Wolf by the Ears: Why the GOP Can’t Stop being Racist


This week you quite rightly pointed out the Republican Party’s anti-immigration policies are aimed at reducing the number of Democratic voters. Republicans have owned up to it, just as they’ve admitted that efforts to suppress black votes are efforts to suppress Democratic ones. And this is the history of white people since the founding: to insure that the votes of people of color will never overcome their own votes, that non-whites will not be able to pull the levers of power.


Above, anti-immigrant protestors hold a sign saying “Send them back with birth control.” They don’t just want no immigrants in the US–they want fewer brown-skinned people in the world. 

To the argument you lay out, I will this:

Republicans fear non-white votes because Republicans (who are overwhelmingly white and less reflective of the national population than Democrats) have used elected office and government policy to hurt minorities and bolster structures that maintain their power.  They fear nonwhite power because they themselves has used power to hurt nonwhites. They fear retaliation because they know they deserve it. We can see it in the words of Thomas Jefferson, whose own relationship with slavery was–what is the polite way to say this?–conflicted, though not enough for him to act right. Despite the polymath’s genius in imagining a new form of government and his statesmanship in bringing it to life, he couldn’t see how powerful whites could do anything except maintain power over enslaved Africans and African Americans. Writing in 1820, he said:

But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.

Today’s Republicans see a similar issue: to maintain power, they must be racist.  And they have embraced racism as a political strategy with a kind of glee that suggests it might not be strategy alone that drives them.

This isn’t just the hard kick of a dying mule. It’s an immensely cynical strategy and one that is self-defeating. There are good reasons why many immigrants are more politically progressive than the average Republican. Unlike nearly anyone in Congress, they have often seen the effects of US warmongering up close, and the sound of American military jets flying overhead don’t inspire patriotism but fear. They have lost family members killed by American soldiers or with American-made guns and bombs. Too, they have lived in colonies and former colonies in places whose economies and landscapes have been decimated by the forces of capitalism. Today, the largest numbers of refugees settling in the US are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Burma, and Iraq–not all places where we’ve messed up, though, historically, we had to take in large numbers of refugee after bungling wars in Viet Nam and other parts of Southeast Asia–but places where our policies have not necessarily helped the local situation. Our undocumented immigrants come mostly from Mexico and points south--places where our economic and foreign policy has long contributed to instability.  They may be fleeing civil wars, genocidal dictators, drug wars, and grinding poverty, but that doesn’t mean that they love Ayn Rand or Paul Ryan.

But, while Trump advisor Michael Anton worries that such immigrants have “no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty,”  they, like African Americans, should not be presumed to be default Democrats. Very often, immigrants and refugees from the “Third World” that Anton despises so much as well as native-born people of color embrace gender and sexuality norms that align more with Republican’s so-called “traditional family values” than with the Democratic Party’s stances on abortion, divorce, parental authority over children, women’s rights, or gay rights. The Hispanic and African American students at my own university aren’t majoring in Queer Studies or Radical Leftist Rioting, after all, but in business and criminology. (In fact, criminology is the most popular major for black and Hispanic students at my university.)  International students are pursuing degrees in STEM and economics, not The Overthrow of Capitalism.

So why can’t Republicans imagine appealing to the foreign born and people of color? Is it because, like Jefferson, they cannot imagine the victims of their own racism doing anything except murdering them? Is it because they know that a coalition of social conservatives and robber barons doesn’t really make sense and that, eventually, social conservatives will realize it, too? Or is it because their racism isn’t merely strategic but also heart-felt?

It’s not just the Republican Party losing here. (Remember that the GOP has not been able to place a truly new candidate in the White House by popular vote since 1980. I was in diapers. Every Republican president who won the popular vote since then was either an incumbent president or VP.)  Our democracy would be richer if people of color could contribute to the national political conversation without having to go through the Democratic Party. There is no reason why the huge diversity of black voters so overwhelmingly chooses to vote Democrat–except that the Republican Party (and individual Republican voters) are so racist.  If anyone should be angry about the racism of the GOP, it should be conservatives of color.


Who Do Church Police Protect?

