So the unthinkable happened. Enough people could think it, and it did.
I’ve passed this day from stunned disbelief to gradually dawning horror. A fascistic strongman with weak impulse control and no moral centre or care for democratic norms is set to become the head of the most terrifyingly destructive military in history and the leader of the putatively free world.
And the checks and balances meant by the Founders to keep us from just this catastrophe are in the care of the gormless obsolescent party that let him hollow it out from the inside on his slither to victory.
Had to hold it together enough to look after my students this morning. I couldn’t tell them it’ll be okay, because I don’t know it will be okay. It might but we’ll have to be lucky.
Fears were many. One student’s Japanese-American and felt haunted by the internment camps and Trump’s talk of deportation. Another’s queer and disabled and said she felt unsafe setting foot outside her apartment – the fear of difference that’s been whipped up. Another spoke of how America seems to have said it’s fine with being a rape culture.
Didn’t go to my own fears but I share all these. That a man could crown himself in hate and be called king for it. I also, because I love especially the nonhuman world, which doesn’t get to speak at our conference tables, fear the consequences for our climate. Which are for us, too.
That world will eventually bounce back, burgeon new species, maybe absent us. Have I believed too much hype, to feel that’s what’s at stake here, our persistence at all?
What I came to this morning – it probably won’t be as bad as we fear it will.
Said, I grew up in the last two decades of the Cold War. We lived knowing someone could take a blip on a radar screen at NORAD for the front edge of a nuclear attack, press a button, and that would be it. We made it through that.
Said, it’s good not to feel powerless. What matters is to act, not the scale of the act. I’m going, I said, to write a blog post, and maybe it’ll have five readers. Maybe you’ll write a poem – that’s a political act.
Do what you need to to feel empowered. Whether that’s waving a placard or holding a friend’s hand. Add to the store of meaning in the world.
Fascism is giving your power over to another, proudly, abjectly, a strongman. The most crude process of identification imaginable and an abdication of meaning. Resisting fascism, whether in Mussolini’s Italy or Trump’s America, means creating meaning, heightening the depth of meaning the world bears.
Got more thoughts about meaning. Trump is a drain of meaning, came to me last sleepless night, and I got up to scribble it down. It’s how he uses words not caring if they’re true or no – and how he uses people with no sense of any thou there. But I’m past midnight and’ve not et yet.
For now, just to say, the meaning of small acts has loomed large for me today. A student in a headscarf who caught my glance and smiled as we passed on campus today – why? did she see how downcast I was and want to bear me up? did my downcastness make us allies in her eyes? Dunno. Small happy mystery of other as other than other.
There were more I wanted to say but if I write any longer, dinner will be breakfast. Love to you, friends. These are hard times coming.