Wednesday, January 9, 2019

On the Hashtag Resistance

From time to time, I think about the folks who deride, sneer at, and otherwise denigrate what they refer to as the hashtag resistance.

This happens on Twitter a lot. As folks across the political spectrum engage in this ridicule, a common bond is often, although not always, that its purveyors are straight white cisgender men.

With the Trump Administration disproportionately targeting those who are women, people of color, LGBTQ, disabled, immigrants, and/or poor, this ridicule is no coincidence, but part of a backlash to social justice activism and, especially, feminism. For one, many men, whether they will admit it or not, and regardless of political party, are likely following Trump's lead in the way that those on the center-to-left side of the political spectrum so often internalize Republican attacks and cruelty.

Is there a person who is on the left side of the political spectrum who would ever admit or acknowledge that they've been affected or swayed by Republican attacks and talking points?  Probably not, and yet.

Remember that rash of post-2016 election articles telling us to give up on identity politics since that's what led to Trump?

Let's also look at the way the right obsessively attacks Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Many center-to-left folks love her, but over the years, we're going to see that change. Now, a change in popularity is bound to happen to any politician, but with a woman of color in the US, it's always going to be complicated and tainted by misogyny and racism. Rightwingers know this, and know that they can taint liberal-left politicians by simply putting attacks "out there" and letting them seep into the minds of receptive liberal-left audiences.

Also, millions of kids are growing up in conservative homes only learning the Fox News perspective that she is terrible. These kids will grow up to be voters one day, with some of them leaving behind their conservative roots and yet, how many of them will have echoes of the constant attacks against Ocasio-Cortez ringing through their heads?  There's just something about her, they'll say, they just can't fully trust or like.

We'll see.

And two, regarding the hashtag resistance, it's not straight white cisgender men who are leading it.  It's women, primarily. And, an eternal political question in the USA seems to be whether, if men are not at the center of a political movement, does it exist as all a serious phenomenon?

The men who are part of the hashtag resistance, meaning that they understand the reality that Democrats and Republicans have significant differences and they are not at all "the same," are also ridiculed, probably in no small part for their association with something associated with pink pussy hats and wine moms.

Consider a piece in bro-rag Vice, in which its author actually spent time curating "The Worst Anti-Trump #Resistance Pop Culture of 2018." His examples are things like Jim Carrey's art and JK Rowling's Twitter presence and oh who gives a fuck, why is this even a battle someone would want to fight right now? The big kicker, though, is his intro, in which he snarks:
"Donald Trump is a demonstrably corrupt and narcissistic con man. Two years into his presidency, this is not a novel thing to say. Actually, you would think that pointing out his loutish personal behaviour, destructive policies, or chaotic governing technique as if it were a new observation would be regarded with the same sort of derision reserved for people who still say Nickelback sucks. Yes, and your point is."
Yes yes. It's so interesting that many people - many women, including that crone Hillary Clinton - were warning about Trump more than two years ago and while so many media men stood around with their dicks in their hands, literally in some cases, they have now come to understand the danger and also, by the way, they don't think it's, like, even very interesting to point out anymore.In fact, it's so uninteresting to say nowadays, that anyone pointing it out ought to be mocked.

This sentiment has to be something pretty close to peak privilege these days.

Imagine thinking that, let alone putting it in writing, when Donald Trump's approval rating currently hovers around 42%, meaning literal millions of people actually do think he's doing an okay job and don't yet see or care that he's a con man. Contrary to this writer's dopey assertion, we don't actually have collective agreement in our nation, at all, about Donald Trump.

Trump fans approve of his cruelty. The indulge it, celebrate it, and engage in it themselves and, worse, they weaponize it via their votes and continued support of this man who is actively hostile toward marginalized people.

My point?

This Vice piece is part of a toxic online ecosystem that privileges the viral, marketable "hot take" over the accurate, but no longer new, statement of fact..

The center-to-left Cool Guy on the Internet mockers of the hashtag resistance never seem to care about what a gift their smackdowns of a woman-led movement are to the millions of rabid, bigoted Trump fans that exist in the US. They don't have to, because so much of politics is an abstraction to them, an ironic joke to make, or a quippy, one-liner re-tweet that he desperately hopes will help him build his Twitter brand.

Entertaining is the point, rather than informing.

Which, coincidentally, is also how the normalization of Trump has functioned.

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