IT's BEEN a couple of weeks since the world turned upside down, and I’ve had some trouble getting my bearings.
The first couple of days felt like I’d been slocked in the gut by a South Carolina woods clown. After a week I regained some semblance of productivity, but backslid as the hits kept coming (Farewell and a deep fedora tip, Leonard Cohen. Thank you for setting the bar high, Gwen Ifill and Don Logana. Please please please live forever, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.)
It’s all taken a minute to process. And by processing, I mean wearing a Snuggie in public and binging on Moon Pies from Red & White.
A lot of naps and Vitamin C packets later, I’ve managed to get my boots back on, but my legs are shaking at the world to be faced.
But the gent who’s still President for the next six weeks has gently admonished that my allotted moping time is up, so here I am. Even though I still feel like I need to go home at lunch and pet the dog for a few minutes to get through the day.
The better-adjusted among ye have had a faster recovery time, already organizing and soldiering on. Some of you have even shared coping techniques and pragmatic approaches on how to best make our voices heard in a hostile Congress. (Hint: It’s not posting Joe Biden memes on elected officials’ Facebook pages.)
Others—I call them the pathological optimists—readily adopted an attitude of submissive acceptance, a doe-eyed hopefulness that this situation is an “opportunity” instead of a radioactive garbage fire and that everything is going to turn out just fine.
Just wait and see, they said.
Take the long view, they said.
It’s only been a fortnight, but we don’t need to stand on top of a parking garage to see where this is going, do we?
Since the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented more than 700 reports of hate crimes, predominately against Muslims and people of color. Third graders are in tears because they believe their friends are about to be deported and “good touch/bad touch” lessons don’t protect them from grabby classmates anymore. Swastikas abound, probably because they’re so simple for people with two-digit I.Q.s to draw.
Locally, our public spaces have seen an uptick in racial violence. Two of my friends have been called disgusting synonyms for lady parts at two different gas stations. Up the coast, the brand new Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce building mysteriously burned to the ground.
This license to torment has been gaining for many months, though some of us have certainly suffered it their entire lives. Now, overnight, a terrifying force has been emboldened and unleashed.
NAACP president Cornell William Brooks summed it up in a tweet: “Racism has been routinized, anti-Semitism normalized, xenophobia deexceptionalized & misogyny mainstreamed.”
Those making excuses that the new administration couldn’t possibly be held responsible yet for this miscreant behavior can take a friggin’ seat.
In less than one menstrual cycle, the Executive Branch has morphed into the power tool of the white supremacist corporate patriarchy. Stephen Bannon—the literal pig-jowled face of the alt-right media—has been placed in charge of strategy. Jeff Sessions—a man so racist even the Republicans rejected his Supreme Court nomination in 1986—will now be the country’s No. 1 attorney. They’ll share the King’s swamp with anti-LBGT jester and recently exalted Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus (so weird, every time I try to pronounce it, it comes out as “Prince Plebus.”)
Corporate food broker Michael Torrey now makes the rules at the Dept. of Agriculture (hello, glyphosate for breakfast!) and former Verizon lobbyist Jeffrey Eisenach gets to choose the new staff at the Federal Communications Commission (later, net neutrality!)
And let’s not forget the imminent decimation of the planet.
The Environmental Protection Agency will now be under the discretion of professional ignorance peddler Myron Ebell, who called the Pope “theologically suspect” for believing in climate change. (Ironically, Ebell is a dead ringer for the sadistic Gestapo officer who gets his face melted off in Raiders of the Lost Ark.)
Also, beauty pageant drunkard Sarah “Drill the F out of ANWAR” Palin is under consideration for Secretary of the Interior, which inevitably points to more coal extraction on public lands and a hefty shot in the scarred vein of American’s fossil fuel addiction.
Our public solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux may well convince the Army Corps of Engineers to reroute the Dakota Access Pipeline in the coming weeks, but you can bet more poisonous black snakes are poised to crisscross other sacred and vital watersheds around the country.
Sorry dears, but things are not going to be all right. And no amount of safety pinning or petition clicking or licking the marshmallow fluff out of a Moon Pie is going to make it so. (But all those donations to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s name are really helping, so keep it up!)
Maybe I’m the pathological one, but instead of sending me back under the Snuggie, I find this realization heartening. At least now the diabolism is up front.
And this tide of Everything We Feared Would Happen has somehow made me more determined than ever to fight for the America I love.
To use whatever privilege and platform I have to lift up those more easily stomped down.
To encourage others to rise up singing as we champion a culture of inclusivity, tolerance and civility.
To exercise our Constitutional right to stand up and speak out against unsustainable health care, environmental and food policies, in unpleasantly shrill tones as necessary.
In fact, I went ahead and bought myself an early Chanukah present in the form of a cheap plane ticket to the capital for the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration of the new POTUS. The unofficial Savannah contingency is up to several hundred, and fierce local organizers Linda Wilder Bryan and Coco Papy have also rallied affordable, overnight (no hotel needed!) bus transport from Savannah to DC. Reserve a spot via firstname.lastname@example.org or WMOWGeorgia@gmail.com, and dontcha fret about what to carry, ‘cause Scott “Panhandle Slim” Stanton has promised a hand-painted sign to anyone making the trek.
More than 111K other Americans who identify as women and those who love them have RSVPd for this demonstration of solidarity with the truths we hold to be self-evident: That everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexuality, socioeconomic status, age or ability, deserves equal rights and access to the basic tenets of life, love and the pursuit of happiness.
Will marching make this dream come true? I don’t know. But I do know that sitting on my tushy stress eating GMO gluten isn’t helping. Plus, I’m getting a cramp.
As we enter this Thanksgiving weekend, let us hold gratitude for the freedoms we have and learn to accept the reality that is.
And as we prepare to meet the long view to come, may we comport ourselves with dignity, ferocity and our boots planted firmly on the ground.