Frederick Douglass, quoted in “It Is No Part of Our Duty to Confound Right With Wrong,” by Steven West
In the language of our greatest soldier, twice honored with the Presidency of the nation, “Let us have peace.” Yes, let us have peace, but let us have liberty, law, and justice first. Let us have the Constitution, with its thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments, fairly interpreted, faithfully executed, and cheerfully obeyed in the fullness of their spirit and the completeness of their letter.
Pandering to and stoking the racist fears of white parents has historically been an effective strategy perpetuated by right-wing activists and it echoes to this day with right-wing activists taking over school board meetings and intimidating those already on it. And yet today’s media has largely failed abysmally to not only recognize this tactic and the national organizational effort behind it, but they’ve actually hindered efforts to implement the anti-racist education desperately needed to counter the online indoctrination of white nationalists that the Buffalo shooter and so many others have found compelling in the absence of counternarratives.
The neglectful reporting on the mainstreaming of white nationalist and white supremacist narratives is part of a larger media failure. A misunderstood sense of “neutrality” or “balance” has led many journalists to quote Republicans and Democrats next to one another on these issues as if each were just different but equally valid viewpoints on the political spectrum—actively obscuring that one of the two major American parties now openly subscribes to white nationalist ideology.
Seamus McGraw, “America’s first modern mass shooting never really ended”
Yet we cling to the myth of the good guy with the gun; we’ve made it almost an article of faith. Indeed, it is now so deeply rooted in us that even the killers themselves use it to justify their slaughters, motivated as they almost always are by some grievance, some sense of victimhood, some narcissistic, delusional vision of themselves as heroes or avengers. That was driven home to me not so terribly long ago when, while interviewing a killer, now serving life in prison for a 1992 mass shooting at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts that claimed three lives and would have claimed more had the semiautomatic rifle he bought on his 18th birthday not jammed, I asked him whether a good guy with a gun would have stopped him.“I thought I was the good guy with the gun,” he replied.
Days later, I joined an online support group for others who had experienced ectopic pregnancies, and they had stories that turned me white with terror. Stories of reporting to an ER with pain and being rushed to emergency surgery. Stories of fainting at home and waking up in a hospital room with long scars under their belly buttons, missing a fallopian tube. Some went to hospitals that will not intervene until the tube has burst and the mother is already experiencing internal bleeding, or when the fetus’ heartbeat has stopped.
On happy days we talked about memorial tattoos. On sad days we reported that one of our sisters had died from her third ectopic pregnancy.
Bess Kalb, “Forced Birth Is Torture”
I put all of this in detail because the reality of childbirth gets sanitized into a “miraculous” non-event in the conversation around reproduction in America.
Had I endured this at the will of the state, it would have been tantamount to corporal and psychological torture.
It was my choice to get pregnant and keep the pregnancy (“Oh no! Oh Jesus Christ! Here we fucking go again!” were my exact words after taking the test). It was my choice to stay on modified bedrest from 22 weeks along after an unexplained hemorrhage sent me to the nearest hospital by ambulance. It was my choice to keep going after two more painful bleeds brought me back to the hospital overnight. It was my choice to have this baby. To sacrifice my uterus and a bucket of blood and whatever else.
To remove any part of agency from this scenario is to mandate the unimaginable.