It’s been a tough month for a displaced, white, old boy like me, but I’ve gotten to the bottom of a few things in my own mind.
J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books and proprietor of the Harry Potter empire, has chosen sides in the gender battles of the worldwide culture war. Her voice has power. She has chosen to use it to advocate “harmful and disproven beliefs about what it means to be a transgender person,” said a joint statement by major fan websites as they distanced themselves from her. Throughout the past month she has repeatedly shown she disagrees with the simple declaration that “trans women are women.” She has chosen to reject developing gender understanding by standing firm on the simplistic binary principle. “Choose to do whatever you want,” she implies, “but males born male stay male.” In order to defend her own sexual experiences she has chosen to dismiss contrary testimony. In her view there are two positions: hers and the wrong one. Yes, J.K. Rowling, as you had Dumbledore so wisely say, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Donald Trump stoked the culture war backfire he is fueling with the Mount Rushmore monuments as his backdrop on July 3. Without a trace of embarrassment he stood on ground stolen from the Lakota Sioux to whom it had been promised in perpetuity and brazenly praised the “settlement of the West” as one of America’s shining accomplishments while his supporters derided a group of Sioux protesters, yelling at them to “go home!” With no solid gains in any key indicator of presidential success he is counting on cultural division to re-energize his political fortune. His rallying cry this month is for people to choose which side they’re on. The choice is between “far-left fascism” and “me” (who was being portrayed as a “far right fascist” until his disastrous leadership of the response to the COVID-19 epidemic eclipsed all his other faults). He is looking increasingly desperate as he fails to get the economy moving by “opening the country for business” against all medical advice as the USA adds some 3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 132 thousand deaths (with 401 thousand for the rest of the world put together). This disregard for human life is duplicated in Trump’s plans to keep children in cages along the border, to wipe out affordable health care, to withdraw from climate research organizations, and his refusal to denounce white supremacist terrorism and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Trump has chosen to limit his vision to “what’s good for me.”
George Floyd died on May 25, in full public view, so horribly that a mass movement was begun that has now come into focus as a campaign to reduce the militarization of local law enforcement, to reform the relationship of police to the people being policed, and to equalize the prosecution of justice. The presenting issue is the obvious differences between the way Black men and boys are targeted and treated by the police as opposed to how White men and boys are handled by the police. It makes no sense that the USA leads the world in incarcerations, and that Black males are vastly disproportionately prosecuted with sentences many times heavier for Black convicts than for White persons convicted of the same crimes. Systemic racism is beyond reasonable doubt. It is time for America to choose a better system.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.