White Supremacy Reigns Supreme from the Supreme Court to the School Boards
Danielle opens this week’s democracy-ish with the question: “Where are women safe right now?” Perhaps a better question is: Is anyone safe from the white supremacist patriarchy?
Wajahat Ali is back again to talk about the war on reproductive freedom, the normalization of gun violence and the perilous state of voting rights in America.
As this episode was recorded on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court debated a case that represents the biggest threat to reproductive freedom in 29 years.
With a conservative majority thanks to Donald Trump’s three appointees, it appears that the court is poised to possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion in 1972.
On Tuesday, a 15-year-old student armed with a semi-automatic handgun opened fire at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit, killing four classmates and wounding dozens. His parents apparently bought the gun days before the shooting.
How did we get here? Danielle and Wajahat Ali argue that it began when 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. The fallout, and the national reckoning, is still ongoing.
Waj tweeted earlier today: “This country hates mothers and its children.”
It was in response to the brutal, heartbreaking mass shooting at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit, Michigan, as well as the Islamophobic attacks against Ilhan Omar and the Congressional resistance to paid family leave.
We’re the world’s most powerful and wealthy country, but we’re the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee that right, he says.
“We have the audacity to spread this narrative of America being the beacon of civil liberties and freedom and progress. But what other country tolerates our children being killed on a weekly basis and mothers being punished?” Waj asks.
That’s the backdrop against which the Supreme Court heard arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and a direct attack on Roe v. Wade. The majority-conservative court, stacked with Donald Trump’s three appointees, signaled in its questioning that it is open to overturning Roe v. Wade, the case that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion in 1972.
Conservatives have been waiting for this moment since 1992, when SCOTUS reaffirmed Roe in Casey v. Planned Parenthood. It’s worth noting that these decisions hinged on the 14th amendment, which has been interpreted to affirm a right to privacy (and equal protection under federal law in every state of the nation). The 14th amendment is also the backbone of Griswold v. Connecticut (which legalized contraception) and Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry.
Waj says that we need to understand the reverberating effects of this development.
“They’re coming after Muslims. They’ve always been after Black people. They’re coming after any climate change advocacy because they love greed and they hate regulation. They’re coming after Mexicans. They’re coming after Jews, and they’re gonna come after LGBTQ people, and they’ll even come after our white allies because they’ll see them as race traitors.”
Episode Highlights — Reclamation of Whiteness
Fire drills are now under-fire drills
Danielle wonders: After the tragedy in Michigan, why don’t we see the same level of outrage we saw in response to mask mandates? People were saying wearing masks is “traumatic” for children. But somehow we tolerate school shootings.
“It wasn’t even the top news story yesterday. That’s just wild to me,” she says.
“Well, that’s white supremacy for you, I’m sorry to say,” Waj replies. “Where Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ is more threatening than a shooter with an assault rifle, or this kid whose father apparently just bought the gun … That’s how easy it is to get guns and weapons of mass destruction.”
He thought Democrats had an opportunity, particularly in Virginia, to point out the hypocrisy: The GOP says it cares about kids, but it won’t support mask or vaccine mandates in schools, or do anything about gun control. They are clearly more concerned about critical race theory, which is not actually being taught in K-12 classrooms. They eschew conversations about diversity, but mostly “white kids and white men shooting up our children,” he adds.
When Waj was growing up, his school had fire drills. Now, kids participate in active shooter drills.
“Pause and sit with that for a moment,” he says. “That is not normal. But we have to ban CRT.”
‘Die Hard’ in the classroom?
Danielle watched the Oakland County, Michigan, sheriff give a press conference after the shooting, and was struck by his stance that “he doesn’t think metal detectors are the answer,” she explains. “We see these shootings, and the response is capitalism — bulletproof backpacks. That’s an actual thing.”
Waj doesn’t want to, but sometimes you have to laugh at the absurdity of it, he says.
“The right wing narrative is: You know what will solve gun violence? More guns in school. Let’s give teachers guns. Because yeah, that’s not going to end in disaster.”
That would be asking untrained civilian teachers to not only deal with the trauma of protecting themselves and the children in their care, but to drop them into an action-movie scenario, “like they’re Dirty Harry,” Waj adds.
“They’re all John McClane and Hans Gruber is attacking them. They’re gonna take out their gun, and even though they’re without socks, and they have bloody feet, they’re gonna be the alpha men.”
It’s ironic, because “these guys are cowards,” he says of the right-wingers who fantasize about arming educators. “These people are the weakest men and women on earth. They’re the most fragile, brittle snowflakes. They crumble when Kapernick takes a knee during the [national] anthem.”
‘White terror’ from schoolboards to Capitol Hill
“It’s a deranged country,” says Waj, who thinks the narratives around gun violence, CRT and abortion are all connected in a narrative around white supremacy.
“Rittenhouse? Stand your ground; we’re not going to take it. You take your gun, and you show ’em who’s boss. We’re in control. Laws we don’t like? Elections we don’t like? We don’t care, we’re gonna ignore it and we’re gonna make a violent insurrection and take back our country. Courthouses? We’re going to go and intimidate them. School boards? You’re not going to tell us what to do. We’re going to intimidate you — to the point where the National School Board Association has to send a letter to Merrick Garland begging them for protection. That’s where we are right now.”
Waj notes that at a Congressional hearing last month, Ted Cruz and other lawmakers mocked school board officials and teachers who testified about being threatened by parents for simply doing their jobs.
