It’s now day 3 of The New Normal and I still can’t focus, can’t think, burst into tears at odd moments, don’t give a damn about anything I enjoyed a few days ago. I live with depression. I’ve lived with depression all my life. This isn’t depression. It’s that BSOD message: “Windows must shut down to prevent damage to your computer.” A self-protective paralysis overlying incipient hysteria.
I had a moment of beauty yesterday when someone reminded me of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” – “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” I thought I might be turning a corner. Then I found out he died. Moment’s over. That was quick. He may have died on Monday, or on Thursday. I hope it was Monday. Before.
I went through the supermarket today, wondering: Which ones? Which ones decided I wasn’t worth keeping alive any more? Was it her? Who was it that decided my friends and neighbors should be deported, was it him? Who was it that decided bragging about sexual assault and a life spent viewing women purely in terms of their sexual utility wasn’t disqualifying, who felt like telling a crowd things were better when they could just beat the guy up, who wants to muzzle the media unless they only say nice things about him, didn’t matter that much – was it you? Did you decide you liked the bigotry so much, you’d ignore the bankruptcies and the potential for war and the chumming up to a Russian autocrat? Do fetuses matter so much more than living, breathing people who were once fetuses? And if there’s any doubt that people will suffer, check out Shaun King’s timeline, check the news about Penn, or just ask me for the 15 clips I randomly pulled to show you the hatred you have implicitly approved.
Those who voted for bigotry (and they will insist they voted for other things, but if you vote for a bigot, you don’t get to wave it away and claim purity) have made it clear they’ve been revolted by the person occupying the Oval Office for the past eight years. I’m going to understand that feeling, for the first time in my life, a lot better in the next four years (oh, let’s not sugar coat this, it’s eight years, and who knows, with all three branches of government firmly in his control, it might end up more than that). But my distaste does not spring from what the new President Elect is, but from what he’s said and done. If you can show me anything President Obama has ever said or done that’s as offensive as [insert favorite example of bigotry here] that will help me to understand. If you can show me instances where President Obama has been as selfish, as mean-spirited, as vindictive, as crass, as greedy as the new President Elect, that will help me to understand. I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how anything President Obama did affected their lives in a negative way. I’m not saying everything was peachy-keen, but he always maintained an air of grace and rationality. I never doubted his sincerity, and I always felt, even when I was disappointed by some action he did or didn’t take, some degree of trust in his judgment. I was proud to call him my President. Given my age and health, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to say that again.
Some casual online friends of mine were commenting on the election from that place of white privilege (which, I admit, I also enjoy) where everything’s an academic exercise and somehow both candidates were equally distasteful because it isn’t our rights, freedoms, and safety that’s threatened by one of them. I’ve been ignoring this attitude for weeks from all sides (my dental hygienist, a bus driver, a neighbor). But yesterday I cracked. I ended up the bad guy. I don’t like being the bad guy, and it does nobody any good. My intentions were good, and I can’t say I regret what I posted, but I made a fool of myself, and I was ineffective.
People of color have been saying white people don’t like to be made to feel uncomfortable about racism; I never knew what they meant before. I still don’t understand it: I’m always uncomfortable about racism (I’m always uncomfortable about a lot of things, for that matter), fully aware I don’t have any idea what it’s like to be the only black woman in the room, to be the black guy on the street when a police car comes around. I’ve tried to include more diverse voices into my earshot over the past several years. I still have a lot to learn. But fact is, I’m not comfortable with confrontation, so I tend to stay quiet until I’m pissed off to the point of erupting, and that’s never a good approach.
I’ll probably regret this post at some point, maybe even delete it; it’s way too “hot-take”. But right now, it’s something I need to put out here.
I hear a lot about liberals and other Democrats (funny, I always thought they were the same thing) being angry at each other, at individual Democrats, at the news media, at this and at that. Me, I’m angry at Jon Stewart. Yes, the Daily Show guy, the flaming liberal who’s been campaigning his heart out for the side of sanity and reason, the guy who’s show I watched religiously for years, the guy I still miss (though Trevor’s doing a fantastic job and brings an angle Jon simply couldn’t). Because I remember a show he did, just before he left TDS, where he and a bunch of other comedians got together on stage for a simulated circle jerk over the announcement of a certain candidate. They saw jokes making themselves for two, three months, maybe six. They never thought it would go beyond that. They never thought it could happen here.
Guess what – it happened here. And the KKK is throwing parades. This is who we are now.