, child development, household maintenance, interior design, nutrition, domestic violence, family psychology, teen sexuality, hygenics and sanitation, food storage, double and triple tasking, and a hundred other skills social science hadn’t yet discovered, psychologists hadn’t yet studied, and gay men hadn’t yet popularized on TV.

Even in so-called “underground newspapers” men controlled content and women did the leftist equivalent of light features. Then women took over a leading radical paper, Rat, and I wrote an incendiary piece called “Goodbye To All That,” reprinted complete with footnotes in The Word of A Woman, and never turned back. In retrospect, I guess that was journalism.

That was before I would come to work as a book editor, first freelance and then in-house, then later as an editor at Ms. Magazine and finally as Ms. Editor-in-Chief in the early ‘90s. It was decades before I would be a co-founder of The Women’s Media Center, dedicated to making women visible and powerful in and through media, including all forms of the press. Today, to the extent that I can call myself a member of the press at all, it’s due to the tutelage of Suzanne Braun Levine, who was the founding Editor of Ms. and who for 18 years shaped that historic, still-ongoing magazine, then went on to become Editor In Chief of the distinguished Columbia Journalism Review, and subsequently author of numerous successful books.

I don’t want to mislead. My primary identification is as a poet: it’s why I remain interested in breathing at all. Still, in an age when facts are as hideously abused as women, journalism really comes into her own Amazonian warrior queen self, and I am humbly willing to fall in as a foot soldier in her ranks. I don’t know if the odd op-ed piece and this blog qualify me as worthy of the name, but I’m proud to call myself a journalist too, today.

Go back far enough and you’ll find that poets were the original reporters, anyway. They used rhyme because rhyme made what they had to say easier to remember. They gathered news while wandering from town to village to city, reporting stories they had heard and witnessed, passing news on, gathering more. It became important to them, in spreading what facts they had, to be discerning about which were accurate and which were not. So perhaps there’s not such a dichotomy between poet and press, after all.

Either way, words are all I have. I’d say that words are my weapons, except that there’s only one use for weapons: to kill. So, more accurately, words are my tools—because tools have many purposes: to attack, defend, teach, inform, clarify, signal, build, share, communicate, and so much more.

How lucky I am, how grateful, that all I have are words!

The Robin Morgan Blog will be on hiatus until September. If Robin decides to post on breaking news in the interim and if you subscribe to the blog you will receive the post as usual in your mail box. Have a great summer. . . .

The post On Being A Journalist appeared first on Robin Morgan | Author, Activist, Feminist | NYC.

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This has been a painful time, while the old hegemonies have been massing together to try and suffocate what is inevitably coming to birth in our Republic, in the world. Yet the flip side has been that we’re living through a golden age of journalism. When the Executive branch of government was kidnapped, when the Judicial is endangered by being packed, and when half the Legislative seems silenced, we are still here, in fact still advancing, only because of investigative reporting by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and others.

Because journalism is a human activity, sometimes guys who think they’re its bosses snore on in their corner office wet dreams of more advertisers via tabloid gossip and lazy republishing of government handouts, while reporters pace, drink, and start smoking again in wild frustration. Until stringers in far countries get murdered, and then in near countries get imprisoned, and then even at home get threatened with jail.Then, journalists get pissed off when the president of their own country calls them the enemy of the people, because of unflattering stories they do manage to tell since they happen to be the truth.

We are actually damned fortunate to live in a period like that.

I never thought I would be in any sense of the word a journalist. I never thought I even wanted to be. Oh, I knew I always loved words, in any shape or form, in any use, from a grocery list to an epic poem. I read about great journalists, but they all seemed to be tough-guy correspondents, like Ernie Pyle. Nobody ever taught me about the great Ida B. Wells. Then I saw Rosalind Russell in the movie His Girl Friday— and thought I’d die with longing to be a newspaperwoman, but where were they in real life? Once I discovered poetry, though, I knew why I’d been born in the first place. Worlds opened up. Fiction. Essays. Political polemic. Wow. And I was off–with what in the 1940s and 50s they called (redundantly) “creative writing.” As if, even in a grocery list, there was any other kind. Think about it.

But in order to sustain my love of words—especially poetry, stories, novels, and essays—I found myself, and I admit this to my shame, looking down on journalism. This got intensified because for me, as a young woman, any job in journalism at the time would have been covering fashion or flower shows at newspapers, or else at women’s magazines, which were considered second-class journalism, “cash cows” for advertisers, virtual catalogs of products telling women how to dress, cook, keep house and “please him.” It took years of feminism before I grasped how subversive women editors and writers at those magazines had really been producing “how to survive” manuals (womanuals?) on home economics, environment, child development, household maintenance, interior design, nutrition, domestic violence, family psychology, teen sexuality, hygenics and sanitation, food storage, double and triple tasking, and a hundred other skills social science hadn’t yet discovered, psychologists hadn’t yet studied, and gay men hadn’t yet popularized on TV.

Even in so-called “underground newspapers” men controlled content and women did the leftist equivalent of light features. Then women took over a leading radical paper, Rat, and I wrote an incendiary piece called “Goodbye To All That,” reprinted complete with footnotes in The Word of A Woman, and never turned back. In retrospect, I guess that was journalism.

That was before I would come to work as a book editor, first freelance and then in-house, then later as an editor at Ms. Magazine and finally as Ms. Editor-in-Chief in the early ‘90s. It was decades before I would be a co-founder of The Women’s Media Center, dedicated to making women visible and powerful in and through media, including all forms of the press. Today, to the extent that I can call myself a member of the press at all, it’s due to the tutelage of Suzanne Braun Levine, who was the founding Editor of Ms. and who for 18 years shaped that historic, still-ongoing magazine, then went on to become Editor In Chief of the distinguished Columbia Journalism Review, and subsequently author of numerous successful books.

I don’t want to mislead. My primary identification is as a poet: it’s why I remain interested in breathing at all. Still, in an age when facts are as hideously abused as women, journalism really comes into her own Amazonian warrior queen self, and I am humbly willing to fall in as a foot soldier in her ranks. I don’t know if the odd op-ed piece and this blog qualify me as worthy of the name, but I’m proud to call myself a journalist too, today.