“It’s a type of white terror,” Waj says.
He thinks “they want to take this reclamation project back to 1953. And the reason why I always stop in 1953 is that in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation was unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, which was the start of the culture wars … It was actually desegregation that launched this right-wing, white evangelical Southern Strategy movement to take this country back. We’re seeing it now, in an attempt to control women’s bodies, control Black and Brown lives, and suppress votes.”
We knew where this was going (back to the ’50s)
Today’s Supreme Court hearing had Danielle thinking: We already know where this is going.
“The fact that we have to wait until the verdict comes sometime in the summer is absurd,” she says. “But we knew where this was going the moment Donald Trump won the election. Today, I kept thinking to myself, we are here because of the 53% of white women who, instead of voting for someone that looked like them, decided to vote for a misogynistic, racist piece of shit.”
That was a decision they felt they could make because white women know, even if it’s unconsciously, that they have an economic advantage and will find a way (usually via their husbands or boyfriends or family) to fund an abortion.
“That is what white supremacy and patriarchy affords white women,” Danielle adds. “That is where they vote. That is where they align themselves. That is where they find their power. And we are here now at a stage of terror I don’t think we’ve seen in this country since the early 1950s.”
Greed is … not so good
This “age of terror” isn’t just affecting women.
“They’re not just going after one group,” Danielle explains. “It is voting rights. It’s abortion. It will be same sex marriage next. These people think if you can overturn Roe v. Wade, if you can strip voting rights like the Supreme Court did in 2010, what’s to say Brown v. Board of Education won’t be next?”
People told Danielle her reaction was “hysterical” when the last president was elected.
Even in 2015, before Trump won the GOP primary, “I was screaming my head off, on every news channel that would have me, that we cannot elect Donald Trump because it would be the end of our democracy,” she recalls.
“Give Donald Trump a chance,’’ people said. “And that’s what the mainstream media said. When Hillary Clinton told us exactly what was going to happen, exactly what was at stake — These people are deplorable; this is who they are — We said, No, we’re okay. We’ll take him. We love celebrity. We love wealth. We love greed.”
Danielle thinks we’re “a country filled with Gordon Gekkos. That’s who we are. Donald Trump was their golden ticket. Yeah — a golden ticket to take their hoods off and bring out their tiki torches to put the women back, chained to the stove. This is their moment.”
The bad guys left their blueprint in plain sight
The ever-wise Waj, channeling Oprah (or is it Dr. Phil?), says that if “someone repeatedly shows you who they are, tells you exactly their plot like a James Bond villain and writes a six-point memo literally dictating how to take over the 2020 election in a coup, maybe it’s time to believe them.”
If you didn’t catch that subtle dig, Waj is referring to villains like Steve Bannon, who was recently charged with contempt of Congress by the Justice Department for defying a subpoena from the legislative committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.
But Waj has to hand it to Bannon, Stephen Miller and others “who are outright with their right-wing, white-supremacist ideology — They’re not subtle. They’ll tell you literally what their plan is. They’ll map it out for you. And when it comes to killing women’s rights and abortion in particular, they’ve been at it for decades.”
That’s another reason why we already knew what to expect from Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett and Gorsuch — who were noncommittal in their answers to the Senate at their confirmation hearings, but were “vetted by the Federalist Society and have a track record of emerging from right-wing hackery and this ideological swamp. What did you think was gonna happen? This is the top of their list.”
If you don’t care, you’re not paying attention
Here’s the kicker: Even those who are against abortion for whatever reason may soon find their rights curtailed under what seems to be the GOP’s long-term plan.
“They’re going to go after contraception next. It’s gonna open up the way to go after same sex marriage,” says Waj. “They’ll slowly but surely not just chip away, but hack away at the progress we have achieved since 1954, since the civil rights movement.”
What’s the recurring common thread?
“That’s when white folks felt like they lost power. That’s when the Southern Strategy emerged for the Republicans to court white Democratic voters who had, quote-unquote, economic anxiety. And so when people say, I don’t care about Roe v. Wade, I’m like: You should care.”
Waj notes that the same people who are going after women’s rights are also going after immigrants who come from shithole countries.
“They want a Muslim ban. They want a wall. They want to kill elections. They want to go after school boards and teachers. It’s an entire reclamation project.”
Waj thinks that sometimes voters only care about their own issues — “like, I don’t care about women’s rights or the Muslims. I only care about Black Lives Matter, eff them immigrants. I only care about DACA, eff the rest.”
To that, he says: “You aren’t paying attention.”
‘Reclamation’ via ‘blunt-force trauma’
Waj reiterates that “this is a reclamation project for a white Christian male minority, which is supported by a majority. I know white women hate hearing this, but the data does not lie. White women helped kill the Equal Rights Amendment. A lot of white conservative women said, Equality will actually be worse for our husbands and sons. We’ll actually fare better with white male supremacy.”
He thinks that “humans are oftentimes are blind and ignorant to the chaos and challenges and problems that exist under our very nose until we are faced to confront it. We need blunt-force trauma, especially in America.”
Our culture “worships money,” Waj argues. “The color that really dominates is the color green. Everything comes down to money and power and influence. Which is why, in part, the narrative of Donald Trump, the bullshit narrative, matters. Messaging matters. Because he created and manufactured the narrative of the ‘Art of the Deal.’”