Like most of you, I’m super angry about politics these days and, yes, like you the last thing I would rather read is another hot take about freedom of speech, white supremacy, and how they intersect with…knitting, but here we are! If you’re choosing to continue reading this, then cool! I have so many thoughts and they’re probably not dissimilar from what runs through your brain on a daily basis either in support of or against what I am going to write about below.
Backstory: I’ve been a member of Ravelry, an online community for knitters, since it’s inception in 2007. Back in my day you had to wait for an invitation from someone already on the site to join. Over time I’ve seen Ravelry grow from a place hosting patterns to a full social media networking site including message boards and groups. Anyone can create either and they don’t need to be focused on knitting. For example, I’m a member of the very dormant Knitters Who Love WWE group.
Anyway, there was one now permanently banned designer on Ravelry who created patterns based on Trump slogans including a Build the Wall hat and a Love is Love Hat knit in rainbow colors. The latter was not an attempt to build a bridge, but to talk about how the rainbow has been co-opted by the LGBTQA+ community and that “lifestyle” (or whatever annoying and innacurate word she used) is wrong. Like, ugh, fine make your shitty pattern, but that person needed to understand that it was published on a free, private website and that anything posted (by anyone) is subject to review. This designer also outed the person that complained to Ravelry about the hate behind the patterns (and hateful comments on the pattern)and was subjected to doxing. Further proof this designer is problematic…well, read their account of the events.
Here are some arguments I’ve seen on the twitter that I’m just tired of….
Ravelry claims to be an inclusive website, but they’re not inclusive towards me!
Alright, take it easy. I see this argument pop up frequently and it is such bullshit. Ravelry, a private company, made the decision that they no longer were allowing Pro-Trump posts on the basis of his support for white supremacists and the policies he’s created affecting marginalized communities. If you’re reading this and thinking “he’s not a white supremacist” I’d like to turn your attention to here, here and here for starters (that last one is an opinion piece from a conservative leaning paper, lest you label my links as “fake news.”)
As a white person tired to death of the actions of other white people, this is infuriating to me. These people that feel as though Ravelry is not inclusive towards them feel that way because when they express their racist, homophobic, and xenophobic thoughts through words or knitting patterns, they are held accountable. What they’re failing to understand is that their behavior – their words and actions – are what has led to this policy being put in place. So, what you could say is that Ravelry is an inclusive community that doesn’t tolerate hate speech and protects it’s members from abuse and harrassment. The ones being “discriminated against” are the ones telling people they are less than because of where they came from, the race they were born into, or who they love. They’re also cheapening the terms of inclusivity and discrimination. So, if you create a rainbow hat pattern reading Love is Love and then write about how being LGBTQA+ is wrong, sit the fuck down, Wendy; you’re hurting those in your community.
Oh! Also, these people claiming discrimination think that it’s TOTALLY okay not to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because that’s somehow not discrimination. Not hypocritical at all, Janet.
Narrator: They don’t…
But I’m not a white supremacist and they’re TELLING me I am!
Let me taste your tears. Boo-hoo! Ravelry did not ban conservative speech, they banned speech and patterns that alienate members of their community. Most of this speech does trickle down from the top a la the President of these United States and we need to recognize that. There was a huge correlation between Trump supporters and hate speech on the site. As part of Ravelry’s new agreement I am not allowed to antagonize a Trump supporter or call a group of Trump supporters white supremacists (I never did – at least on Ravelry, anyway). This is not the end of the world for me and I will continue to use Ravelry for it’s main purpose: saving patterns in my queue that I will never get around to knitting. I realize that not everyone who is a Trump supporter is, down at the core, a white supremacist, but it is hard to separate his supporters cheering for the policies he created affecting marginalized communities from your basic MAGA supporters. It just is. I don’t WANT to believe it, but the actions of his supporters en masse are rooted in white supremacy.
Back to the matter at hand. No one said you’re a white supremacist, Cheryl, but the lady, she doth protest a WEE BIT too much. For every conservative out there saying that Ravelry has banned conservatives and conservative discussion with this decision, you have drawn that line from conservatism directly to white supremacy YOURSELF. This definitely did not work in their favor.
