Rotten to the core

We’ve all heard this story in one form or another. A person finally convinces themselves to go see their doctor for some innocuous but persistent problem. Their hope is for relief from a quick injection or a round of pharmaceuticals. Sadly, for our protagonist, it will not be that simple or easy. The seemingly benign symptoms mask a hidden carcinoma lying unseen in some forgotten region of their body, the mostly tranquil surface masking a concealed decay deep in the core that denies a healthy foundation.

It’s a sad story and for our purpose here, an analogy for a truly sad reality. It’s a tale buried deep in the American narrative, anathema to the patriotic rhetoric of our times. The connection for our analogy might not be immediately apparent but bear with me here for a few paragraphs and I think we may come to the same conclusions.

Our analysis begins here with the current controversy over the Alabama senate race and the Republican candidate Roy Moore. Mr. Moore, a self-described Christian conservative who sacrificed his position as an Alabama Supreme Court Justice on a stone monument to theological supremacy. Unfortunately for his current political ambitions the transition from state to national politics shinned exponentially more light on his professions of righteousness. It would seem that Mr. Moore’s predilection for under-aged girls was a not so well hidden local secret that has become a national issue.

Coming on the heels of the Harvey Weinstein revelations and following the election of the “grab them by the genitals” Commander-in-Chief the Moore controversy quickly became another chapter in the ongoing purge of predatory misogyny. To those on the right of the political spectrum the possibility that a secure senate seat is at risk seems to be more salient than the election of an accused child molester. To some on the left this represents another battle in the conservative “war on women.”

Of course, the misogyny highlighted by all these revelations is not confined to democrats or republicans, as the recent disclosures about Senator Al Franken make clear. Men behaving badly is not a partisan issue, neither is it a recent phenomenon. Patriarchy lies at the heart of civilization and in the bastion of western democracy, the United States of America. Let us not forget that America existed for almost one hundred and fifty years before women were even afforded the right to vote.

While our discussions range from Bill Clinton’s oval office indiscretions to pictures of Congressman Joe Barton’s junk we have to remember the historical context. While the beloved founding father who penned the immortal “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;” seemed to have no compunction about fathering children by his slave. Despite the proclamations of freedom and liberty there existed a dark backdrop of bondage and suppression.

As marginalized segments of America’s population raise their voice in opposition to the repressive policies of the current administration their calls for justice are a continuation of an aged narrative. The plight of African-Americans highlighted by Black Lives Matter and Colin Kaepernick stretch back to the failure of Reconstruction, the quest for equal rights for women began long before the struggle for Women’s suffrage, and the basis of the protest at Standing Rock lies in the lack of America’s commitment to the treaties it signed with the Indigenous Nations of North America. The seemingly healthy facade of “We the People” belies the marginalization of those people that exist outside of the white, landed power structure that enshrined those words.

For those on the left of the political spectrum the danger lies in believing that the only solution comes with a “D” following its name. Their reasoning declares that women would be so much better off if America had elected its first woman president in 2016 instead of their first orange one. While it is, of course, obvious that the serial sexual abuser-in-chief is a worst case scenario for America’s female population we should not give an easy pass to his opponent.

As the head of Obama’s State Department Hillary Clinton bears a great deal of responsibility for the failed states that resulted in Libya and Syria because of their regime change policy. While I care deeply that the gains in healthcare afforded by the ACA remain in place and that Planned Parenthood’s assistance to poor and marginalized women in the United States continue unhindered I cannot forget the bodies of women and children that washed up on Mediterranean beaches as a result of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy.

I know the refrain well; the only option of our political duopoly is to choose the “lesser of two evils.” We are quick to declare this the price worth paying for our democracy, not giving a thought to how the Syrian mother who lost her children beneath the waves or the African man who now finds himself sold into slavery in Libya might feel. Can we decry the republican America-first mantra without also being honest about the duplicity inherent in the majority of the democracy and freedom rhetoric?

So what’s the answer? In a phrase, I don’t know, but what I do know or believe is that it has to start with leaders who are more dedicated to principals instead of politics. If we are going to lambaste the republican attempt to take away healthcare where is the legitimate proposal for healthcare for all? If we criticize conservative militarism where is the serious legislation to slash defense spending? If we really believe that Black lives matter where were the voices of the liberal elite when 12 year old Tamer Rice lay dying in the snow in Cleveland? In a word, honest, let’s have an honest conversation on what it will really takes for this to be a safer world for women and a better world for all of us.

T. Mayheart Dardar was born in the Houma Indian settlement below Golden Meadow, Louisiana. He served for sixteen years on the United Houma Nation Tribal Council (retired in Oct. 2009). Currently he works with Bayou Healers, a community based group advocating for the needs of coastal Indigenous communities in south Louisiana.

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