Go back far enough and you’ll find that poets were the original reporters, anyway. They used rhyme because rhyme made what they had to say easier to remember. They gathered news while wandering from town to village to city, reporting stories they had heard and witnessed, passing news on, gathering more. It became important to them, in spreading what facts they had, to be discerning about which were accurate and which were not. So perhaps there’s not such a dichotomy between poet and press, after all.

Either way, words are all I have. I’d say that words are my weapons, except that there’s only one use for weapons: to kill. So, more accurately, words are my tools—because tools have many purposes: to attack, defend, teach, inform, clarify, signal, build, share, communicate, and so much more.

How lucky I am, how grateful, that all I have are words!

The Robin Morgan Blog will be on hiatus until September. If Robin decides to post on breaking news in the interim and if you subscribe to the blog you will receive the post as usual in your mail box. Have a great summer. . . .

The post On Being A Journalist appeared first on Robin Morgan | Author, Activist, Feminist | NYC.

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“I’m sick and tired of bein’ sick and tired!” That’s what Fannie Lou Hamer, the magnificent Civil Rights leader and head of the Mississippi Freedom Democrats said, and I thought I understood what she meant back in the 1960s.

But now I understand it in my bones. You determine to manufacture affirmation. It’s a deliberate decision. You seek affirmation as if it were a place, and so it is. It’s the place where Yes We Can comes from. Anger can get you there–and women especially have a hard time with anger. But we’re learning to walk that path. Religion gets some people there. Love get some people there. There are many roads.

It’s the mysterious place of reserve from which we draw resilience, imagination, even humor. Endurance–and pride in endurance. Art flourishes there. Like jazz and lullabies. Signals flash there, like songs, puzzles, quilts with codes that map directions for routes to follow north to freedom. Wit thrives there, and inside-outs and upside-downs like Why do we wring our hands that 40 percent of Americans approve of Trump when that number is falling every day, but in the process we don’t notice and celebrate that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of him intensely and that number is growing every day? 60 percent! That’s amazing!

So this is about those Americans. This is about me, moaning and groaning in anticipatory dread at reports that 4.5 million partygoers were about to descend on my quiet area of Greenwich Village for the 50th Anniversary of Lesbian and Gay Pride month, while all I could think of was brilliant Hannah Gadsby’s line about longing for the nice quiet sound a cup of tea makes as it clinks into a saucer. But actually, as the streets fill, it’s a glad and glorious sight: pairs and groups of pairs from all over the world arm in arm and hip to hip celebrating a half-century of visibility—some of them old enough to have lived and fought for it and be mourning those who didn’t; some of them so young they had only heard the stories; cramming the sidewalks and spilling over into the streets, laughing and chanting and singing in their freedom. One young couple maybe in their teens, two women, one with bright lilac hair streaming behind her radiant mahogany face, the other with a long blond braid trailing down her back, both very much in love, unable to take their eyes off each other, walked along in locked step as if they were a single body-—provoking a smile from everyone who passed them, to which they were oblivious in their bliss.

And then, when I got home, domestic joy: a fledgling in the garden. My little garden has been so generous over the years, giving me subject matter and images for poems, teaching me patience, waking me with the dawn chorus of birds before the city cacophony starts, rewarding my labor with fruits and herbs and flowers, splashing my days with sunlight and shadow and nights with the percussive music of rain! It’s an organic garden, so creatures come here—a wee toad from god knows where, three summers running; hummingbirds, opalescent-winged dragonflies—and many birds. New ones lately, given climate change, ones I haven’t seen before. Plus the standards: blue jays, finches, robins, the occasional starlings and hilarious tufted titmouses, and woodpeckers, and different kinds of sparrows. In winter I set out suet and seed feeders so I think they pass the word along that I’m an easy mark.

This year the robin family has shared the raising of a chick who fell from the nest and has been tottering around the ground with the parents flying up and down to feed and tend to it. Yes, both parents. I checked my bird books, so my politics wouldn’t run away with my reportorial accuracy. She flies back and forth to rebuild the nest for the next brood—they have 2 to 3 a year—while he tends to this one. When I first saw this one under a broad hosta leaf, I thought it was a hawk chick because it was so large, bigger than a baseball, and periodically I’ve spied a falcon or two in the garden in the past, stalking pigeons. But the photo I sent to the Audubon Society was identified as a robin, and sure enough the parents are robins. The fledgling, all puffy feathers, has spent its days walking around cleaning itself, staring, yawning, getting fed by swooping parents, and squawking. And there has been an inordinate amount of pooping. Every morning new poop. Poop on the hosta. Poop on the azalea. Poop on the lily-of-the-valley and the violets. Apparently we can’t get up very high so we can’t poop on the roses or the hydrangea, but can flit high enough to poop on the herbs which I’m sure is excellent for fertilization but makes me reluctant to use them in salads. I swear that the mother and father robins are very amused. Then, three days ago, they began teaching the fledgling to fly.

This involved great patience on the parents’ part and for the fledgling lots of veering left swooping right and frantic flap flap flap bonk into a twig desperate flap flap bear sharp left nervous poop from aloft siiiiiinging from the parents squaaaaawk from the baby splosh splat into the birdbath. Great praise singing from the parents lots of proud wet feathers from the baby do it all over again next day a bit smoother again and again.

Then yesterday all day flap veeeer riiiiight then leeeeft almoooost and the parents singing and the fledgling crying and the crowds chanting WE ARE HERE WE ARE PROUD higher and higher wingspread arm in arm.

In a week the crowds will have left, the street cleaners will be at work. Already the birds have flown, all of them, and I have hosed the garden clean, smiling.

But as I did so, I thought, there it is. Do it over, do it again until you’re free, do it over until you get it right, the fledgling, the flame in the eyes of two young lovers, a flame already burning for 50 years, for centuries before that for millennia before those centuries, struck fresh from their glance, deliberately, because we determine to conjure affirmation, to reinvent miracle, to do it over till we get it right, to do it again until we’re free, to forge the energy that fires the reserve we draw on, that fuels the flame in our eyes, that spreads our wings to take flight.