If an individual chooses to terminate their free account with Ravelry over this, it’s their loss. I continue to be amazed at those that feel their right to free speech has been infringed upon here. Meeghan won’t go to jail for what she said, but she sure is acting that way.
In my experience the same people crying discrimination are the same people who say that both sides need to come together and work across the aisle. Again, it is near impossible to do this when one side refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem, because they are refusing to listen.
There is a part of me that wonders if all this defensiveness is rooted in the fact that they do not want to *believe* white supremacy exists in this country. For example, I knew people that came out in support of the man in Charlottesville who rammed his car into a group of protestors because “they were banging on his car – what was he supposed to do!?” Well, according to this dudes testimony and the testimony of people who knew him at various phases throughout his life: he intentionally drove his car into that group of protestors to hurt them and he’ll be going to jail forever for it. It’s amazing to me how people come out in defense of someone participating in a white supremacist rally by making the point that they might not actually be a white supremacist despite their history and behavior. Putting those facts aside, he still killed someone with his car. It’s my belief that this feeling comes out of fear of being labeled as such. Well, I have good news for you: it’s very easy to not be a white supremacist. Every single participant in the Unite the Right rally knew exactly what they were doing though (“The Jews will not replace us” much?). However, it’s far easier to believe that there was no malicious intention behind it. Why would this person want to hurt anyone? Why would anyone want to hurt anyone?
By denying the existence of white supremacy, not only do you refuse to acknowledge there is a problem, but you refuse to listen to those affected saying that there is a problem. You know who are the least qualified people to speak on racial harassment and discrimination? Those that have never experienced it. If you’ve never experienced it, you don’t know what it looks like so, how can you deny there is a problem? Yes, I’m white, but I know there is a problem because I listen and read! I’m doing my best to be a better ally and really understand.
I will end with this. I’m sure there are plenty of you out there wondering why I think I’m right and writing this from atop my comfy tower, but I don’t think I’m right. I carry a love for everyone and it’s painful to me when people, who have done nothing wrong except for be who they are, are attacked for those very things. I’m not a religious person, by any means, and I believe that the bible is completely open to interpretation and that there are many who use it as a grounds for labeling themselves a better person than most, but it is your actions that make you who you are. If you believe that kneeling during the national anthem isn’t the right time to protest, then tell me, person unaffected, when is it a good time to protest/why do you care about how and why people protest? Did you know the anthem only started playing after 9/11 as a recruiting tactic for the military? I do. True knowledge is power.
I’m not saying that you can’t think or view it as disrespectful, but in doing so you’re dismissing the why. Why is this happening? If you say they’re a bunch of spoiled football players with nothing to complain about, where did you get that information from? What is informing your opinion? Why are you choosing to ignore a very real problem because of a gut reaction? Ask and listen. But, again, why are people so worked up about NFL players kneeling? Is it because they don’t want to acknowledge that there is a problem? Are people worried that by acknowledging discrimination in other communities it could upset the balance of “equality”? If they can’t protest, then I won’t know about these issues, and there is no problem to know about, right?
I don’t read memes. You know why? 99% of them, on any political spectrum, are wrong and I often find myself having to explain why a meme is sharing misinformation. Stop getting your news from memes. Stop believing memes. Sharing them spreads misinformation and creates fear mongering. Some people I know that get their news from Facebook have whipped themselves up into their own frenzy. I wish it were different.
However, I will close with this: Today’s GOP is abhorent. They are responsible for gerrymandering. They elected two people in 2018 that have been indicted. I see the most scandals within the GOP. They reject science. They don’t know how women’s bodies work nor do they care. They aim to suppress and target women and minorities with their harmful policies. I’m tired of being forced to sugarcoat what is actually happening in this country and assume that people’s intentions are not malicious when their behavior is 100% completely aimed at targeting marginalized populations. You don’t have to agree with me.
To the people who feel impacted by Ravelry’s new policy: The rise of white supremacy in this country is directly related to Donald Trump and no one will miss you. Bye, Felicia.