Comments of the Week: Gerda Lerner, Liberals and Poverty

Storified by The Nation· Fri, Jan 11 2013 13:06:55

This week, a few of our readers responded to John Nichols’s post on historian and NOW co-founder Gerda Lerner, who died last week, with stories about their own encounters with their work. 
I was hired by the Austin Rape Crisis Center in 1978 to coordinate its community education effort.  That was a challenging task, to say the least.  As a young man in those days I brought  no real understanding of the cultural underpinnings of violence against women to my work.  I read numerous books, talked to many women involved in the work including rape survivors, but it was not until I read Lerner’s The Creation of Patriarchy that the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.  Indeed, violence against women seemed to me inevitable within the patriarchal context.  And what could be more "invisible," more "normal" than the culture of patriarchy created and maintained over the last 3,000 or so years?  One can only hope that Lerner’s work will continue to bear fruit.What Gerda Lerner Taught Us | The Nation
Gerda Lerner’s "The Creation of Feminist Consciousness:  From the Middle Ages to the 1870’s" is a classic.  It taught me to never ever give up on fighting the good fight for women’s rights and it made me a women’s history activist.  It makes me mad as Hell when the media, including The Nation, ignores Women’s Equality Day and never talks about the imprisonment and violence that Alice Paul and the Silent Sentinels endured so that women could vote.  Without historians like Lerner, I would have never known about great activists like Christine de Pizan and Olympe de Gouges and I would have never started agitating for people to celebrate Seneca Falls Day and Women’s Equality Day.What Gerda Lerner Taught Us | The Nation
Also this week, author Rick Perlstein began blogging at He started with a post “Why I Am A Liberal.” 
Jjkfld Wolf: 
i identify as strongly, radically liberal, and am with you on all of that stuff.  but as an scientist studying climate change, agriculture, and ecology, i have to question why every single economist and politician in the entire world seems to think that economies can always grow?  they can’t.  i don’t want a growing economy–i want a stable one.  these two qualities are by definition mutually exclusive.  i would like to see some new and different thinking on economics and the politics thereof.  thanks for a great post too though.Why I Am A Liberal | The Nation
I am that wingnut uncle who describes himself as a wicked liberal. The way I describe being a liberal is by comparison. When I hear what conservatives, right wingers, tea partiers and even libertarians speak their language always breaks down to I, me, mine. They are worried about their piece of the pie. They’re concerned about what they have or what they believe they’re entitled to. When I hear liberals and progressives speak I hear what about them. What about all of us. Liberals are concerned about themselves but when they speak out and take action it’s about the welfare of everyone not just themselves and most often they put others before themselves. Conservatives and the like often call us Godless and see us as not following the teachings of the great religions but I see it as the opposite. Liberals follow more closely the great tennants of religion. Not so much because it is a tennant but because liberals know in their hearts and souls or whatever you believe is the seat of morality that we must put others before ourselves because it is the right thing to do. It is innate in liberals. I don’t fear calling myself a liberal. Maybe a little bit. But it’s how I describe myself. It doesn’t encompass all of me but it is a great descriptor. Liberals are my heroes. Like ReplyWhy I Am A Liberal | The Nation
Also in response to one of Rick Perlstein’s posts, “How the NRA Became an Organization for Aspiring Vigilantes (Part 1),” one commenter emphasized the need for context when talking about the Black Panthers and guns. 
A necessary perspective here: the Black Panthers acted as a constabulary because many white policemen in cities were not defending black families and were, in fact, killing black men with impunity. It is interesting to compare this to the fantasists on the right but the factual difference is immense.How the NRA Became an Organization for Aspiring Vigilantes (Part 1) | The Nation
Finally, in response to Greg Kaufmann’s call for President Obama to meet with low-income Americans, our readers joined him in calling for politicians to pay more attention to the lives of the poor. 
I ran for Congress, unsuccessfully, last year. I’ll never forget the stories people told me when I knocked on doors or met at events. If more politicians actually talked with people I can’t imagine how could vote to cut programs that help people. But, their corporate owners wouldn’t allow that.Sue Thorn
poverty is completely ignored. look at that picture from Philadelphia. I’m from Philadelphia. more than half the city looks like that picture. and it’s not a condemnation of philly. most american cities look like that. with bright shining skyscrapers downtown and a rotting jungle of poverty and decay surrounding it. this is every city in america. and the smaller cities especially. check out harrisburg, pa some time, or wilkes-barre, pa. my god it is depressing. these people live in an endless circle of poverty. with no opportunity to change it. regardless of how smart or driven they might be.  this is an america that the mitt romney’s of the world are completely  unaware of. they don’t even know it exists, let alone know how to solve the problems. Obama at least knows it exists. he just seems to have forgotten about it.A White House Meeting With Low-Income Americans | The Nation
Let’s put responsibility where it belongs. The desperately-needed poverty discussion won’t happen because otherwise-liberal media of this generation won’t legitimately address it. This generation was firmly taught to keep the discussion all about, only about, the middle class, the concerns of the better-off who are responsible for the politics and policies of the past 30+ years. As long as this is true, it simply isn’t possible for this issue to be legitimately addressed. Today’s middle class is utterly clueless about the realities of American poverty, so of course they have no incentive to push the issue. Americans can and do die today as a direct result of poverty/deprivation. Bill Clinton’s welfare"reform" policies directly violate the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an international agreement supposedly honored by US progressives, but hey, who doesn’t love Big Bill? Government absolutely won’t touch this issue as long as the otherwise-progressive community/media ignores it.A White House Meeting With Low-Income Americans | The Nation