Monday, March 5, 2012
It's been a while since I posted in this blog. It was mostly abandoned due to a weird stalking incident and then I never really got back to it since I've been slightly more busy with this one. Nevertheless.
The first bumper sticker I ever had was a "Flush Rush" sticker from NOW that I proudly placed on my 7th grade binder. I've been appalled by the man since he first appeared on the airwaves. I actually got into a giant screaming fight with my entire World History class about it, which ended with me screaming "What the hell? You can't hate immigrants! You're freaking Italian! We can't hate immigrants! We *are* immigrants!" at one kid and being sent to the office. For god knows how long now, he's been spewing horrid, racist, sexist bile all over the radio airwaves. I am willing to bet that every five seconds he says something that, by all rights, we should have tried to take him down for. So, you gotta wonder- why are we just getting to this now?
I saw a comment, somewhere, in which someone pointed out that he's been saying vile racist things about Obama and his family for the past four years- asking why we're only trying to destroy him now that he's attacking a white woman going to a fancy college. Good fucking point. And one I would vehemently agree with, normally. Except that- well, this is hardly the first time he's done it. Dude coined the word "feminazis", referred to Chelsea Clinton- then a teenager- as "The White House Dog" throughout the Clinton years, and has pretty much never spoken a word about women that would not easily be classified as vile and disgusting. We have always hated him, we have always been appalled by him- and we were certainly just as horrified by his racist statements as his chauvinistic ones. However, I think that we sorta just now realized that we could actually take him on and win.
Do you know who Anita Bryant is? A lot of people don't. Normally, I get all befuddled when people are unfamiliar with certain things- like the time four people in one day didn't know who Carole King was, and last night when I couldn't handle the fact that this guy had never heard the term "Gesundheit" before. But in this case, it's actually pretty great thing. Anita Bryant was a former pageant girl who was trying to make a name for herself as a singer of terrible songs like "Paper Roses", which was later covered by Marie Osmond. She also *really* hated gay people, and went around saying that because they couldn't reproduce on their own, that they would be coming to a town near you to recruit your otherwise heterosexual children. Because that's how human sexuality works. It's a lot like the ROTC, but with far superior parades. And glitter! She led a campaign ("Save Our Children") in Florida against a recent county ordinance that banned discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation based on sexual orientation. She said lovely things like this:
"If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters"
Which clearly is true. I mean, now, it's totally legal to both be gay AND ruin your manicure. It is still not legal to have sex with a St. Bernard. Except in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming- where there are not, in fact, any laws against it at all.
I digress! Anyway, Ms. Bryant was also the spokesperson for Florida Orange Juice. As a result, there was a massive boycott of orange juice and public condemnation of Bryant herself. And now she couldn't even get a gig at a D.A.R. variety show if she wanted.
When I first started becoming politically active, my mother kept telling me that we were doing things wrong. She had two pieces of advice:
1. If you're going to protest, don't look like hobos. Dress like Catholic school girls. Wear sweatervests. If people turn on the TV and see the police beating the crap out of a bunch of radicals, they don't give a shit. They think you deserve it. They see them beating up Suzy Creamcheese, it's a whole different story.
2. BOYCOTT BOYCOTT BOYCOTT. For years, she has been telling me that boycotts and strikes are the only things that have ever really worked. "You all don't know how to give things up. I loved orange juice. I loved grapes! But I was happy to give them up to make something actually happen. They don't give a shit about you walking around with a sign. They care about money."
And she's right. As usual. I can't tell you how freaking annoying it is to have a mother who is right about everything always. For some reason (like a lot of the things she's been irritatingly right about), even for me, this took a while to sink in. Sure. I didn't buy Coke products because of the School of The Americas, and I stick to fair trade coffee and chocolate. Mostly. I actually feel really guilty right now because there's a canister of Nestle hot chocolate in my cabinet. None of that, however, does much good when the boycotts aren't all that organized or publicized. Even I didn't realize how much better they worked than all the protests and situationist tactics we'd been trying for years. We forgot the lessons we learned from the Anita Bryant incident, from the lunch counter boycotts, from the grape boycott and more.
I think, truly, that what did it for me, and for lots of other people out there, was the success of the campaign against Susan G. Komen dropping Planned Parenthood. Because, for all my years of beating the drum, that was one of the few things I'd ever seen really work. It worked! We won! We actually won! We went after the money, and we won. In the 15 years I've been politically active, I have really never seen anything we've done actually work. Petitions, guerrilla theater, marching on Washington- none of that ever actually did anything. We still haven't freed Tibet- or Mumia- or Leonard Peltier- School of the America's still exists and sure, the war in Iraq is technically over, but it's not like it had anything to do with an especially awesome chant we came up with or anything. We've seen 90% of our causes wither away and die, and for a while, it all just seemed a little futile. The campaign against Komen helped us realize a very valuable thing- we're not going to win with heartfelt pleas, rational arguments and clever bumper stickers. We will win by getting them where they live. We will get them in their wallets.
We've been emboldened. And that's awesome. We're not going after Rush because this is the first time we've been disgusted by him. We're going after him because we finally figured out how to do it correctly. And I really hope that in 30 years, no one will know who they hell he is either.