Another entry in the “we’re not the least bit surprised” file: Congresswoman Maxine Waters has had to cancel events in Texas and Alabama due to what she perceives as very credible threats against her life by members of Donald Trump’s bigoted base. CNN:
“As the President has continued to lie and falsely claim that I encouraged people to assault his supporters, while also offering a veiled threat that I should ‘be careful’, even more individuals are leaving (threatening) messages and sending hostile mail to my office,” she said in a statement.
“There was one very serious death threat made against me on Monday from an individual in Texas which is why my planned speaking engagements in Texas and Alabama were cancelled (sic) this weekend,” she continued. “This is just one in several very serious threats the United States Capitol Police are investigating in which individuals threatened to shoot, lynch, or cause me serious bodily harm.”
“In our racist and sexist society, a white man..can openly incite & even celebrate physical violence and be rewarded with the presidency, while a black representative is subject to calumny, slurs, and even death threats for promoting non-violent protest.” https://t.co/R6w9X2MjAd
— Bisexual Illuminati, Ph.D. 🏳️🌈 (@alwaystheself) June 29, 2018
Depicting a 79-year-old black Congress member as a threatening figure is also a way of delegitimizing her with the “angry black woman” trope. These efforts to police and sanction Waters for boldly challenging the most overtly white nationalist administration since the civil rights movement illustrate the peculiar intersections of racism and sexism for black women in the United States.
Unlike Rep. Waters, who has a long history of opposing violence, including her opposition to the Iraq War, Donald Trump and his supporters have a long and ignominious history of explicitly encouraging violence. We have a sitting president who trivializes the prospects of nuclear war, issues direct and veiled threats to world leaders and political opponents alike, and then plays the victim card while attempting to demonize and intimidate critics like Maxine Waters.
Ida B. Wells, the iconic black feminist and anti-lynching crusader, was threatened and attacked by white racists and even some fellow African Americans for her human rights advocacy and provocative language. Detractors accused peace-loving Martin Luther King Jr. himself of inciting hatred and violence. More recently, national anthem protests led by Colin Kaepernick and other athletes have been framed by critics as divisive and unpatriotic. Stigmatizing black protest in this way deflects attention from the pressing civil rights and social justice issues at hand.
Public demonstrations are appropriate and, one might argue, exceedingly civil response to state-sponsored child abuse, human rights violations, and torture…People on the wrong side of history frequently chide human rights advocates as being “uncivil” for speaking out against grotesque forms of violence.
It goes without saying that the Gaslighter in Chief’s bae, Sean Hannity, had to contribute his warped two cents, “I’ve been saying for days now that something horrible is going to happen because of the rhetoric. Really, Maxine?” blaming Waters for the mass shooting of journalists in Annapolis, at a time in history when Trump is calling the press the “enemy of the people.”
And if you doubt that both racism and sexism are in play, Trump recently tweeted, “Congratulations to Maxine Waters, whose crazy rants have made her, together with Nancy Pelosi, the unhinged FACE of the Democrat Party. Together, they will Make America Weak Again!”