That Was the Week That Was
That…certainly was an eventful week. I don’t know what else to say. I’ve begun and discarded about three different openings. A simple explanation—a combination of the past week’s eventfulness and depression-induced writer’s block—will have to do. With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.
The Charleston shooting seems like a logical place to start. I’ll repeat myself, at the risk of being crude: White people have to stop getting away with so much shit in this country. Roof was captured alive and got Burger King , and the country moved into mourning. President Obama gave the Rev. Pinckney’s eulogy.
We as a nation have finally realized that the Confederate flag is bad and should be done away with. I say good—it’s the symbol of a pack of racist traitors and should be confined to museums and the deepest, darkest back-ends of swamps. This is a view that I—and I suspect the majority of Americans—have long held, yet the South has clung to their standard of hatred for decades, long past its sell-by date.
Things seem to be changing, though—Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina has called for the flag’s removal from the state house grounds, although it’s unclear how much authority she holds over the flag, and the Governor of (I think) Mississippi has joined her. Walmart, the epitome of Southern-fried Americanism, has stopped selling the flag, as have eBay and amazon.com .
Donald Trump is running for President, as is Bobby Jindal. Trump should prove to be more comedy relief than a serious candidate, just like last time; Jindal—eh, who can say? He’s got the advantage of being non-white and less crazy than Allen West or Ben Carson; at the same time, he’s not had much time in the spotlight since 2010. We’ll see, but I don’t think that (barring a third-party run by Trump) either will be on the ballot in November of 2016.
Patrick Macnee, better known as John Steed in The Avengers, and James Horner, who I feel unfair calling the John Williams to James Cameron’s Spielberg, have both died—Macnee of natural causes, Horner in a ‘plane crash. Both will be missed.
And that, I think, wraps the week up. I might have missed something, but I don’t think so.
Oh, that’s right, Ann Coulter called the Confederate Army the greatest army in history. Which, you know, I got nothing. Should I start with the Confederacy’s continual logistical and morale problems and work up to the fact that they lost or vice versa. The New York Post‘s film critic, Lou Lumenick, asked if maybe it was time for Gone with the Wind to follow the Confederate flag into museums, which right-wing Twitter transmogrified into, “LIBERALS WANT TO BAN THE GREATEST FILM EVER MADE!!!11!!!!1111!!!” .
Oh, yeah, Burwell v. King. That’s a good thing; although the Affordable Care Act is riddled with problems and I’d prefer a transition to single-payer, it’s nevertheless better than…
Right, that. We’ve now achieved nationwide marriage equality. Give that a moment’s thought. A decade ago—ten measly years!—gay marriage was legal only in Massachusetts; DOMA was still the law of the land, and a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as a one-man-one-woman deal was at least plausible. Now—well, even before Obergefell, marriage equality was the law in a majority of the states and Gallup puts support among the people at 60%. This is rapidly becoming a non-issue; in five years, it’ll be a minor issue; in twenty we’ll wonder how we could have been so stupid. Right now the opponents of marriage equality are looking rather foolish and the President is looking rather good.
Which isn’t to say everything’s hunky-dory. There’s still the problem of job and housing discrimination and LGBT youth and bisexual erasure and trans rights and LGBT youth and bigotry in the cloak of religious freedom and on and on. Social conservatives and the Religious Right have been quick to sound the old horns of “judicial activism,” “legislating from the bench,” “states’ rights.” No Republican candidate, except for Lindsey Graham, yet supports marriage equality; only Jeb Bush and Chris Christie have shown any level of support for gay rights. I doubt any will this cycle; even 2018 seems wildly optimistic.
But you know what? Change isn’t easy. Progress isn’t inevitable. You take your victories when and where you can. This is a big victory; I intend to take it. And this victory feels pretty good. At least to me it does. As—
I think I should explain who I am and where I come from, just so my remarks have context.
I’m eighteen and bisexual. I’ve been out for about three years. I live in Washington, a state which was one of the earliest to have marriage equality and one of the few to pass it by vote—coincidentally about three years ago. I’m a politics nerd who once wanted to be a lawyer. I was one of the founders of my high school’s gay-straight alliance. And regardless of my disagreements with the LGBT community or parts of the social justice movement, I’m still for the full equality of LGBT people–of people in general. And in a week full of reminders that we’ve yet to reach full equality, Obergerfell is a refreshing breath of sanity. I think you’ll forgive my celebrating.
‘Cos everyone wins, even the self-proclaimed losers. The “losers” will inevitably wail that their rights have been taken away. Maybe certain rights—the right to be a bigoted asshole, the right to deny a couple a marriage license—have been, but should they have even existed in the first place? Extending marriage equality nationally no more abridges the rights of heterosexuals than the Thirteenth through Fifteenth Amendments abridged the rights of Caucasians  or the Nineteenth Amendment abridged the rights of men. Freedom is not a finite resource; though it can be taken away, extending it to one group does not redact it from another.
Oh, and the federal government extended health benefits to trans employees. This week definitely ended on an up note.
 Sorry; I just think it’s funny he got Burger King. Burger King: Even if you’re a racist mass murderer, you can still Have It Your Way™!
 I’ve heard it said that Amazon and eBay still sell Nazi and Communist paraphernalia even after the Confederate flag was removed. This is more or less true; while an Amazon search for “nazi flag” turned up twenty pages of results, I’d estimate that the minority of them were actually related to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party or the government it established. The majority were, inexplicably, of the civil flag of the Federal Republic of Germany, which was a) established after the end of World War II, b) pretty well the antithesis of the Third Reich by design, to the point of c) removing any and all Nazi and Nazi-adjacent symbolism from the government (the official traditions of the Bundeswehr, Germany’s federal armed forces start with the Prussian military reforms of the early 1800s, skip the German Empire, Weimar Republic, Third Reich, and Allied occupation, and start back up in 1955 with a brief check-in on the resistance to the Nazis during World War II, and the founders of West Germany basically hit Ctrl+F and replaced all instances of “Reichs-” with “Bundes-“; similarly, the unique structure of Germany’s main public broadcaster started as an attempt to avert the rise of a second Hitler or Goebbels). I also found Soviet and North Korean flags. I’d have looked further, but then I fell into a Nazi rabbit-hole.
 Well, there’s the question of nuance, to start with. And the Internet handles nuance poorly, as does America. That—or a massive failure of reading comprehension on the part of everyone working for Breitbart—is the only logical explanation for why anyone could turn “as good a film as Gone with the Wind is [and note that Lumenick never questions its quality], it’s still an apologia for the Confederacy and the antebellum South, so maybe we should reevaluate its legacy” into “Ban Gone with the Wind because it’s racist, like the Confederate flag.” There are other possibillities, too: that Breitbart et al. deliberately ignored the content of the article and instead used it as a strawman, that they didn’t read beyond the headline and took the train of logic past Museum Gateway to Banfield. I also think, however, that rating Gone with the Wind as the “Greatest Film of All Time” does it and cinema both a disservice. I’ll have to get back to this.
 Well, the Thirteenth Amendment certainly abridged the rights of whites to own slaves, but, again, should that right have existed in the first place?