Monday, July 18, 2005

Alberto Gonzales and the Road to Handmaid's Tale

Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at

It's been years since I read The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood's portrayal of the fictional "Republic of Gilead." The narrator, Ofglen--who is denied even her own name--describes a future land where women have been reduced to breeders; where minorities labor in chains to clean up the fields of toxic waste; and where "heretics" and rebels are gruesomely executed in the public square to set an example.

Lately, real life--a public book-burning in Colorado, a U.S. senator calling for the execution of abortion providers, the demonization of gay people, the popularization of restrictive and repressive "covenant marriages"--has provoked me to recall scenes from this book. Each day, in increments, events are slipping ever further into the unconscionable. So when I saw a woman reading The Handmaid's Tale on the train a few days ago I had to talk with her.

At first she stuck to comments on the plotline and writing style, but soon she too crossed over into the chillingly similar realities of today. The tale of the handmaid is from the Bible, and Atwood portrays a society where such stories are enforced literally and women are "issued" by the state to men for the purposes of domestic work and childbearing. We discussed how today's Christian fascists aren't at all concerned for fetuses or even real children, but are dead-set on controlling women's reproduction and sexuality and reducing us to breeders as well.

Like many I have spoken to, she wondered out loud why the Democrats keep rolling over and refusing to stand up for women's right to abortion, against the war, or anything else that really matters. She underscored how bad this is given that there is an opening to be filled on the Supreme Court. She is clearly exasperated and at a loss when she says, "I hope that Bush appoints Gonzales and that he will have trouble from the right wingers."

I was taken aback. I have heard all the complaints from the major theocrats that Gonzales was not tough enough on abortion and affirmative action. But Gonzales signed off on the opinions justifying the hell of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. And I can imagine, without much effort, Gonzales approving the same practices of holding people incommunicado, without either charges or lawyers and the same practices of psychological and physical torture used there, should women like this at some point come into the sights of the state.

This woman--who is afraid of a real-life Handmaid's Tale--finds that very fear trapping her in exactly the dynamic that will lead us down the road to the Republic of Gilead, accepting and even promoting something who just weeks ago was unconscionable because today they seem (!) slightly less terrifying than the alternative presented. What does it tell us when the "slightly less terrifying" end of the political spectrum is an architect and apologist for a whole system of torture?!

The World DEFINITELY Can't Wait!

*****from the World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime! Call*****
"There is not going to be some magical 'pendulum swing.' People who steal elections and believe they are on a 'mission from God' will not go without a fight.

"There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into 'leaders' who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.

"But silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn--or be forced--to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take responsibility to do it."

from "The World Can't Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!"

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 10:15 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...


If howie is a twerp, what is edog?
You at least seem like someone who wants to engage in serious discussion, even if you strongly disagree with Sunsara's politics. Edog just needs to get a life. By the way if you check out the comments to Sunsara's previous post, there is a responce to your "taxation of the middle class" question.

7/19/05, 3:12 PM

Blogger Macdave said...

I just think you're full of yourself if you drop a link to your site saying that it's intelligent. No modesty at all.

And thanks, I responded to that comment in the previous post.

7/19/05, 6:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Operation Rescue Supports Bush's Choice of John G. Roberts for US Supreme Court

To: National Desk

Contact: Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, 316-841-1700; Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue spokesperson, 316-516-3034

WASHINGTON, July 19 /Christian Wire Service/ -- President George W. Bush has chosen John G. Roberts to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor to the US Supreme Court. Operation Rescue supports this selection.

Roberts has shown strong conservative credentials with indications that he will not uphold Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that decriminalized abortion. Roberts coauthored a 1990 legal brief that stated, "The court's conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion ... finds no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution."

"A culture of life can never be built as long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

"We appreciate President Bush being a man of his word by appointing a judge that will respect the Right to Life acknowledged by our nation's founding documents," said Newman. "We pray that Roberts will be swiftly confirmed."

"Our nation has suffered enough under decades of liberal activist judges legislating from the bench," said OR spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger. "After 45 million dead children, we are guardedly optimistic that the confirmation of Judge Roberts will be a step toward restoring protections for the pre-born that were stolen from them in 1973."

7/19/05, 11:09 PM

Anonymous Moira said...

I think the narrator is actually called Offred.

7/21/05, 1:01 AM

Blogger Sunsara Taylor said...

Moira, you are right. Her name is Offred. After talking to this woman, I pulled the book off the shelf and have gotten sucked back into it again - it is really gripping. And, you are indeed correct - Offred. Thanks.

7/21/05, 5:28 PM

Anonymous Kommie Komment Kleaner said...

Time to scrub the comments!

7/27/05, 5:43 PM

Blogger Chairman eDog said...

Hey, has Bush been run out of office yet?

7/28/05, 11:08 AM

Blogger Chairman eDog said...

Any luck yet?

7/28/05, 3:55 PM

Blogger Chairman eDog said...

What about now?

7/28/05, 5:03 PM

Blogger Chairman eDog said...

Okay, how 'bout now?

7/29/05, 7:59 AM

Blogger Chairman eDog said...

Any word yet?

7/29/05, 10:44 AM

Blogger Chairman eDog said...

I'm beginning to think it's not gonna happen.

7/29/05, 12:06 PM

Blogger Chairman eDog said...

So when I saw a woman reading The Handmaid's Tale on the train a few days ago I had to talk with her.

Oh, come on, Sunsara, just admit it. You were trying to pick the girl up. What'd she look like?

You make it sound like women were the ones who got the shaft (no puns, please). But it was really the men who got it. I mean, how much would suck to bang some hot chick in front of your wife, and every time you tried to cop a feel she'd start nagging at you? Not only that, but I'm sure the wifey was just all the bitch she could be after one of those breeding sessions: "You never enjoy it that much with me. Why don't you just get you effing handmaid to do the dishes." Fuck that.

7/29/05, 12:12 PM

Blogger Chairman eDog said...

2009, man.

8/4/05, 8:47 AM

Blogger TripleNeckSteel said...


What do you, aheva crush on eDog now? How come his comments don't get scrubbed?

I see you've been using new Kommie Komment Kleanser®

8/9/05, 11:00 PM


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