I got another letter from the guy exulting in the election. (See my blog ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE.) He began by claiming he likes Joseph Campbell and was also a fan of G.K. Chesterton. I won’t reprint his letter here, but it was full of elaborate excuses and justifications, some of which I reference. Finally, I could face responding and as you can see, it’s on the fierce side of my commitment to “tender ferocity.”
So you like G.K. Chesterton? I believe it was Chesterton who said something to the effect of:
“Most people pretty much agree on what is right and wrong. They differ in what they’re willing to excuse.”
I hope you had a good time justifying the shortcomings of your guy and convincing yourself that he is being misunderstood and that now things are truly going to be great again. I’m sure it helps you sleep at night and get up cheery in the morning. Well, good for you.
Meanwhile, the wild dogs of hate are out in the streets beginning their campaign of terror. Some of wandering around with baseball bats looking for black folks to threaten, some are painting swastikas, some are invited to be on the Cabinet. The KKK endorsed your guy and are ready to rise again. I repeat. The KKK. I hope you found a way to excuse that. Meanwhile, the fact that not a single major newspaper (except for the KKK’s), not a single living former President, Republican or Democrat, not a single world leader except other fascists like Putin, endorsed your guy is so easily explained in your elaborate system of excuses. Meanwhile, while millions of scientists trained to look objectively at irrefutable facts are alarmed that as we approach (or are we past?) the tipping point of climate change disaster, your guy is ready to pull out of the Paris agreement and appoint “environmental” leaders with their eyes shut and fingers in the ears while the polar ice caps are melting. Meanwhile, millions of women are ready to assemble to suggest they don’t like being rated solely by their appearance and having their private parts grabbed and aren’t you clever that you found a way to excuse that.
I hope you’ll be able to explain to your grandchildren why you approved of a person that is happily threatening the well-being of my beautiful mixed-race grandchildren, is ready to take away the beautiful partnerships of the many gay couples I know, people who have not harmed a single human being by committing to a loving relationship with the same rights as other married couples, is ready to excuse his fellow rich guys from supporting the tax base of this country while slamming all the poor dupes who voted for him.
I hope you’ll be happy that this “awful government” that gives you health care, repairs the roads you drive on, keeps the schools and libraries open, supports the military who keep our borders safe based on the kind of simple agreements that all civilized governments recognize will now become an anarchistic playground where the rich and privileged will survive and close their doors to their fellow citizens, including the very folks who voted for this to happen.
I hope you’re at ease with the extraordinary gaps in your thinking when you say you admire people with a “sharp mind” and witnessed a debate where your guy avoided directly answering the most simple of questions and just turned everything to “it’s all her fault.” I hope you’ve found a way to explain to yourself how “lack of conviction in faith leaves us with a dangerous nihilism” and then support a guy who consistently acts for his own personal benefit with a belief only in the almighty dollar, who worships statues of himself and trumpets his name over every building he purchases, who doesn't have a religious bone in his body. I hope you’re happy thinking raising boys to slander and disrespect women is equivalent to the "horror" of a boy entering a girl’s restroom. And most extraordinary of all, I pray that you’ll never regret thinking that the nuclear button is “fictitious.”
At the beginning, I shared your thoughts that we could have a civil dialogue and “keep life interesting” and “gain a better understanding of each other’s point of view.” But right now, I’m more concerned with keeping life on this planet going and the luxury of listening to each other calmly is trumped (yep, that word will never be the same) by figuring out how to survive the unleashing of our worst selves. My mixed race descendants are endangered, my Jewish ancestors are pleading “Don’t spend too much time understanding while people like us are being labeled “illegal” and others may have to sign a Registry. Wake up! This happened before and our mistake was to be too accepting of it. We agreed this will never happen again!” And remember, if you don't care about the rights of blacks, Latinos, women, Muslims and the like, climate change doesn’t give a damn what your "true faith" is or political beliefs are.
A part of me thanks you for this dialogue, but believe me, it will give me no pleasure to be right here and say “I told you so.” Because these are real, breathing, living human beings who are going to be hurt, the children you teach, the children I teach. These are all of us already hurt by the shame of electing someone so mean-spirited, self-centered, disdainful of the very people he duped into supporting him by appealing to their hatred. When young people are marching with signs that say, “Give us back our future,” they are speaking to people like you who allowed this to happen and then built an elaborate artifice of excuses that will crumble piece by piece when they realize, too late, what they have done.
If you want to continue this discussion, meet me at the next protest. That's where I'll be the next four years and if we survive, I will be proud to tell my grandchildren what I did. And you?