Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about Ravelry's statement released just this past Sunday regarding their new policy dealing with support of the current occupant of the White House and his administration. It's been trending on Twitter, all over Instagram, and even covered by CNN, The Washington Post, and The Guardian in the UK.
I will admit that I was really surprised when I first heard about it - because I didn't realize that anything was happening, though upon reflection, I shouldn't have been surprised. Knitters, crocheters, weavers, etc. are all people. People think (well, at least some of them), and they have feelings, and they react to things. As a knitter, I enjoy thinking about patterns, yarns, seeing what others are doing, and laughing when things go wrong. I also have strong opinions about many things and many people, and have no qualms about expressing them when the spirit moves me. I live in the world, and have serious concerns about what is happening locally, nationally, and globally, and I do what I can to support individuals and organizations that share my values.
Some people I know think and believe differently than I do, and for the most part, I can respect them even if I disagree, because they have come to their feelings and decisions based on experience, thoughtfulness, and consideration of facts. I have no issues with these people, because it is a live-and-let-live sort of relationship. We agree to disagree, as it were. I don't preach to them, and they don't preach to me.
This is completely different than dealing with extremists, no matter what the cause or belief system. I will admit that I am in no way a supporter of the current occupant of the White House or anyone of his ilk. Do I think they are to blame for every single bad thing going on in today's society? No I don't. But - and this is a big BUT - I think that they are responsible for bad things getting worse, because they do not condemn them. They are not going up to individuals and saying, "Yes, have a rally against minorities," but they are not condeming them when they happen. They are allowing every base, terrible instinct to become just another part of our lives. For example, toxic masculinity and obvious racism has always been around, but through the example from the top, it's more publicly prevalent than ever. Some would say, "Well, at least it's out in the open," but when actions follow that hurt or endanger others, it needs to be stopped. We should all strive to be better than this.
Growing up, I was often at the margins of "normal" life. We moved a lot, so I spent a lot of time being "the new kid," which is as much about being someone no one knows in school as it is about being a curiosity because you're not part of "them." My family didn't have money, so I didn't travel to exotic places on school breaks or vacations, like nearly every other kid in my school did. I was never popular, and was often bullied. The fact that I was smart (i.e., got decent grades) meant that sometimes, kids were nice to me because they hoped I would do their schoolwork for them (I wouldn't). I was never boy-crazy, which as a teenager made me a really suspicious character. It was usually unpleasant, often lonely, and sometimes heartbreaking.
But here's the thing. I was never left out because of the color of my skin. I've never been the recipient of cruelty or negativity based on the person I chose to marry. No one's ever told me to go back to where I came from, even if I was born here. I've never had to explain my decision to change my gender. I've never had anyone threaten to kill or lynch me. No one has ever followed me around a store because they were sure that I'd steal something, even if I'd never even considered doing such a thing. No one has ever called me terrible names related to my ethnic background or religious beliefs.
These are examples of people who are truly marginilized. These are the ones who get hate mail, or mocked on Twitter, or in worst-case scenarios, have people call them on their phones to spew filth, or show up at their homes to harrass them.
There are not "very fine people on both sides" of extremism. Ravelry took a stand, which was within their rights. The First Amendment protects free speech, but only regarding the government. Individuals and private companies can decide for themselves what is acceptable and not acceptable. Those responsible for Ravelry decided where the line in the sand was located, and unlike many other websites, companies, and individuals, they said enough is enough, here is how we will go forward.
We all need to follow their example. Thank you for reading.
EDITED TO ADD: Thoughtful comments, as always, are welcome. Rude, abusive, or threatening comments will be immediately deleted, because, to use a popular saying, "Ain't nobody got time for that."