Someone mentioned on Twitter that wielding the “I’m just asking questions” trope can be problematic—if you have a large and powerful platform and weaponize that phrase to spread misinformation or do harm, that is a logical conclusion and that has happened several times these past few years. I also believe the legal parlance intent can be used here as the prior evidence—circumstantial or direct—clearly indicates if the person meant to bring about the act in question if the pattern demonstrates as much? In this case, there is a specific purpose to the pattern while ignoring the actual experts or evidence or experiences? Reaffirming their own erroneous or faulty biases or bigotries so-to-speak? Note: I’m not an attorney. I would think shutting down the asking of questions or discouraging asking questions places us on a slippery slope over a cliff? It seems like it—I’m no expert though; ask them that question. As a person who was hilariously under-educated, asking questions is one of a few of the only ways I have to learn so I find even the hint of shutting down questions enormously disturbing—I do, however, understand the need for a more nuanced discussion of the phrase “I’m just asking questions” and I’ll drop the antagonism and the ego to reflect on that as long as y’all reflect on what it would mean to shut down asking questions, especially in a democracy.
I will review the Catherine Coulter books including The Countess because I made a hash out of what I was attempting to communicate in the last entry discussing gatekeepers and wanted to clarify lest there is any confusion. I find gatekeeping frustrating and useless because it is usually weaponized as a tool of bigotry, misogyny, and cruelty to hinder, prevent and obstruct cultural criticisms, and cultural criticisms are important for everyone as long as everyone is included (who we?). Shutting down criticisms or free expression thereof is a form of anti-intellectualism that rarely harms those in power but does innumerable damage to marginalized communities as is evident and currently happening across America.
In regards to the Democrats, Republicans and the United States government discussion in the last post—that was my pessimistic-realistic side; I do have an optimistic-hopeful-romantic side—yes, I know, shocking. Why do you think I read all those historical romance novels entrenched within the heart and height of the British and European empires and aristocracies? It’s a pointed reminder of the past and the hope, optimism, and romance we can build from it for the present and the future even whilst enduring and celebrating the privileges, injustices, obligations, and the burdens of being the subject, participant, and active citizen of such a society for the good and the bad regardless of whether one has chosen to or not. Why the aristocracy—it’s not like you’re rich? But my country is one of the wealthiest in the world and I enjoy privileges as a white American woman that other women, even within my own country, do not. As one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world, we have an obligation and responsibility to be critical and point out the injustices of the world, and within our own country towards the world, and work to help/fix them even while our country burns around us. I want everyone to have and enjoy the freedoms and privileges of the aristocracy and the hope for a happily ever after. It may be ridiculously romantic and optimistic and idiotic, but this is how I deal with the reality of being an American and life in general.
Where was I? On our government (and enemies of our government)—I realize there is a fascist insurgency within (and outside of) the United States that feeds off pessimism, fatalism, and fear in order to further destabilize the US and its institutions. I do really, really try to keep that fatalism to a minimum but loathe toxic optimism and find that more destructive and lazy than the former.
There are two things that I’ve picked out of what I’m listening/reading/watching today that I’m cogitating and feel conveys some thoughts and emotions on what’s happening currently, and I’ll let you infer what you will from them. The first, in Chapter 26 White Gloves at Dawn of The Splendid and the Vile on Churchill attempting to relay the urgency of WWII situation to Roosevelt:
“Churchill also understood that American public opinion was split sharply between isolationists, who wanted nothing to do with the war, and those who believed war would come eventually and that the longer America waited, the more costly intervention would be. But it also galled Churchill that Roosevelt was unable to see forward with that same dreadful clarity. Churchill had first asked about the possible loan of fifty obsolete destroyers back in May, and he had repeated his request on June 11, stating, ‘The next six months are vital.’ But America still had not delivered the ships. Churchill knew that Roosevelt was an ally in spirit, but like many of his fellow countrymen, Churchill imagined the president to have more power than he did. Why could Roosevelt not do more to translate that spiritual allegiance into material aid, even direct intervention?”
The second is Season 2, Episode 9 Battlestar Galactica‘s Flight of the Phoenix where everyone is frustrated and Gaeta lashes out at Tigh. Adama tells Gaeta, like the patient empathetic commander he is, to pull himself together. Gaeta apologizes and carries on with his work. Tigh asks Adama what Gaeta’s problem is. Adama explains to Tigh: “Months on the run and what do we have to show for it? Casualties. Deteriorating conditions.” Tigh replies: “This crew needs a rest.” Adama: “It’s finally hitting us all. Our old lives are gone. The only thing we have to look forward to is this.” Flashes to Apollo and Chief on the discussion of vipers being grounded permanently. Apollo says he needs his birds in the air. Chief replies with “If it was a horse, I’d shoot it.” Apollo asks him to work with him. Chief replies “what do you want me to do, work my crew to death?” Apollo: “No, just do your best. Nobody’s expecting miracles.” Chief: “Maybe that’s the problem.” Chief decides to build a new viper with no one’s help and people laughing at him at how absurd that is. He continues to work on it and finally people start trickling into help build a viper, but it is something more than just an aircraft—it is hope.
© 2022 Matilda London/Pamela Gay Mullins
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