Struggling with the Great Calling Out

I haven’t spoken or written much about what’s going on: this Great Calling Out of sexual abuse/harasssment/assault/rape, except with my spouse. I’m unsure how to process the whole cascading Fall of Man (in the gendered sense of the word). I wish I could say that I’ve been listening instead of talking– and I have– but listening hasn’t been as helpful as promised. I’m not yet hearing anything at all that I can internalize. I do know– and this may be a function of the social and physical geography of the places I lived before winding up in Portland, Oregon– I’m instinctively suspicious of the high ground. In the sense that I have trouble believing that it exists. Today, Sen. Al Franken has been accused, there are pictures, and it looks bad. And, people in various sectors of the left are demanding his immediate resignation. We should be better than the Republicans, the right, and the Trumpers. It sounds good to say, it feels right. But when we say that “we” should demand accountability from someone like Franken even if “they” won’t do so of “their” people, it sounds like…I’m not sure what it sounds like. A red herring? A cover story? Whatever it sounds like, it doesn’t sound like truth.

WRT Franken and his ilk, these things always, always boil down to a political calculus. Always. We can say they don’t, but that’s just not true. People are explaining all over themselves how we can demand Franken’s resignation and not lose a vote. Well. That’s great and all, because that vote is pretty fucking important, but the “without losing a vote” part does bring up a host of questions and concerns. On the one hand, we’re saying that we have to hold *everyone* accountable or we’re devaluing women. On the other hand, we’re saying that we won’t lose that important pro-woman, pro-education, pro-healthcare, pro-fair-tax-system vote, anyway, because Minnesota has a “deep Democratic bench.” And on the third hand…

What if it weren’t so easy? In 2008, Rick Noriega ran for Senate in Texas against John Cornyn and some of us who worked for him actually briefly thought he stood a chance. He certainly had a good story. What if, in some weird Bizarro Texas, Noriega had won and was now serving in the U.S. Senate, like Franken is, but Texas was still essentially Texas? And what if allegations had come up against him? (They have: he’s come up in connection with the so-called “Burn Book of Bad Men” in the Texas Lege) Would we be so quick to demand his resignation, knowing that a liberalish person of color would quite likely be replaced by a white male Texan far-rightist? Would we be so pure?

The problem with a scorched-earth policy is that you have to burn down every fucking thing to get to the scorched part.

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