Saturday, February 25, 2017

Wherein I freak out a little . . .

I gotta be honest, I’m pretty freaked out by what’s happening in the U.S. It’s a litany of terrible things happening every day—not even one new terrible thing every day, but several. 

I don’t even know where to start. I believe in the scientific method, empirical evidence, logic, supporting one’s positions with objective facts and evidence. I believe that people should be treated equally under the law. I believe that all people are not, as a practical matter, treated equally. Part of the reason for this is the profound income inequality that exists in the U.S., part of it is systemic oppression, and a whole host of other reasons; it’s comorbid, it’s multifactorial. I believe—and this one is pretty radical—that, due to these inequalities, in a civilized society, we all should support and contribute to programs we all benefit from.

I support economic safety nets, like welfare, social security, and universal healthcare; safety and health regulations for workers and consumers, like OSHA, FLSA, the EPA, the EEOC, the FTC, the FAA, the FCC, the FDA, the NLRB, ; unions; paid family leave; anti-trust and monopoly laws; public schools; a movement toward free or deeply-subsidized university education for all citizens; NEA and NEH; PBS; environmental protections; freedom of the press . . . you probably get the idea, though I could probably go on and on and on.

All of these things are under assault right now. Steve Bannon, another fucking monster watching over the President’s shoulder, is on record saying that he is “a Leninist” who wants to “. . . destroy the state . . . I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

And we are seeing exactly that.

An Attorney General (Sessions) with a damning record on civil rights issues. A Secretary of Education who lacks any experience with education and who wants charter schools and vouchers. An EPA-head (Pruitt) who has deep and long-term ties to the fossil-fuel industry. An insane also-ran-for-prez, Ben Carson, for Housing and Urban Development, with zero experience in anything even vaguely related to the position for which he’s been tapped. It’s like a bizarro-world where throwing darts or rolling dice for the picks would have made as much or more sense.

A President who watches TV in the evenings and mornings and then launches a volley of incoherent tweets based on his channel-flipping.

Who complains on Twitter about a department store dropping his daughter’s brand.

Who refuses to say anything about the rapidly-increasing threats to Jews and Synagogues, and when it’s clear that he must say something, he reads a statement from a podium, barely looking up to make eye contact with the people covering the event.

Who attacks the credibility of a native-born Federal Court Judge and impugns his ability to be fair, because he is “Mexican.”

Who calls legitimate news “fake” when the media outlets do not fawn over his every decision.

Who signed an ill-conceived and poorly-executed executive order banning Muslims from some countries from traveling to the U.S.

Who has admitted to sexual assault (and who has been accused, in sworn testimony, by his previous wife, of raping her). 

Who wants to increase our stockpile of “nukes” so that we're the biggest, baddest dog in town. (And this coming from a guy who had to ask--HE HAD TO ASK--"if we have nukes, why can't we use them?")

Who has the attention-span of a ferret high on methamphetamine.

Who cannot even parse the questions being asked of him and so responds with nonsense that bubbles up from his ego and need to be always self-aggrandizing.

I mean, this is not a comprehensive list, you know? I could spend a few hours typing up all the stuff. Just look at the EOs to date, or other lists of the ongoing insanity.

But it has led to a point, for me, where I feel completely demoralized. The current administration is doing their damnedest to roll back all of the progress that has occurred in the past two terms, and more.

I have always been aware that the U.S., for all its “freedoms,” is also a deeply problematic construct, in practice. The ideal is many things, some of which we strive for and some of which are simply propaganda, a false grand narrative we always already bought into. Our foreign policy is one that has created enemies all over the world. We enjoy a high standard of living, in some cases at the cost of other peoples’ lives (and if we didn't, your iPhone would cost $2000). We accidentally kill women and children in other countries, written off as “collateral damage.”

And I admit, in the past, I didn’t have to worry about a lot of stuff, politically-speaking, because I was comfortable inhabiting a position of privilege. I didn’t have to worry about being shot by a cop at a traffic stop. I didn’t have to concern myself with being clocked and followed around in a store. I didn’t have to think about not being listened to, or taken seriously when I spoke, in social, academic, or vocational arenas—or any others.

So I apologize for being less of an ally than I could have been. Now I want to be an advocate, I want to be an ally, I want to support people who are at risk to be deeply hurt by the positions this administration is taking.

But. The demoralization . . . it’s . . . powerful. It’s so bleak. That people even exist that support this administration and the ideals they hold is completely terrifying to me. It is so callous, so cold.

I find myself vacillating between wanting to seek out better, more progressive places to relocate to, or, alternately, stocking up on preserved food; buying a long gun, a shotgun, an AR-15, a concealed carry permit, and a Sig-Sauer or a Glock; packing a bugout bag, and literally heading for the hills. That sounds . . . crazy, probably. Yet no less true for that. How bad is it going to get? All these people need is an attack on American soil, either because it will, of course, happen eventually, or because they employ Agents Provocateurs to do some dirty work. And then panic, an excuse to declare martial law, and . . . “Papieren, bitte.”

I hope it won't come to that. I hope that 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale and The Man in the High Castle and The Road and Mockingjay aren't as relevant right now as I fear they are. 


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