I try to write coherently. I can’t corral my thoughts. This topic is too large, all encompassing. My brain is scattered, agitated. It keeps jumping around.
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Remember the shithole countries? Oops, content warning, foul language. On Facebook today, a friend posted a meme, a quote by Bruce Springsteen: “Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.” I responded: “Not likely.”
Nothing funny about the news cycle these days. I could say the American news cycle, because the neo-conservative shift in America is primarily what I’m writing about, but the Canadian truckers and Vladimir Putin have lost their minds as well. It’s all wrapped up in a big package. Three sides of the same coin.
Eight years with Obama surfaced a lot of buried racism in America, as did fifteen years of war in Islamic nations. Granted, racism was buried in a shallow grave to begin with, but the simmering tension set the stage for the Donald Trump show. Many writers (me for instance) began warning about the lasting impact of Trump’s rhetoric starting in 2015. Where we are today was predictable, predicted.
Schools around the country are inundated with complaints about the books available to children. Parents say they worry that certain topics will make their children feel uncomfortable or ashamed. Instead of teaching history (or current events) truthfully, they want the ugly parts omitted. They don’t want their kids, perhaps, to know that slave owners raped their slaves.
With a smartphone in every hand, kids have unlimited access to all the evils in the world. Nothing learned in a history or English class will rival what an hour alone with Google can offer. Banning books and censoring school subjects isn’t about protecting children, it’s about silencing voices.
No More Bullshit. That’s the sign I always pass as I drive towards the state forest to ride my mountain bike. It makes me ask “which bullshit is that?”
The Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 pissed off the neo-conservative crowd. Huge swaths of white Americans agreed with the protestors, and became protestors themselves. The conservatives saw a groundswell against their core belief that America is by right, a white, Christian nation. Their narrow-minded point of view is that when somebody gains something, someone else must lose something. The Trump crowd, their racism boiling over, believe that equal rights for Blacks and other minorities equals fewer ‘rights’ for them.
The discontent spread to the ballot-box. First Trump, then the long line of impersonators after him. Equality, civil rights, democracy, diversity, inclusion. It’s under assault at all levels of government—from school boards to the Supreme Court. The discourse is vicious. Death threats within the House of Representatives are becoming commonplace.
No one will look back on these years and laugh, Bruce. We’ll look back and realized we squandered our last chance to right a sinking ship. In Stephen King’s book the Dead Zone, King eerily paints a portrait of Trump-like politician Greg Stillson. Upon meeting Stillson, a man who sees into the future (literally, he has a vision of the scorched-earth future that Stillson will bring), attempts to assassinate him. He misses the shot, but Stillson reveals his true nature by using a child as a shield. Stillson’s assent stalls, the world is saved.
Trump has shown us—time and again—his true nature. Shithole countries, grab ‘em by the pussy, she had blood coming out of her wherever. To our discredit, we ignored these, or worse, we chalked Trump up as a straight talker, someone to emulate. The direct result is calls to ban To Kill a Mocking Bird—a book that’s been read in high school English since I was in high school English forty years ago. The direct result is a murder plot against a state governor. The direct result is January sixth.
The scorched-earth is coming, if it isn’t already here. In the future, no one will look at the past seven years with humor. Only regret. Regret that we sat dumbly on the sidelines as our country regressed a century in race relations and descended into an ideological civil war. Regret that telling the truth is now regarded as a sin.