Briarwood Presbyterian church, an Alabama megachurch, has recently been granted permission by the state to create its own police force. The church, which maintains a child care center, a private k-12 school, and a seminary, made the request because, it says, out of concerns for public safety at churches, citing shootings at other churches, including one at a carnival at another church in the area recently. Currently the church, like many other houses of worship, hires off duty officers to provide security at events, but these officers serve on an as-needed basis and do not report to the church itself. In the new model, police would be associated with the actual church, giving the church “the authority of state government,” as Randall Marshall, with Alabama’s ACLU, observes.

Regardless of the constitutionality of the arrangement, the thousands of (mostly white, because this is a church that was founded in objection to desegregation and as religious enclave for whites fleeing an integrated Birmingham) people who participate in life at Briarwood each day might want to think carefully about installing a church-supported police force. Crime within the congregation—rather than crimes against the congregation—seem to me to be far more likely. When a congregational leader commits fraud or a brother in the faith sexually assaults a minor, it’s far healthier for outside investigators to lead the effort to find the truth, protect victims, and insure safety, as we know from horror stories across lines of faith—Catholic, Jewish, Amish and Mennonite, and more.


Above, the compound at Briarwood Presbyterian church, in a suburb of Birmingham. If people within the congregation are being abused, they could tell a teacher within the Briarwood Presbyterian educational system or a police officer who reports to the church. This is a set-up for abuse. 

Moreover, a church-related police force gives considerable control to the church, control that congregants might not like if it turned against them, as members of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints community in the Hildale, Utah/Colorado City, Arizona, have learned. There, the police force was a defacto arm of the church, leading to corruption and the harassment of those who spoke against it.

If Briarwood does form its own police force, congregants may find that, rather than making them safer, it makes them more likely to be victimized.

Is self-defense a “sacred right” for Christians?


Did you listen to Donald Trump’s speech to the NRA in Atlanta on Friday? It was the first time since Reagan that a president addressed this powerful lobby group, and Trump was in his element, firing up the crowd’s fear of immigrants and contrasting his own strongman tactics with the Obama administration’s failure, in the right’s imagination, to support police or veterans. And, yes, he reminded the crowd that he won in November, to the surprise of the media, and, just 100 days into the worst first 100 we’ve seen in modern history, he spoke about his plan to run in 2020.

So, there was a lot to unpack, but it doesn’t take much nuanced thinking to do it: more bluster, more opportunistic promises (Trump’s inconsistencies on gun control has garnered him derision among many gun rights advocates–but not enough to make him lose their vote.), more racism, and, always, always, always, the fearmongering.  Though the Obama administration did virtually nothing–even in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings of a room of kindergartners–to address gun control, Trump said that an “eight year assault on gun rights was ending and that the government would no longer be “coming after” law-abiding gun owners. Sure, that never happened, but whatever. The point is that Americans need to be afraid! “These are horrible times for certain, obvious reasons,” Trump told the crowd, who were able to fill in those “obvious reasons” themselves (immigrants, black people).

In some ways, I feel quite sorry for Trump supporters, who must be the most afraid people in America. For the Christians among them, this is an even more pitiful state, for they’ve chosen to exchange the confidence their faith promises for fear.  That’s an act of disobedience, and the consequence is a life of constant suspicion, susceptibility to savior figures, a surrender of joy, and a failure to be spiritually prepared for suffering.

For Mennonites and other people of faiths that reject violence, one particular moment in Trump’s NRA speech reminds us that our religion is a currency, not a real consideration, in how politicians treat us. Trump promised to protect the “sacred right of self-defense for all of our citizens.”


Above, a close up of “the Crusader,” a tactical rifle with Psalm 144:1 (“Blessed by the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle”) etched on one side; on the other is the Knights Templar Long Cross, a symbol of the Crusaders during their attempt to take the Holy Land from Muslim control. The gun was specifically designed with “Christian values” in mind, according to the Florida manufacturer. 

For Mennonites, the “sacred right of self-defense” is an oxymoron. We might disagree about whether we ought to engage in self-defense at all and if, so, in under which circumstances and in which ways. We might disagree about whether guns can be used for that purpose and whether a gun itself invites such violence. We can argue about whether the Constitution gives us an individual right to handgun ownership or if it reserves the use of weapons for well-regulated militias.