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I became so incandescent yet inarticulate with rage on hearing Trump say flat-out, whether from arrogance or ignorance or both, that of course he would accept foreign interference in U.S. elections if that would permit him to retain power, that rather than stammer any comment in tongue-tied fury I thought it preferable to rely on my betters. Here are two startlingly applicable examples of my betters holding forth with their highly relevant views.

The first is George Washington. The Framers were particularly and justifiably worried about foreign intervention into the fledgling nation, so that was not only the subject of the now-famous-because-so-violated-by-Trump Emoluments Clause in the Constitution but it also took up a substantial proportion of Washington’s great Farewell Address. Here is a small excerpt:

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, . . . attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils? Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

Thank you, President Washington.

But then of course this is merely the latest in a long litany of scurrilous Trump offenses to the Republic. How to number them? How to not choke on them? How to . . . Well, you might recognize the following words of accusation, somewhat updated here and there, but unchanged in their meaning and faithful to their original message. Their fresh timeliness is astonishingly appropriate. Tyrants always use the same playbooks. And so do rebels.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes . . .But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is the People’s Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. The History of the present . . . is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
[HIS Party] has refused to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither.
HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice.
HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People.
FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
FOR imposing Taxes [named “Tariffs”] on us without our Consent.
FOR breaking our Pacts , Treaties, and Accords, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments
HE has [environmentally] plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
HE has excited domestic [neo-Nazi] Insurrections amongst us.
HE is, at this Time, inciting large Armies of foreign [CyberHacker] Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
OUR repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury.

And then it continues, of course, with the vows of separation from King George III and England. “Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

It is The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, excerpted above with slight modernizing amendations—amazingly few needed—by me.

This Republic breathes in a glorious tradition that is ours to claim. Perhaps WWJS should now stand for What Would Jefferson Say?

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Today I’m introducing a new, now-and-then feature into the blog: Reclaimed Anniversaries. Some of these reclaimed anniversaries will be to celebrate, some to grieve over, some to anger us.

All of them are to educate ourselves about moments in history we’ve been robbed of, moments that are rightfully ours as citizens of this planet (and some U.S.-specific for those of us who are also citizens of this republic), historical events and facts that would surprise and empower us, if we knew about them. There might not be a calendar example of this every week, or there might be so many that this might grow into its own regular feature, but for now it can share space with Fighting Words in this blog.So.

Self-named traditionalists are rabid to keep inserting “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. But that is actually a new-fangled anti-tradition.

In a few days, on June 15, we should note with bitter sadness the 65th anniversary of a religious wound to our secular nation, a violation of that same Pledge of Allegiance.

Those two words “under God” never appeared in the original Pledge, which was penned in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister forced to resign the pulpit for having called himself a Christian socialist. After lengthy, intense lobbying by the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion, “One nation, indivisible” was changed by Congress to “One nation under God, indivisible”; this was as late as 1954, reflecting Senator Joseph McCarthy’s bombast against “godless Communism” at the height of the Cold War, and it was done with the approval of then President Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Francis Bellamy’s granddaughter, Barbara Bellamy Wright, denounced the insertion, claiming that her grandfather “would have objected strongly to this change, as it changed the fundamental meaning . . . he had considered that ‘one nation, indivisible’ conveyed the deep meaning that after the Civil War our nation could not be divided.”)

That had been the tradition. On Flag Day back in 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court (in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette) ruled unconstitutional a law compelling schoolchildren to recite the Pledge and salute the flag. Writing for the Court, the great Justice Robert H. Jackson declared, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.”

The [Original] Pledge of Allegiance
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Comparably, the motto on U.S. coins—the major exchange medium in the 18th-century—was simply the word ”Liberty.”

“In God we trust” began to appear informally on some U.S. coins only as late as the 19th-century, due to a spread of religious intensity following the agonies of the Civil War. But when, early in the 20th-century, President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned the design for new coinage, he made a point of leaving the words off, expressing his ”very firm conviction that to put such a motto [‘in God we trust’] on it not only does no good but does positive harm.” Yet Congress overrode him, formally legislating the four words for coins in 1908—this, after a lengthy crusade initiated by a hyper-religious director of the mint, James Pollock. The well-organized outcry, including petitions from religious congregations, frightened Rough Rider Roosevelt so much that he conceded, announcing that he would not veto the bill after all.

Despite having slowly become the principle medium of exchange during the following decades, paper currency escaped being ”godded up” until 1957. Religious advocates began agitating for the words on paper currency during the 1940s, in the wake of World War II, but not until the more welcoming conservative political climate of the 1950s did they succeed. The 1950s also saw IGWT’s adoption as the national “motto,” now ensconced on a wall in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Founders would be outraged. They knew that this Great Experiment had never been tried before and might well fail, because its goal seemed almost self-contradictory. Their original motto and Great Seal—devised by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson—was E Pluribus Unum (Latin for “From many, one”), which, with the word ”Liberty,” was considered sufficient and appropriate, until the charge of the god brigades.

Oh how much easier, simpler, sleepier, to trust in gods and in strongmen!

It’s worth noticing that the concept of unity as triumphant while affirming liberty and diversity is the concept under attack today.

E pluribus unum means, actually, in ourselves and each other we trust.

That, it turns out, may be the greatest challenge of all.

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Some readers write me that they find these blogposts helpful on the sanity front, but that they’re still exhausted, weary of fighting, and fearful about escalating struggles during next year’s elections. Oh, how I understand.

Sometimes I can get to feeling like an inane feminist version of a cheerleader, going rah rah, waving my suffrage-colors white and purple pom-poms, chanting We can do it, sisters! as if I were Little Ms. Positive Thinking. That is decidedly not moi. There are times when I throw my metaphorical pom-poms across the room, cursing a blue streak.

Then I come across something that puts my despair in its place.

