Part of the problem

Am I? Part of the problem, I mean? I kind of am, I guess. See, I met a Trump voter in the wild today. It didn’t go too well.

See, for almost as long as I’ve been online (which is almost as long as the internet has been around, because I’m old) (ish), I’ve been part of a group that discusses the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. The group used to live on Yahoo, but then had to migrate to Io or whatever they are, and it’s had its ups and downs. I’ve never gotten around to participating much, having not much of value to contribute to the discussions, but I’ve enjoyed dipping into the conversations about the books.

But then over the weekend apparently the discussion led to observations about how “We all tend to accept whatever is going on around us as somehow ‘normal'”, in the context of not really looking past the trains running on time in Nazi Germany. Another person – one whose comments I’ve found abrasive and off-putting – finally said something I agreed with: “And unfortunately it continues today in American society with MAGA.” And he got jumped on for making a political comment.

As I mentioned, I don’t much like this person, but there are some buttons which, when pushed, I can’t ignore, and I made my first comment in months to support him. It did not go well, and I decided that now was a good time to unsubscribe from the group. I mean, I get it. Sort of. I get wanting to have one place on the internet that’s free of political commentary of any kind. But at a certain point the politics become a big, huge, neon pink, sequin-tutued elephant pirouetting in the corner of the room, and not addressing it just seems … dumb. I didn’t like the way the situation was handled; I have had nothing to contribute in a long time; and let’s face it – this is the eleventy-first time the books have been discussed. The well isn’t dry, but the bucket is getting a little old. (That is probably my worst metaphor ever, and I’m leaving it.) (I did NOT flounce. I just left.)

A while later, I got an email from the technical owner of the group. It was a very nice email; actually, it’s sort of the sort of email you secretly hope to get when you quit something online – she said something nice about the small amount I did contribute once upon a time, and invited me back.

But then she said this.

“Just to be clear: I voted for Trump twice, once against Hilary, and once against Biden, but would have greatly preferred to be able to vote for a better candidate. I still think that Trump was far better for the country than Hilary would have been, but I recognize that many, many people disagree with me on that. As they should. However, I am not a racist, not a sexist, not a bigot, and I think long and hard about my positions. Vast swathes of my husband’s family were killed or left stateless by the evil of the German fascists and the Russian anti-semites. So, painting all “MAGA” supporters as evil is bound to rub me the wrong way.”

Now, maybe I should have opened a dialogue with this person. I’ve been lucky; I’ve been sworn at (by my cousin’s husband), and gotten blindly pro-Trump messages from a few people, but it’s been rare. I generally tend to hang out in groups which are avowedly anti-Trump, because life is short and I know nothing I say is going to change any rabid MAGA fool’s mind. So, having this person in front of me, so to speak, with the common factor of the Lord Peter books between us, maybe I should have looked for answers to the questions I’ve had for over four years: WHY? HOW? I understand not agreeing with someone’s policies. I wouldn’t have chosen Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate in 2016, nor Joe Biden in 2020, but once they became the only viable alternatives to Trump, my votes for them were locked in. Granted, I would have voted for Gef the Talking Mongoose if he had been the best alternative. Because Trump is not a good human being. But – okay. Let’s say I … Nope. Nope nope nope. I was going to bring up the hypothetical that I ever voted … the other way … and I can’t even write it. Because we knew what he was in November of 2016. He’d shown his colors, in HD. And when the 2020 election finally rolled around, it was even clearer. He sold off Federally reserved land to developers. He worked very hard to initiate drilling for oil in hitherto pristine wildlife preserves in Alaska. He rolled back regulations to make sure our air, water, and land is less safe. He tried to build his ridiculous wall, and largely failed. If there has been a racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, rapacious, or otherwise inhumane move to make, he has, with clockwork predictability, made it. If he has had the choice of saying something civil and adult, he has – again, very reliably and predictably – chosen instead to be rude, crude, childish, racist, homophobic, xenophobic … whatever he could squeeze in. Every time. Every. Time. All the way up to now, when he is petulantly refusing to end his shameful term with any kind of grace, but instead is sulking, raging at the few people he still has around him, and ignoring every single tradition of the orderly transfer of power. No concession call. No congratulations. No attendance at his successor’s Inauguration – for the first time in 150 years. No note left in the Oval Office desk. (I hope he doesn’t write one, at this point.) Instead, he wants a red carpet and a full military send off (careful of those bone spurs getting on Air Force One for the last time, sir!) hours before Biden is sworn in, so he doesn’t even have to watch it. Then he’s on his way down to Florida, where he can take out his pique tearing out whatever renovations Melania has made which he doesn’t like.