But what we can’t disagree on, I think, is the idea that our right to kill another person, for any reason, is a “sacred right.” We have no models of “sacred self-defense” in the teaching of Jesus, and we have the most important model–of Jesus’ death–that counters this. Unlike most white Americans, early Christians had reason to be afraid, for their lives were in constant danger. And, yet, still, they are told over and over not to live in fear but in joy. Our “sacred right” isn’t an uninformed optimism that we will always be safe; it’s that we will always be loved–and that we experience that love more fully (and share it more generously) when we surrender our fear.

What are we consenting to when we consent to sex?

Hi Joel:

I’m sharing this post, which I recently posted on my personal blog, here. It’s a tough one, fed by recent conversations with my own students (who have agreed to have their ideas shared here) in a Sociology of Sex class.

Readers should be warned that this addresses sexual violence and reproductive coercion.


By now you may have seen news coverage of stealthing, the practice of man removing  or damaging his condom without the consent of their partner during intercourse. Yale Law professor Alexandra Brodsky wrote about the phenomenon in the most recent Columbia Journal of Gender and Law (The full text is available for free here.), and CNN, CBS, and Huffington Post have been running stories on it.

Much of the conversation is about how to categorize this kind of activity so that we can better care for those who have been victims of it. One of Brodsky’s informants call is “rape-adjacent.” When the victim who believes that the condom is being used to prevent pregnancy, the act is one of reproductive abuse–sabotaging birth control.

Is it also rape?

(If you can’t wait to the end to find out my answer, it is: Yes.)

The FBI’s definition of rape, new since July 2103, is:

“Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

That’s much clearer than the old definition (“carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will”), because it recognizes that people of all genders can be victimized and names specific acts. But the idea of consent–central to sexual assault prevention trainings on college campuses right now–remains unclear.  It must be verbal and “enthusiastic,” which means that it’s got to be explicit: Yes, I want to have sex. But, though we now have a law in California mandating enthusiastic consent prior to sex and enthusiastic consent is the go-to concept in teaching rape prevention on campuses, many people still don’t really understand it, and we do a lousy job of teaching it. It’s easy to get dismiss the conversation about consent by saying “Just don’t rape!” and while most people have no obligation to explain how not to rape to a potential sexual assailant, some of us (parents of teens and young adults, social workers and educators who work with teens and young adults) probably do.


Above, a display of condoms.

Having taught, at this point, about 750 students in Sociology of Sex, I can say that many students are asking great questions about what consent means. Here are some of them:

Do you have to ask for and receive consent for every part of every sex act? (“May I nibble your left ear lobe? And the right?” If not for every act, which acts? And how do you ask without sounding “like a pervert or physician?”)

We have to have consent before contact between sex organs and any part of another person’s body, but what are “sex organs”? Penises and vaginas are obvious, and the law is explicit about anal contact. We’d probably easily put rear ends and probably but not as obviously women’s breasts in there, but what about men’s nipples? These narrow definitions seem to ignore the biggest sex organ of all (skin!). Sexual pleasure isn’t limited to sex organs (Yes, I’m linking to Cosmo, but readers can fill in the blanks however they like.), and we might be losing something when we keep the focus on penetration of/by “sex organs.”

How far from those consented-for acts can you stray without having to ask for consent anew? (“If she consents to a finger, can I use a thumb? Do I need to ask her again? Is a finger close enough to a thumb not to matter? But a toe–that would be too far off, even though it’s still technically a ‘digit’?” “If I ask if we can kiss, how specific do I need to be on details? And what if I don’t know what I want until we start?”)

Are other kinds of reproductive abuse also inherently acts of sexual violence? Lying about having an IUD or other form of long-acting birth control or deliberately misusing your or destroying your partner’s oral contraceptive are forms of reproductive abuse. Because they are non-consensual, are they also forms of sexual violence? (Answer: Yes.) If a cis man ejaculates into the vagina of a cis woman who claims to be using oral contraceptives but isn’t, he’s now having sex with a body (one without contraceptives in it) that he didn’t consent to have sex with, risking consequences he didn’t agree to risk. Is that sexual assault? If it’s not criminal, is there a civil case to be made?

What rights do we have to know accurate information about the bodies we have sex with?

