The F Word: From #Metoo to #IraqToo


It’s been just about year since working women of all kinds gathered in Washington DC and said no to a woman-abusing, worker-exploiting, Trump-supported nominee to head the US Department of Labor. 

As I heard journalist Sarah Jaffe put it recently, that successful mobilization, against chain restaurant titan and wife abuser Andrew Puzder, should in many ways be considered the kick-off of this stage of the #MeToo movement. 

Since then, who can keep track of all the abusers and all the abuse? Who can keep track, and who can explain so much violence, and so much forcing our will on one another; so much terror against people we claim to recognize as, well, people — sisters, friends, family members, employees? How do we let it happen. Why is it so rare that we make it stop?  And how do we accept the terrible bad bargain, the silence, the going-on-as-normal? 

And then I try to remember that we don’t always go along. Sometimes we speak up, as women did against proposed Labor Secretary Puzder, and as we did, as a world, fifteen years ago, on February 15th. 

I remember standing in a huge crowd near the United Nations, part of a worldwide uprising of tens of millions of People in sixty countries, all saying no to waging war on Iraq. 

On that cold day, a very bundled-up Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “We are members of one family, God’s Family, the human family. How can we say we want to drop bombs on our sisters and brothers and on our children?” 

We said we couldn’t. We didn’t want to. And then we let it happen anyway.  And that was 15 years ago this month. 

Today, according to the Costs of War Project  US troops and drones and bombs are forcing themselves on people in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia. US special forces are in a total of 76 countries and the so-called US-led ‘war on terror” has involved 39% of the countries on the planet. 

I believe the sick calculus by which we permit forcing and terrorizing and abusing our power in Iraq, is the the same sick calculus by which some of us believe we can get away with forcing our will on others close up. 

Which leaves me here in another cold February, trying to imagine what my next minute would be like if I actually lived on a planet of people who believed they were related to one another. What would that look like, feel like, breathe like? And what would be doing with all the time we wouldn’t have to be spending wondering and imagining and fending-off, and being, or not-being silent? 

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