This time it was an article by Mary Hui in the New York Times, about how migrant-worker maids—mostly from the Philippines—in Hong Kong have taken up trail running. They do this not only for the challenge but for the opportunity to be treated as equals in a society that exploits and discriminates against them.

These Filipinas, who add $12.6 billion to Hong Kong’s gross domestic product as a service economy, are mandated to live in their employer’s homes, which increases the risk of abuse. It’s not rare that they are made to sleep in bathrooms, storage rooms, or closets. They cook, clean, shop, wash and iron laundry, mind children, tend the elderly and the ill, run errands, do gardening, and are on call 24/7. Yet they find ways to turn their household duties into training opportunities, and they squeeze in training runs well before dawn or late at night.

“On weekdays, people say ‘Oh you’re a domestic helper,’” 30-year-old Fredelyn Alberto is quoted as saying, ”but on weekends, on the trails, they say ‘Oh, you’re a good runner.’” Jaybie Pagarian adds, “We are not just a maid. We’re not just poor people.”

It got me thinking back to time I spent in the Philippines, working with the women, learning from them about the vast expatriate labor force of Filipinas “exported” abroad. Then—connect the dots—I remembered that years earlier during a meeting in Jordan with a token high-ranking woman in the PLO—herself a Palestinian enduring statelessness, persecution, and misogyny—her housemaid, who brought in coffee, was a Filipina.

I thought of New York subways densely packed with night-shift nurses going to work in municipal hospitals for little pay and less respect, and they are Filipinas.

During the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, most of the women raped and killed were Asian servants to Kuwaiti households—and most of the Asians were Filipinas. The survivors then spent months huddled in refugee camps at the Jordan border, trying to get home.

It was not until 1990 that the Aquino government formally outlawed the practice of contracting Filipinas in groups for labor as “domestics” abroad. In 1988 one could still see the women, each clutching her one suitcase, standing herded together with their “contractor” overseer at the airport, waiting to be shipped like cargo to Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, all over the world.

But although “expatriate labor” practices are outlawed, they continue in illegal black-market fashion. Three million expatriate laborers simply bring in too much revenue to be foregone. And the women go, supporting entire extended families back home by their round-the-clock labor and they endure being sexually abused by the men of the house, and by having no recourse. All this even before a foreign army invades (Iraq into Kuwait) and rapes and shoots and then another foreign army (Syria, the US, Russia) flies over and makes the sky look like firecrackers or you fight back against another boss-rapist but then you are arrested and sentenced to flogging or even death (Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia). All this and the dream of going home someday, of embracing family you haven’t seen in decades.

A recent edition of the Oxford English Dictionary lists as a synonym for “maid, servant, domestic”: Filipina.

Reason enough to despair.

Yet today—in Manila, the Cordilleras, Negros, Mindanao, all across the Philippines—for some time a thriving women’s movement has made its presence known. Today, Filipinas in their labor diaspora are trying to organize across geographical borders. Today, in Hong Kong, migrant-worker Filipinas are running for respect.

If they can refuse to despair, surely we can.

After all, each of us is really running for her life.

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Upside down, backwards, sideways. No wonder we feel dizzy and nauseated much of the time. Legislators discuss ”consensual rape,” presidential spokespeople insist there are ”alternate facts,” and lies become beyond brazen since there are written, photographic, video, audible, publicly witnessed records and testimonies exposing the lies. Crowd size, for example. What was said in an un-doctored videotaped interview or speech. What crime was boldly committed and baldly denied. When enough of these accumulate—and they come in an avalanche daily—they leave tiny pits, then dents, in a citizen’s self confidence about recognizing reality, until the blizzard of pebbles becomes a pelting of stones and finally a hillside of boulders roaring down to bury the self, the truth, the real.

This happens through language and action both, via short-term tactics and long-term strategies. It’s so blatant it bewilders the rational mind. It’s so continual it exhausts attempts to select one discrete example and analyze that constructively. It’s so absurd that in lighter moments we liken it to Wonderland or the looking glass, with ourselves as Alice–shrinking, swelling, lost, being bullied, even being sentenced to our own beheading. There is fear, and worse: the massive combination of all this seems so encompassing as to feel overwhelming, it evokes despair. Nor is it a coincidence that women’s bodies and experiences, especially 50 years of articulating those experiences, and in the process saving lives and transforming cultures, are now the prime targets for attack. Sometimes, having been raised to blame ourselves for everything, women wonder what we did wrong. But we did no wrong and we were not wrong. We knew this would happen.

It’s pretty good to be right, at least in historical political terms, although it’s costly. In personal relationships, not always so good to be right, and exorbitant. (Obviously, I’m not referring to disagreements over whether the world is flat or Adam, Eve, and the dinosaurs all cohabited at the same time. Neither am I referring to any degree of domestic violence.) But being right historically and politically, based on real evidence acquired in serious study by serious people, is quite a useful thing. I found myself thinking how we wild eyed, wild haired, rebel feminists of the late 1960s through the 70s—and for many of us onward and still going—we were damned well right about some things.

Decidedly not ultra-egalitarianism, ultra-collectivity, anti-intellectualism, Lefty jargon (or jargon of any sort), no, that’s not what we were right about. But equal pay for equal work—and equal pay for comparable worth–we were right about that. We were right about a woman’s non-negotiable need for reproductive freedom, and freedom from domestic violence, and freedom to choose whom she loved, man or woman or both. I was right to liken women to a colonized people, mined for our natural resources—sex, childbearing, and “invisible,” unpaid labor—and I was right to call for the rising of that colonized people to take back our own land, e.g. our own bodies (“On Women As A Colonized People” in Going Too Far.) We were right to dare express (even a fraction of) our own anger. At the time, this society regarded these as unreasonable, excessive demands disowned as destructive even by many feminists, who feared such ideas might threaten any incremental progress women might be making. I was told, “Robin, this time you’re going too far” so frequently that I used those three words as a book title.

Today, with literally millions of women in the streets—at the women’s marches or over reproductive rights or any of the other so-called women’s issues which happen to include all issues–today, when I see all these women, I think with astonishment, my god, we were right! We were right to believe women would be the ones to turn it all around!

