Monday, June 27, 2022

Civil Dialogue? Sure. And More.

Source: Aero Magazine.

This blog usually focuses on local matters, for which there's too little coverage in the news media. For national affairs, there's plenty of coverage of that elsewhere. My comments aren't needed. But somehow, SCOTUS repealing the Roe v. Wade decision that was the law of the land for fifty years feels different. I can't resist responding to this comment in my Facebook feed: "We as human beings and citizens of this great nation are better together when we have respectful and civil dialogue to discuss the issues." Civil dialogue? Sure. And More.

Calling for "civil dialogue" sounds like something said by someone who just won. And in this case, won in ways that went way beyond persuading a majority with civil dialogue. The far right didn't change minds with civil dialogue. If anything, they are losing public support on this issue. "Back in 1975, three-quarters of Americans said it should be legal in all (21 percent) or certain (54 percent) circumstances, according to a long-running survey by Gallup. In the ensuing half-century, that number has gone up 10 percentage points to 85 percent, meaning the support has only gotten stronger."

Overturning rights of women wasn't achieved on the debate stage. The far right has spent fifty years staging marches and protests as well as "civil dialogue." The far right has spent fifty years using anti-abortion violence — murder, assault, kidnapping, arson, bombing, threats of anthrax and threats of violence, and intimidating women at the doors of clinics. The far right has spent fifty years subverting the US Constitution to pack the Supreme Court through gerrymandering our electoral system, through disregarding tradition in Senate confirmation of SCOTUS justices, through judges perjuring themselves in hearings to get confirmed. All to culminate in achieving a majority on the bench to overturn "the law of the land" (Justice Neil Gorsuch's words during his own confirmation hearing) just because they now had the raw power to do so.

So, civil dialogue? Sure. But, to paraphrase Walter Trumball (or Will Rogers, if you prefer), civil dialogue "frequently consists in soothingly saying, 'Nice doggie,' until you have a chance to pick up a rock." Restoring the rights of women to control what happens to their own bodies is going to take more than civil dialogue. It's going to take organizing, marching, protesting, boycotting, civil disobedience, and resisting state violence that seeks to suppress such direct action. The fight for human rights, for civil rights, for women's rights has always needed civil dialogue, sure, but the fights needed a hell of a lot more. America's Founders used civil language to set forth their reasons for severing ties with Great Britain. But then they prepared for war. Will it come to that in today's America? For the first time in my long life, I think the chances of it coming to that are at least as good as the chances of finding common ground with the far right through civil dialogue.


Eric Stengel said...

Great post Mark. Civil dialogue should also encompass removing partisan labels of far right, vs. far left in our speech with one another. Of course, not all can rise to the skilled rhetoric as found with Cicero, but we can come close by removing pre-conceived notions that further divide us and that begins with removing tribalistic tendencies of identification instead of finding common ground. There are many in the pro-life "right" crowd that do charitable endeavors of supporting young mothers and their children with the resources needed instead of protesting outside of abortion clinics. Such a decision from the SCOTUS is reminiscent of the history with Dred Scott v. Sanford and the Missouri Compromise that eventually led to Civil War in this nation. It is definitely the bedrock of our country as found within our national bill of rights to protest peacefully and bring about change as the Civil Rights movement did for our great nation. The ideal of E Pluribus Unum in which our country seems more divided by the day is something that makes one not proud of by any means. I certainly believe that pro-choice and pro-life groups can co-exist, however that requires national legislators all the way to the local level to come together and create meaningful legislation that unites instead of divides, which is becoming more difficult for our Democratic-Republic. I do think that even the pro-life crowd would be against warfare as an option should matters escalate.

Mark Steger said...

The American Experience: Alice Paul
In 1913, Alice Paul marched with suffragists in Woodrow Wilson's inaugural parade which was met with violence from spectators. Police didn't intervene to protect the marchers. She then protested at the White House, was arrested, and went on a hunger strike during which she was force fed through a tube. Anyone who thinks women earned the right to vote through "civil dialogue" is guilty of wishful thinking. Alice Paul was a badass. There should be a monument to her on the Mall in Washington, DC. Anyone who thinks women's rights to control what happens to their own bodies will come through "civil dialogue" with far right Republicans is guilty of wishful thinking.