Regrouping

I had to take a break for a while. The anger was taking a toll on me. And what takes its toll on me also takes its toll on my daughters. They’ve been picking up on my worry, my outrage, and while those are real and good healthy emotional responses to they way things are unfolding, I don’t think spending the next four years seething is going to help much.

Although, I suspect that no matter what, I’ll be spending the next four years doing a fair amount of seething.

But what I don’t think I want to do is come in here and just regurgitate the day’s awful news and just spew vitriol about it. There are dozens of places where that’s already happening. I’d be just one more angry voice in the void where it turns out fascist tendencies have been brewing in a way I naively thought we had left behind.

Every day I wake up, pour myself a cup of coffee and read the news. And the news hits me over the head with a monkey stick. I guess, during the weeks I didn’t write anything, I was trying to tell myself that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe all those conservatives on my Facebook feed — the ones who have spent the last two months laughing triumphantly and dragging out the old nicknames for people like me (Libtard, Lemming, Demoncrat…) — were right. Maybe we were being overdramatic hysterics when we contemplated life under a Trump presidency.

But it’s been less than two weeks, and already it’s like: holy shit, is this all really happening? And how is it that all the checks and balances built in to the Constitution aren’t kicking in to put a stop to this? I know I can trace, painstakingly, the course of events that brought us to this point, and there are people already doing that, certainly. But what I can’t see is what we all need to see: a way out. Assuming that Trump doesn’t push the button in a fit of childish rage and the world is still here in four years, how do we recover from this? How do we reach the die hard Trump supporters, to explain to them that he never had their interests at heart. Never. He’ll sacrifice each and every one of his voters for his own narcissistic ends. I can see it. Millions of us can see it.

Yesterday, in the library down town where the significant and ever-increasing population of homeless people congregate during the days through the winter here, I listened as a homeless elderly man almost got into a vehement argument with a woman near the computer banks. I don’t know what started it, but I heard him bellowing and then she said something like, “It’s not about the Liberals or the Republicans…” but he was already walking away from her angrily, proclaiming to all of us in the quiet area about how Trump was going to save him, save us all, make America great again. He was limping slightly, a crumpled backpack slung over one shoulder, and his clothing was as grimy as his face and long gray hair. The farther away he got from the woman, the quieter he became, so the security guard just left him alone. Eventually he settled into a chair, still muttering angrily but softly about the glory to come, now that Trump was in office.

Clearly, there will never be any reasoning with that man. His troubles are too many to begin with, and chances are, he didn’t even get to vote in the election. But he is a citizen of this country, and his voice counts, even if that voice is raised inexplicably and inappropriately in the study area of the library on a Tuesday morning. There would never be a way to explain to him that to Trump he would be either a pawn or prop, or worse, he would be nothing, something to be moved along, forgotten. Every single social and medical program in place that could help this man is now at risk because Trump only cares about his own murky agenda.

But we can’t expect this one mentally ill homeless man to understand any of this. What we did expect was for people of sound mind, reasonably good health, decently educated and living comfortably to be able to understand it. And the fact that they can’t — well, it still boggles the mind. I end up sitting on the couch in the family room at the end of the day, brow furrowed as I scroll through the afternoon’s headlines and the hateful, willfully obtuse comments from the far right and, more worrisome, from the apparently-much-farther-to-the-right-than-I-once-thought moderate conservatives, and I despair of ever pulling out of this terrifying fascist nosedive.

I read far too long, mesmerized by just how fast misinformation can actually travel over the Internet, until my daughter comes in the room.

“You okay?” she asks. “You look really upset.”

“I’m fine. Just reading the news,” I say.

And despairing.

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Hey, I’m not sure Trump knows what he’s doing…. Ooooh, Look! Something Shiny!

Ivanka Trump’s jewelry line is all the rage this fall. Apparently. If you have ten grand to blow on a gaudy bracelet, that is. Which I do not.

Her marketing department, still trying to adjust to the changes that will come now that the Trumps will be taking on the role of First Family, sent out a email blast after Ivanka appeared on 60 Minutes with her father, encouraging people to “shop Ivanka’s look.”

Seriously?

I get that the company has some quick changes to make, in order to comply with federal regulations regarding conflicts of interest in high governmental positions. I get it. It seems like a relatively innocent mistake they made, and I’m sure that they’ll figure it out at some point.

However. The fact that the bracelet retails for about ten thousand dollars really only deepens the cultural divide between the Trumps and the vast majority of American citizens, especially the rural white people in the Midwest who secured his win. Only the top 1 percent of the population could even consider spending that much money on one piece of jewelry.

