Community is a Relationship
A Letter to the Editor About Dr. Levine and the Dunk-Tank Incident
Community is a relationship. If we want to improve relationships of the community, we should strive for understanding — not irrational, vicious, and bigoted attacks.
Communication against the firemen’s fundraiser was extremist and uncalled for. It’s tradition for people to cross-dress for dunk-tanks. Drag is historically a theatrical form of entertainment and art. Think Monty Python etc.
What was the controversy with the firemen’s dunk tank for those who viciously attacked on behalf of Dr. Levine? Let’s review some of the comments from Twitter:
“Bloomsburg is a hot-bed of right-wing insanity”; “I grew up in a small town in PA. I know what sort of hate filled trash people live there. They will be defeated”; “what did they expect from those folks? that’s pennsyltucky”; “Pennsylvania is on blue on the edges. It’s Red Trump trash all across the middle!” etc. These comments were accompanied by praises for Dr. Levine as an unimpeachable leader.
Governor Wolf echoed the sentiments, “This is the latest in a relentless series of vile slurs directed at Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine — a highly skilled and accomplished member of my administration. Dr. Levine is a distinguished public servant. She’s committed to keeping Pennsylvanians safe and healthy.”
Governor Wolf proclaimed that organizers of the event knew they were catering to transphobia, despite organizers explaining that that was not the case. As reported, dunking “Dr. Levine” was purely blowing off steam because of her controversial policies…not transphobia.
This dunk-tank event is being used to perpetuate a red-blue fight for 2020, and for selfish personal catharsis — perpetuating misunderstanding, and hate.
Extremist activists aren’t doing trans people in our community any favors by pitting them in this fight. As one expressed in 30 seconds, “Shut up liberals! You don’t speak for me.”
Those attacking the firemen and fair members didn’t even know who they were targeting, or the whole story, but they demanded punishment…the firemen’s money, people’s heads, lives destroyed, the firemen and fair people to be unwelcomed in their own communities. They solicited condemnation from the Governor, and the event made national news.
The reason given to us about why the event was a “vile slur”? it’s like wearing blackface.
Blackface is wrong because of its history. What’s the history of drag offending trans folks? Drag culture has excluded trans folks, but what is the history of men in drag offending trans folks? Drag does have roots in vaudeville and, like blackface, made fun…especially of black women. Then, is all drag like blackface?
How might one be able to dunk a pretend Dr. Levine for political positions…equal to other public officials? Some say only a woman should represent her, or else heads should roll. Who is deciding this? In any case, as reported, the fireman did not purposefully dress as Levine.
Apart from not knowing who they were targeting, was there a cogent reason for attacking in the first place? Or, was the attack a blind, bigoted act of collective violence to silence and demoralize political opposition?
In any case, community is a relationship, and this is not a way to build a positive one.
We need to check the institutional power behind mobs that reject criticisms, and demand everyone bow to their political ideology, or else be punished. When such mobs are well connected with institutions, politicians, and media who provide protection, power, and “authority” to punish — this is fascism.
Does the behavior against the firemen and fair imitate what some call “white supremacy culture,” like demanding perfection, urgency over understanding, quantity over quality, either/or thinking, and defensiveness? Can we take some time to reflect, and understand?
Published in the Press Enterprise, Bloomsburg, PA 7/28/20