We lie all the time in the pursuit of sex–about our height, our weight, our income, our sexual histories, our real hair color, the length and girth of our penises. Some of us lie about our HIV status, with legal punishments for lies or nondisclosure that vary widely and are often used to punish men of color in particular. If a woman consents to sex with a man who says he’s the real life inspiration for Christian Grey or the secret love child of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed or Idris Elba’s body double and it turns out he’s not, is that rape since the penis involved is not the one the person it is attached to said it was? After all, she consented to a far more prestigious penis than the one she got. If those examples seem far fetched, what about a man who claims to be single but is really married? If I wouldn’t consent to sex with a married man, but I might to a man who is single, if a married man lies to me about this marital status, is a penetrative act now rape because I didn’t consent to sex with a married man? Or what if I consented to sex with a with a man I understand to be white (as I am) but find that he’s biracial? If he lies about his ethnicity or religion?

What deceptions constitute “rape by deception”?

And finally, what are the implications for trans people here? If a trans man presents as traditionally masculine or a trans woman as traditionally feminine, do they have to out themselves as trans prior to a sex act? Here I’m thinking specifically of the ways that trans panic has been invoked as a defense of violence against trans people. (In the “classic” version, a cis man consents to sex with a person he believes is a cis woman. When, during intercourse, he finds that she has a penis, he responds to what he sees as a breach of trust with violence, including murder.) A common thread in this defense is that the cis man “felt like he was being raped”–not because he was having sex against his will but because he didn’t consent to sex with a trans person’s body. “Trans panic” defenses have been successfully used in many cases in which a trans person–particularly trans women–have been killed. They are based on the idea that someone was lying about their body–and that lie somehow produced enough fear to warrant homicide.

In short, if we argue that all penetrative acts must be “consensual,” what information do we have to disclose to be consented to? “My penis has a funky curve in it” doesn’t seem to be a big deal. “My penis isn’t going to wear a condom” is. But how do we figure this all out?

And how do we teach this so that people can enjoy honest, great sex?


So, is stealthing rape? Yes. Like other forms of rape, it is about power and control, rooted in misogyny (whether it is aimed at women or at men who have sex with men).

NC State Legislator/Pastor Urges Straight People to Ask, “WWJWB Do?”


I was fortunate to spend some time last week at the Lincoln Cottage, the summer home of President Lincoln during the Civil War. This “Home for Brave Ideas” sits on the grounds of the Washington D.C.’s Armed Forces Retirement Home (formerly known as the Old Soldiers Home), one of two federal retirement homes for those who put in twenty or more years of service to the US military as well as for veterans unable to work due to injuries incurred in the line of duty. I was fortunate to enjoy lunch in the Lincoln family’s dining room with Civil Rights activist Dorie Ladner and scholars and representatives from Georgetown University, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Cato Institute, who had gathered to think together about how Lincoln’s legacy is playing out at this moment, particularly in regards to an uptick in hateful political behavior.

Our discussion quickly turned to the comments that North Carolina Republican state representative Larry Pittman had made about Lincoln just the day before: that he was “the same sort [of] tyrant as Hitler.”

Why, nearly 150 years after his death, is some stupid Southern state legislator echoing the words of Lincoln’s assassin? This might seem like a silly thing. After all, the elections of 1860 and 1864 are quite far behind us, and there has been no new revelation that suggests that Lincoln’s victories in them are invalid. Pittman’s comments, just two days before the anniversary of Lincoln’s murder (and two days before the anniversary of the death of Pittman’s own son by suicide by gun), though, are part of a much longer (let’s just date it to 1828) history that continues to harm vulnerable people under the claim of “sic semper tyrannis.”

Pittman’s language is the language of the Redemption—the effort to undo Reconstruction and fortify white supremacy—and speaks to his voters (He won with 60% of the vote in 2014 and 58% of it in 2016.), who continue to read Reconstruction as tyranny. Sure, they grift the federal government, but they hate federal interference in what they see as the rightful hierarchy of people. This is why they hated the Voting Rights Act and opposed racial integration, no matter what the harm it did to whites; the spirit of their work is spiteful.  They can dress these arguments up in claims of liberty, but it’s the Klan, not the Founding Fathers, that’s their real model.


Above, Pittman’s official NC Legislature photo. Never one afraid to be stereotyped, he wears, in addition to his lapel pin from the State house, a pin that is small crown of thorns with fetal feet in the center of the crown (representing Christian opposition to abortion), a pin representing the tablets on which the 10 Commandments were inscribed (representing the political effort to mandate the presence of religion in public spaces), and a pin joining the US and Israeli flags, likely a gift from a Christian Zionist organization. His tie is festooned with images of the first flight, which occurred at Kitty Hawk, NC. 

