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Nikki Haley’s insidious identity politics
Ivanka Trump has got some competition. The first daughter reportedly has grand plans to become the first female president of the United States – however, she may find that Nikki Haley beats her to it. Trump’s former UN ambassador seems to be positioning herself to be the face of the post-Trump Republican party, and there are rumours she is considering a 2024 presidential run.
A President Haley would, in some respects, be ground-breaking: she wouldn’t just be the first female Potus, she’d be the first Indian-American. Haley’s parents immigrated to a small working-class town in South Carolina from Punjab, India; they were the first Sikh family the town had ever seen. They went on to build a multimillion-dollar company and Haley (who was born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa), grew up to become the first Indian American and first female governor of South Carolina before joining the Trump administration. In many ways her story is the American dream. Her presidency, however, would be an American nightmare.
Like many on the right, Haley loves to decry “identity politics”. However, she’s spent her entire career playing politics with her identity – cynically weaponizing her status as a “woman of colour” to excuse and enable systemic racism. “I would not have been elected governor of South Carolina if our state was a racially intolerant place,” she said in a 2015 Press Club speech, for example. “And I would not have won the Republican primary if we were a racially intolerant party.” And, no doubt, she wouldn’t still be supporting Trump if he were a racially intolerant man.
Haley is far from the only female politician of colour to dabble in this sort of identity politics. Britain’s Priti Patel is another odious example. The hawkish home secretary, who is the most senior woman in Boris Johnson’s cabinet, was recently asked by a black politician if she could understand why people in Britain were protesting against structural racism. Her response was to fly into a rage and say she’d suffered racist abuse as a child. “When it comes to racism, sexism, tolerance or social justice, I will not take lectures from the other side of the House,” she pompously proclaimed. In response, a number of non-white Labour MPs wrote to Patel accusing of her using her own “heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities across the UK”.
Patel then continued to play the victim, tweeting that she wouldn’t be silenced by “@UKLabour MPs who continue to dismiss the contributions of those who don’t conform to their view of how ethnic minorities should behave”. Isn’t it funny how the people with the biggest platforms and the most power are constantly complaining that they’re being silenced?
Women like Haley and Patel are integral to the smooth functioning of patriarchy and white supremacy: their personal successes are held up as “proof” that systemic oppression doesn’t exist. Their individual experiences are used to shut down criticisms of institutional racism and misogyny. After all, how could deporting vulnerable people or creating a hostile environment for immigrants be racist if it’s a brown woman doing it?
Let me be clear: I am not diminishing the very real achievements of these women. In many ways I admire them. It takes a lot of hard work to rid yourself of even the tiniest shred of decency and achieve Haley-Patel levels of moral bankruptcy. Haley may or may not become the first female president, but she’s already an inspiring role model. If you just embrace systems of oppression, instead of fighting them, you too might go far in politics. Lean in, ladies!
Why women are choosing to be childfree
More and more people are choosing not to have kids – the Guardian ran a thought-provoking series on the reasons why. Some people don’t have enough money to reproduce. Others are worried about the climate or simply cherish their freedom.
Woman alleges she was fired because her kids disrupted her work calls
Like many people, Drisana Rios of San Diego has been working at home because of the pandemic. She’s also had to juggle looking after her two young kids who could occasionally be overheard on business calls. This, she says, got her fired – and now she’s suing. Rios’s experience is one small part of a much bigger problem: the social and economic effects of pandemics tend to hit women the hardest.
The US supreme court is allowing some employers to refuse birth control coverage
On Wednesday the court ruled 7-2 to uphold a Trump administration rule that expanded the pool of employers able to decline contraceptive coverage for their employees if they have religious or moral objections. This could deprive up to 125,000 women of contraceptive coverage.
Transgender people don’t want a fight – they just want equal rights
Do read this thoughtful column by Eleanor Morgan on how the word “woman” isn’t being erased by the existence of trans people, who simply want dignity and equal rights.
A wooden sculpture of Melania Trump was set on fire in Slovenia
I don’t really care, do you?
We’re getting a black bisexual Batwoman
The CW series Batwoman has cast black, bisexual actress Javicia Leslie to play the superhero.
Lady Antebellum is suing a black singer
Last month the country group Lady Antebellum changed its name to Lady A to avoid slavery connotations. Alas, there was a slight problem: Anita White, a black female artist, had been performing as Lady A for 20 years. So now the country band is suing her. This is not exactly how you go about proving you are anti-racist.
Mary Kay Letourneau, teacher who raped and married student, dies at 58
In 1996 the 34-year-old teacher began a sexual relationship with her 13-year-old student, Vili Fualaau. Letourneau was jailed for seven and a half years for child rape and married Fualaau on her release. The relationship fascinated the media and Letourneau’s behaviour was often excused or rationalized; rape was rebranded as a “tryst”. Society can’t seem to get its head around the idea that women can be sexual predators.
Joy Reid will become the host of a new nightly show on MSNBC
She is one of just a few black women to anchor a major American evening news program.
‘Please scream inside your heart’
Japan has reopened its theme parks, but screaming on rollercoasters has been banned (to stop the ride becoming a ’rona-coaster.) A PSA advises thrill-seekers to “Please scream inside your heart.” Truly a motto for 2020.