It seems to be a recurring theme when politics and rape allegations mix: women’s bodies become the battlefield where access to justice is secondary, a mere afterthought or a nuisance. Julian Assange, currently locked in an embassy in London, was granted asylum in Ecuador while his alleged victims in Sweden are denied their day in court because “more important matters” take precedent in a political game eerily similar to the situation with Roman Polanski’s extradition request. Both cases, while differing in circumstance and details, share a commonality based on rape culture values. The bodies of raped victims are not treated as valuable as the political circumstances that surround their cases.
NBC’s new reality show, Stars Earn Stripes, premiered this week to epic outcry and unimpressive ratings. The low ratings are hopefully a signal of things to come—if the network is wise, they’ll yank this particular offering from their lineup sooner rather than later, because it manages to simultaneously offend a wide range of people, while also being mindnumbingly dull.
So, where will next week’s public shooting(s) happen, America?
Or should I be asking about tomorrow? This afternoon perhaps? What precisely is going on these days?
I spent several hours yesterday looking for a timeline that includes every attack we’ve seen since mid-July. I couldn’t find one. I can’t figure out why. Are we certain – or uncertain – in our conviction that these are all isolated incidents? Arrogant or afraid?
Just one year ago, London was burning. The result of ballooning social inequality and deep austerity measures, the London riots of 2011 were something of a shock to the West’s self-image. Stability and social order, if nothing else, could be counted on. One year of police repression and harsh crackdowns later, London looked a bit more like itself as the summer Olympics games came to an end yesterday. It took a veritable mini-police state, but by god, it was the image of prosperity we expect from our Western empires past and present.
The past week has seen examples of some of the meanest and most pathological aspects of American culture in spades. Between vocal Penn Staters who prize their beloved football program above their humanity; violent attacks on LGBT people that took place in Nebraska and in Washington, D.C.; and the rush to excoriate parents who take children to movies in the wake of the Aurora killings, I hardly know where to begin. So I will just start here: None of these things happened in a political vacuum.
In 2009, Britain started facing a series of severe benefits cuts targeting older Britons as well as members of the disabled community. Outraged, people took to the streets, including those who had never protested before, in events with thousands of people that caught major media attention. The US watched apathetically, except for small corners of the disability community observing out of solidarity and worry, knowing that what was happening in Britain could hit them next.
I was just eleven years old in 1991, when LAPD officers beat Rodney King within inches of his life on camera. Here’s how omnipresent that beating, not-guilty verdict and subsequent riots have been to the cultural and political imaginary of my generation: I can’t remember whether or not the question, “Can we all just along?” was a cliché before or after King uttered it in his bewildered response to the violence in Los Angeles. I started paying attention to politics and the news for the first time that year, and I remember only two things that figured prominently: the Clinton election and Rodney King.
News outlets and activists have been trumpeting loudly over two recent court rulings against the constitutionality of provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act, making it appear to the casual reader as if the statute is on its last legs. But the truth is far more complicated.
“Americans don’t care about foreign policy.” It’s a truism that has shaped presidential campaign rhetoric for both the Democrats and Republicans this year. It is also why, we are told, international news often gets sidelined in favor of the latest socialite news involving, say, Kim Kardashian. And if international policy news isn’t great for the news industry, then it probably doesn’t produce votes either. The result is that we are saturated with 24 hour news coverage – and lots of political rhetoric – that reinforces the truism that Americans just don’t care.
A waxing moon rises in the East as protesters start to assemble, fishing signs out of the back of a pickup truck. ‘Honk if you’re the 99%’ ‘End bank lies’ ‘Foreclose on corporate greed’ The wind whips up, snatching pamphlets for the local credit unions and sending organisers scattering after them, and the security bank in front of the Bank of America branch watches with a studied expression as passing cars honk in solidarity.
Fort Bragg, California, is exactly the sort of town many urban residents write off as nonessential and irrelevant, with a population of approximately 7,000 living within city limits. Struggling with an economic depression since the closure of the local lumber mill, the city has been hit hard by the recession, as the growing numbers of vacant businesses on Main Street attest. It doesn’t have enough residents to furnish a full-time campout downtown, and makes do with weekly protests at the farmers’ market on Wednesdays and in front of the conveniently side-by-side Chase and Bank of America branches on Friday afternoons.