post-AAR; the way ahead

I wrote a post on a plane from San Antonio, post AAR, to San Francisco. I had every intention to publish it, once I landed, but never did. And then the usual distractions of familia obligations over the holidays ensued. I’m back at the office. Digging myself out of a post-AAR-Thanksgiving email hole. But I don’t want to loose sight of the importance of writing.

Two things are clear. First is this piece from Sarah Kendzior. Second is this piece from Matthew Pratt Guterl. (Really. Read them both.)

Actually, three or four things are clear. In addition to the above two issues — (1) the importance of writing down what you believe, what you value, and (2) the importance of making specific lists of actions you can take given your unique and specific location as an academic or an activist or a whatever — I believe it is important to remember context, to remember audience. In the months and years ahead, we need to be aware of our audiences and our contexts. Some fights are fights I need to take on, others are better fought by others better equipped. And that’s the thing, really. We need to resist the urge to look for that one thing that will define our age, that will dominate our actions moving forward. Each of us needs to figure out how we will create allegiances while working in our own particular ways to resist the coming administration.

Which leads, naturally, to the second point. We need to be forgiving. We have failed — let’s be honest — as the liberal elite. We have failed for any number of reasons, but one way we have failed has been in expecting perfection at all times from all persons. We have been quick to denounce and critique (and believe me I am a fan of critique — it’s necessary — but still) and seemingly reject any and all allies because of a small imperfection — one thing that that made them just not right for the perfect revolution we had in our heads, some random slight on Facebook, some seemingly insignificant comment, some disagreement about policy. We need to be better at choosing our battles and letting go the petty in deference to the substantive.

I am sure that parts of this very post will piss you off. Don’t let its imperfection turn you off. Engage it. Correct it. But don’t count me out as an ally because the intention is just that — to forge allegiances with others who are working toward the common cause of justice and respect for all members of our society. Full stop.

We can no longer wait for everyone to be perfect before we work together in the resistance.

We no longer have the luxury of time. We no longer have the privilege of being able to sit back on our laurels and wax philosophically about how to proceed, about how to create community, to forget alliances. We’re in the thick of it. The time is now or it will be too late. Let go small grievances and decide what’s most important to the cause of resistance and move forward. Grab others by the hand, pull them along with you; they’ll figure it out along the way or they won’t. No time to argue. Let’s get to work.

And I want to be clear here about the following points: (1) there’s no point arguing with crazy or being reasonable with the unreasonable; and (2) each of us has our own audiences we need to reach. Of the first point, they’re white nationalists. Their agenda is to create a white-only nation. There’s no engaging that discourse; there’s no trying to argue against it or pursued people to see some other other side. Either you want a “white-only nation” or you don’t. If you do, this blog ain’t for you (let me show you door). If you don’t, welcome. Let’s talk about about how to counter the white nationalist ideology and agenda.

Of the second point, some activists in the audience need to reach out and bring in moderate voices; others need to focus on just their immediate families; others are the targets of this hate and looming legislative nightmare and thus have more important issues to contend with. Some of us, like myself (and MPG) are, let’s face it, stuffy academics. I know who my audience is, who I want it to be, and how to reach out to them.

That’s the value of his “listicle.” It’s not perfect. It’s not for everyone. But it is for me and for folks in my profession, folks who are concerned about these issues and are desperate for specific actions and strategies for countering what’s on the horizon.

So this is a “pre-manifesto” post of my thinking, at this moment, about the direction of things to come. Again, hold me accountable. In the next week, my own “listicle” of things I hope to keep true to in the months and years ahead.

Let’s get to work, y’all.

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