Feb. 2nd, 2017

jducoeur: (Default)
[Slight spoilers for Rogue One]

Kieron Gillen (my current favorite comics writer) has started a rambling blog-like-entity in the form of emails that go out now and then, Kieron Gillen's Word Mail. Today's installment isn't up in the archive yet, and the relevant bit is from the middle anyway, so I'm going to quote from his discussion of Rogue One directly. Hopefully he'll forgive me:
To that end, the ballooning of viewpoint characters becomes the point, those pilots as real as anyone else, the actors commitment to those fragments of time meaningful. And as we pull away from our cast, we come to the final scenes, with those nameless Rebellion troops being cut down by Vader, one by one. Look at the details as Vader looms out the dark. The half-lowering of the gun as each consider just not doing this.. and then raising as they decide they have no choice.

Any of them didn't slow down Vader for a half second, the Death Star survives. Any of them.

Which leaves me aware that's all we can do when facing fascism in the dark. We have no idea if what we do make a difference. But it may. You have to believe it may.
Yes. This.

We live in a society that encourages egotism, wanting to believe that we are going to Matter in some big, important way. That's human nature in general, but modern celebrity culture in particular leads to an internalized belief that everything is either Important in some huge way, or it doesn't matter. I've been seeing this a lot when talking with folks about the rising struggle -- I've hit the comment, "Yeah, but I can't *do* anything" several times, with an implied "I can't do anything Significant".

But I think Gillen is exactly right above. Most of us *aren't* going to be Luke or Leia -- we're not going to be one of the heroes on the marquee. But those heroes only get the critical shot through the help of countless other people, each of them giving that half second of help.

We're facing a rising tide of fascism worldwide, and it's scary as hell. But it is not on any *one* of us to stop that -- it's on all of us, working together, each doing our tiny bit.

Don't worry about hitting the Death Star -- it's not your responsibility. Just look for your own half seconds, and remember that they *do* matter...
jducoeur: (Default)
I've been mulling over the "punching Nazis" incident a couple of weeks ago, to understand how I think and feel about it.

Really, it's not a simple one. On the one hand, I can totally understand the visceral satisfaction of pasting one to the smarmy bad guys. OTOH, as many folks have pointed out, that doesn't make it right: the Nazi preaching his subtle hatred on the street is almost the textbook definition of why *really* believing in freedom of speech is challenging. That latter argument is pretty compelling to me.

But as I contemplated the rioting over Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley, I realized that there's a much simpler and in some ways more important argument here: at this stage of the game, letting yourself get provoked into violence is incredibly *stupid*, and wildly counter-productive.

Look -- Trump and his cronies are attempting to build a fascist state.  Their *primary* mechanism for doing so is preying upon the fears of Middle America: convincing them that Those Evil Liberals are selling out the country, are out to get them, and are full of Those Awful Terrorist Immigrants.  They have brilliantly built a narrative that Normal White People are *victims*.  Yes, it's bullshit -- but to people who in fear for their jobs, and have spent many years with the news telling them about every awful thing that might happen, it's compelling bullshit.  The Dangerous Other is *always* the go-to tool of the fascist dictator.

And when they can show scenes of terrible violence caused by "the Left", against Trump's talking heads, that is *gold* -- it plays directly into that "we're the victims and must protect ourselves" narrative.  Guaranteed, they'll be spinning that to explain why they just need to crack down a *little* bit.

(Of course, it is *such* gold, and *so* convenient, that I'm deeply suspicious of it -- I'd give better-than-even odds that Trump's own surrogates instigated the Berkeley riot.  But unless proof comes out, that suspicion isn't going to get very far in the news.)

Anyway, it's just an example, but it's a telling one.  This is why non-violent protest is so deathly important in any struggle for hearts and minds -- and make no mistake, so long as the US is still an actual democracy, that's what the struggle is.  We *must* not feed into their narrative -- if we're going to win this thing, we have to be conspicuously better than they are.

That does *not* mean being meek or weak: we should be loud, we should be clear, we should have our message in front of the country every day and every way.  But we should refrain from punching the Nazis, and settle for just telling them off...

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