Hail the Victorious Dead

For far too many Americans living in the shadows, our last, most-visible defender is gone, leaving nothing between us and a murderous culture that already views those without a voice as expendable

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died today (9/18/20). What you don’t know is that, for far too many people, she was our last best hope.

When you’re a member of the privileged classes, you rarely get to understand what some obscure figures mean to those who have to fight and pry every inch of our existence away from vultures who might profit off our misery, suffering, and death. Perhaps why The Meat Puppets impressed Dave Grohl and Kurt Cobain will be beyond you. Possibly what Chadwick Boseman meant for an entire generation of black men will be lost upon you. What John Lewis represented won’t translate.

You never can tell what you have said or done till you have seen it reflected in other people’s minds — Robert Frost

2020, humanity’s annus horribilis, has claimed another shining soul who was a last stalwart against the most-predatory proclamations from an increasingly fascist nation. Those of us with darker skin, wombs, preexisting conditions, or anyone seen as “other” by the Aryan Youth who now control the country, are terrified beyond words for what her passing means for our future. Will we even have one, here? For far too long, we’ve been malevolently neglected or openly demonized by those in power. Our voices only felt heard by people who could exploit our tenuous existence… and a few notable justices, among them, Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’m not saying that anyone expected RBG to swoop out of the sky and save the country like Wonder Woman, but the job of the Supreme Court is to be the rational, dispassionate grown-up in government, and step in and see that the rules and playing field was something like fair. I think that’s the biggest change in government and politics in my lifetime; the sentiment has changed from, “A fair deal for everyone” (although we might’ve disagreed about how to get there) to “A fair deal for our biggest campaign contributors, and let God sort out the rest.” I might be infusing too much of my own sentiments into Ginsburg’s memory, but, for a very long time, it felt like she was the only reason why the ACA was upheld. Why I got to be alive. And now, she’s gone, and the grief and terror amongst those who have been abandoned by corporate America is almost palpable. Who will step in and ensure that we have health care? That our vote counts? That the most-vulnerable are not also the least-protected? These are not minor concerns or unjustified anxiety, those of us who have experienced real America without privilege know just how brutal this country can be.

And the grim answer is, that burden now falls to us. The only silver lining in this shit-show of a year is that, Ginsburg supposedly told her granddaughter a few days before her death;

My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.

Wikipedia claims that the average time to nominate a Supreme Court Justice is 67 days, and the median time is 71 days. We’re 50 days from election day, 124 days until Jan. 20, 2021. RBG’s last will and testament should read that now is the time for the truly silent majority to rise as one and demand her justice for ourselves.

The last, greatest progressive of a bygone era has faded. We must take it upon ourselves to continue her fight for justice and full equality before the law.

Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.

Written by

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

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