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“Infested with Millionaires”

After I came out about not supporting Ani DiFranco anymore, I got a couple of private comments. One person basically said, “I never knew why you listened to her in the first place.” But it’s the other one I want to address, which defended DiFranco.

This person said that DiFranco lives and works in a capitalist society and should have the right to criticize it. The person went on to say that DiFranco is successful and creative.

Look, anyone is free to criticize capitalism. But if you’re worth 10 million dollars, don’t brand yourself as one of the little people. If DiFranco wanted to criticize capitalism honestly, she should sing about how it’s unfair that she has a disgusting amount of wealth while people equally talented and creative can’t put food on the table.

That’s an honest treatment of capitalism. Because capitalism, contrary to my interlocuter’s implication, does not reward by merit.

Until DiFranco’s supposed brutally honest art reflects her current reality of being wealthy, I refuse to support her.

That’s my right. Suck it.

Getting Used to Peace During COVID-19: Advice from a Disabled Person

With COVID-19 spreading throughout the United States, many people, rightly, are practicing social distancing. If you are staying at home for any length of time, you may get bored. Many people with disabilities, such as myself, are already shut-ins. I can tell you that, over the 10 year period that I’ve been disabled, the hardest thing to get used to is peace.

I was a workaholic previously and kept very busy. Working is ingrained in Americans. It has taken me these past 10 years to get used to not being busy all the time.

Your situation is going to be different than mine. Your situation is temporary. Mine may be lifelong. But let me tell you, the sooner you get used to peace, the happier you’ll be.

Henry David Thoreau noted that people are busy, but they are usually busy doing mundane and unimportant things. His goal was to live purposefully, with intent, and do things that were important.

We can learn from Thoreau during the COVID-19 pandemic. No doubt, Thoreau had to get used to silence and, most of all, peace.

I’m not saying it will be easy. We are, after all, dealing with a global pandemic with potential economic consequences. But the sooner you get comfortable with not doing things that are unimportant, the more relaxed and happier you’ll be.

This doesn’t mean you can’t watch Netflix or play board games. It means there may be silences in your life right now and you’ll have to get used to them.

I wish everyone well during this time. And I hope other people, disabled or otherwise, offer advice to everyone about how to get through this.

I Believe I’m Done With Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco has been a part of my life for roughly 15 years. I have bought albums, attended concerts and bought merchandise. DiFranco bills herself as “the little guy,” so to speak, and, yes, it’s true that she is worth less than a favorite of mine, John Frusciante, who has been in the music business about the same amount of time.

But there’s a time when your brand is just hypocritical. Ani has reached that point.

DiFranco’s estimated worth is 10 million dollars. I know I contributed to that. While I knew when she sang “The Million You Never Made” that she had earned at least a million dollars, I didn’t know the little folk singer was earning much more than that even as she sang with disdain that America had become “infested with millionaires” in the song Animal.

There comes a point in which hoarding a certain amount of wealth is disgusting. I’d say that for anyone. But it’s especially disgusting when you hoard wealth singing that capitalism “is the devil’s wet dream” while being completely capitalist in nature.

I can’t in good faith support DiFranco anymore. Her branding was good when she was poor and small. Now that she’s big and rich, she needs to sing and brand herself reflecting that reality.

On Being a Gender Critical Feminist

The Journal of Pediatrics published a comment on suicidal ideation and transition of transgender youth. In short, there is no evidence for the widely-held belief that transition prevents suicide and suicidal ideation.

This prompted me to write about being a gender critical feminist. I don’t claim to speak for all gender critical feminists. I only speak for myself. But below are some reasons I identify as such.

I am an adult female. I believe I have been oppressed and targeted as such in my lifetime. I believe, as a biological class, infant, youth and adult females are regularly oppressed and targeted due to their membership. The major goal of feminism is to obliterate this oppression.

None of this means I hate transgender people. I am not prone to target them for crimes against them. If I were anything like that, you could rightly call me transphobic. But being gender critical does not entail transphobia.

As far as gender and sex are concerned, I believe that the term gender has come to mean very little. These days, people are wont to make up new gender terms and concepts. I won’t speculate as to why they do this, but it does indeed seem to be a trend that will most likely fade away with time.

Being trans, too, has come to be all-encompassing so as to mean very little. It entails things one likes, how one appears, and the friends one has or wishes to have. I do not hold any disdain for people who identify as transgender. I simply feel rather sorry for them as I think they are fundamentally confused and, probably, deeply unhappy with themselves, their lives and, most of all, their very bodies.

I think people have the right to transition if they choose to as adults. I think, currently, the science is out on whether that’s an optimal decision. I do not think children ought to transition.

I believe that people have the right to be healthy and happy. If the evidence pointed to being something other than gender critical, I hope I would move in that direction. As it stands, I think transgenderism is a fad or social condition, not a biological one. I believe this due to the fact that being transgender seems to be a social contagion. It spreads socially. Thus, no one, I believe, is biologically born “in the wrong body.”

Very simply put, I am tired of being seen as a bigot for being gender critical, especially by biological men–trans or otherwise. I hope this short post has made you see why someone would be gender critical and that you no longer see such a position as bigoted.

Vote for the Luckiest

Back when I was in graduate school, I was an RA for the book Reading Bernard Williams. During that time, I edited a paper by Martha Nussbaum called “The Women of Trachis.” In that paper, Nussbaum discusses political luck. She notes that there’s luck and then there’s luck. What she means by that is that there are some things out of our control and some things within our control when it comes to politics and our well-being. Some things, like (currently) whether one gets certain cancers, is out of one’s control. Other things, like how much women get paid versus how much men get paid, are within our control. Nussbaum implies that the goal of politics is to maximize good outcomes as much as we can.