And of course, on the other side of the news, we’re seeing many calls to vote with our wallets, to boycott any and all corporations and retail organizations that Trump would benefit from. There are lists circulating all over the place, and it sounds great initially, but when you really scrutinize the lists, it becomes an exercise in frustration if you really aim to completely boycott everything and still get your essential shopping done. Where I live, the only big box store close is Walmart, which is on the list, of course. (It’s always on the list. On all lists. It’s Walmart, for God’s sake.) To shop anywhere else, I have to drive 20 miles. Or I could order from Amazon. But guess what? Amazon’s on the list too.

Shit.

I don’t have time to keep track of and follow elaborate boycott lists. But what I can do is maybe just buy less stuff. Buy used whenever possible. I’ve been trying to do that anyway, no matter who’s in office. The unending conspicuous consumption American shopping culture is part of the reason we’re in the mess we’re in.

And in the end, I really don’t think they’re parading Ivanka and her fashions around expecting us to actually buy it all. What they’re expecting is that we’ll be distracted by it, though. I find it tiresome. Women I know are more interested (and understandably worried) about how Trump’s team is dropping the ball on developing his new administration. We’re interested in the fact that they’re nominating white nationalists and homophobes and the like for important cabinet positions. We’re already exhausted and impatient with Trump’s unending twitter tantrums about how he could have won the popular vote IF HE REALLY WANTED TO and how Ruth Bader Ginsberg needs to resign BECAUSE SHE’S JUST A BIG OLD MEANY.

Waving pretty dresses and golden shiny baubles in front of our eyes isn’t going to make us stop questioning Trump’s competence for the job he’s managed to snag. It’s just going to annoy us even more than we already are. And believe me… we are seriously fucking irritated.

If Trump really respected women at all, he’d know that.

Day 7: Make Way for the Thought Police

It’s only been a week, and already we’re seeing attempts to silence American public opinion.

Here’s a recent quote from Kellyanne Conway: “[Harry Reid] should be very careful about characterizing somebody in a legal sense. He thinks — he thinks he’s just being some kind of political pundit there, but I would say be very careful about the way you characterize it.”

She’s also been busy telling people not just what not to say, but also what they ought to be saying, specifically the Obama and Clinton need to tell all the protesters that “Trump is next president, so it’s time to go home and accept it.” Free hint: In addition to free speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms and all the other rights the Right likes to scream about, there’s also the right to ASSEMBLE. I understand that the right to assemble doesn’t mean the right to loot and riot. However, it’s pretty clear that Trump and his minions don’t want anyone protesting, peacefully or not.

Also, in California this week, a high school teacher was suspended for his academic comparison of Trump to Hitler. Navarro, who is a Holocaust scholar, said his lesson was based on facts. Both Trump and Hitler, during their rise to power, vowed to deport foreigners and make their country “great again,” he noted.

Just a few days ago in New York, a woman having a meal in a restaurant was discussing the election with a friend, expressing her disappointment with the results, when a man at the next table began to argue with her. He then punched her in the face before fleeing the restaurant. Here’s a lovely example of someone who wasn’t even at a formal protest, let alone engaging in any kind of illegal behavior. She was just having dinner with a friend, and having a private conversation. And yet, the man at the next table felt empowered to assault her because of what she was saying.

All that, plus the media blacklist that Trump started way back when, during the campaign, plus the ominous white nationalist cabinet picks, PLUS the fact that no one knows exactly what will change in the White House press room once Trump is sworn in, and the picture is frighteningly clear: the first amendment will only apply to Certain Approved People and Certain Approved Media Outlets.

This, after eight years of hate speech directed against President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and the large minority groups that make up this nation, all conveniently ensconced within endless claims of First Amendment protections? Not to mention the president-elect’s endless twitter tantrums?

Everyone should be standing up and protesting the damage being done to the Bill of Rights. But no. Let’s build a wall instead, and pretend that Donald Trump cares about anyone and will actually deliver on any of the promises he made during his run. Guess what, conservatives? You just bought the prettiest bridge in the whole damn world. But you’d be fools to actually drive over the damn thing.

Go ahead, take a shot at it. Trump is counting on it. He’s probably betting you won’t make it across. And hey, you might… you just might. But if you don’t, you’d be better off not complaining about it. Because guess what? The Thought Police are watching you too.

There’s a reason Steven Bannon is being compared to Goebbels. A very valid reason.

Day 6: Standing in the Shadows, Watching

As I’ve witnessed so much gleeful hatred of minorities and women online this week, this passage from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has been resonating in my head:

Everyone was at him now. Those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find their courage, and for a few minutes the two girls could not even see him— so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him….

“The cowards! The cowards!” sobbed Susan. “Are they still afraid of him, even now?”

When I see how vocal and confident hate groups have become in light of Trump’s win, as evidenced by the hateful graffiti springing up all over the country, this is what they sound like to me. They’ve been waiting for this moment, and with each frightening cabinet member Trump chooses, these groups become more vocal, more confident. At long last, they can show their true colors, and even the President-Elect doesn’t care. (Free Hint: going on television and saying “stop it” is not going to stop it.)

