Tuesday, 31 January 2023

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That's a Fine Mess You've Gotten Us Into [Auntie Najwa's Unsolicited Advice]

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 Salaam Dearies, 

I admit that I have been depressed lately.  It’s really hard to keep your sense of humor when democracy is openly under threat, and mobs of domestic terrorists incited by the president roam the halls of Congress … but Alhamdullilah … if you look hard enough, the news also provides ongoing entertainment.  It’s so ironic when a violent insurrection fails and suddenly all the supporters and even the rioters proclaim their lack of involvement.  No officer, those are not my zip-ties I was carrying around … I just picked them up so that no one else can use them to take a member of Congress hostage. Honest!  More and more people are being arrested, and you and I know, that – had the rioters been anything but white middle-class Americans – the death toll would have been higher. Much higher. White supremacy is and remains the biggest threat to this country, and any healing requires accountability, including for those lawmakers who knowingly violated their oaths of office to provide a backdrop of legitimacy to the mob.  

But, Dearies, I promised entertainment, and entertainment you shall have – courtesy of a member of the Florida legislature indignant of his failed dictator’s lack of access to private communication platforms.  The news just came in this morning, and I should know better to read while I eat breakfast because it made me laugh so hard that I snorted milk out of my nose. But I’ve kept you in suspense long enough …  

Today, vitriolic Islamophobe Florida Representative Randy Fine, who recently proclaimed that there was “no question” that “the president was cheated” distanced himself from the domestic terrorists that invaded the Capitol and even called for Governor DeSantis to issue a BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) order against American companies that refuse to allow President Trump to use them to incite violence. Likewise, he advocates on behalf of “the tens of millions of good, patriotic Americans, millions of whom live here in Florida.”  Those are the people who evidently suffered when social media companies decided to shut down communication facilitating disruption to the peaceful transition of power next week.  

You know that Randy Fine, who is the proud architect of Florida’s BDS laws and who wants to make sure that every Florida student who criticizes the State of Israel for its human rights violations has their future ruined. Yeah … that one. Perhaps he really doesn’t understand how free speech laws work … but it’s good that at least he understands and validates that BDS is an effective means of protest.  

Mr. Fine – perhaps you look at the social media giants as a Christian bakery … and Trump as a gay wedding cake.  That might illustrate it for you. They have the right to refuse service.  And corporations are people, remember?  That works particularly well for ALEC-bought-and-paid-for politicians, so don’t bite the hand that pays you well for your un-American policies.  

And as the ‘piece de la resistance’ (oh yeah, I’m still all for ‘resistance’ but only if you pronounce it with a French accent, merci beaucoup) Mr. Fine argues that he does not deserve to be thrown into the same pot with the terrorists that attacked and defiled the Capitol in DC.  He writes to the Governor: “… those terrorists do not define me.  They do not define you. They do not define my colleagues. And they do not define conservatives.” 

Regardless of the fact that he double spaces after each period, first let me commend him for calling the rioters terrorists.  They are domestic terrorists, and I don’t see that word is used very often to describe the white supremacist threat in this country.  Terrorists and their sympathizers come in all forms shapes and sizes, and American conservatives are too reluctant to call them out if they look and sound like them. For obvious reasons: they are part of their voter base they have courted for so long. 

Second, I want to commend him for the revelation that the acts of the few don’t define the many. Who would have thought that the poster boy of Islamophobia, who defines millions of Muslims as a terrorist threat to America, would suddenly see how irrational and unfair he has been to our community.  Do I dare hope that he has suddenly seen the light?  Is he going to evolve like other conservatives, who suddenly see the wisdom of family leave because they experienced pregnancy?  Has the grave injustice (pass the tissues) of the president’s inability to rally his supporters into yet another planned attack on democracy finally woken him up?  “If the President of the United States can be silenced by those companies, then so can anyone.” 

Time will tell whether his new-found logic applies to others or only to people who look and hate like him.  Also, someone should tell him that the duly elected and very media-savvy President of the United States, who instructed a violent white supremacist hate group, the Proud Boys, to ‘stand by’ on national TV, has a gaggle of journalists following him around. He can make statements any time he chooses, and Twitter is by means not his only outlet.  Granted, it’s the only private platform by which he has traditionally had direct access to direct his followers from the privy at 3:00 am, but again, I don’t remember that being protected in the Constitution.  

I do agree that tech giants have created new market places for the exchange of views and that society and with it, the legislature must come up with a solution to protect citizens’ free speech rights.  I, too, don’t want faceless social media executives or algorithms to decide what I can or cannot say.  However, last time I checked, I haven’t fired up an angry mob with lies of voter fraud and then tried to light a match under them.  But Mr. Fine is right about one thing: Government regulation is in order. I wonder though if he has thought that through and run it by his cronies at ALEC.  Regulation is a slippery slope.  Suddenly, the government is going to be ‘pickings winners and losers.’ What’s next?  A living wage and an end to corporate exploitation? 

In the meantime, boycotts work.  And if fiduciaries of the State of Florida pension funds allow themselves to be used as political footballs, perhaps they will incur the risk inherent in divesting from tech stock to please Rep. Fine and his fellow exiles on Parler. Perhaps companies who, like Fine writes, “allow actual terrorists around the world to use their platforms to target America, Americans, and our allies, without as much as a peep” deserve to be boycotted just as much as a country that commits international law violations against its own citizens. Chances are, however, that those companies are going to be the ones ensuring that Florida retirees don’t lose their shirts. In the meantime, Air BnB has canceled all reservations and blocked users associated with hate groups from renting on their platform, too.  

Perhaps, Rep. Fine and sad Laura Loomer can start their own platform of aggrieved hate-mongers who have been told to take a hike by big tech.  No one really wants to hear them anymore.  And now their sponsors have dried up.  What a shame.  But I do hope they keep entertaining us in their ironic cognitive dissonance kind of way, squirming to make themselves the victims of those gosh-darn liberals that don’t want our country to descend into complete chaos, InshAllah. 

Tata dearies … till next time!   

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