Saturday, March 11, 2006

Anti-South Dakota?

The comment from the other day made me think about how the rest of the country is responding to the abortion ban. Then, I was visiting to order some pro-choice buttons to sell as a fundraiser, and I came across several buttons urging a boycott of SD and some others with general, negative messages about SD (e.g., "Abort South Dakota").

I am always surprised to see such vitriol directed toward this state - I saw this after the last election, when there was a similar reaction to the "red" states - a threatened boycott and the general "fuck you, red states" from the rest of the nation. (Interestingly, the global community had a much nicer reaction to the U.S., at witnessed on sites such as Apologies Accepted, the response to Sorry Everybody. Considering how much it sucks for the rest of the world to have Bush in the White House, it's really a generous responds. Maybe the issue is that America apologized and South Dakota hasn't? We've been a little freaked out here, lately, so perhaps we've forgotten our manners. Let me offer my personal apology: I'm sorry. We fucked up. Hopefully, our mistake will help galvanize the pro-choice movement nationwide to protect our right to choose and save Roe. Meanwhile, we are doing everything we can to fix things.)

As a former New Yorker, I can relate to the anti-South Dakota sentiment somewhat. When I lived on the East Coast, I felt like the South and Midwest were ruining the country with their regressive politics and intolerance. After having lived out here for several years, however, I feel it is important to point out that South Dakota is not all that homogeneous, politically. We have smaller numbers than other states, but we do have political diversity. And so when the state went to Bush in the last election, there was something like 30 or 40 percent of voters who were devastated by this decision.

The anonymous commenter wanted to send a message to the SD politicians in office and the people who voted for them that this ban is unacceptable and will have consequences. I think that's a good message to send. My point was that a boycott might not be the best way to send that message (you can read my response if you want the details). But I want to emphasize here that the way decisions are made in Pierre is a much larger issue than simply electing certain (bad) politicians into office. It's about the newspaper not printing what kinds of craziness goes on there, in an attempt to remain objective (really, it's the same way that the media generally lets the Bush administration censor their stories and does not take seriously their role as responsible and investigative journalists (hello, New York Times: this means you). It's about the people of South Dakota having a charming, if naive and often misplaced, faith in their elected officials. It's also about the cultural norms I've written about - the fear of confrontation, of stepping on toes, of being noticed. And finally, it's about not being responsible, educated citizens who are involved in our government.

In other words, there are a lot of surprised South Dakotans here. Should we be surprised? Absolutely not - we should have seen this coming. But we share our irresponsbility, lack of education, and lack of involvement with the rest of the country. I mean, come on, you Americans from other states - did you really not think that this challenge to Roe was going to happen? It's been in the works for YEARS. And the Bush Supreme Court has been designed for exactly this. South Dakota is not working alone, here.

Anonymous and others who feel that all of South Dakota needs to be punished for letting this happen - I don't entirely disagree with you. I'm angry at the people who have been complacent about our government. And as a South Dakotan and an American, I'm angry at myself for the times when I have also been complacent.

But where were you, Rest of America, when first Roberts and then Alito got appointed to the Supreme Court? Where were you when Bush won this last election? Where were you when he stole the first one?

What's that, you say? You worked your ass off to prevent those things from happening?

Join the club. We are all in this one together.

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