Back in the streets
The Roe attack got people marching again
11 days after Sam Alito’s hit on Roe was “leaked” — and especially since Clarence Thomas stated bitching about it, further evidence that he and/or his nutcase wife did the leaking — organizers convened nationwide protests on Saturday. It was a hurry-up defense move, so there wasn’t time to make the massive show the Women’s March managed on January 21, 2017, the first big peal of alarm bells alerting the nation to the danger to reproductive rights (and other related rights — just as we’re seeing now), as well as the determination to counter the threat. And they sparked many more protests, some on the related topic of racial injustice, that kept the pressure up until Trump was driven from office — a substantial but, as we have seen, insufficient victory.
Rushed as they were, the rallies came off, by the hundreds and coast to coast. As with the earlier marches, I was particularly pleased to hear about the ones in smaller cities like Knoxville and Shreveport and in suburban enclaves like the senior community Leisure World in Maryland, which show the depth and breadth of the reaction. Me, I’m in DC and the demo down the north hillock of the Washington Monument was where thousands of us took our stand.
I tuned in and out of the speeches. One that moved me unexpectedly was an invocation by Sarah Eagle Heart of the Oglala Lakota Nation:
I am Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD, and I’m also co-CEO of Return of the Heart Foundation, supporting indigenous-women-led initiatives. We are making a stand today on the land of the Nacotchtank and the Piscataway Peoples. I thank all the ancestors and indigenous people past and present for allowing us to be on this land today. I honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have been its stewards for generations. I also give thanks to Wakan Tanka the Creator for bringing me here today. This is the same Wakan Tanka that has guided, supported, and loved me through two abortions — as well as the births of two sons.
I love everything about that. In a country where the primary forms of religiosity are the insane and vicious creeds Pharisee Christianity and New Age Anti-Vaxx Woo, which seem to exist mainly to humiliate and immiserate, it’s wonderful to hear faith pledged in respect and generosity — and connected to both the speaker’s abortions and her childbearing.
It also reminds me of the dummies, including some who call themselves liberals, who think any reference to intersectionality or stuff like that is too cringey to support. Bullshit. Another of my favorite speakers was Nee Nee Taylor from Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, a very local and very vocal activist, born and raised “in the Projects in [Southeast]”; I’ve seen her before and she’s a pistol. Along with letting the folks know that her very black east-of-the-river part of the town is a “reproductive health care desert,” without even a maternity hospital, and that, as far as she’s concerned, “we gonna stay in these streets until we defeat this ‘leak’… and if you got generational wealth, donate to the abortion funds,” she told us, “If the U.S. Supreme Court is gonna be the coochie police, I’m here to defund the coochie police.” Also:
Your laws’ll try to enslave black women. But our love and protection for them will bail them out of your jail. Our body, our choice. We have the women’s right to maintain our personal body autonomy, and an effort to limit access to abortions disproportionately harm black women, girls, transgenders, and gender non-conforming people. I wanna be real clear and I have no doubt: full access to abortion care is a necessary component of freedom for all black people.
There’s your “intersectionality” right there, and if you think that’s silly Oberlin yap, you can go fuck yourself.
The crowd (thousands, though I don’t think they hit the 17,000 they were permitted) was overwhelmingly female, all ages, some with walkers, some with babies. I’d say most were young enough that, as Rep. Barbara Lee mentioned in her speech, they had never known a time without the right to abortion, but they were clearly not oblivious to the threat.
The theme that abortion is a right, not to be apologized for but to be asserted and even celebrated, was clear in the tenor of the speeches and the signs, and that’s good — because I have noticed the opposition is frantically lying its ass off that the ruling doesn’t mean so much, really, it won’t be so bad, you shouldn’t protest so hard, we swear it won’t get worse, etc., and the big-time bullshit artists like David French are out there saying of course we won’t put women in prison, we only want to imprison and execute doctors, you can trust us, look how full of love we are for you and the baby we will force you to bear.
Their dishonesty may be breathtaking, especially to those who aren’t used to seeing it, but it’s also a good sign, because it shows that the truth does them no credit, so telling it can work.
There were some nuts and drips on the scene, like this guy who got his photo op and split. There was a young white jerk in a suit walking around with a microphone, trying to get attendees to say something nutty for his podcast or rightwing show reel. (“I don’t want to talk to you anymore,” I heard one young lady tell him. “Please go away.”) And there was a ragged looking guy with a JESUS IS COMING VERY SOON sign and a bullhorn whom the cops kept on the other side of Constitution Avenue (bingo!), whose ravings were inaudible during the rally (though passers-by got an earful) but who screamed “Repent!” repeatedly as the crowd surged out to march to the Supreme Court.
The Court was empty of its miscreants and the whole stretch of street directly in front of it fenced off, as it has been since shortly after the leak; the passway that made it easy to get from one side of the barrier to the other had also been blocked, and the area was heavily policed. The crowd that made it there was noisy, but mainly as a discharge; we knew the Justices were not listening. The judgement will be rendered elsewhere.