I think with pride about two women who were and are right, this very minute. Dr. Jennifer Freyd (University of Oregon, Department of Psychology) has worked for decades on the institutional betrayal of victims and on silencing tactics employed by perpetrators and the powerful when a survivor speaks up, whether about childhood sexual abuse or reporting rape on campus. Jennifer’s acronym for the tactics is DARVO: Denial, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender, which perfectly describe Donald Trump’s response whenever accusations against him land close to the bone: he is not crooked, Hillary is. He hasn’t publicly demonstrated nonstop, alarming, sociopathic behavior; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, has (even if it requires a faked videotape to pretend “proof” of that.)

This reversal, central to the dystopia in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, is also inherent in “consensual rape,” and “alternative facts,” and it sent me back to thoughts of another friend, gone now: Mary Daly, feminist philosopher. Had she lived to witness these days, the ferocity of her intellect would have relished demolishing the Trumpists’ inversions and reversals, and through her books we can still be in conversation with her mind. Mary wrote of reversal as one of the four central methods of patriarchal mystification, along with erasure, false polarization, and divide and conquer. Even in her early work, as she freed herself from being a radical Catholic theologian with multiple doctor-of-divinity degrees, this theme appears.

Mary noticed. She noticed that Adam gives birth to Eve, Zeus to Athena, that the body and blood of the Eucharist inverts the actual body that brings and feeds life with its own flesh and milk: the female body. Mary named false conclusion and false polarization. To Orwell’s fictional list of phrases—war is peace, freedom is slavery, the joy camp is a forced labor camp—Mary added current real-life examples: rest cure, finishing schools, intensive care, housewife, the natural look. Orwell had warned that ”ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving higher brain centers at all.” Against such practices Mary urged what she termed “positive paranoia.”

She noted the Christian trinity as a distorted reflection of the tripartite female divinity, Virgin-Mother-Crone, and traced how her own once-cherished Christianity had engineered the theft of images and archetypes from indigenous faith systems stretching back pre-history. She revealed how that Christianity’s conquest modeled on the Roman Empire had further elevated patriarchy and then demonized originators and practitioners of those earlier systems. She delighted in learning that even today in rural Ireland, some of the Scottish Highlands, and certain areas of Scandinavia, divination is believed possible if one sits on a three-legged stool at the crossing of three roads when the clock strikes midnight on Samhain, today known as All Hallows Eve or Hallowe’en.

Language maps it for us again. Before there was “Trinity,” there was trio, troika, and numerous other words for triple derived from the Latin. One variant was reserved for use as a name for the three-part sacred female archetype.

That name in English was Trivia.

Think what has become of that word.

Mary Daly could be a difficult friend—but worth every minute of indigestion. She drove me crazy and I miss her. If you have never read her, try it. Start with the earlier books and ease in to the unfettered late ones—which read like a collaboration written by Thomas Aquinas, Djuna Barnes, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Dr. Seuss, and . . . Mary. If you already know her work, take down a book or two from your shelves and meander again through that daring, darling, enduring mind.

The thing is, she was right. I was right in Going Too Far. Those of you reading this perhaps were there yourselves; if so, you were right. So if over the next months I find ways to pay homage to those contemporaries, bear with me. This isn’t just the sentimentality of a survivor. These were women who forged feminist theory from female experience and action, with no blueprint. They did so before “gender studies” and “gender theory” became a requirement for advancing in academic circles by writing unintelligible knockoffs from puerile scribblings by two French men—Derrida and Lacan. They/We did so because we were in the streets, where women now find ourselves again.

And what better way to deflect the pebbles and stones and boulders hurled at us now! We have a “herstory” because we dug it up from having been buried by previous avalanches. Where we could not find it we forged it, and we were right to do so. Remember that. Feminists today, in the streets and the boardrooms, in Congress and McDonald’s are right, too. Trust that. See you at the crossroads.

The post At The Crossroads appeared first on Robin Morgan | Author, Activist, Feminist | NYC.

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Upside down, backwards, sideways. No wonder we feel dizzy and nauseated much of the time. Legislators discuss ”consensual rape,” presidential spokespeople insist there are ”alternate facts,” and lies become beyond brazen since there are written, photographic, video, audible, publicly witnessed records and testimonies exposing the lies. Crowd size, for example. What was said in an un-doctored videotaped interview or speech. What crime was boldly committed and baldly denied. When enough of these accumulate—and they come in an avalanche daily—they leave tiny pits, then dents, in a citizen’s self confidence about recognizing reality, until the blizzard of pebbles becomes a pelting of stones and finally a hillside of boulders roaring down to bury the self, the truth, the real.

This happens through language and action both, via short-term tactics and long-term strategies. It’s so blatant it bewilders the rational mind. It’s so continual it exhausts attempts to select one discrete example and analyze that constructively. It’s so absurd that in lighter moments we liken it to Wonderland or the looking glass, with ourselves as Alice–shrinking, swelling, lost, being bullied, even being sentenced to our own beheading. There is fear, and worse: the massive combination of all this seems so encompassing as to feel overwhelming, it evokes despair. Nor is it a coincidence that women’s bodies and experiences, especially 50 years of articulating those experiences, and in the process saving lives and transforming cultures, are now the prime targets for attack. Sometimes, having been raised to blame ourselves for everything, women wonder what we did wrong. But we did no wrong and we were not wrong. We knew this would happen.

It’s pretty good to be right, at least in historical political terms, although it’s costly. In personal relationships, not always so good to be right, and exorbitant. (Obviously, I’m not referring to disagreements over whether the world is flat or Adam, Eve, and the dinosaurs all cohabited at the same time. Neither am I referring to any degree of domestic violence.) But being right historically and politically, based on real evidence acquired in serious study by serious people, is quite a useful thing. I found myself thinking how we wild eyed, wild haired, rebel feminists of the late 1960s through the 70s—and for many of us onward and still going—we were damned well right about some things.

