V-Day, Amanda, Melissa, and the Cult of Violent Mysogyny

Bill Donohue and his minions of mysogyny have made good use of the Catholic religion and violent hatred of women to further their political agenda.

And make no mistake, their agenda is political. They likely have crossed the line this time, as Jeffrey Feldman notes that as a 501(3)C they aren't supposed to interfere in political campaigns.

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I am Spartacus

Admittedly, it has been a rough couple of weeks for the progressive blogosphere. What started as great news from the John Edwards presidential campaign - the hiring of two insightful, respected bloggers in high-level positions - quickly deteriorated in the face of the right wing's last effective ways of doing business, mock, hypocritical outrage and disgusting threats. Despite Edwards's initial defense of bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, the climate of hate fostered, in part, by the bigoted Bill Donohue and, to a lesser extent, the bigoted Michelle Malkin led to the pair's resignation. In the midst of the controversy, I suggested the benefits of pursuing clenched-fist progressive politics. Upon further review, and armed with the fact that the right won't stop attacking no matter how far backward the Democrats retreat, it has become clear that a no-holds-barred approach is the only way to go. What's also clear is this: We're in this fight together.

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Movements and Speech

Chris Bowers has a post up now about his love for mass movements - even revolutions.

I don't quite understand why Chris doesn't see blogging itself as a movement. But I have some vaguely Foucaldian ideas about the lesson of Amanda Marcotte's separation from the Edwards campaign with which I hope to pique Chris' interest.

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The Edwards Blogger Resolution

Amanda Marcotte resigned from the Edwards campaign.  It was her decision.  Amanda feels encumbered by the campaign and unable to effectively defend herself from the right-wing.  As such, it's the correct decision to make because a Presidential campaign is the wrong place to be if you want to hit back at the right on your own behalf.  Aspiring bloggers for campaigns should take note of the restrictions placed on your freedom when you go to work for a campaign.  The personal cost can be quite high.

Melissa at Shakespeare's Sister is still with the Edwards campaign.  Bill Donohue's attack on Edwards failed, and we know that creepy bigots like him only have power if we grant it to them through our own actions.

... I basically agree with David.

The lesson here seems pretty straightforward to me: if a blogger gets hired to work on a political campaign, that blogger should cease personal blogging. Just don't do it. If you're blogging for a candidate, there's nothing you can say on your own blog that is anything but a liability for your candidate, so you're just hurting the person you presumably want to win. It's annoying to me that someone like Donohue ends up getting what he wanted in this case, and that could have and should have been avoided.

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John Edwards' "Sister Souljah Moment?"

Did John Edwards just have a "Sister Souljah moment" - in reverse?

A bit of backstory for those who weren't around back then (or don't remember): In 1992, then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton famously criticized Sister Souljah for her comment "If Black people kill Black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?", as she was quoted in an interview with the Washington Post. Clinton remarked that if "you took the words `white' and `black' and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech." Clinton not only lashed out at Souljah - he also went on to criticize Jesse Jackson for allowing her to speak at a Rainbow Coalition/PUSH event. This moment, now known as the "Sistah Souljah moment", was a tactical move that showed moderate Democrats and independents that Clinton could be "tough on crime" and that he wouldn't be too strongly influenced by the African-American portion of the Democratic base.

Edwards was presented with a similar "opportunity". He hired two bloggers whose previous writings are considered by many to be inflammatory. When presented with examples of their writings, Edwards could easily have said, "While I hired these two to reach out to the emerging netroots of the Democratic Party, and I understand that sometimes people use colorful language on blogs, I did not know what extremists Ms. Marcotte and Ms. McEwan were. I won't have anything to do with their views on religion, and I have dismissed them from my campaign." Such a move would have shown voters that while he's got a lot of populist views on economics and the Iraq war, he's definitely a mainstream Christian guy. The failure to properly vet the bloggers would have been forgotten as inside baseball.

Unfortunately, the same move would have perpetuated the stereotype that left-leaning blogs are a fever swamp, that politicians interact with us at their own peril. It would have perpetuated the meme that the right speaks up for religion and faith, while the atheist left smears people of faith and deserves to apologize for it. By keeping the bloggers, and by giving them the opportunity to speak for themselves, Edwards did the opposite. His statement showed that you can stand up for free speech and respect others' viewpoints while disapproving of the manner in which they expressed it. Even more than that, Edwards showed that he was ready to stand up for the movement, rather than score political points by distancing himself from us.

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