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The Crisis

THESE are the times that try one's soul. The summer activist and the sunshine feminist will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their causes; but they that stand by it now, deserve the love and thanks of man and woman. Inequality, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the struggle, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon equal rights; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as equality should not be highly rated. Conservatives, with an army of billionaires to fund their oppression, have declared that they have the right to bind us to their beliefs. If being bound in that manner is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God. [1]

The crisis of which I speak is the convergence of world and political events, poised to turn back the clock on equal rights and, in particular, women’s rights. In the Middle East and particularly in Egypt, repressive conservative policies attempt to return the rights of women to medieval levels. The Egyptian parliament attempted to introduce legislation to return to female genital mutilation (a.k.a. female circumcision). In Mississippi, a new law that targets abortion services by making restrictive requirements for doctors, may force the state’s last clinic to close. Attacks by state governments on collective bargaining often affect women disproportionately. When I attend or chronicle protest marches and actions in our area, there is always the same small group of faces.  I am heartened by the positive trend of separate groups coming together to unite against the trend created by unfettered money from Conservative supporters. The NAACP now publically supports marriage equality. The Nurses Union leads a nationwide campaign to force Wall Street to pay their fair share with a transaction tax. Unions and progressives in Wisconsin united to attempt to reverse onerous policies of their governor. The “We Are Woman” March and Rally will take place in D.C. on August 18th (see article on Page 5). The summer activists say that these attempts are Quixotic and they do not turn out, even in the summer. I believe that a spark has been ignited that will grow into a groundswell of people and groups united against the Conservative power grab. Victory will not be in a month or a year, it may take a decade to reverse the current trend, but we have begun; only complacency and inaction stand in our way.

[1] The inspiration for this article is Thomas Paine’s, The Crisis, December 23, 1776. Paine, with whom I share a birthday, wrote in a time of despair for the American Revolution. I believe that his words speak across the centuries to us now giving us encouragement to carry on.

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