After my comment about the ignored class war was published, myriad digital tongues emerged from the ethosphere to castigate me for my blasphemy, and for my failure to properly appreciate all the good things that Hillary, her ultra-rich friends and donors, and our great transnational corporations have been selflessly doing behind the scenes for me and for all the other bitter and jealous have-nots of America. One disgusted Times reader actually demanded to know if I am a Russian.
It's getting bad -- oops, I mean divisive -- out there, people. Being affluent and stuck in those stages (denial, depression, anger) of Hillary grief must be such a dreadful thing. I'll write more about the cult of MccCarthyite Mourners later in this post - but first, I'll let Summit Founder Tina Brown explain the purpose of the confab in question on its official website:
The three-day Women in the World Summit, held at New York City’s Lincoln Center, presents powerful new female role models whose personal stories illuminate the most pressing international issues. They range from CEOs and world leaders to artists, activists, peacemakers, and firebrand dissidents. The Summit’s vivid journalistic narratives, high-impact video, and fast-paced staging have made it the premier platform to showcase women of impact. Increasingly, Women in the World also includes the participation, onstage and in the audience, of men who champion women.A couple of truly memorable quotes from this year's "celebs and luminaries" page really stood out for me.
Past participants have included Hillary Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Angelina Jolie, Diane von Furstenberg, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Tom Hanks, Malala Yousafzai, Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand and many more amazing and inspiring women from all over the world.
"None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something." -- Meryl Streep.
"There's a lot of estrogen in this room!" -- Katie Couric.
Even though it's billed as a conference by, for and of females, the hosts always invite a few A-List men to the proceedings in order to prove that one can be male, hunky, powerful and feminist all in one package. This year's hotties were Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Kristof's fellow Times columnist and liberal interventionist Thomas Friedman.
Why not? The Times helped foot the bill for the show, after all, with other costs defrayed by the $350 price of admission along with generous donations from Toyota and a whole host of corporate sponsors. The luministas all dutifully posed on the red carpet in front of the car manufacturer's corporate logo: Let's Go Places!
So it was only natural that Kristof would be granted the first one-on-one interview with Hillary Clinton since the election, right? He begins his column with the requisite bathos:
In the most wrenching, humiliating way possible, Hillary Clinton has been liberated. She is now out of the woods again, and speaking her mind.As I noted, the original title of his piece was borrowed from the gospel song of enslaved people called Free At Last, which Martin Luther King also made the centerpiece of his iconic I Have a Dream speech. So in retrospect, it appears that wiser heads at the Gray Lady prevailed, and reslugged the Kristof column a more seemly Free to Speak Her Mind.
This was an apt choice, because there were relatively few women of color either on stage or in the audience of the Women in the World summit. As Antoinette Isama, a journalist who attended the event, writes:
As I walked in to receive my press pass, the production of event amplified the posh David H. Koch Theater with bright lights, a Women In The World Boutique, a lounge courtesy of Toyota and free refreshments and munchies courtesy of Pepsi (lol). It was a corporate company’s dream to rub elbows with an occasion such as this—because women rule the world, right?Isama says that when she looked around the press section, she noticed that she was the only black reporter among a sea of white faces. Ditto for the wealthy attendees in the audience.
Before the conversation between Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, with Katie Couric called “How To Raise A Feminist” began, there was an a cappella rendition of the unofficial theme song of the Women’s March accompanied by a montage of pink pussy hats. From the welcome speech by the Summit’s Founder and CEO, Tina Brown, it seems like the march, where millions of women gathered in D.C. and around the world in solidarity to stick the middle finger to patriarchy and Trump was the main theme to reflect on throughout the Summit.
My experience at the Women In The World Summit pretty much confirmed why I don’t go out of my way to attend events like this. I don’t understand the point of having these grand and fancy events for [white] women to pat themselves on the back, singing several renditions of kumbaya through the tired tropes of heart wrenching and dramatic stories that come from women of color who participated. I would think, especially in our intense climate around the world, that it would be imperative to utilize this moment to drive folks to keep taking action and actually doing something instead of being reactionary.Oh, but despite all her own hardships and devastation, Hillary Clinton is finally free, people! Kristof quotes her as saying:
Access was another huge issue for me. If I didn’t have the privilege of obtaining a press pass, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to attend. The first time I even heard this event was a thing was last year—and this has been a yearly event for 8 years now. There was a price range for tickets, where the highest priced at $350. So I had to ask myself—with the lack of people of color in the actual audience that I managed to see, who’s the intended audience for this? It may not be for people like me.
"I just had to make up my mind that, yes, I was going to get out of bed, and, yes, I was going to go for a lot of long walks in the woods. And I was going to see my grandchildren a lot and spend time with my family and my friends. They have rallied around me in an amazing way.”What - she thought Chelsea and the grandkids were going to snub her because she lost the election?
So now that she's finally out of her shell and free to speak "bluntly," Hillary Clinton's version of honesty is to continue blaming her loss on misogyny. The more successful a woman is, the more likely she is to be a victim of those who "unconsciously" resent people like her, she told Kristof. And she stayed stalwartly honest and true to the other official reasons that she lost: the Russian "plunder" of her campaign emails and the FBI investigation into her use of a private internet server.
