It’s Not Just Politics

“That’s just politics, I’m tired of hearing about it.”

Oh, the inherent privilege in that statement. The luxuriousness, like the Fine Corinthian Leather of the old Chrysler Corboda commercials with Ricardo Montalban. Especially in these bizarre political times.

I am asking the people who have ever told a woman, an LGBTQ+ person, a person of color, a Jewish person, etc. that their concerns are “tee-hee, politics, oh how silly” to please consider seeing these things through the eyes of people with very real concerns. This post is for you.

I ask that you consider two things. First, I see enough of these kinds of statements, both online and in person, to know that the people who make these statements are also the kind of people who if there is something crops up that concerns them, are very vocal about it. So, that leads me to the other thing I ask you to consider; please try to think of how you might react if you were not well-off financially, white, Christian, cis, and straight.

Imagine if you are a woman of child-bearing age, who lives in a red state, and wants to have a child, and hears “oh how silly, abortion is just so divisive.” You already have a much harder time finding an OB-GYN than women in blue states. If you have a difficult pregnancy, your life is at higher risk than other places in a nation where maternal death rates are already the highest among our peer nations and getting worse. You can tell women living in states with terrifying new abortion laws to “just move,” but again, privilege…not everyone can afford to move or is able to. You may have cheered on the idea that ending Roe would be a balm to soothe polarization and lectured people that saying “abortion is healthcare” was being over the top, but can you see what is going on now and why people might be upset, why it is more than mere politics?

Imagine you are a Jewish person right now. A billionaire is turning a social media platform into a bastion of antisemitism, and is literally Blaming the Jews for his business failing. Antisemitic violence is increasing. Literal Nazis feel comfortable enough to demonstrate outside Disney World to show their support for the Republican governor’s war on Disney.

Imagine if you are a LGBTQ+ person who is paying attention to what is happening. There are signs aplenty that the Supreme Court could overturn Obergefell and greatly threaten same-sex marriage and at least two Supreme Court justices are willing to push for it (often the dismissive people demand “where did you hear that?” when right-wing craziness is brought up, as if the concern is invented, but as often is the case, the answer is from right-wingers themselves). If you are married, imagine how you might feel if your own marriage was under threat from the government.

For trans people, it is even worse. Think how you might feel about your mere existence being enough to somehow make political whether it is okay for armed people to gather outside a children’s event and make threats. Imagine being a trans person and seeing major media outlets offering support to the people who hate you and want you gone just based on who you are.

Imagine being a Native American and being told that high rates of sexual assault on Native women by non-Natives, attempts to cover up decades of horrifying child abuse in Native boarding schools designed for cultural genocide, and high rates of police brutality and enviornmental racism are silly little political things that should never be brought up. Somehow, not wanting to be raped and lose your home due to climate change making it unlivable is “oh, politics, oh how silly.”

Speaking of climate change, imagine being young and hearing years of your elders laughing and proclaiming with glee “I don’t care about climate change, I’ll be long gone before it’s a problem!” Which turned out not to be so true given recent events.

Somehow, the far-right in this country has turned a lot of things into politics. Making common sense decisions to prevent mass shootings like bringing back the assault weapons ban. Whether it is okay to push children into a river. Even whether we should have democracy or not (if you want to know, my “it’s just politics” friend, where I heard such a thing, it’s from that noted crazed lefty Mitt Romney).

Now, you see, things dismissed as silly politics really are a matter of life or death for a lot of people in this version of America that we are all currently existing in. I hope you can see that none of what I outlined are mere trifles for a lot of people, and offer some empathy for them, not a wave of the hand or a raised voice demanding they shut up. We are not talking about debates over estate tax rates. And if your argument is you shrug off things as politics because you hate polarization and want unity, how does dismissing the fears of entire groups of people under very real threat fit into this ideal of unity? Should you not, in the interest of unity, want all Americans to be able to have a comfortable life that is free of the fear that woefully unbalanced and hateful people want to take away your rights, and worse? Martin Luther King Jr., as I have pointed out before, has lamented this unfortunately self-focused ideal that infects our society multiple times. Here is one example:

“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, ‘Wait on time.’”

I think that fits very well for the last word.

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