Sunday, June 26, 2022

What would Aunt Lydia do?


Stolen from Facebook / Artist unknown
Well! It certainly has been a week. 

On Thursday we learned from the January 6th committee that five or six sitting members of Congress had asked for presidential pardons for their roles in former President Trump's attempted coup. 

That headline was very shortly superseded by a Supreme Court ruling that makes it easier for gun owners to carry their weapons in public. Within hours, that headline was followed by the news that Congress had approved (and President Biden signed into law yesterday) a gun control bill for the first time in decades. Even though most Americans would view it as weak sauce, it's better than nothing. Among other things, the new law: requires background checks for 18- and 19-year-olds who want to purchase a gun; closes a "boyfriend loophole" that allowed some convicted domestic violence offenders to get hold of guns; stiffens penalties for people who buy guns for those who wouldn't pass a background check; and provides money to states for mental health treatment and for confiscating guns from those who've been deemed dangerous by a judge. Notably, it doesn't ban assault weapons like the AR-15. But hey, baby steps, I guess.

But even that news was overtaken on Friday by the release of the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, in which the justices overturned Roe v. Wade and then promptly left for the weekend. Liberals and progressives weren't surprised by the ruling -- after all, somebody at the high court leaked a draft in early May. But they were shocked -- okay, we were shocked -- by Justice Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion, in which he said he'd like to see decisions that legalized gay marriage and access to contraceptives reconsidered, too. The majority opinion attempted to reassure everyone that the court didn't intend to go after those decisions -- but the three justices nominated by former President Trump swore during their confirmation hearings that Roe was settled law, making this most recent claim somewhat less than trustworthy. (Observers have noted that Thomas made no mention of overturning Loving v. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriages. That's especially interesting, given that he's Black and married to a White woman -- with whom, by the way, the January 6th committee would like to have a chat, due to her involvement in Trump's coup attempt. But I digress.)

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd attended a lecture -- a Q&A, actually -- given by Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid's Tale. It occurred to me then that I had never read the sequel, The Testaments, so I did. I read the first book shortly after it was published in the '80s; it describes an America that has descended into a fundamentalist hellscape, with women forced to either submit to an arranged marriage or produce babies for the men running the place. The Testaments has been out since 2019, so the statute of limitations on spoilers has probably run; still, I'll try to avoid giving away the ending. Suffice it to say that the prime mover of this second novel, Aunt Lydia, remembers what America was like before Gilead, and is secretly doing everything she can to overturn the regime. 

I find today that The Testaments gives me hope. I don't believe we've hit rock bottom yet; things are going to get worse in the United States before they get better. But women are smart and resourceful. We won't tolerate attempts to make us give up the independence we've had for fifty years. To those who think Dobbs is the beginning of the end for liberal ideals, I say this: 

Just wait.


These moments of bloggy upheaval have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed! And if you value your freedom, for gods' sake, VOTE!

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