Russia’s hacking of campaign emails “was a more effective theft even than Watergate,” she said, adding: “We aren’t going to let somebody sitting in the Kremlin, with 1,000 agents, with bots and trolls and everybody else, try to mix up in our election. We’ve got to end that, and we need to make sure that’s a bipartisan, American commitment.”The most telling symbol of Hillary Clinton's freedom, according to Kristof, is that she is once again using "Rodham" as her middle name. Free at last, free at least, Great God almighty she's free at last.
Now, realizing that the New York Times reader commentariat is chock-full of Clinton supporters, I was as politely sarcastic, or sarcastically polite, as possible in my own published comment. which I think dovetails the classist aspect of the summit with Antoinette Isama's critique of its "colorblind" racist undertones. The current debate of classism v. racism is a false one, in my opinion, because neoliberalism relies on both for its continued survival. Plutocrats and philoanthrocapitalists love to showcase a certain select few black and brown people on the public stage, because it allows them to deny there is even such a thing as the class war. It shows citizen-consumers how liberal and magnanimous and socially responsible they are as they suck up even more of the globe's wealth for themselves.
The Women in the World summit series is nothing if not virtue-signalling writ large.
So here is my "controversial" comment (for once, mine was the first one submitted yesterday, so anyone interested in reading all the responses to it can easily find them lby selecting the "oldest" option.)
"Clinton acknowledged that Democrats need to do a better job reaching working-class Americans, but she added that part of her problem was that many voters were already struggling with tumult in their lives, 'and you layer on the first woman president over that, and I think some people, women included, had real problems.'”Several dozen readers reacted, some supportive and some critical. I'll only include the real doozies, just to show that liberalism does indeed seem to be inexorably moving to the right. And since comments were shut off before I could respond, I will include my reactions to these utterly enjoyable responses as well.
Too bad that hardly any working class women were actually there to hear Mrs. Clinton's wise and heartfelt words. That's because six out of every 10 American voters don't even have $500 in savings and thus couldn't afford the $350 cost of admission to the event, held in a glitzy venue which billionaire arch-conservative David H. Koch so humbly named after himself.
The millions of women working two or three part-time service sector jobs couldn't even get time off to be inspired long distance, via live-streaming, by Clinton and other media, Hollywood and Silicon Valley personalities.True, corporate sponsors including PepsiCo, P&G and AT&T did subsidize some tickets to the live event. But. like everything else in this Land of the Free, it was a high-odds lottery.
Yes, many Trump voters are misogynistic. Yes, Comey did Hillary wrong.
Still, to listen to her explain to a theater full of plutocrats that she lost struggling voters because of her "success" and gender feels only slightly less insulting than once again lumping them into her Basket of Deplorables.
But anyway, let us rejoice that she's out of her shell and free to finally be herself.
Ed Chang, NYC: Wow, totally unfair. Just because you are unable to make it to the party doesn't mean that the guests are uncaring about your needs. I mean do you want Hillary to start touring Walmarts around the country? Is that really the best use of her time? Or, alternatively, speak to a high profile group of people who may be able to donate to her causes and at the same time get a high profile write-up in the Times, as well as a video archive of the entire event on YouTube? It's simply more efficient to do the latter.(No, Ed, we wouldn't want Hillary to catch cooties from a Walmart greeter. Plus, I must compliment you on the nice use of one of my favorite neoliberal buzzwords: efficiency.)
Sadly this is more proof of the jealousy some women feel towards more successful women, hence the election loss.
Mary Ann Donahue, NYS: To Karen Garcia ~ I am disappointed that you, you who are well informed and well spoken would reduce Hillary Clinton's basket of deplorables comment to the oft repeated damning sound bite. Taken out of context, it distorts the understanding and compassion that Clinton conveyed in the full text of her remarks.(I know, I know, there's a special place in hell for me and all women who didn't support Hillary. It's sad but true that the "deplorables" part of her full remarks is the one that will go down as one of the of the more tone-deaf recorded remarks in all of political history. Just as Clinton professed concern for the downtrodden at the Koch Theater event, she made her previous infamous remarks at another venue catering the extremely wealthy donor class. Additionally, she showed her true neoliberal hand when she asserted that struggling people only "feel" that they have been let down. They have been shafted, screwed and cheated in actual fact. They do not suffer from an emotional problem, they suffer from a poverty problem and hunger problem and a jobless problem.)
Here is the last paragraph just to remind people who are so eager and willing to diminish her that she is a woman of rare intellect, insight and work ethic. We would be a better nation if she had been elected.
""But the other basket -- and I know this because I see friends from all over America here -- I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas -- as well as, you know, New York and California -- but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change. It doesn't really even matter where it comes from. They don't buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won't wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they're in a dead-end.Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.""
Thank you Hillary.
