Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Girl Scouts, Planned Parenthood and Women: Oh My!

An article I read today ("Bob Morris, Indiana Lawmaker, Calls Girl Scouts A 'Radicalized Organization'") in The Huffington Post really has me scared, especially taken in context of the anti-women rhetoric coming from the Republican presidential candidates, the recent attempt by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to bully Planned Parenthood, and recent attacks and boycotts against the Girl Scouts of America for their inclusive policy of welcoming all girls.  I’m palpably frightened by the intense degree and omnipresence of hate, misogyny, and an "us and them" mentality that is in our societal ether. When I read some of the statements by Bob Morris in the above-linked article, they seem like a parody or satire of what the radical right believes, yet they are his real statements, and THAT is precisely what has me so scared: these people are serious and I believe we are entering into a modern day witch hunt, with similar elements to the Salem witch trials, McCarthyism and even Nazi propaganda. For example, it is very reminiscent of McCarthyesque accusations without substantiation when Morris states in his letter to his fellow lawmakers:

"The Girl Scouts of America and their worldwide partner, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), have entered into a close strategic affiliation with Planned Parenthood. You will not find evidence of this on the GSA/WAGGGS website—in fact, the websites of these two organizations explicitly deny funding Planned Parenthood.

Nonetheless, abundant evidence proves that the agenda of Planned Parenthood includes sexualizing young girls through the Girl Scouts, which is quickly becoming a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood."


Morris does not go on to cite even one example of the supposedly "abundant evidence" showing that the Girl Scouts has become a "tactical arm of Planned Parenthood". It is exactly like Senator Joe McCarthy standing up and saying "I have here in my hand..." evidence that so-and-so is a COMMUNIST! Yet no evidence was forthcoming. It was enough to hurl the accusation, as it is in any witch hunt.

The radical conservative, Christian fundamentalist contingent of the Republican Party has really gone off their anti-misogyny meds and they are now royally riled up to make all women barefoot and pregnant. Since the Girl Scouts empowers girls and Planned Parenthood empowers women, the radical right feels extremely threatened by both of these organizations, but what they are really doing is making them scapegoats, "witches", evil "others" who are threatening "our" way of life. What is really happening is that we are in a period of social and economic tumult and change, and times of change are scary for those in power, so they lash out, they accuse, they deflect and try to unite people via a false "us and them" dichotomy, so that people will turn against the witches and go at "them" with pitchforks, instead of turning against those in power like the richest 1% of individuals and corporations that these radical, right-wing Republicans represent. The patriarchy must be preserved--hunt down the witches! Today's witches are apparently the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood, to name but two. Why them? As I said: these organizations represent empowering women. We can't have that. That is threatening to the power elite.

Apparently, the patriarchal power elite is about to crumble and lose all power unless they deny birth control to women, the right to marry to gay people, and ANY sort of TINY token social safety net to any of us. They also apparently intend to preserve their power by completely replacing “Big Government” with kindly corporations who will create jobs, trickle down their wealth to everyone, and basically take awesome care of all society’s citizens, sort of like how they did in every Dickens novel ever written and during the 8 years of George W. Bush's rule, in which he slashed their taxes and regulations and they created such a healthy, thriving, sustainable economy that it led to The Great Recession, including the collapse of Wall Street and the foreclosure crisis, among other wonderful trickle down effects.

The Great Recession is the logical conclusion of Reaganomics, of Reagan’s “Trickle Down” theory. And Reagan's protégés, like Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, want to BRING IT ALL BACK. That’s right, kiddies, they think that those were “the good old days”. We don’t want Big Government, they say. No, we want corporations to run WILD and free, as God intended, because they will take care of us. I don’t know how Republicans reach that conclusion when corporations are motivated by PROFIT and nothing else, but reach it they do. Do not even attempt to figure out their logic. You will go mad (trust me on that).

People, we need to wake up and smell the witch hunt. Do not let those who are attempting to whip up fear, hate and scapegoating fool you. This is class warfare, this is a war against women, war against children, war against gay people, and war against “hippies” who want to push a radical green “theology” onto God-fearing fossil fuel companies like BP and Halliburton. This is war against anyone and anything that would threaten the power of patriarchal corporate America. It is easier to rile people up against the designated "witches" du jour than it is to face the fact that society is in a profound period of upheaval and change and cannot go on, cannot sustain itself, on the unsustainable course we are on. Instead of facing what we need to change (for example, we need to move from a fossil fuel-based economy to a green one, and we need to go to single payer health care, and if we don't do both, we will not be economically sustainable, let alone environmentally stable or ethical), uniting against scapegoats via a witch hunt is a tried and true way to deflect attention from real problems. Therefore, I am scared.

When so-called leaders start making scapegoats out of, and organizing modern day witch hunts against, organizations like the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood, it is time for a little healthy alarm to kick in. We need to speak out, organize, VOTE, and stop them from drowning out all dissent, diversity, empowerment of women, and tolerance in this country before it is too late. The fix is in with the Citizens United decision (fight it here: Petition Against Citizens United) allowing the 1% to control who is elected to office in this country. But we, the people, still do have some power, some voice, to fight that, and meanwhile to at least vote for the lesser of the various evils in any given election. We have to keep voting, even if we feel it is only to pick the least bad choice. We have to protest—in the streets and in the new social media (bless it—look how it made the Susan G. Komen Foundation do an about face on Planned Parenthood within 72 hours!). It seems daunting for little bitty human beings to go up against corporations with vast wealth and those who represent their interests, but we can do it! We have to try! As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

The most important things we can do are to speak the truth to power, don't let those who would try to foment fear and hate by deflecting our attention from what's really happening towards scapegoats do so, and don't ever feel that we have no power so why bother trying, speaking, protesting, dissenting and voting? We need to keep doing all of those. It is especially important now to speak up when you notice a witch hunt, a mob mentality, against any individual, group or organization, such as the Girl Scouts or Planned Parenthood.  Never turn away from a witch hunt in progress.

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me
And there was no one left to speak for me."

- quote by Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller -