The Young Turkettes

Condemned out of the gate. Using a feminine suffix like -ette or -ess dooms me to the nether world of old White guys, which I am. However, I love the new crop of mostly female and often minority House members who are raising hell. I recognize the tone of Omar and AOC b/c I recall the 70s when so many Hispanics and African-Americans were raising their fists and finding their voice (rememeber Aztlan and Black Power? No? Then you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about here). We applauded that even as we cringed at questionable interpretations of history. We really cringed when a Black voice would rise to ask about “the Jews.” Somewhere, perhaps The Nation of Islam, an anti-Semitic trope (buzz word now replacing stereotype) arose and was found to be new, perhaps an explanation of their problems to people in big cities who often had Jewish landlords. Koreans had a hard time in L.A. but anti-Asian sentiment lacks the deep historical roots in Western thought that anti-Semitism has.

Having participated in numerous discussions among African-Americans and Hispanics in those years, I am familiar with what I call the hot-house environment you can exist in when you listen only to people who agree with you and have your same background, kind of like Fox News. That leads to in-breeding and sterility of ideas, which is why those movements went nowhere while MLK, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Cesar Chavez made so much progress. But here we are now with some folks who may not quite grasp that they are in a new hot-house, one with a lot of old White guys in it. Many of those guys recall ugly events of the past set off by over-heated rhetoric based on little real knowledge. They react strongly and with power to slap down such rhetoric in their own ranks.

My own experience in this was deepened years ago when I met someone who became a friend, a 14 year old Pakistani student at my school. He was thrilled that I wanted to learn his language, Urdu, and we met almost weekly through his high school years, then college, then grad school, then marriage and jobs and four kids….. IOW, in depth knowledge of him. What I found was someone whose exposure to our society was very strongly colored not so much by his religion, Islam, but by his associations which tended to be very limited. He even had a hierarchy of people – who was worthiest, somewhat less worthy, etc. It was remarkable and shocking. Over the years I disabused him of a lot of notions and he and his wife loved my wife, who is African-American.

So I wonder how much Ilhan Omar has listened to people outside her community; I hope a lot. I love her feistiness and courage to take on the forces arrayed against everyone who wants an open society and esp against those of a minority faith. AOC’s remarkable performance in the Cohen hearings revealed the seriousness of her thrust into national affairs. We have been waiting for someone like her. And every time I’ve heard her speak I am more impressed. And Tlaib’s well-deserved take-down of an idiot who would trot out a Black person in Trump’s organization as evidence of his lack of prejudice, without letting her speak for herself! was courageous; and even more courageous was her willingness to apologize pro forma as per rules of the House. Great stuff. Not to mention Katie Power’s take-down of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Kathleen Kraninger, citing the definition of APR from the textbook she, Porter, wrote! It just doesn’t get more delicious than that.

So please, Miss Nancy, corral these young turkettes and help them understand that as they are swatting at the Trump mosquitos, the GOP alligator is creeping up behind them. Mind the tail!

March 29, 2019 Saw AOC in an interview with Chris Hayes. What a great human being and political person. I encourage myself by muttering, “President Ocasio-Cortez”, the first — not female president, not Hispanic president — but the first president with a hyphenated name.

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