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Or, well, maybe there's a conflict.

I've seen there’s no conflict here pop up on my feed a few times, and as usual, I'm capturing my thoughts here so I don't keep derailing other people's discussions.

My primary concern with this "there is no conflict" school of thought is that, well, there sure does seem to be.

I mean, sure, in theory, there is no conflict between the rights of religious Christians to worship as they see fit, and the rights of queer people to obtain goods and services, rent apartments, etc. What do the two have to do with each other, after all? I can support both (and, indeed, I have done so at some length in this space before).

But to simply assert that they don't conflict and I support both, given some of the established context of 21st-century social relations between Christians and queer people, seems naive to the point of being deceptive. The reality is that legally protecting the civil rights of queer people is seen by many as a violation of religious freedom, and those people vote for poltical representatives who campaign on that point, and laws get passed or repealed based on that. For me to ignore those campaigns and elections and laws and simply say "Well, I don't see a conflict" is an importantly flawed analysis.

More generally, sometimes needs -- whether actual or perceived -- conflict, not because of some in-principle incompatibility, but because of the historical and contingent facts involved. I'm sure we can all come up with tons of examples. To ignore the historical reality and insist there is no conflict in these cases based on in-principle compatibility is, well, at best naive.

So, when Freddie et al assert that theory there is no conflict between the needs of POCs in Michigan and the needs of out-of-work coal miners in Alabama (e.g. to have full-time good-paying jobs and be treated with respect and so forth), and that he supports both of those things and anyone who doesn't support them both is his enemy... well, sure, I agree that there is no in-principle incompatibility.

But when they conclude by saying "People deserve their suffering or they don’t. I say they don’t. That’s it, that’s all there is"... well, I get off the bus before that point. Sometimes that's not all there is. Sometimes there are other things that matter as well... at least to me.

And if they don't matter to you, or Freddie, well, OK... you get to choose what matters to you. But if we're going to ignore real-world conflicts because they don't matter to us, we should be unsurprised when the people involved in those conflicts end up continuing to do what they do despite our assertions.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 30th, 2016 01:31 am (UTC)
I get what he's saying...but jeez. Naive is right. I mean, he talks a big game about substantive policies. What exactly does he propose? Hillary Clinton had a pretty good set of ideas for what she was going to do. But people "just didn't like her." I wonder why, exactly? /sarcasm

He misses the point, too, that it is way easier to appeal to people's moral sense, or to promise a certain "way of life," than it is to appeal using promises of policy wonkery. "Yes We Can" was amazing, and it worked, but can we talk about the margins in those victories? When is the last time any president won in a landslide? It's always really close. Obama managed to have a message that appealed to enough people, but there were still a great many people who couldn't get past him being black. Those people wouldn't have given a shit what his policies were.

My point being: race and class are *absolutely* separate issues. Not that they're not intricately intertwined. But while it may be true that poor whites and poor blacks (just for example) ultimately need and want the same things, a certain subset of one of those groups would rather not have the other around, and might even hang them from trees if it became clear that was a thing we were doing again.

It's the old false equivalency problem, and the reason I've never been able to get past this particular divide between conservatives and liberals. When liberals want the human rights of marginalized people protected, they're not looking to *take away* the rights of the non-marginalized. Conservatives, on the other hand, are only too happy to strip human rights from marginalized people. How are these philosophies remotely equivalent?!

Nov. 30th, 2016 04:12 am (UTC)
When is the last time any president won in a landslide?

Reagan vs. Mondale, 1984. Mondale won Minnesota (barely!) and DC. Reagan pulled nearly 59% of the popular vote.
Nov. 30th, 2016 03:37 am (UTC)
Yeah, I had not seen that before, but it strikes me as basically blind to how things actually work. Saying "we all agree that this list of 100 items is our goal!" is fine, but the arguments about "which ones come *first*" are not irrelevant.
Nov. 30th, 2016 09:57 pm (UTC)
Agreed, and kind of aggressively naive. He simply hand-waves away the conflict of prioritization - do we care more about the jobs of coal miners or our children's ability to breathe?

And he completely ignores the fundamentally incompatible goals: do we care about a woman's right to bodily self-determination and full autonomy or do we care about a person's ability to have and practice their religious doctrines?
Nov. 30th, 2016 10:23 pm (UTC)
(nods) That's pretty much my reading as well. As far as I can see he (and a couple of the folks who have quoted him) settle for "Well, I support both and so should you!" and leave it at that.
Nov. 30th, 2016 09:54 pm (UTC)
Whether there is or isn't conflict between two goals/ideas/tenets depends on the system they appear in. Systems vary so much that reckoning out what's operative is a playground in itself.
Nov. 30th, 2016 11:09 pm (UTC)
Again, I feel like the history matters here. African-Americans in Michigan are largely there, and indeed, largely have a history of trouble, because of the historical conspiracy of white people to keep them tied to southern land, to restrict their ability to leave in the middle of the last century, to force them into minute portions of Northern cities (and zone them out of moving elsewhere via redlining, police force, ethics regulations for Realtors, etc.), to reduce the quality of their schools (see also the horrid person Trump has nominated to be Secretary of Education), and so on.

Coal miners in Alabama don't have that history, and are largely the victims of one of the many, many rounds of technological obsolescence that have happened over the years. (It's also interesting that there's a presumption that these folk are white.) There's certainly a history of mistreatment of a lot of rural folk (it's particularly cruel in Appalachia, where half of my family comes from), but it's still important to pause and ask whether part of prioritization might have to do with historical wrongs.

[Though, I really expect, prioritization, on both sides of the aisle, will have a lot to do with whose votes appear to be in play.]
Dec. 1st, 2016 01:00 am (UTC)
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