Decidedly not ultra-egalitarianism, ultra-collectivity, anti-intellectualism, Lefty jargon (or jargon of any sort), no, that’s not what we were right about. But equal pay for equal work—and equal pay for comparable worth–we were right about that. We were right about a woman’s non-negotiable need for reproductive freedom, and freedom from domestic violence, and freedom to choose whom she loved, man or woman or both. I was right to liken women to a colonized people, mined for our natural resources—sex, childbearing, and “invisible,” unpaid labor—and I was right to call for the rising of that colonized people to take back our own land, e.g. our own bodies (“On Women As A Colonized People” in Going Too Far.) We were right to dare express (even a fraction of) our own anger. At the time, this society regarded these as unreasonable, excessive demands disowned as destructive even by many feminists, who feared such ideas might threaten any incremental progress women might be making. I was told, “Robin, this time you’re going too far” so frequently that I used those three words as a book title.

Today, with literally millions of women in the streets—at the women’s marches or over reproductive rights or any of the other so-called women’s issues which happen to include all issues–today, when I see all these women, I think with astonishment, my god, we were right! We were right to believe women would be the ones to turn it all around!

I think with pride about two women who were and are right, this very minute. Dr. Jennifer Freyd (University of Oregon, Department of Psychology) has worked for decades on the institutional betrayal of victims and on silencing tactics employed by perpetrators and the powerful when a survivor speaks up, whether about childhood sexual abuse or reporting rape on campus. Jennifer’s acronym for the tactics is DARVO: Denial, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender, which perfectly describe Donald Trump’s response whenever accusations against him land close to the bone: he is not crooked, Hillary is. He hasn’t publicly demonstrated nonstop, alarming, sociopathic behavior; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, has (even if it requires a faked videotape to pretend “proof” of that.)

This reversal, central to the dystopia in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, is also inherent in “consensual rape,” and “alternative facts,” and it sent me back to thoughts of another friend, gone now: Mary Daly, feminist philosopher. Had she lived to witness these days, the ferocity of her intellect would have relished demolishing the Trumpists’ inversions and reversals, and through her books we can still be in conversation with her mind. Mary wrote of reversal as one of the four central methods of patriarchal mystification, along with erasure, false polarization, and divide and conquer. Even in her early work, as she freed herself from being a radical Catholic theologian with multiple doctor-of-divinity degrees, this theme appears.

Mary noticed. She noticed that Adam gives birth to Eve, Zeus to Athena, that the body and blood of the Eucharist inverts the actual body that brings and feeds life with its own flesh and milk: the female body. Mary named false conclusion and false polarization. To Orwell’s fictional list of phrases—war is peace, freedom is slavery, the joy camp is a forced labor camp—Mary added current real-life examples: rest cure, finishing schools, intensive care, housewife, the natural look. Orwell had warned that ”ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving higher brain centers at all.” Against such practices Mary urged what she termed “positive paranoia.”

She noted the Christian trinity as a distorted reflection of the tripartite female divinity, Virgin-Mother-Crone, and traced how her own once-cherished Christianity had engineered the theft of images and archetypes from indigenous faith systems stretching back pre-history. She revealed how that Christianity’s conquest modeled on the Roman Empire had further elevated patriarchy and then demonized originators and practitioners of those earlier systems. She delighted in learning that even today in rural Ireland, some of the Scottish Highlands, and certain areas of Scandinavia, divination is believed possible if one sits on a three-legged stool at the crossing of three roads when the clock strikes midnight on Samhain, today known as All Hallows Eve or Hallowe’en.

Language maps it for us again. Before there was “Trinity,” there was trio, troika, and numerous other words for triple derived from the Latin. One variant was reserved for use as a name for the three-part sacred female archetype.

That name in English was Trivia.

Think what has become of that word.

Mary Daly could be a difficult friend—but worth every minute of indigestion. She drove me crazy and I miss her. If you have never read her, try it. Start with the earlier books and ease in to the unfettered late ones—which read like a collaboration written by Thomas Aquinas, Djuna Barnes, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Dr. Seuss, and . . . Mary. If you already know her work, take down a book or two from your shelves and meander again through that daring, darling, enduring mind.

The thing is, she was right. I was right in Going Too Far. Those of you reading this perhaps were there yourselves; if so, you were right. So if over the next months I find ways to pay homage to those contemporaries, bear with me. This isn’t just the sentimentality of a survivor. These were women who forged feminist theory from female experience and action, with no blueprint. They did so before “gender studies” and “gender theory” became a requirement for advancing in academic circles by writing unintelligible knockoffs from puerile scribblings by two French men—Derrida and Lacan. They/We did so because we were in the streets, where women now find ourselves again.

And what better way to deflect the pebbles and stones and boulders hurled at us now! We have a “herstory” because we dug it up from having been buried by previous avalanches. Where we could not find it we forged it, and we were right to do so. Remember that. Feminists today, in the streets and the boardrooms, in Congress and McDonald’s are right, too. Trust that. See you at the crossroads.

The post At The Crossroads appeared first on Robin Morgan | Author, Activist, Feminist | NYC.

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Right to the point. Alabama has fired the first nuclear weapon in the out-and-out war over women’s right to bodily integrity. Georgia and Missouri are close behind. These three, and the other states trying to enact so called “heart-beat laws” about women’s right to terminate unwanted pregnancies, have made increasing forays and assaults for a long time now.

The white supremacist right, the religious right, and the cynical we-really-don’t-care-about-the-issue-but-will-use-it-to-stay-in-power Republican right have never stopped taking pot shots at women’s reproductive rights since Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973. Their tactics have ranged from sophisticated lobbying and PR campaigns to flat-out terrorism: bombing clinics and murdering medical staff. They have skillfully used this issue as a fundraising tool; as a political wedge to field, fund, and elect candidates; and as a hammer to chip steadily away at Roe, via pressure for executive presidential orders, (contested) legislation outlawing emergency abortion, demands for parental notification, etc. By 2006, fewer medical schools required proficiency in pregnancy termination—and 86 percent of all U.S. counties had no abortion provider whatsoever.

This time is different. With a creature in the White House who will say and do anything to stay there, violent bigots and racists in our society feel validated, supported, even encouraged, and the anti-choice crusaders have similarly been emboldened.

