I was born a pink diaper baby.
Pink, because by the time of my birth, the war had taken precedence over revolution. And after the war, many Trotskyists like my father became liberals. This is to explain that I was born into and grew up in a left-liberal family environment.
My first boyfriend was a Marxist, or maybe a Maoist. Marxist shifting toward Maoism? Something like that.
I was not a Trotskyist, Marxist, Stalinist, Maoist, Castro-ist. I was anti-totalitarian and a democrat. I believed every citizen should have the inviolate right to vote. I did not make distinctions among brands of tyranny. I did not like dictators and had objections to any argument in support of a political system which involved one man controlling everything and everybody. Sort of forever or until death.
Once I asked my first boyfriend a question. If the socialist workers paradise was so terrific, why were people trying to escape from East Berlin over the wall into West Berlin, i.e., going in that one direction, but nobody was “escaping” over the wall into East Germany?
To his credit, he said he didn’t know, thought it was a valid point and he’d try to study the issue and provide an answer.
He never did.
I wrote “to his credit” deliberately, because it was the only interchange I remember between any male in my life at that time — and later, as I’ll tell you — when anything I said was regarded thoughtfully and with a modicum of respect.
Later, post-teens, I was surrounded by a charming, talented, funny group of intellectuals who were left-wing. There would be semi-secret cell group meetings (to which I was not invited) in which the intricacies of radical thinking would be seriously discussed.
Bernie Sanders could have been at those meetings, but he’d have been sitting crankily in the corner as intense discussions went on. Every once in a while he’d bark out something, a repeated simplistic principle — and the group leader would turn to him and say, “Oh, hey, yeah, Bernie,” and then would get back to the discussion about minute theoretical differentials among splinter groups.
Bernie Sanders is still barking out the same simplistic ideas. My friends were charming; Bernie has no charm. My friends were talented and funny; Bernie is not. My friends were intellectuals; Bernie never demonstrates any awareness of lively ideas beyond the old ones he clings to.
But. All of the men I grew up with — my father, my father’s friends, my boyfriends, my boyfriends’ friends, my friends — had one major thing in common with Bernie: they were and remain rampant chauvinists.
Women’s knowledge, perceptions, thoughts, expressions, ideas have no place in their attentions. I’m a woman. I have been affected by male chauvinism most of my life and I do not appreciate it.
A lot of Bernie supporters become agitated and nasty when someone points this out. So, to help all of you understand how contemptuous he, a card-carrying member of his generation, is to women, I give you this link to an interview Sanders did with the New York Times reporter who was assigned to his campaign.
Her name is Sydney Ember. I read it thoroughly and found myself boiling in anger. Below are some excerpts. The Times bolded Ember’s questions. I’ve highlighted the Bernie answers that seemed particularly contemptuous and snotty):
Q. In the top of our story, we talk about the rally you attended in Managua and a wire report at the time said that there were anti-American chants from the crowd.
The United States at that time — I don’t know how much you know about this — was actively supporting the Contras to overthrow the government. So that there’s anti-American sentiment? I remember that, I remember that event very clearly.
You do recall hearing those chants? I think the wire report has them saying, “Here, there, everywhere, the Yankee will die.”
They were fighting against American —— Huh huh —— yes, what is your point?
I wanted to ——
Are you shocked to learn that there was anti-American sentiment?
My point was I wanted to know if you had heard that.
I don’t remember, no. Of course there was anti-American sentiment there. This was a war being funded by the United States against the people of Nicaragua. People were being killed in that war.
Do you think if you had heard that directly, you would have stayed at the rally?
I think Sydney, with all due respect, you don’t understand a word that I’m saying.
Do you believe you had an accurate view of President Ortega at the time? I’m wondering if you’re ——
This was not about Ortega. Do you understand? I don’t know if you do or not. Do you know that the United States overthrew the government of Chile way back? Do you happen to know that? Do you? I’m asking you a simple question.
You know, I think Sydney understands. She’s a younger generation than I.