Stephanie Sommer, St. Paul: Ah, the politics of resentment roars its ugly head once again. Her success isn't the cause of others suffering. Its not a zero sum game. Moreover, her policies would have addressed so much of the suffering you mention, and that is exactly why conservatives hate her.(Her policies did not include Medicare for All or a $15 minimum wage or world peace or restoration of Glass-Steagall. The suffering would have gone on, the neoliberal dream would be alive and kicking, whether she was president or not.)
arbitrot, Paris: Methinks Ms. Garcia is projecting her own guilt from the campaign, when she regularly expressed her displeasure with Sec. Clinton as opposed to another authentic hero, Sen Bernie Sanders.("arbitrot" must possess magical thinking skills way across the ocean, purporting to know how I voted. And this is not the first time that my critiques of Democrats automatically turn me into Maureen Dowd. I always have to chuckle when this happens, because it is so sexist. Ever notice how women who write opinion pieces are often characterized as shrill, catty and bitchy? And what's with the woolly-headed insult? I assume and hope that"arbitrot" implies that I'm stupid, and not that other meaning of the pejorative.)
Not that Ms. Garcia voted for Donald Trump, or even Jill Stein. I assume she pulled the lever for Clinton if only faute de mieux.
But I'll bet even Maureen Dowd did that.
Clinton didn't lose the 2016 election. Just a few too many self-righteous, woolly-headed, and downright politically naive Democrats did by trying too hard to cut Clinton down to their size.
David L. Jr, Mississippi: Until your ardent desire to help the poor is trumped by your understanding of how they benefit from a growing private sector, your analytical absurdities will persist. Also, because you and Bernie Sanders often talk up Scandinavia: Scandinavians had greater levels of equality BEFORE their social democracies were built. Doesn't this tell you that it likely has more to do with culture than economics? Indeed, Nordics living in America outperform Nordic citizens themselves!(I can't even.)
And David Koch is hardly conservative, whatever the media claims. There's nothing conservative about the man at all. He supports conservative candidates and then funds groups that pressure them into taking extreme anti-government economic positions, which aren't really "conservative" so much as revolutionary. He loathes their social views. While I disagree with him, I refuse to permit your implication that socialists care more about paupers than libertarians, which is false.
You really despise incorporation, don't you? Corporations built the modern world. Without them, it wouldn't exist. They didn't develop in the Islamic world; or in China, where hereditary bureaucrats oversaw state monopolies -- the one place where private companies did take hold in Asia, Japan, was a smashing success. Stratification is a product of the difference in ability as well as circumstances. Trying to level society in the name of an abstract idea is a recipe for disaster. You'll derogate anyone who succeeds in life.
Lisa, Charlotte: And when all is said and done, Karen, you and the rest of Bernie's crowd own Trump. I won't insult you by pointing out he silliness of arguing that she should not have been speaking in a venue founded by David Koch. Lots of people did not like Hillary for lots of reasons. But surely you can't argue that her candidacy was in any way equivalent to Trump's because reality does not agree with you. I'd argue that this should have been blindingly clear to a person of your knowledge and intellect.(I was wondering when somebody would finally blame me and the Berniebros for Trump. It's one of their favorite tropes. Who knew we had so much power?)
JS: I've seen her speak, free, to huge audiences in the poorest venues. Here she speaks and is heard around the world. A leader needs to do both, and she has, but only a woman is criticized in this manner, and that has to stop.(Several readers accused me of picking on Hillary's greed just because she's a woman, and neglecting to ever criticize other politicians, such as Barack Obama, for doing the exact same money-grubbing. They obviously have never read my blog or previous Times commentary. And I have to ask, would Lucrezia Borgia be getting this kind of defense from modern liberals, with her XX chromosomes also becoming a protective shield from accountability?)
Michael Joseph, NYC: Karen, you seem almost to take it as a personal insult that there are different classes in America, that corporations target certain populations, and that affluent people also have certain rights. I find it insulting that you would castigate all middle-class supporters of Hillary as plutocrats, that you assume a single-minded fixation on class constitutes some kind of "vision" or gives you moral superiority, and that you dismiss with a condescending sniff any injustice or tyranny "Yes, many Trump voters are misogynistic" that isn't Marxist-based. You exhibit the same limiting "foundational certainties" about class that the Trump people do, only from the opposing perspective. Both belief sets seem mired in the same 19th century ideologies that proved so disastrous for the 20h century.(OK, I'll try to stay in my assigned place from now on.)
njlea, Seattle: How much do The Con Don and Robber Barons - and their arm candy - spend on clothes, McCarthy?(No, but my paternal ancestors were. Catherine the Great gave them political asylum after they were persecuted in their native Germany on the basis of their religion. The clan, mostly independent farmers, later went back to Germany after one of the later czars, I think it was Alexander, tried to draft them into the armed services. So I guess you'd better squeal me out to PropOrNot, or if that fails, maybe alert the ICE goon squad.)
What an out-of-touch comment. She is the most admired woman in the United States and one of the most admired women in the world. Women like other women to dress well. She is actually very conservative.
Are you Russian?