Given all this, I have advice for those in the United States who have not voted yet: Vote for the luckiest.

Don’t vote based on looks, personality, or the rumored character of a candidate’s supporters. Instead, look at each candidate’s policies and make your choice based on who is more likely to get good outcomes for Americans. This, following Nussbaum, is the goal of politics.

Currently, there are many things the government can do and can do better, in all likelihood, than the market. Think about affordable housing, the minimum wage or health care.

Cast your vote based on who would produce the best outcomes for Americans.

Should We Be Mad at Elizabeth Warren?

Today, there was some news cycling in Indian Country. A group of over 200 Native Americans demanded Elizabeth Warren come out and say is not and never has been Native American.

This story keeps popping up, so I thought I’d address it. I think, if Elizabeth Warren comes out and says anything, it should be to clarify who and what a Native American is.

Unlike other so-called racial categories, being Native American–or, rather, being Cherokee or Choctaw–is a political affiliation. When you are Cherokee, you are a citizen (member) of a Cherokee tribal nation. This is different than being a racial group. Tribal nations have political sovereignty and citizens enjoy the rights and responsibilities of belonging to a particular nation.

When I queried a Native person I know about whether he was mad at Warren, he said, “No. Do you get mad when people claim to be white?” I said I didn’t, but I might think they are mistaken.

To my friend, getting mad or upset about such things seemed like a waste of time and energy.

Warren can address these issues by clearing up not only the fact that she is not a tribal citizen but also defining what it means to be Native American to a large audience. This way, she can clarify these things to people, many of whom also think, as the saying goes, that they have a Cherokee great-great-grandmother, which makes them Cherokee.

If Warren is the nominee, I will vote for her. As a white person, I know all too well the urge, especially for some and particularly in the recent past, to say one is Native American. Everyone seems to have a Cherokee great-great-grandmother. But I am not pissed off at Warren. I just think she’s mistaken. She should take this opportunity to clarify things to the masses. There’s too much misinformation about Native Americans as it is.

Politics from a Distance

This election season is the first time in a while when I have no personal contact with the people running for president.

I have seen Bill Clinton talk in Daytona Beach. When Hillary was running, I told the story of how, when she came to Tallahassee as First Lady for Children’s Week, I hiked up my ankle-length dress, climbed over rows of chairs, and shook her hand. I have also met with Jeb Bush when he was running for governor of Florida.

But this time, I have no personal relationship in any way to any of the politicians. I have not seen any of them speak in person, have not taken a selfie, or shaken their hand.

From my standpoint, this is a good thing. For me, at least, politics from a distance make me a little more sober and objective. When I’ve had a personal connection with a candidate, my views have been tainted by how I was treated by them or how they reacted to me. With politics from a distance, I have none of that.

I am enjoying this cycle much more than others, too, and am able to absorb more policy information rather than personal character impressions. This is a good thing.

The Thing About Boomers

Tonight, I got to thinking: What is it about Baby Boomers?

This is not a generational debate. I’m not anti-boomer. Instead, I wanted to think about how we ended up in the mess we are in. How did anyone ever believe in trickle down economics? How did racial injustice keep going well into 2020?

I posit that, were it not for COINTELPRO, we’d be living in a nation much like the one Bernie Sanders wants. I posted as much on Twitter:

Bernie’s America is exactly where we would be if COINTELPRO never happened. @JennieLLawson

You can’t look me straight in the eye and tell me that COINTELPRO didn’t work. It worked very well, in fact. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t be prone to the very same way of thinking if you were subjected to so much misinformation about the left.

As a former student of psychology, I know not to discount these things about myself. We are all prone to biases in our thinking. That’s a basic fact. Weeding them out, as much as possible, is another issue altogether.

If you are a boomer reading this, be gentle with yourself. But ask yourself, too, if COINTELPRO worked on you. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably answer in the affirmative.

For the rest of us, we can learn to be kinder to boomers, knowing we’d probably be the same way, with the same voting and policy habits, if we were subjected to mass disinformation.

On the Cusp of a Dream

I just finished watching the Democratic Debate in South Carolina and I feel like I’m on the cusp of a dream.

Think about it: What would you do if public colleges were tuition free? What would you do if we had healthcare for all Americans? What would you do if your student loan was wiped away? What would you do, in other words, if Bernie Sanders were president?

These are dreams I have been waiting for. I have grandchildren now and I think about the kind of world I want them to grow up in.

I want a world with racial justice. I want a world where governments work together on climate change.

I want to live in Bernie Sanders’ America.

Let Andrew Yang Go.

There’s still some stragglers who are adamantly voting for Andrew Yang even though he dropped out of the Democratic primary.

I’m here to tell you: Just let him go.

I like Andrew Yang. Quite a bit. But he just isn’t ready to be president. His major line was for UBI, which he called a Freedom Dividend.

I’m for UBI and have said as much for several years.

But Yang didn’t answer all the policy questions people have. Would the Freedom Dividend stack with other benefits or not? What would Yang do with SSI and SSDI? Did he even have a disability policy?

These are granular issues that people need to know.

UBI could be great, but it doesn’t solve everything.

In the end, Yang was a one pony show. It’s time to let him go.