The Aslan figure of the stone table is our concept of democracy. And those of us who never thought it would come to this are the two little girls hiding in the shadows, watching helplessly.

But let’s not forget what happened next. No matter how much those horrible hoards defaced the body on the table, they still couldn’t defeat him. Today, I’m standing in the shadows of the forest, watching helplessly, as racial epithets become the order of the day here in Trump’s Crappy New World, but 2018 and 2020 will come around, like the dawn, and if you’ve read this story, you know what happens then.

Day Five: On Listening

All I see in the news now is this swelling, almost gleeful tide of racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic (etc) triumph. Swastikas spray painted on walls and streets in Philadelphia, white kids passing out homemade mock deportation leaflets to their Latino classmates in California, piles of dogshit left on doorsteps of black families in affluent neighborhoods, anonymous comments on people’s Instagram accounts crowing things like “we’re sending ur kids back to Mexico now bitch”, “make American straight again” grafitti scrawled on billboards.  The KKK is having a rally to celebrate Trump’s win, for God’s sake.

And on my social media feed, interspersed with all these horrible reports, I see that little cluster of angry white middle class women, denigrating all the protest marches, cheering for Trump’s win over “THAT WOMAN,” looking forward to all the new changes Trump and his increasingly creepy, developing cabinet will be bringing to us. They say things like: I don’t know why these people don’t just settle down. Trump may be distasteful, but he’ll bring about real change, and if all of us misguided “lemmings” and “libtards” would just shut up for once, we might find that we really benefit from Trump’s Administration.

I just cannot fathom it.

The other night, one of them decided to take on the Rodney King “Can’t We All Just Get Along” Voice of Reason Role. She posted something to effect of “here’s an article for all my liberal friends that might help you understand that you have nothing to worry about” and then proceeded to tell us that if we all just took the time to listen, to Really Listen to her and people of her mindset, we’d all see just how right she was, just how good Trump’s win will be for us.

I suspect that when she said “liberal friends” she meant her “white middle class female liberal friends.”

Because the thing is, as a white middle class woman, she (and I) will be fairly insulated from what’s to come. We will most likely see some tax breaks. We don’t rely on the Affordable Care Act, so when that goes, it won’t impact us. We don’t have family members who will be deported. She isn’t the primary breadwinner in her family, so equal pay isn’t on her radar. And from what I’ve seen among these women, if it’s not on their radar, it doesn’t matter.  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Usually, I just scroll right past these ridiculous pleas for “agree with me already, you stupid liberals or at least just shut up already,” but this time I stopped and commented. Because the person she was directing her post to was a teenaged girl, a friend of her daughter’s , who had posted in response to her “just drink the damn koolaid” article, all of her fears about the Trump Administration. And this woman was basically telling this teenage girl that she didn’t know what she was talking about, and that she “wasn’t really REALLY listening” and that was why she was upset.

Basically, she was saying to the girl: you need to sit down and be quiet and listen now, hon. Be a good girl and just shut up.

And I don’t like that shit. At all.

So, I posted in, politely, carefully, and said, “you assume we’re not listening, but the truth is, we ARE listening, very carefully. It’s just that what we’re hearing is both frightening and abhorrent.”

A conversation ensued in which the woman in question tried to tell me that I was wrong. That if we were REALLY LISTENING, we’d agree with her. She also said that she knew the teenaged girl very well, and that the girl had a habit of posting all sorts of irrational fears without ever REALLY LISTENING. And I posted reply after reply that just continued to state the same old thing: WE ARE LISTENING. WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN LISTENING. We just don’t like what you’re saying.

We don’t like what we’re hearing. We don’t like the idea that racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and the like will now have a strong voice in Washington. Sugarcoating it in some minor tax breaks for the middle class isn’t going to make any of that shit taste better.

And how dare she try to tell someone else’s daughter to be quiet? How dare she say to young girls anywhere that they need to sit down and just listen?

If anything, we need to empower our daughters to stand up and start speaking. And if the complacent among us keep trying to shut them up, we need to tell them to start shouting.

When I woke up the next morning, I found that the woman had deleted the entire exchange from her feed, including the teenage girl’s comments, leaving just the stupid article up there. Silence reigned supreme once again on her feed.

I guess I touched a nerve. Good.

To my daughters, and all their friends and peers I say: I trust that you’re listening. And if you want to say something, you go right ahead. Stand up, girls, and start talking. And if you get manterrupted by anyone, especially if they’re white middle class women, start shouting.

Day Four: Safety Pin Fail

Remember my good buddy, Her Royal Highness Regina von Stompy Pants?

