This rambles a bit, I couldn't quite find the words I wanted, or the order I wanted, and I certainly haven't edited it, but here goes
"It'll be war"
I said, following the Brexit result. A bit doom and gloom perhaps, but like so many I saw in the result the affirmation of the downhill slide I'd been witnessing, and trying desperately to push to the back of my mind for a while.
Increasing radicalisation. Increasing partisanship. An increasing 'us or them' mentality. It was all someone's fault. The immigrants usually. From across the world there were 'immigrants' (we called them 'refugees' once upon a time) fleeing warzones and persecution and bringing their foreign problems with them.
The other day Comey was fired. Let's be clear, Comey was an asshole; at best he was manipulated, and at worse he intentionally revealed spurious and questionable information about an ongoing investigation for political benefit. But his firing doesn't sit right in a lot of ways. The most thought provoking comment I saw on the subject was the following:
"First they came for the Attorney General, but I did not speak out; then they came for the Director of the FBI...."
It's a theme that gets replayed over and over at the moment by those attempting to counter the us verses them approach of today's politics. At what point will we stop being us, and one by one, become them, to find as in Niemoller's poem, there is no one left to speak up for us(i.e. them)?
Today I read this:
RUSSIA ENDS INVESTIGATION INTO ANTI-GAY ABUSE IN CHECHNYA CLAIMING THERE ARE ‘NO VICTIMS’
I'm biased of course, but the phrasing jumps out at me. It's not "we found no signs of abuse", or "we found no evidence of activity at these locations." It's "there are no victims." Which sounds ominously like Kadryov's gay people "do not exist" in Chechnya.
Maybe they did, until very recently. Maybe no longer.
The absolute fear that society is sliding into some nazi-esque style oppression and purge is especially strong amongst young intellectual liberals. We were raised in safety. the advent children of Europe. There were singular terror events of horrific nature, but there was no extended at-home conflict. We were far from war, far from the descending conditions and conflicts that lead to violent outbreaks .
My mother was raised in the post-war society. She played in bombed out shells of buildings as a child. Rations were still in effect. Maybe her experience grants her the perspective to see a difference I can't.
But when I was 11, and first thought I might be gay, the age of consent was still different; you couldn't marry a same sex partner, civil partnerships didn't exist and were barely even a topic of discussion. Matthew Shephard was killed that year. It was a defining moment of me approaching my sexuality as I realised there were many many Matthew Shephard's that didn't get a newspaper article about them. A family and children was out of the question. Being gay, or bi or whatever, meant an isolated life, or one of secrecy or both.
When I was 21, the age of consent was equal, civil partnerships were well established, there were murmrings of what would become the marriage equality battle, celebrities were gay and on tv and when they left the public eye it was to look after their adopted children.
The world around me had changed in a profound and incredible way. In such a short space of time. The growing possibilities were endless.
And now? Now almost another 10 years later, the world has shrunk very small indeed. From a growing discussion on how Trans and more being sidelined and ignored in the LGBT+ acronym, we are now back to deciding where it is okay for people to use a toilet cubicle or not. A gay couple went to a pub local to me and one was glassed in the face for holding hands. There is a growing body of evidence that suggest that gay men in Cechyna are being persecuted, and more worryingly the goverment response is to say 'those people dont exist'. There is a video going around of an MEP who said openly, in European Parliament, that "women must earn less than men because they are smaller, weaker, and less intelligent." He was suspended for a mere 10 days. A punishment he has previously faced several times, on one occassion for giving a nazi salute in Parliament. This man was voted in and hasn't been forcibly evicted by a group of pitchfork bearing women and men who find his viewpoints unconscionable. House Republicans in the US recently passed a bill that would amongst other dire classifications, once again, make rape a pre-existing condition, allowing you to make someone's healthcare insurance premium more expensive.. The fact forced sex against your will and consent was ever considered a pre-existing condition is somehow already acceptable. The West is celebrating that only 1/3 of people in France voted for an extreme right wing candidate. As recently as 2 weeks ago a Tory MP told a group of A-level students that being gay is wrong.
My mother wonders why I am worried.
Because no amount of being white and male will make up for the fact I have sex with men. Because just as quickly as society expanded and changed, I've seen it close up on itself and people-at-large do nothing about it except the occasional tut. Because the people telling me to calm down are ones who will probably be up against the wall much later that I will be. Because when I first wondered about my sexuality and how my life might be, this was the kind of thing to be scared of if people found out.
I am scared because given the dramatic changes forward and back in 20 years, it's only a small step for someone to decide I am one of 'them'. That I am the problem. That those kind of problems don't exist in this country. And my country, Europe, the US, will do nothing except maybe hand out a 10 day suspension.