Updated: Aug 18, 2020
Living in Marin it is easy to feel like we live in a beautiful bubble. But there is a difference between living in a bubble and living in willful ignorance. Sadly Marin County --at least the fashionable protesting subset of Marin County-- seems to have embraced willful ignorance. Our community is bending to the will of fashionable protesters with ideas spoon fed to them by Instagram and Twitter. (And Pinterest... protests are a bit like Coachella now... you check out Instagram to see what everyone else is wearing, you check out Pinterest for ideas for your own outfit, you base your handcrafted protest sign on a picture of someone else's handcrafted protest sign, and then you get out there and hit the streets...) People are climbing on board the Woke Bus so quickly you'd think it was a real bus and they were scared the bus was about to leave town.
Personally I'm all in favor of protests. Protests are part of the fabric of America. I'm not in favor of riots. (And there is a big difference between a protest and a riot. Usually the difference between a protest and a riot is broken windows and a torched shoe store. So far we've had some graffiti and broken windows in Marin, we've blessedly skipped the burning stores. I grew up in fire country, I fear fire as much as I fear the rising tide of willful ignorance.)
Marin County, like America, is now beset by "fashion conscious" protesters. I call them "fashion conscious" protesters rather than "protesters of conscience" because someone who is actually laying it on the line due to a crisis of conscience thinks a little. Our current batch of local protesters just regurgitates the ideas of others. Luckily the privileged teenagers of Kentfield, the trustfund heirs of Mill Valley, the aging hippies of Fairfax, the woke housewives of San Anselmo and the woke househusbands of San Geronimo are currently contenting themselves with wasting public resources and congratulating themselves on being "Allies" of a cause they probably don't understand. Oh well.... as a friend who works on a university campus likes to say, "Thinking, Hard!"
Sadly, caring --actual caring, not just saying you "care"-- may be harder than copying a protest sign. Along with being an unpaid blogger for the Marin GOP I do a bit of volunteer work. (Pre Covid-19 and shutdown I did a lot more volunteering and a lot less blogging. Blogging at least, is something I can do from home. Shockingly enough I also work work. I say shockingly because a woman I vaguely know stared at me in actual shock pre-Covid when I said I couldn't get together for a random mid-week coffee because I had to work. She stared at me in shock and said, "I thought you were a trophy wife!" No, no trophy wives here. Totally single Millennial Republican female. I may be too right-wing to be a trophy-wife. Most of the trophy wives I know are politically to the left of Bernie, if Bernie shopped at Nordies.)
I've always striven to be useful and results oriented with my volunteering. (Being results oriented can be incredibly difficult in the world of volunteering. A friend of mine text messages me on a regular basis to let him know if I find a group that is actually actively engaged in helping rather than just having endless meetings.) The day before our Covid-19 “shut-down” began in Marin County I was working (as an unpaid volunteer) designing a poster for a fundraiser for a group that provides continuing care to juveniles rescued from commercialized exploitation. In less formal language, children rescued from slavers.
Yes, in the 21st century slavery exists. Slavery exists in modern Britain. It exists in the United States. And it happens in the San Francisco Bay Area. Like murder, slavery is not legal. But just because something is not legal doesn't mean it doesn't happen. We have a hard time ignoring murder --unless a body is hidden well it is hard to ignore a corpse-- but sadly, as a society, we brush crimes against children under the carpet. The details are painful to hear, the victims are fragile. The perpetrators are often excellent conmen. Weirdly.... people in authority sometimes pretend it is about "choice" not abuse. Someone once told me that the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous lies in the world. Because once we start lying to ourselves we start seeing the world through the prism of our own lies. Maybe it is a comforting lie for an adult with money and power to say that a teenage girl whose body is being sold by the hour is a young entrepreneur rather than a victim. The reality is that human trafficking is a crime that makes big money off the weakest members of society while the rest of society pretends there are no victims.
