The anti-choice principles presented are, arguably, incidental. While there’s no evidence given to suggest the anti-choice activists are being disingenuous, there is reason to think they have been manipulated in a power struggle that centers around white supremacy. There is one school of thought surfacing that racism, not religious belief, is at the heart of this issue. More white births push the numerical majority up and have the added benefit of ensuring unwanted white children are born, thus ensuring a plentiful population of poor, uneducated, pissed-off white people who will likely continue to vote against their own interests because of religious indoctrination.
Dennelfelser, in particular, favors the tyranny of a minority who are holding in their minds a picture of an America that never existed. Anti-choice promotes the ideal of a safe, White America where others are not welcome except under very specific, controlled conditions. The key assumption underlying this bias is that there is some virtue conferred by having white skin. It’s not a coincidence that states now enacting draconian anti-choice laws are the same ones that are against voting rights and immigrants. Interestingly, one of the sore points driving the White supremacy wave in the U.S. is “critical race theory,” which boils down to the fact that the source of much of the wealth of this country came initially from slave labor. The ACLU-sponsored film Who We Are walks through the history of this reality. It’s not a theory. The anti-choice activists are being used as a tool to keep the wealthy in power, moving toward oligarchy.
In Battleground, Lowen highlights the most rage-inducing element of the anti-choice movement: they seem to believe in and project a moral and social supremacy of a white-bread rural American ideal. It’s a twisted, Normal Rockwell, Father-Knows-Best lens on our culture. This view paints those pro-reproductive-rights girls in the cities as dirty and unwholesome. The religious right has appropriated morality and used marketing tactics to claim that high ground for themselves, rallying around the concept of “freedom” while fighting to deprive women of their rights. George Orwell called this “doublethink,” yet despite his 1984 cautionary tale, it still works as well as ever.
Battleground shines a light on two mutually exclusive world views held in this country. It’s clear these are no longer “united” states. We no longer have shared values, and the abortion access struggle may become the tipping point where what comes next is simply conflict over who controls which real estate. Trump entered the White House as a (failed) real estate developer, and that’s what he’s still trying to do, along with the bandwagoners of the right-wing who’ve seen a malevolent path to perpetual power by ending the great American experiment.
There are voices of reason in the film as well. Lowen interviews Julie Rikelman from the Center for Reproductive Rights, Alex McGill Johnson from the Planned Parenthood action fund, and Jenna King from Planned Parenthood SE. We also hear the emotional story of a rape survivor who says she would have ended her own life if she hadn’t had access to abortion.
Lowen offers no solutions. Abortion access has become a lever of power. As we’ve seen, there’s little that changes minds on this issue, and Battleground won’t sway anyone to one side or another. But it’s a critical document for understanding women on the ground doing the heavy lifting in the reproductive rights struggle from both sides of the issue.
Battleground screened at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.
"…it's clear these are no longer 'united' states."
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