Let’s do a thought experiment, shall we? Imagine that an editor of a left-wing magazine—let’s say The Nation or Jacobin—who’d been supportive of Bernie Sanders during the primary, tweeted the following:
“Rejoice, for one day Hillary Clinton will retire or die.”
Or how about this?
“Gonna build a monument to all the Sanders voters who were right and erect it on top of Hillary Clinton’s grave”
What do you think would happen? How long before mainstream liberal and mainstream liberal feminist publications would be calling for an apology and a firing for the editor? How long before Shareblue exposed it as “the latest manifestation of a toxic misogyny that is endured by Hillary Clinton as she practices radical self-care in the Serengeti in Africa where they call her sister Hillary?” How long before Media Matters covered it and sent out an email about it to their members, perhaps with a call to action?
End of thought experiment. Let us now turn to reality, to the Twitter account of an editor at Ms.—the trailblazing, prestigious and influential feminist magazine—founded by Gloria Steinem, whom I admire, and Letty Cottin Pogrebin, whom I admire and know, in 1971.
Here is what she tweeted:
And also this:
To clarify, there is nothing wrong with an editor expressing a clear preference for one candidate over another, which she did on several occasions.
The problem is when an editor expresses joy at someone’s eventual death and fantasizes about building a monument (not in homage) on top of his grave. That this person happens to be a sitting senator who ran across the country campaigning harder for Hillary Clinton than any other single human being besides Bill Clinton, is irrelevant but poignant.
Allow me to address the inevitable responses my statements will provoke:
People wish for Clinton’s death all the time!
Yes, they do. They are randos on the internet and not editors of major publications.
But rejoicing at Hillary’s death would be misogynist and representative of a violence and harassment that women face more than men and that Clinton faces more than Sanders.
Yes, it would be. It’s undeniable that celebrating the death of a woman is different from celebrating the death of a man. And, of course, there were no “lock her up” or “drag her” equivalents for Sanders. But I will go out on a limb and say that rejoicing at someone’s death is “deplorable,” even without the misogyny.
Also, while anti-semitism is not comparable to sexism and misogyny, it’s time to stop pretending that all criticism of Sanders is free of it. There is often as much evidence of anti-semitism as there is of misogyny in statements which Clinton partisans label as definitively misogynist.
Unlike Shareblue and certain Clintonite self-identified feminists, I have no interest in having someone fired. I do, however think that Ms. would be and, as I’m writing now, is remiss to not condemn this kind of language. As of now, my tweet calling attention to this, has been liked almost 2,000 times and shared 713 times. It is unlikely that Ms. has not seen the tweet. And they have not responded.
Not doing so is beneath Ms. Magazine. While its founder Gloria Steinem was criticized for dismissing young women who supported Sanders as wanting to be “where the boys are,” this comment, for which she apologized, was certainly outweighed by her contributions to and sacrifices for feminism. But Ms. Steinem had also stumped for Sanders, whose policies were feminist enough for her to anoint him an “honorary woman.” Rejoicing at his death dishonors Ms. Magazine as well as Ms. Steinem.