There is a sexist double standard, establishment columnists insist. Hillary Clinton can never yell about political revolution because she is a woman. Madeleine Albright wields one of her favorite lines and declares there is a “special place in hell” for women who do not help elect Clinton. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem suggests so many women at colleges and universities support Bernie Sanders instead of Clinton because they want to get with boys.
All of the above barely addresses the absurd identity politics, which increasingly dominates conversation about the 2016 presidential election.
What masquerades as a defense of women grows more and more offensive to women with legitimate reasons for not supporting Clinton.
On this week’s “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast, we spend the hour with writer and guest host Roqayah Chamseddine talking about the madness in the 2016 presidential election. From “Bernie Bros” to how Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her supporters are increasingly using her identity to disrupt meaningful debate about her record, Chamseddine critiques the narrow concept of feminism that underpins conversation.
Host Rania Khalek leads a discussion of Clinton’s foreign policy and calls attention to key questions about Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy. We also talk about “electability” and what it means to be “realistic” when voting.
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Below are some highlights from our discussion with Roqayah Chamseddine.
“It’s all made up. I don’t say that lightly. I’ve seen what people are calling harassment and abuse from ‘Bernie Bros,’ and it’s not nice. It’s mean. But people say mean things to each other because they’re on completely opposite ends all the time. It’s not harassment. It’s harassment to be like, you’re an idiot for supporting Hillary. I’m sorry that’s not harassment.” (Rania Khalek)
“If the only you have is to run screaming to other people about ‘bros’ coming for you, I mean, this is ridiculous that this is the way they are trying to absolve themselves of having to debate any sort of materialist issue. Now, any comment with any layer of derogatory part to it is now misogynist or sexist. It’s ridiculous.” (Roqayah Chamseddine)
“What’s really disgusting is these same people don’t say shit when a woman is actually being harassed. For example, and I’m not trying to make this about me, but my focus is Israel and Palestine. I work at the Electronic Intifada. Just the name of it exudes controversy. But it’s a very, very polarizing issue so it attracts very strong emotions. Obviously, I write about it from a pro-Palestine pro-equality anti-Zionist position. So, like, I’ve been attacked in ways that I’m completely numb to it, but I do get attacked. I’ve had bomb threats on Twitter that have almost canceled my talks before. I’ve had people creating impersonating accounts. I’ve had people calling for me to be murdered and saying they’re going to come to my house and murder me.” (Rania Khalek)
“There is an ideal woman that I believe all of these people would like to elect to the White House, but that is not the person that is running for president.” (Kevin Gosztola)
“Is your feminism solely focused on Planned Parenthood, on abortion, on that one specific issue or is your feminism international? Is it accepting of, well, we need to do something about imperialism, we need to do something about welfare, we need to do something about housing? The fact that feminism for so many specifically white establishment feminists is just Planned Parenthood is ridiculous. It is erasing so many women, so many problems that many of us suffer. And they refuse to look beyond that.” (Roqayah Chamseddine)
“Single-payer healthcare isn’t just an economic issue. It could also be a feminist issue because I’ve seen women talking about how important it would be to not be saddled with all these expenses.” (Kevin Gosztola)
“The violence that Hillary Clinton has inflicted on the Middle East is absolutely atrocious and indefensible. I mean, she voted for the Iraq War. She was one of the biggest advocates of regime change in Libya. Look at Libya now. Libya is a lawless hellhole that’s turned into a magnet for ISIS and other jihadists. It’s horrifying. Her support for Israel. She has embraced the most right-wing elements.” (Rania Khalek)
“I’m desperate for someone to challenge Sanders’ foreign policy in a way that has not been done during the debates because it’s more of like a tit-for-tat back-and-forth. We can’t support Hillary because of the Iraq War. But, okay, Bernie, you say that you support the drone war. Why? How is it going to be different from Obama’s drone war? You support a two-state solution [for Israel and Palestine]. How will this even work? It’s all entertainment. It’s all a show. I’m not truly expecting anything to happen. But it would be nice if someone going to his events would go up there and ask him questions because he really hasn’t been hit with anything that would let anyone know what the hell he believes.” (Roqayah Chamseddine)
“I want to push back a little bit against people who are on the more marginal left, like we are, who are just calling him things, like Bernie Sanders is an imperialist warmonger. And I’ve looked through Bernie Sanders’ record, even in Congress, and I don’t see evidence of that. Granted, Bernie Sanders has at time supported bombing campaigns, like in Kosovo, but at the same time, he was one of the only voices coming out against the first Iraq War, the second Iraq War. He’s been kind of consistent in that respect. War is not his first choice. He doesn’t want to bomb Iran. He’s not interested in making war. It’s not fair to say that at all. I think it has no basis in reality.
Then, on the issue of Palestine, Bernie Sanders isn’t good. He shouted at people who came at him about Gaza in 2014 at a town hall, and then he went on to defend Israel by saying Hamas was firing rockets and changed the subject to ISIS. Right, so like he’s not great. At the same time, I saw Chris Hedges, whose opinion I generally respect on foreign policy, calling him an AIPAC wind-up doll. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Bernie Sanders does not take money from AIPAC. He’s never spoken at AIPAC. He doesn’t even vote for AIPAC resolutions. When it comes to condemning Palestinians and supporting Israel, like all those resolutions that take place, even in 2001 when Israel was facing suicide bombings, he didn’t sign on to those resolutions.” (Rania Khalek)
“That’s what’s funny about the usual white feminist base that’s backing Hillary Clinton—the way they talk about women. They talk about us in a way that is really vile. Any criticism that we receive, we need to hit back on it because they’re attacking us for our gender. We need to be careful about what we say about Hillary Clinton.” (Roqayah Chamseddine)
And, finally, this exchange:
GOSZTOLA: Depending on how far this goes, and I expect it to keep going for months, does it ever reach a point where it does have an impact> Like what happened with the Rolling Stone and they didn’t do good journalism and they blew that story with campus rape, which is a hugely important issue but they botched it and it gives in to the other side. Here, they’re taking an issue of online harassment and bullying and blowing it up to an extent, where the evidence just isn’t there. It does a disservice to people, who are actually bullied.
KHALEK: What happens is people who are watching this take place, who are seeing it, they might start to not take actual online harassment seriously. But then the real danger is it plays in to the men’s rights activists. That was one of the biggest dangers of the Rolling Stone piece is that by not doing due diligence and checking facts because they were more interested in believing the victim—Well, if you’re going to be a journalist, you need to actually have evidence if you’re going to do journalism on it. What it ended up doing is giving MRAs exactly what they needed. Now, they can point to the Rolling Stone article and say, bitches lie and no one wants to believe us when we say that.