Slavery is an ugly word, but the most accurate word to describe the "relationship" between a 12 year old victim and the pimp who sells her. That child is a victim, that pimp is a slaver. And the people who rent that child? You don't even want to know the words I could use to describe those depraved perverts.
The fundraiser I was designing a poster for became just another victim of shut-down. I literally pivoted from designing a fundraiser poster to designing a cancellation notice. Then I spent a month lost in the fog of pandemic, distracted, sad and exhausted. (Remember, I said I worked? Work in the age of shut-down is not so great.)
And then... well... Woke Protesting came to my suburban bubble. In case you were too distracted watching 35 American cities burn in May, June and July... Marin County had a local protest. Being Marin County the protest was intense, passionate, full of feeling and totally unrelated to the national issues of the day. In case you missed it we had a two month kerfuffle over Sir Francis Drake. If you just had a what-?-moment I understand. Sir Francis Drake, in case you need the historical run-down, was a figure of Elizabethan England. (The first Queen Elizabeth, not the current Queen Elizabeth.) Sir Francis Drake was an explorer, a privateer and an occasional slave trader. He has also been dead for over four hundred and twenty years. Yes, he died in the 1590s. Sir Francis Drake became a figure of local protest this Summer when fashionable protesters became disturbed that his name on the local highschool and a street --yes, until recently there was a Sir Francis Drake High, we also used to have a statue-- constituted a micro-aggression that also celebrated slavery. I'd be willing to bet the average graduate from Sir Francis Drake High didn't have a clue about the history of the historical Drake. (I know people who thought the name referred to the "Drake Duck" who was presumably knighted for services to the bird world. But discussing the quality of education on offer in Marin is a topic for another time.)
Whatever. Suddenly disturbed by the actions of a pirate and explorer dead for over four centuries the fashionably outraged protesters of Marin hit the streets. (Businesses are still supposed to be closed because there's a pandemic but mass protests are now cool. Whatever.)
From my perspective it was the typical tempest in a demitasse that usually represents the extent of Marin County's involvement in national debates. Expensive --apparently removing the statue was quite expensive-- and all consuming. So all consuming in fact that for weeks the letters to the editor in the Marin IJ --our local paper-- seemed to be completely Drake focused. (You'd think Drake was still alive and about to sack Belvedere based on the coverage he was getting. In fact Drake coverage is still "trending" --as a local topic it is only slightly less popular than Covid-19 and slightly more popular than reader submitted pet photos.)
And then there was a child pornography bust in Novato. Two men on the sex offender registry and a third man (who, if convicted, will presumably also be added to the sex offender registry) were arrested as part of a larger investigation. Local response to this news was well... typically quiet. Maybe the caring community of Marin was too exhausted over their fury over Sir Francis Drake's historical deeds to worry about modern victims in the here and now.
For me it was a very Marin moment. All that passion, all that caring.... Maximum protest, maximum virtue signaling. Minimal interest in current crimes or victims who wouldn't look good on a t-shirt. But I was disappointed. I don't expect people to care just because they say they care! But I would hope that at least a few people would raise a voice of reason. Suggest that we shouldn't pander to fashionable woke protesters weeping over a pirate dead for four hundred years. Because we are pandering to them... not just pandering to them by offering them the lip-service they offer their causes, but we are pandering to them by wasting crucial resources and money on their pet causes when we have real victims and real problems.
The production of child pornography is often the result of the commercialized exploitation of children. It is a vile crime that involves both despicable perverts and the depraved human traffickers who practice modern day slavery for profit.
Sadly these fashionable protesters are seeking to impose their blind obsessions on the rest of us. Even worse they are wasting resources that are desperately needed by the weakest and most forgotten members of our community: Abused and neglected children.
Marin isn’t a bubble, it is a place where people create their own bubble ignoring modern victims in order to focus on historical victims. If just half the people busily advocating for renaming a street in Marin could devote a few hours each week to helping the victims of modern human traffickers maybe we could do something real today to actually fight modern slavery.