philosophy, politics

“Inclusive!” “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Gay pride parade organizers in Chicago pride themselves on being inclusive.

Except, apparently, in this case: Demonstrators carrying Star of David flags kicked out of Chicago Dyke March.

The situation might be more complicated than you’re going to see on cable news. For one thing, there is a backstory here. This isn’t the first time the issue has come up in Chicago. Last year, an organization called A Wider Bridge — connecting LGBTQ Jews in the USA and Israel — tried to do a presentation at an LGBTQ conference, but they were shut down. Chicago’s parade organizers say the group is a bunch of agitators trying to impose a “pro-Zionist” agenda, to which a previous Slate story cried “baloney.”

That’s not to say leaders of any movement, whatever it is, shouldn’t worry about their movement being co-opted by people who’ll try to take it another direction. (South Park has covered this on more than one occasion.) But it’s pretty clear parade organizers messed up here. In their zeal to keep out “Zionists,” they made a lot of Jews feel unwelcome.

I think there’s an underlying problem here. People who speak up for marginalized people (or marginalized people themselves) sometimes get the lecturing-to-listening ratio wrong. Being marginalized or being an ally for the marginalized doesn’t mean you’re right 100 percent of the time.

And no one’s 100 percent oppressed or 100 percent oppressor. No one’s family, let alone anyone’s country, is 100 percent innocent. You can be an LGBTQ person of color, and you still have blinders of “privilege” because you’re American or wealthy or goodness knows what else. I have a ton of “oppressor” in my family tree — I’m descended from Confederate military officers, and I’m the grandson of someone who argued forcefully against segregation. But I’m also descended from people who fled France, Scotland and England, not always in search of greater wealth in the New World. My kids are descended from grandparents and great-grandparents who weren’t free to go “home.”

So what does this all mean?

It means we all have to listen. To everybody. Writing off someone’s input because they’re Jewish or American or white really isn’t any better than writing off someone’s input because they’re Muslim or African or black.

If people have malicious intent, it’ll reveal itself soon enough. Let them speak. They might have a point. And if they don’t have a point, feel free to let them know.


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