“Make My Life a Living Hell.” OK.
In this Republican puff piece on Betsy DeVos, the closing paragraph goes:
DeVos believes the protests during and after her confirmation were not “spontaneous, genuine protests,” but are being “sponsored and very carefully planned. We’ve seen enough written that they want to make my life a living hell. They also don’t know what stock I come from. I will not be deterred from my mission in helping kids in this country.”
Republicans are going nuts about protest these days. Not content to sell their souls to the devil for the opportunity to shut out progressive voices from all electoral governance, they’re now going after the people themselves, balls out to delegitimize protesters. Never mind that protest is protected twice in the first amendment, as free speech and in the right to assemble. Never mind the largest protest in US history one month ago had not a single arrest. Never mind that the protestor that got shot by a Trumpist Yiannopoulos fan didn’t press charges and just wanted to fucking talk about it. Here is what Republican propaganda thinks of people in the streets and state houses who are protesting sexism, xenophobia, racism, and authoritarianism.
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch cut his teeth on cutting down Columbia University protesters. A new section of whitehouse.gov lays the groundwork for a Republican fueled crackdown on protesters by suggesting they are rioters, looters, and violent disrupters—a subject that needs to be addressed by policy position statements, apparently (unlike, say, climate change or LGBTQ equality). The right wing propagandists are getting their cues straight from the White House. There is also a lot of anti-protest activity in state legislatures, including an effort in Minnesota to make protesters pay to exercise their constitutional rights.
So it comes as no surprise that Yiannopoulos’ infamous stop at Berkeley, as with his whole tour, was bankrolled by Bannon’s mouthpiece Breitbart and “wealthy individuals.” The best thing that could happen to the right is that they have propaganda fodder to smear protesters, so Berkeley was a win for them. Though Yiannopoulos didn’t speak, he got a much larger platform afterwards by having “proof” of violently anti-first-amendment liberals. The black bloc will have to get more creative, but at least some are already thinking about that.
At this point, I have to mention that Republicans also have a really weird thing about how George Soros is supposedly funding black bloc anarchy all over the country (in addition to being a Nazi). I’ve been asking around with people who do not traffic in #alternativefacts, and I have yet to meet a liberal friend who had even heard of George Soros before January 20.
Which brings us back to DeVos’ comment about protests being “sponsored and very well planned.” How I read that? They are so well-organized that they must be ‘sponsored,’ otherwise, how could my worldview be so out of sync with these people in the street?
Thomas ends his article with DeVos’ quote because that is the most important takeaway. The fascists-in-the-know realize how important it will be to delegitimize protest since it is a big unexpected road block, even preventing Trump from traveling. That is power.
So now let’s revisit “I will not be deterred.” Yes. Yes you will. Fellow educators, let’s make sure that we know her every move and that she is actively met at every travel destination to meet with educators. Especially the private schools. Let’s make sure we don’t drain public education resources even more than charter schools do already, and make sure public educators are getting face time with her to tell it like it T-I-Is. Make your life a living hell? Challenge accepted.