You know, of course, that Alabama has in effect outlawed abortion. No exceptions for rape. No exceptions for incest. Permitted only if the woman’s life is in “serious” danger. Even some anti-choice organizations, evangelical churches, and anti-choice senators and congressmen expressed disagreement with the Alabama law. Someone said to me yesterday,”Oh, but that won’t stand up in court.” This misses the point entirely. Because such rulings defy federal law, naturally it will go to court, and even in Alabama it is likely to lose. But whichever side wins, the decision will be appealed. And appealed again. And will make its way to the Supremes—which is precisely what the anti-choicers have planned all along, breathlessly waiting for the moment when the Court majority was far-right enough to overturn Roe. The claimed justification will be “It’s up to the states,” and then women have to hustle to ensure that their state legalizes the procedure—along with other targets of the right wing, like the right to health insurance coverage for contraception, because that’s up next.

Although many younger women are fiercely feminist and decidedly “woke,” there still are women, and not only young ones, who have no idea how many American women died—10,000 a year, more than in Vietnam—from illegal, backstreet, butchered abortions. We fight on multiple fronts: state, federal, and international—since the gag rule affects U.S. foreign policy and our United Nations participation. The Trump regime managed to open up a whole new front by appointing and defending Scott Lloyd, Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, who is responsible for the care of young, undocumented immigrants who enter this country without their parents. Lloyd spends much of his time trying to stop young women who want abortions from leaving refugee shelters, even though such requests are almost always the result of rape. One such case that made it to court because the ACLU became involved elicited a statement from a federal judge saying she was astounded the government was so insistent on keeping someone from obtaining a constitutionally protected procedure.

The state level is where most restrictions take place and if Roe is erased each state will make its own laws (some, like New York, legalized abortion even before Roe, and recently broadened rights to the procedure, including late-term emergency abortion). The argument that a woman in a criminalizing state can always pop next door to a state where abortion is legal is a flat-out lie. The other state isn’t always next-door—think of the size of Montana or Texas—and the money needed to travel is considerable, whether by air, public transport, or gas for the car. Plus the cost of a hotel and meals. Plus a woman having to leave her job for a week instead of for a day or two, risking being docked or fired. Plus if she has kids, who will watch them. All of this is totally beyond the financial reach of low-income women who, pre-Roe, suffered most. Women with means could always go elsewhere, even another country.

So below are some arguing points that we all better begin sharing with people, including nice liberal types who might think we’re exaggerating disaster, running around with our hair on fire. For instance, when asked, Bernie Sanders stated his support for a woman’s right “to control her body” (as if it was unleashed and running away), then added that after all this was “one issue among many,” and that if preference about the sex of the fetus was the reason for the procedure, that should perhaps be a restriction. It’s not only people on the right who need to be educated.

There are so many stereotypes out there! The anti-woman anti-choicers have been successful at portraying abortion as dangerous, abortionists as money-grabbing gangsters, and women who seek out abortions as selfish, sluttish, or at best bewildered. So each of us needs to know and share some hard facts. You can find many on the websites of NARAL or Planned Parenthood. Here are ten to start with:

* The vast majority of Americans favor a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health choices.
* The vast majority of women who have abortions never regret it.
* 59 percent of abortions are obtained by women who already have children.
* Abortion does not cause breast or any other kind of cancer.
* Abortion does not cause future infertility, suicide, or other such negative side effects.
* The claim that tissue constituting an embryo or fetus can feel pain is unscientific propaganda.
* There is no mention of abortion in the Bible.
* Most people believe the Roman Catholic Church’s position on abortion is 2000 years old and infallible. Yet the 15th-century church considered abortion moral. Not until 1869 did Pius IX define it as an excommunicable sin, under pressure from Napoleon III, who was concerned that the birth rate was dropping and France might face a depletion of soldiers for its wars and colonizations. Furthermore, and also contrary to popular belief, the prohibition of abortion is not governed by claims of papal infallibility, which leaves more room for discussion than is usually assumed.
* There is no mention of abortion as a crime or as a woman’s right in the United States Constitution. This is because: a) there is no mention of women in the Constitution, and b) abortion was both legal and practiced at the time.
* The risk of death due to childbirth is 14 times greater than the risk of death from abortion.

Bear with me now for a brief aside on childbirth risks. Thirteen European American women die for every 100,000 live births. The rate for Latinas is lower, 11.4. For Native American/Alaskan Native women, it’s 32.5. The rate for African American women is a horrifying 42.8 for every 100,000 live births. Age increases the risk: women age 40 and over have a pregnancy related death rate of 76.5 per 100,000 live births. And while the death rate for women in childbirth is decreasing dramatically around the world, it’s actually increasing in the United States.

So if the fanatical right has its way, women—especially women of color—already and absurdly dying in childbirth in the world’s richest country, will also be dying from abortion again soon, bleeding out in an agony of terror and paralyzing cramps on the bathroom floors of campus dorms, on kitchen tables where Mafia doctors ply their implements, or if lucky in secret safe provider offices arranged by an underground women’s movement again willing to risk 99-year prison sentences to save women’s lives.

Women are different now, too. We’re openly enraged. And we’re organized.

Criminalizing pregnancy management will provoke women in far greater numbers than we showed before Roe passed. We will demonstrate massive civil disobedience—women of all ages and ethnicities, all classes and beliefs, corporate execs and farmworkers, plumbers and flight attendants, teachers and sex-industry survivors, clergy and athletes; celebrities in Jimmy Choo shoes and welfare recipients in frayed sneakers, college students and trade school graduates, women pushing baby carriages and women pushing walkers, physicians and nurses, every sort of woman (and every man of conscience who cares about justice) hitting the streets in open defiance of those who are bent on ruling women’s bodies. We will boycott, we will strike, we will bring this government to a grinding halt.

We don’t want this, we don’t long for civil strife. There was a day when I’d hoped to grow old with a bit more quietude in my life, more space for contemplation, more time for writing.

