Friday afternoon as I was donating blood, (which I do every two months – A rh+), I thought again about the current annoying tendency toward call-out culture and political perfectionism and how self-defeating and moralistic (rather than moral) that stance is. You see, Canadian Blood Services does not allow men who have sex with other men to donate blood for a year after they last have such sex. I think that policy is stupidly homophobic and have complained to them and to politicians about it.
But, by the same radical political logic of call-out culture which had a radical activist and organizer bemoan the prospect of 4000 people showing up to protest racism one Saturday evening in Edmonton last year because a lot of them would be white people who would not become revolutionary anti-racists overnight, I should refuse to donate blood.
So, the chances of someone dying because of a lack of a blood transfusion should be increased (maybe even, to be really ‘woke’ about it, a Muslim trans person of colour) so I could feel good about myself. No.
In the same vein, LGBTQ+ radicals and allies blocked this year’s Pride Parade in Edmonton for about half an hour and expressed four demands. One of them, uninviting the Edmonton Police Service and Canadian military contingents in the parade, has caused a rift in the community. Although it’s being painted as a generational rift, with the older generation of predominately white activists on the one side, and the younger generation of trans and people of colour activists on the other, it isn’t that straightforward.
The LGBTQ+ community leadership have worked hard to build a relationship of trust with the Edmonton police, which led to the creation of the sexual and gender minorities liaison committee (SGMLC) and which has led to LGBTQ+ cops being out in the force and openly marching in the parade.
The protesters argued that white middle class gay men have privilege which makes them now feel safe with the police but many trans people and people of colour are subjected to carding, physical mistreatment and incarceration, so they don’t trust the police. And there is the larger argument around the heterotopian nature of the parade and other queer spaces – are these spaces part of the whole community or special safe places only for LGBTQ+ people and their allies (which the radicals would not consider LGBTQ+ police to be)?
And there’s currently a vicious and vitriolic pile-on happening online against Rhyd Wildermuth, accusing him of being a fascist (or at least a fascist sympathizer) because he opposes the tactic of doxing fascists. Rhyd is a flaming hard left Marxist-anarchist whose positions sometimes make me feel like a conservative, and a founder of the excellent (and generally hard left) Gods and Radicals blog site and publishing house. He, and his comrades, are revolutionary leftist Pagans, but he is somehow not purist enough for the left. This crap is one of the reasons I’m not active on the left – I really don’t like shooting my comrades in the back over minor points of doctrine or tactical differences.
Who is your community? And who are your allies? Identities overlap and intersect. The outright fascists in the Pagan community – those groups like the National Socialist Movement appropriating the othala rune as their symbol, or the various groups that assert that Wicca is a Celtic religion for Celtic people only (whoever they are) – are these guys my people? Are the TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) like Z. Budapest, Max Dashu, and others less outspoken – their view of an essential difference between feminine and masculine and their biological solidarity in second-wave feminism was very important in the 1960s-70s phase of Wicca and still echoes through the Red Tent and Goddess movements? Is Rhyd one of our people?
There is much pain and trouble in this world, and so little, it seems, that we of good will can do to make it easier. But, we must ease confusion, bind wounds, feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted, constantly affirm beauty and love regardless. Because the alternative is despair and nothing. It seems to me that those people who are fundamentally motivated by love and compassion, who recognize the absolute dignity of every other human being (even, especially, our enemies), they are my people.
Incremental positive change has been happening in Canada, and every small step is a good thing. Over the 40 years I’ve been involved on the left, I have seen a lot of good. I doubt I will see perfection, in fact I doubt that it is possible (or even desirable), but I will continue until I die to work toward that goal where I can. And give blood.