Pittman’s comments were about his support of a state law that would ban same-sex marriage in the state, despite a Supreme Court decision that recognized the legality of marriages between same-sex couples nationwide. He’s also fought hard against both state and federal gun control laws, including those that would prevent guns from being carried in bars, and, in 2013, attempted, with the support of other NC lawmakers, to establish a state religion, again in defiance of the federal government (and the actual Constitution). All of these efforts are justified by Pittman’s reverence for state sovereignty (of course—this was the issue back in 1828 and 1864, too).

We could dismiss Pittman, a minister in a conservative Presbyterian church (Are you really surprised?), as a delusional loser, one of the Confederacy’s many Hiroo Onodas—except that he’s a winner, repeatedly, in local elections (if not in the promotion of legislation). Maybe North Carolinians will one day get tired of voting for a man who wastes so much of their time on bills that are DOA, or maybe they really do like his echoes of John Wilkes Booth’s murderous words against a president.  Given the neo-Confederate League of the South’s recent call for whites to arm themselves in a “Southern Defense Force” (content alert: this link takes you to a white supremacy website). I wouldn’t be surprised if such comments garnered him more votes.

Who is a Wall for?


You ask why Donald Trump should expect Mexico to pay for his stupid expensive, environmentally dangerous, economy-thrashing, community-disrupting, land-grabbing wall. Like, not just how would Mexico pay for it, but why in the world should Mexico pay for it.

The obvious answer has to do with Sigmund Freud and Donald Trump’s very fragile ego.

But I wonder if there isn’t something else too:

When a crime is committed, we expect the perpetrator to be punished and to make restitution. They owe us what they took from us: the cost of the broken window, the value of the shoplifted lip gloss. Sometimes–as with murder–we can’t be repaid, and so some argue for the death penalty: an exchange of life for life, though we know that this is a symptom of a sick society, not a remedy for it.

A US-Mexico wall isn’t about preventing Mexicans from entering the US illegally. (And, anyway, why should Mexico pay to prevent those from Honduras or El Salvador from entering the US? What does that have to do with them?) Undocumented border crossing has been falling for a long time, without a wall or the threat of it.

A US-Mexico wall is about punishing Mexico. For what? For the “influx” (also, “swarm,” “horde,” “flood,” “epidemic,” “rash”–these metaphors are not new) of Mexican immigrants who have “taken jobs” from Americans. Sure, it makes zero sense to blame Mexico for our love of cheap migrant labor or foreign made goods, our adoration of the super-wealthy who shape the economy so that profits go so disproportionately to people whose main objective is to make more for themselves and their stockholders by allowing workers to have less, and our acquiescence to the global chase for lower-wage workers. But if you are a temporarily embarrassed millionaire, you see yourself as closer to Donald Trump than to a migrant worker, and if you aren’t rich, it’s not because of the destruction of labor unions or the end of wealth-expanding domestic policies but because undocumented immigrants are robbing you at gunpoint, saying, “Ese gringo, gimmee your job.” Americans are accustomed to growth, growth, growth, and the stagnation and decline of the last thirty-five years causes us to lash out. Mexicans are easy targets.

A US-Mexico wall is also about establishing US dominance. In general, when citizens feel that their nation is in control of immigration, they are less likely to support harsh immigration policies. When they feel that the immigration situation is out of control, they push for harsh policies, even when they are self-destructive. This isn’t about fact but about feelings–which is good for Donald Trump, who lives in a fact-free universe but is very good at tapping into the fearful feelings of his supporters.

The fact that our policy makers rely on fear, not facts, is worrisome but, again, not particularly new.

Image result for berlin wall

Above, workers building the Berlin Wall, which separated Soviet-controlled East Berlin from the western part of the city, which was under the jurisdiction of the US, Britain, and France. US presidents have generally condemned the use of walls as a way to keep people inside their home nations because such physical barriers are odious to notions of freedom. 

You gave the example of a fence you might want to build around your home. You have no grounds to ask your neighbors to pay for it because it’s your fence. You want it, so you pay for it.

That argument makes sense if you are a person who takes responsibility for his life. That is not Donald Trump. Donald Trump is deeply irresponsible–which is why he is always trying to dodge creditors, short-change employees, and play golf when he should be working.

