Terrance Heath

Yelling "Stop!"

Filed By Terrance Heath | June 14, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, Politics, Politics
Tags: hate crimes against LGBT people, religious extremism, Washington D.C.

I've been working on a post about the murder of Dr. George Tiller for most of the week, and since it isn't a four-paragraphs-a-link-and-a-blockquote kind of post, it's taken that long. Then in the middle of it, the shooting at the Holocaust Museum here in D.C. happens. And my thoughts turn to the connections between the two. At least, as I see them.

I'll finish up that post, including the Holocaust shooting, on Monday. But in the meantime, while researching stuff for that post, I came across this CNN article about hate groups being "riled up" these days, and something in it sounded familiar.

President Obama's election has been a huge issue with white supremacist groups, in part because he represents in their minds a demographic shift in which the white majority in the United States is becoming slimmer, Levin added.

"Interracial marriage and interracial children are the worst thing in their world, so [the demographic shift] is a big deal for them," Levin said.

Popular opinion surveys indicate the United States is less racist than it was 20 years ago, and social change in this and other areas, including issues relating to gender and sexual orientation, have "radically changed what our culture looks like in a short period of time," Blazak said.

"If you're not on board with the social change, then you're increasingly alienated," Blazak said. "A lot of the hate movement is about slowing history down or turning it back."

Well, yeah. I have unwritten blog post in my brain about the economy and the changing demographics of the country, and how they played out before the election and will continue to play out during the Obama administration. It will probably stay unwritten, because I'm sure somebody else has written it already.

But the above reminded me of something I wrote after the VA Tech shooting.

I’ve joked, on occasion, that the great complaint of the last 20 years or so of American politics boils down to the reality that being white, male, and heterosexual (throw in Christian or Protestant here, too, if you like) just doesn’t come with as many privileges it used to. If I were to make a sweeping generalization, I’d say that a good bit of conservative politics these days, boiled down to gravy, adds up to not much more than that.

And this.

Think about where we are now and how far from the birth of this country, when its promises were reserved for a narrow portion of its population. Yet, its principles provided the basis for ever progressive movement that had as its goal the extension of those promises to the full spectrum of the population.

And yes, they were progressive movements. By the very nature of their work, they could hardly be otherwise.

pro-gres-sive
/pr??gr?s?v/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [pruh-gres-iv] Show IPA Pronunciation
–adjective
1.     favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, esp. in political matters

From the abolitionists movement, to the labor movement, to the suffragists movement, to the civil rights movement, to the feminist movement, to the LGBT movement; every progressive movement that has advocated for change “as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are.”

They were and are driven by individuals lending their strength and their hearts to bending the arc of the universe towards justice, because they are comprised of people for whom the status quo is the opposite of justice and people for whom injustice — even though visited upon others, and even though it afforded them some privileges — is intolerable.

And in each case they were opposed by people for whom the status quo and its injustices were and had to be the natural order. People who were (and yes, I love to pick on this quote) standing athwart history yelling “Stop!”

They were yelling “Stop!” as every progressive movement above marched forward, pushing the envelope of change and expanding the the qualifications for full citizenship in this country and full membership in the human family. They were yelling “Stop!” as every one of those movements marched passed them towards freedom, enfranchisement, and equality.

They are still yelling. And we are passing them by, on our way to the same destinations. We may not all  have reached all of them yet, but we’re closer than we were, and some of them are already in sight.

They're still yelling "Stop!" alright. And sometimes "Stop, or I'll shoot!" Even that's not new. They've done it before. Von Brunn was yelling "Stop!" George Tiller's murderer was yelling "Stop!" Jim Adkisson was yelling "Stop!"

They will keep yelling "Stop!" because we are are passing them by. They will keep yelling "Stop!", but we can't stop and they (apparently) can't come with us. What they can't "Stop!" through legitimate means, they will attempt to "Stop!" through terror and fear.

They always have. But they've always failed in the long run, because ... well, look at where we are now compared to where we were on gender equality, racial equality, and LGBT equality before.

And they're still with us, yelling "Stop!"

So, do they come with us whether they want to or not? Or do they self-destruct?

In other words, if we don't "Stop!", do we take them with us or do they self-destruct and take us with them?

Again, look at where we are. If they're still yelling "Stop!", that means we've made progress. We haven't stopped and they haven't stopped us. But they're still yelling "Stop!"

And they'll yell louder as we get close to our destination.


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Very well said! Thank you!

The problem is that these people are just the sharp end of the stick, being directed by those who have many such weapons to cast.

They are the ones we see yelling stop, but it is the ones we don't that are more dangerous.