So I guess I haven’t said much or like posted specifically about this, and it’s not for lack of feeling about the issue, it’s just that I thought my “likes” spoke for themselves. And then I realized that the expectation is that I need to say something. That there may be some confusion on where I stand.
I would have thought that most people know me well enough to understand that of course I condemn racists, white supremacists, bigots, and neo-Nazis. Literal Nazis. Apparently I haven’t actually stated that yet. Someone might think I’m not speaking out for a reason. And that got me real nervous.
And it’s because we can’t trust our assumptions anymore.
If there’s anything we learned Nov. 8, 2016, it’s that we cannot trust our assumptions. Nothing is for sure. We can’t predict outcomes or feel any sort of certainty. We don’t know our own friends and neighbors and countrymen.
And so we find comfort in confirmation. Confirmation that the people we care about aren’t assholes. That we agree that hate-filled individuals and their gatherings need to be stopped. That we can’t let rallies of white supremacists happen, because giving them a voice, giving them space to spread their hatespeech, validates them. And obviously because they incite violence. They threaten and they execute.
So I just realized that I hadn’t actually said anything yet. Here I am, appearing to twiddle my thumbs instead of straight up stating “Racists and Nazis are bad. Violence is not the answer. This is horrible – how can we stop this?” Well, if you had even a smidgen of doubt- don’t. I am appalled, shocked, and saddened by what happened in Charlottesville. We need to prevent that from happening again. We need to do it in a way that is peaceful and powerful and unified. And we can. I believe that we can stop this cancerous, horrible group of white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis from spreading. I believe that we can, but I don’t have the answer.
Now that I’ve made myself clear – let me tell you why I wrote this post.
For a while I thought my “likes” of New York Times articles and retweets of clever politically-active comedians we’re being seen by everyone. I figured others were saying what I was feeling in much more eloquent ways than I could, so I participated without contributing a unique statement. But then I started thinking about that. And now I’m self-conscious. I looked at my own Facebook profile in that mode where you can see what it looks like to other people — like people you’re not friends with. And my profile appears completely neutral. It looks like I either don’t care or am complicit.
I want to be one of those people who doesn’t care what other people think of them – and for the most part, I am. But I do care whether or not people think I condemn Nazis. I can’t believe I even have to type it – but yes, I condemn Nazis.
And because it never fails — there is always a relevant Gilmore Girls quote for everything: like Lorelai pausing before renouncing satan at Davey and Martha’s (and Jackson’s!) baptism. I paused. And this is not something you pause about.
I didn’t pause on purpose! I didn’t think I was pausing! But I appeared to pause.
I want to be absolutely sure no one thinks even for a second that I hadn’t made my mind up about this. Just because I seemingly paused, doesn’t mean I don’t feel strongly.
That episode is gold. And when Reverend Skinner asks what Rory and Lorelai’s religious affiliations are to be sure they’re up to the task of being godparents to Sookie’s kids. “I have a strong belief, you know, in good… over evil” “I read the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” “I have two Mary is My Homegirl t-shirts”
So, anyway, this can act as my statement, right? I can be done? Because I’m kind of exhausted from this. I’ve actually been exhausted this whole time.
Since waking up on Nov. 9, 2016, I’ve been in a devastating fog. Every day when I wake up and read the news, it doesn’t feel real. All this dread, this disappointment. I’m overwhelmed.
For a long time I couldn’t deal with it. I was in denial. This was super out of character for me:
Me, the girl who was voted Most Liberal in high school — mind you, this was with about five other people, and it was Wheaton. I’m actually not that far left of center on some issues– just because I want gay people to get married and nationwide access to safe and legal abortion, I looked like some sort of liberal fanatic in such a predominantly conservative town.
I had my little “STOP THE WAR” button on my school bag and held up posters with giant peace signs drawn on them at tiny little protests. I went to concerts benefitting Darfur and bought a t-shirt so everyone knew I cared about African child soldiers. I was upset about “hanging chads” even though I didn’t really know what they were. I genuinely thought 9/11 was an inside job. I was a lazy, privileged suburban, “slacktavist” but I felt like I was making a difference. It was important to me and my identity to be political. It was a defining characteristic of my teenage years – being angsty about Bush.
Then I got to vote in the election in 2008. And my guy won. Obama won and I was filled with hope. Literal hope, not just the word on the red and blue pictures of his face. I believed in it. And things happened. I remember the day gay marriage was legalized being SO DAMN HAPPY for something that didn’t even effect my relationship or wellbeing or sense of self in a direct way. But it made me feel like part of a greater and better humanity. I felt like we were getting somewhere. I remember the first time I went to the pharmacy and my birth control pills were free. FREE. Of course, I’m fortunate and privileged enough to have always been able to afford my $10 co-pay, but I thought of every woman who wasn’t. Those women could now afford their hygiene products, or food for the day, or finally have access in the first place.
I realize now that this is the opposite of what a lot of people felt. There were people who were stewing. I just didn’t hear them. I couldn’t hear them over my celebrating. And now I think I might I understand a little how they felt (to clarify: I’m not talking Nazis here- I can’t even image what they feel and don’t want to, I’m just talking about the people who voted 45 in – the part of the country that I didn’t expect. Clarifying because I have ADD and switched subjects on you. OK – carry on). My gut wrenches every time I hear that funding is cut for an educational or after school program. I get sweaty when I read that legislation is being rolled back that protects the Great Lakes and the national parks. I have palpitations every time 45 Tweets because not only is it usually incoherent, but it’s either hateful, projection, or an outright lie. And I see myself feeling these ways, and I think: this must be how these people who voted for 45 felt about Obama. And how can we get over this? How can we empathize and agree and get anything done?
I don’t know. And it paralyzes me.
I wasn’t at the women’s march. Joe and I went away for the weekend of the inauguration so I could hide. I needed to escape reality. I couldn’t handle it. I wasn’t strong enough. I’m embarrassed.
We rented a cottage in Galena and hid. I was a coward. It was what I needed, but I was a coward. So there’s no picture of me in a pink hat. I don’t have a witty, battered cardboard sign in my basement.
But I donated to the ACLU. I called my representatives when refugees were being blocked from meeting up with their families, when healthcare for millions was on the table, when NetNeutrality faced another close call. I fought, but I hid. My voice was quiet. But it wasn’t silent.
I don’t want to be quiet anymore.
Like Jackson’s brother Bo (Nick Offerman pre-Parks & Rec!), “Satan can kiss my ass” and so can racists, Nazis, and the president.