She’s been a busy little trumper bee, posting her usual sorts of hateful misinformation and condemnations on her Facebook page. Yesterday she posted a long diatribe about how fed up she is with all the liberals and their tiresome, babyish emotional support posts in the wake of Trump’s win. Her minions jumped right on board, agreeing with her that all of us evil, misguided, stupid liberals are just being big old sore-loser babies, and that it’s time for us to Put On Our Big Girl and Big Boy Pants and suck it up, because Trump won, ya big babies, and it’s payback time.

Or some such nonsense.

It’s not even her original post that’s bothering me. It’s one of the comments that one of her buddies left. Let’s have a look, shall we?

fb-cog-dis1-highlighted

I’ve outlined the pertinent areas in yellow.

Notice how Regina expresses her irritation and disdain for the liberal crowd’s “…massive tantrums, calls for safe spaces, puppy therapy…” etc. Now look at the bottom where one of her fans and most ardent supporters has posted her wholehearted agreement with the idea that liberals calling for safe spaces is ridiculous.

But do you also see what the commenter has changed her icon to? A safety pin?

Does she even know that she’s advertising herself as a supporter of the liberal call to identify oneself as a safe person for all the minority groups now threatened by the new Trump Administration at the same exact time that she’s denigrating the very idea of safe spaces?

My guess is: probably not.

The cognitive dissonance… it burns.

My social media feed is full of this kind of shit. Every day. And if I dare to point any of this out to them, their logical fails, their blatant misinformation, their outright lies, all they say is: “my page, my rules.” As if truth bends and changes depending on which facebook page you happen upon. Or they’ll tell me that all I’m doing is spreading more hate and to go away. But hey, I get it. It’s never fun when someone points out to you: psst… hey… you got some stupid on your face there. You might want to wipe it off before you hit the Send button.

Okay, then. Since it’s not polite to point out their stupidity on their own pages, I guess I’ll do it here.

My blog… my rules.

Rule #1: Here is where we tell the truth. Rule #2: This blog is a safe space.

Day Three: Do They Really Believe Trump Will Help Veterans?

It’s Veteran’s Day, so the Internet is, of course and rightfully so, infused with memes and messages thanking and honoring our Veterans. I had coffee this morning with a good, dear friend who happens to be a Gold Star widow. We spent two hours hashing over the election, commiserating, talking about the future, laughing. You know… just processing… getting over it. Her family made the ultimate sacrifice for this country, and she has spent the better part of this week fending off vile, hateful commentary on her social media feed because she (GASP!) didn’t vote for Trump. She doesn’t deserve that kind of shit. Ever. And especially not today, a day when we honor those who served and their families.

After our visit, I drove back home, sat down and read my news feed. Over on Facebook, one particular comment caught my eye: another extremely conservative acquaintance of mine posted her own thanks to our Veterans and promptly followed it with something like: It’s a great day for America and for Vets. Can’t wait to see what President Trump does for you!”

I’m all: mmmm-hmmmmm. Yeah. Don’t hold your breath, hon.

On his website, Trump lists a comprehensive 10-point plan to reform the VA. It’s quite impressive, full of flowery phrases and rhetoric and vague promises that really either side, Democrat or Republican, can get behind. It certainly doesn’t read like anything Donald might have written himself. I’m guessing that now that he’s won the election, he’ll promptly forget all about our veterans. After all, he doesn’t need them anymore. It still floors me not just that he won the presidency, but that veterans voted for him 2-1 even though he spent months denigrating veterans, using them for his own political gain, even taking someone’s Purple Heart, and having the gall to say he always wanted one of those and that this way of getting one was far easier than the usual way.

Free Hint to Future Politicians: The proper etiquette if a veteran approaches you and tries to give his or her Purple Heart to you is to hug that vet, thank them for their sacrifice, and then HAND THE DAMN MEDAL RIGHT BACK TO THEM AND SAY SOMETHING LIKE “THANK YOU. YOU HONOR ME WITH THIS GIFT. BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY ACCEPT IT.” Then you could maybe make a small ceremony out of re-pinning said medal onto said veteran…. I dunno….Just a suggestion.

But all of the above is a bit moot, I suppose. After all, Trump did win. And vets did vote for him. I’m not sure I’ll ever truly understand why. Actually, I do know. They’re hurting. That’s why. But why they think Trump is the cure for what ails them and the VA is utterly beyond me. Trump is not their friend or champion. Here’s an article from Time magazine a few months back that explains why: 5 Reasons Veterans Should Not Support Donald Trump. I read it back when it first came out and it was good to revisit it again today.

Four years from now, I’ll bet we look back on Trump’s 10-point plan and wonder what happened to it. Our veterans will be lucky to only be struggling with the same things they struggle with today. Because yes, our Veterans need more assistance from us. But if his past behavior is any indicator, we can expect that Donald Trump is the last person on earth we should turn to for that help.