NowThis, a news website that primarily caters to left-of-center millennials and Gen Z-ers, tweeted this on Wednesday: "The CIA's highest level positions are now all held by women—another stride towards progress." The tweet even included a flexed bicep emoji, a symbol of progress that invokes Rosie the Riveteer. Here it is:
The CIA's highest level positions are now all held by women — another stride towards progress pic.twitter.com/Sz4rDw4U7m
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 9, 2019
Most of the responses to the tweet involve people dunking on it, and for good reason. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) being run entirely by women is not another stride toward progress. A stride toward progress would be the CIA shutting down, or at the very least renouncing its past misdeeds: torturing prisoners, spying on American citizens, overthrowing foreign governments, etc., etc.
Yes, current CIA Director Gina Haspel is a woman. She also ran a CIA black site in Thailand and was personally involved in the waterboarding of at least one detainee. When asked about these activities during her confirmation hearings, she was unrepentant. She said, essentially, that she was just following orders.
I'm highlighting this tweet because it speaks to intersectionality's corruption of the modern progressive movement. Intersectionality, of course, is the academic tradition from the late 1980s that stressed group-based oppression: particularly racism and sexism. Over the years, proponents of intersectionality have added other areas of concern: everything from transphobia and homophobia to size-ism and able-ism. It's not that the intersectional thinkers are necessarily wrong—transphobia exists, and it's bad—but rather that a monomaniacal focus on group-based oppression can be naïve. Haspel taking over the CIA, for instance, might be a blow to sexism in some very narrow sense, but it does nothing to remedy the CIA's appalling record on civil liberties, something progressives purport to care about.
This is not the first time generic yaaassss slay kween feminism has been used to obscure Haspel's appalling awfulness: My colleague Scott Shackford made a note of The Advocate's coverage, which commended the CIA director for making "herstory" in a tweet that practically demands a barf emoji response.
Recall that some on the left complained Trump had threatened to drop "the mother of all bombs" on Afghanistan—not because killing yet more people in the war-torn country would be wrong, but because the phrase itself is sexist. This approach should frustrate true progressives. It certainly frustrates libertarians who would occasionally like to ally with them.