But today I swear, as 2020 nears with the 100th anniversary of suffrage for many American women and also brings the 50th anniversary of Sisterhood is Powerful’s publication; today I swear on my own head as the grey hair silvers toward white; today I swear it, I swear to you that if they think they will take down a woman’s human right to her own bodily integrity, I swear they will have to take me down first.

The post Abortion: 10 Facts and An Oath appeared first on Robin Morgan | Author, Activist, Feminist | NYC.

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“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

You might recognize that line, from Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2, as famous, but its meaning has been roundly debated. Some scholars insist that the speaker, a ne’er-do-well character aptly named Dick the Butcher, is serious because he detests lawyers, since they are virtuous defenders of justice. Other scholars insist just as loudly that because the scene is one of Shakespeare’s comic-relief guttersnipe-street-people scenes, the remark is spat out as a laugh line aimed at corrupt lawyers and their high fees. Me, I think Will was, as usual, slaying two meanings with a single line.

That would work today, too. On the one hand, more than 700 and still counting former Federal prosecutors have signed an open letter stating that had the acts committed by Donald J. Trump as outlined in the Mueller Report been committed by any other American citizen, that person would have been in jail by now for obstructing justice. The principled signatories also reminded all of us that no one should be considered above the law because of holding an elected office. On the other hand, there is a depressingly large number of lawyers on board the sinking SS Trump, defending to the last their boss’s wanna-be dictatorial powers. One thing is certain. Some members of the bar are making quite a fortune these days.

What’s being done to the concept of the law’s dignity is another matter. The small and large relentless acts defying and shredding the Constitution of the United States is another thing altogether. In that process, words spasm into malleable, reverse, even senseless meaning, depending on their speaker. For example, the GOP lawyer brigade (which includes many senators), defends “tradition” when the Justice Department claims it is “tradition” that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Not law, mind you. Nowhere in the Constitution. Just “tradition.” The Trumpists cite that DOJ “tradition” reverently. On the other hand, they shrug at other traditions based on precedent—for instance, that a candidate or sitting president reveal her or his tax returns. Worse, far worse, they scoff openly at traditions established not only by precedent but by the Constitution itself, such as the Congressional obligation to exercise oversight of the executive branch, and Congress’s right and in fact duty to subpoena necessary witnesses required to get at the truth for testimony in pursuing their task to oversee. These particular “traditions” are called laws.

Tradition, to the once-respectable Republican Party, is now apparently all in the eye of the blindfolded.

But there are cracks in the Republican wall that Trump wishes he had built. Although Trump, his officials, and Mitch McConnell bellow wishfully, “Case closed!” Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr., sending shockwaves through the GOP ranks. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee has put in motion a process holding Attorney General Barr in contempt of Congress. And meanwhile, the press is doing its job: The New York Times, for example, breaking the story we suspected, about which we now have evidence: that Trump was always a lousy businessman, grifting his way through millions of dollars from Daddy and from banks until nobody but the Russians would lend him money.

Still, there are those who continue to fret that the Democrats—especially Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Nadler of the House Judiciary Committee, and the other House Committee chairs–are “appeasing” by not having already dashed to full-out impeachment. Yet it might be wise to notice at whom those Democrats are actually aiming, to at least wonder if they might have a strategy, a reason for building an iron-clad case. Can it be that they think irrefutable facts and strict Constitutional adherence will impress their Republican colleagues across the aisle and in the Senate and convince them to change their minds?

Hell, no.

The press often refers to Trump’s spokespersons as “playing to an audience of one”: the orange guy squatting in the White House slurping junk food and watching TV. Well, although Pelosi and Nadler are playing to a fractious public, they are also really playing to an audience of one.

Not Trump. Not Putin. Not Mueller, either. They are playing a long game, looking well ahead.

They are playing to John G. Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Most if not all of these issues are likely to be adjudicated, appealed, and resolved at the Supreme Court level. Trump has said straight out that he’s counting on that because he has stacked the court. He’s right. It certainly is not going to be Kavanaugh or Gorsuch who defends the Constitution against the man who appointed them. Nor is it likely that Thomas or Alito will suddenly see the light. It is interesting, though, to note that six of the nine justices sitting, two-thirds of the Court, are Roman Catholic (and all GOP appointed). There is one liberal Catholic, but Justice Sotomayor takes pains to call herself “a cultural Catholic,” neatly affirming her Latina culture while giving Rome the side eye. Then there is Roberts, by all accounts a seriously observant Roman Catholic. He knows that courts can make history and that they usually get nick-named after their chief justices: the Warren court, the Burger Court. He knows this will be the Roberts court.

He has earned his conservative stripes, voting to ban certain kinds of abortions (Gonzalez v. Carhart); forcing colleges accepting federal funds to permit military recruiters on campus even when the university objects to their discriminatory policies (Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights); overturning a school’s decision to use race as a basis for determining placement of students in schools even when the school was attempting to maintain integration (Parents Involved in Community Schools v, Seattle School District No. 1); and more. Yet he has fallen considerably out of favor with conservatives. He publicly chided Trump over the latter’s attacks on judges and the courts. He has often written and stated his concerns about preserving the reputation of the Supreme (Roberts) Court and protecting the legal system from political interference, which may well be the reason he surprised his right-wing colleagues by validating the authority of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in upholding the tax credits provided in the ACA. Roberts has remained constant in his deference to interpreting, not creating, law, even at the risk of angering his own political party. He considers that his job.

He is the audience of one.

He has become the crucial swing vote. His are the eyes to which Pelosi, Nadler, and the other House committee chairs intend to show an impeccable record of fairness, strict Constitutional observance, and care in their investigative processes and in exercising their prerogatives and obligations. That’s their job. They know, too, that Roberts knows how much Trump violates the rules sometimes just for the sake of violation.

It’s our job to demonstrate through public actions and pressure on Congress to do their job and remember that these days their job involves saving our Republic.

All this may eventually come down to the moral compass of one male, white, Catholic lawyer.

Come to think of it, perhaps we should find out the name of John Roberts’s priest.

The post Audience of One appeared first on Robin Morgan | Author, Activist, Feminist | NYC.

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