TIME TO FUCKING STAND

by Alex Valente

Content warning: mentions racism, xenophobia, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and the general mess that is 2016.

And so the world has suddenly changed, again, seemingly even louder than before. For a lot of people who claim to be interested in following politics, nationally or internationally, the events of the past month can feel like a shock. We’ve all trying to find someone to blame, someone to accuse, someone to stand in front of us as we look in a mirror, and global media has been having a field-day of think-pieces on the issue. But quite frankly, who cares?

We fucked up. We’ve been doing so for a long time. We’ve been doing so with every time we didn’t speak up, stand up, stand in the way of neoliberalism, aggressive capitalism, individualism and their opening the gates to full-on, fully backed racism, xenophobia, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and so many other horrors that not even patriarchy-mythologised Pandora could be blamed for them all.

Before we continue, take a moment to consider the opening of a recent piece by Sarah Kendzior on The Correspondent:

“Write down what you value; what standards you hold for yourself and for others. Write about your dreams for the future and your hopes for your children. Write about the struggle of your ancestors and how the hardship they overcame shaped the person you are today.”

Echoed by Linda Tirado on Twitter:

People writing and commenting from a vast number of minority communities are – quite rightly – raising their eyebrows at the emotional response, at the feelings of dread and outright fear that people, such as myself, part of a whiter, more economically stable majoritarian reality are having (that’s the we I’m talking about, by the way). They are right to do so, because they’ve been living under the same dread and fear and violence for much longer, with our tacit complicity (remember? we fucked up). They’re also not being condescending, dismissive, or divisive about this.

They’d be right to do so – a brief recap of how we fucked up and still are, shall we? The world is catching fire, locally and universally. Hungary’s Orbán and Turkey’s Erdogan are practically already authoritarian states. In India, Modi has been heading the slaughter of the people of Kashmir, in a curiously timed attack on Pakistan coupled with distracting domestic policies. Hate crimes are rising across Europe and the US in particular, with States being complicit, and white nationalism is rampant (no, it’s not the fucking ‘alt-right’; learn). First Nations people were being brutally attacked for protesting in North Dakota, and whoever supports them labelled as traitors. Putin’s Russia is mobilising, weapons-wise and through international manipulation. The Italian Movimento 5 Stelle is being investigated for fake signatures and accused of a network of conflicting, fake news. The BBC invites right-wing extremist Marine Le Pen on a show, unchallenged – hey BBC, learn from Cathy Newman, learn from Trevor Noah, learn from Roland Martin, learn from Teen Vogue. The UK has made the Snoopers’ Charter law. Italy HERE. Neo-nazi group Golden Dawn attacks a refugee camp in Chios, Greece – the Daily Mail claims it’s the refugees’ fault. On that subject: this is the highest refugee movement since WWII, and much like back then, we fucked up – we’re the cause. And, of course, the fucking cherry on the fucking shit-sundae that is the current international reality: facts no longer exist. Bullshit.

(Eddie Izzard on fascism via @DrFumetts / Twitter)

(Eddie Izzard on fascism via @DrFumetts / Twitter)

Junot Díaz talked about ‘radical hope’ in a US presidential election aftermath piece on The New Yorker. A type of hope which is not blind optimism, not just something to believe in, but something to practice. Something to apply to our lives, to prevent more of us from fucking up things even worse. The kind of hope that is meant to bring us together, dispel of the idea of individual heroes and saviours, and actually work as communities of hope, of progress, and if needs must (it looks ever more likely that it most definitely does) of resistance.

Here on the Radical, we’ve published a piece on what we can all do to help, support, foster communities even in very small ways. But in order to do that, we need to answer the questions that Kendzior and Tirado ask: what do we actually stand for? do we actually stand for anything? do we treat protest and politics as entertainment? when do we stop fucking things up? Because the time has come to stick to actual beliefs, and not just pins or badges. The time has come to take a fucking stand up to fucking fascism marching once more across the world. Too many people have been doing so already, taking bullets for us, taking water cannons for us, taking beatings for us, covering our sorry asses.

A type of hope which is not blind optimism, not just something to believe in, but something to practice

Maybe it’s about time, don’t you think? Austria has voted against the return of the far-right and for the victory of Green thought, twice. Italy has had the highest voter turnout since 1993, whatever the result. Army veterans are helping the Standing Rock camp and protesters – and the DAPL has been halted as of Sunday. A counter-demonstration in North Carolina led to the KKK cancelling a ‘victory march’. UK students and grassroots movements have united in direct action against detention and deportation centre. Entertainment outlets, artists, musicians, producers, film-makers, individual journalists and writers are speaking up, speaking out, challenging whatever the fuck this new normal is doing by trying to settle in.

We don’t need heroes. We don’t need figureheads. We need each other. We need humility. We need community. We need anger. We need direct action. We need to learn, to educate ourselves, to commit treason. The time has come to get ready, to resist, to fight back against this wave of filth gathering speed and height across the world. The time has come to remember what we believe, who we are, and fucking act like it.

Featured image © David Lagerlöf/Expo/TT News Agency/Press Association Images

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