This is not the time warp we want to do again. Or ever. The conservative-majority SCOTUS wants to take us on a detour back in time when folks who aren’t straight white cis men didn’t have rights. A time when we thought of the planet as nothing more than an ashtray. A time when . . . you get the idea. Overturning Roe v Wade was the lowest of blows. Gutting the Clean Air Act stripped power from the EPA to curb greenhouse gas emissions. What’s next?
Now Justice Clarence Thomas, emphasis on the Thom because he’s everyone’s favorite Uncle Tom, is coming for laws protecting contraception access, same-sex relationships, and marriage equality. Incoming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is walking into a dystopian case scenario so many writers warned us about.
It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’re righteously furious. And for that, we have our authors’ books to fall back on to understand how we got here, to make sense of the mess going on. More importantly, we can learn to resist. Because we won’t go back!
Read up and resist!
Keep Bans Off Our Bodies
Our blinkered focus on whether abortion should be legal distracts us from the plight of the women and children most affected by our abortion laws. They are the most marginalized women in the country. Another child will thrust them deeper into poverty, but an abortion does little to lift them out of it. The war over abortion law draws our gaze away from them, relieving us of the obligation to notice, if not to reset, the odds against them.
Abortion, however, is never an abstract ethical question. It is, rather, a particular answer to a prior ethical question: “What should I do when faced with an unplanned, unwanted, or medically compromised pregnancy?” This question can only be addressed within the life of a particular woman at a given moment in time. When a woman is faced with this ethical question, her answer will vary depending on the individual and the many factors—social, economic, personal, religious—that define her life at any given point.
—Rebecca Todd Peters
We Don’t Want a Theocratic Takeover
It is because of this spirit of antichrist that dominating American society is now more important to right-wing evangelicals than maintaining the integrity of the Christian Gospel, more important than honesty or love or care for those who look to them for truthful guidance and nurturance . . . Not only is their worldview not loving, not generous, not socially inclusive, but the notion of religious freedom they so extol extends no farther than their own ranks. They have so savaged the social justice legacy of their evangelical forebears that it is now unrecognizable.
—Obery M. Hendricks, Jr.
More than any other single interest group, the Christian Right has educated its supporters on the connection between political success and judicial change, and it has consistently and aggressively worked for the appointment of federal judges and Supreme Court justices who share its philosophical opposition to the Warren Court’s rulings. The time has come for the nation’s political left to remind voters that so many of the rights and privileges that people enjoy today were established more than a generation ago by a Supreme Court that viewed the Constitution as a tool for expanding and defending human dignity and independence.
—Frederick S. Lane
Religion has too much to contribute to be ignored, and it is too thickly woven through human existence to disappear. But its ongoing role in public life in the United States makes cultivating the deep roots of self-critical faith more urgent. Ultimately, we have to learn how to do this work together, subjecting other people’s religious ideas to rigorous scrutiny as well, without prejudice. Religious ideas cannot receive a pass without impairing the nation’s democratic culture. Given the transformative encounter with science, technology, and global culture, religious thought requires collective critical engagement in order to speak intelligently in the postmodern age.
—Rachel S. Mikva
Religious minorities have faced much worse than graffiti and prejudicial remarks, both inside and outside classrooms. Children have yanked off the turbans of young Sikhs as they waited to board a school bus, and they have taunted Muslim peers on anniversaries of the 9/11 attacks. Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus live in my community and in nearby towns. So do atheists. All of those groups can easily be targets because their beliefs are rarely understood. Can education soften the divisions? What can schools do and what are they already doing to ensure the next generation will not need to hold forums to confront religious intolerance?
—Linda K. Wertheimer
There Is No Planet B
Community ties play an important role in any social movement, but when it comes to climate change, the value is even more pronounced. Climate change is a collective problem, caused by collective behavior. Therefore, the only way we can solve climate change is by activating groups of people to assign value to sustainability as part of their community identity . . . It’s critical that climate messaging be focused not so much on individuals and what they can do alone, but what groups can do collectively.
Science and technology will necessarily play an important role in the transition we need, as will specific policies like regulations, caps, and changes in the tax structures and subsidies that currently actively promote GHG-emitting industries and activities. But without larger institutional, political, and social change, new technologies will only reproduce the very arrangements that got us into the current crisis. If we continue to privilege the profits and consumption of the world’s elite, we will continue to abuse and exploit both humans and nature.
I believe that there is something very deeply religious that drives this inability to see and understand our present and future reality: human exceptionalism. At the core of this understanding, this hermeneutic, is a belief in the unique godlikeness of humankind and our entitled dominion over the rest of the natural world—that humans are essentially and fundamentally exceptional to and set apart from nature and its ways, including, above all, death and extinction.6 This understanding of ourselves and our world serves to turn our attention away from the consequences of our actions.
Our nation boasts the highest per capita rate of gun deaths and deaths by mass shooting, defined as an episode in which four or more people are killed or wounded. In 2015 alone there were 372 mass shootings, resulting in 475 deaths. White men are disproportionately the shooters in these and other episodes of mass gun violence. The proliferation of shootings, particularly in our schools, amplifies a national sense of vulnerability, so that citizens who see themselves as law-abiding nevertheless feel the need to take matters into their own hands. But DIY-security citizenship is not just about gun ownership. Guns and their proliferation in the United States are only the tip of the iceberg of a much larger and more widespread belief system that frames lethal self-defense as a core ideal of good citizenship.—Caroline Light
The Right’s Pearl Clutching Over Queer Rights
The culture wars were never simply about fighting gay and lesbian rights, or women’s rights, and they are not simply about fighting trans rights today. Gay and lesbian people constitute less than ten percent of the population, trans people comprise less than one percent. Some observers suggest that struggles against gender have emerged as the “symbolic glue” for a spectrum of authoritarian and ethno-nationalist forces. The battles against gay/lesbian rights in the 1990s and transgender rights today are symbolic struggles which seek to consolidate power on the right and undermine democracy.
The Big Picture
It’s crucial to recognize that resistance works even if it does not achieve all the movement’s goals, and that movements are always necessary, because major change will engender resistance, which must be addressed . . . . No time period or issue is exactly like what has come before; other factors will have significance. Still, I do believe that history teaches us to resist, and I hope this analysis of several US resistance movements may provide useful information and guidance for our time.
—Mary Frances Berry