Donald Trump sees Mexico like a neighbor with a nuisance dog; he wants his yard to be free from the holes the dog digs and the messes it makes, but he thinks that the neighbor should do something about it. That’s pretty reasonable, I think–when we are talking about dogs.

But despite the rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration, we are talking about people, and they, unlike dogs, are free to move about.

Here is the problem with the wall that should frighten Trump supporters: He thinks that a country should be able to build a wall to prevent its people from leaving. In fact, he thinks that country should be required to do so if the neighbors complain. (Or maybe just if the neighbors are the US or if the people being locked in are brown skinned.)

I have a US passport, which means that the US government isn’t stopping me from going almost anywhere in the world. We have historically derided those who refuse to allow their people free movement–from East Berlin to North Korea. Yet those who believe in FEMA-camp conspiracy theories are okay with the idea that a country should be able to literally lock its people in?

Locking people out is one thing–stupid, inefficient, economically short-sighted, fear-monger, wasteful… Locking them in is quite another. It’s the way of dictators. 

We’ve Been on the Verge of “the Trump Era” since 1848


“Be forewarned. This is a new era. This is the Trump era.”

Those were the words from Jeff Sessions’ recent speech to the border patrol–beyond the dehumanizing language, the fear-mongering, the disregard for facts, the insult to history–that scared me. They were meant to scare lots of us–everyone who doesn’t fit into Trump’s narrow definition of the people he is supposed to be serving (though it’s clear that he doesn’t understand that the president serves, not rules).

Like so many of the words uttered by this administration, Sessions’ warning was also a call to arms. Though his approval rating is at record-settingly low for a modern president, Trump has fans who have been yearning to hear these words.

For others of us, the shock of the election has worn off, but we’re still in some other stage of grief–denial, anger, bargaining, depression–and have to figure out what will have to accept. It’s not the legitimacy of a Trump Presidency. Whether concerns about Russian interference are merited, we know that voter suppression and an electoral system that weights rural whites disproportionately were the real winners. But we have to accept that more than sixty million of our fellow Americans–most white people, most men, most wealthier people–voted for a person that most voters voted against. Not all sixty million of them were enthusiastic about voting for Trump, but many of them were excited about his racism, xenophobia and nativism, and Islamaphobia. Consistent with findings from the primaries, those more enthusiastic about Trump are more racist by all kinds of measures.


Above, Jeff Sessions, the lawyer for the American people, except for the 69 percent of people in the US who aren’t white men. He’s been waiting since 1848 to kick all the Mexicans out of the country. 

Many conservatives missed this, in part because they wanted to. In his essay in the New York Times historian recently, Rick Perlstein offers some reflections on how he, among many scholars of conservatism, failed to predict Trump. In “I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong,” he concludes:

Future historians won’t find all that much of a foundation for Trumpism in [the intellectual heroes of conservatism]. They’ll need instead to study conservative history’s political surrealists and intellectual embarrassments, its con artists and tribunes of white rage.

To which many of us (and I’m guessing about 100% of scholars of color) responded with a collective eye roll.

Because if you think you understood the American right as distinct from white supremacy and structural racism, no, you didn’t understand the American right, and I’m not really sure you were trying very hard.

For all the accusations liberals live in “bubbles,” your bubble must have been opaque and soundproof if you have been hanging around the rightwing of this country and were unaware of the racial resentment of so many white Americans.

Because Jeff Sessions’ racism—that’s not new. It’s how a man of so few good ideas got this far. If you did not hear it, that’s because you were not listening to Coretta Scott King. And if you were not listening to Coretta Scott King, you are probably not listening to a lot of black people and a lot of women, and so you are never going to hear the information that you need to hear to understand the racism and misogyny that drives the American right. (This does not mean that liberals or progressives are free from racism. Just that it’s not their entire reason for existence, which is the case with so many conservatives; the word itself indicates a desire for the way things “used to be,” which is to say: racist, sexist, homophobic.)

Which is how we get here—depositing adults brought to the US as children, before what a Baptist might call the “age of accountability,” over the border without a proper process for insuring that their rights are protected.

It’s easier to not hear people when you’ve moved them out of the country, but don’t let that make you feel secure if you’re not part of a “deportable” population. A system that won’t let a Dreamer retrieve his papers to prove that he belongs here isn’t going to let you—women, people of color, non-Christians, poor people—speak either.