So … while I had someone apparently clever enough to appreciate the Lord Peter books, whose husband’s family was decimated by fascists, who nevertheless voted for … that creature – that fascist creature – maybe I should have tried to – what’s the awful corporate phrase? Open a dialogue? I mean, if we don’t start talking to each other in some kind of intelligent fashion, if no one starts building bridges and all those other metaphors, et cetera et cetera…

Nah. It’s too soon. (See also: this article.).

I cannot be a part of any community run by someone who voted for Trump not only once, which could have been excused by ignorance, but a second time, in the midst of a pandemic he has done nothing to alleviate and after four years of his constant spewed hatred, misogyny, and xenophobia. I am frankly shocked that anyone who can profess a love for a character as intelligent and empathetic as Lord Peter Wimsey could even consider voting for a hate-filled, sociopathic piece of shit like the creature who is about to finally ooze his way out of an office he did his damnedest to destroy – literally, as of January 6.

Seriously – you voted for someone who talked about grabbing women’s pussies and mocked a disabled journalist? TWICE?

And, for the record, yes: if you support a racist, that does, in fact, make you racist. Sorry.

Oh well. I’ll try to do better next time.

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8 Responses to Part of the problem

  1. ThemisAthena says:

    I think Sayers would be rolling in her grave to know that someone who voted for Trump not once but *twice*, in the face of all he‘s on the record of having said and done, is leading a Lord Peter Wimsey discussion group. I mean … seriously — Wimsey?? Does this woman even have the faintest clue what he really stands for (ditto Harriett Vane), or is she just a fan of the monocle and his quirky way of expressing himself?!

    Also, side note: Beginning any sentence with “I‘m not a Nazi / fascist / communist / anti-gay / women hater … (etc.), BUT …“ is a pretty big tell that this is *exactly* what you are. Because you‘re about to justify something that these people that or did. Which obviously you didn‘t feel compelled to do if you didn‘t agree with them. Which, in turn … (you fill in the blanks.)

    Still sucks that it made you leave a Wimsey group of all things.

  2. ThemisAthena says:

    Err, *said* or did. Damned autocorrect…

  3. stewartry says:

    Exactly! I can’t think of any human being who is more exactly the opposite of Lord Peter. A man of such empathy that he suffered PTSD recurrences when he had to face up to the fact that murderers he’d caught were to be hanged, renowned for his manners, taste, and style. It boggles the mind.

  4. Again, I say to you Amen. My father recently apologized for . . . well, he said he was wrong. But he did not clarify what he was wrong about and didn’t actually apologize. It was a painfully defensive note to his three daughters who have had trouble looking him in the face even over Zoom. He wanted our love again. But I am not ready to give it. I am not able to ‘open the dialogue’ with anyone who says they love this country and yet votes for a piece of shit human to lead this country. I’m not ready. I’m not open to compromise. I agree with you. If you vote for a racist to lead our nation, you cannot say you believe in equality. And I cannot say I forgive you.
    Books are an escape, yes. But if you’ve crossed the easy and obvious line into using literature to hold a candle up to society, to Nazi train schedules, then it is no leap to hold that candle up to current day fascism. If books were ONLY an escape, they wouldn’t be my passion.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They helped me give shape to some of mine.

  5. Dear Stewartry and Gwendolyn,

    I enjoy reading your snide and snarky remarks. And I agree with you that it is futile to reason with such folks. Perhaps only when the country truly becomes autocratic or fascist will they wake up, but then it will be too late.

    Instead of “Flattening the Curve”, the USA is now “Steepening the Curve”, so much so that the MAGA tagline “Make America Great Again” should be changed to MASA: “Make America Sick Again”!

    Here’s my little poem or ditty:

    I can’t bear the POTUS
    Much more than the VIRUS
    For he has been lying
    Even to the dying
    About his true FOCUS

    In a nutshell:
    The POTUS’ FOCUS is a hocus-pocus.

    Regarding the POTUS’ Twitter and Facebook accounts, some would even argue that they should have been suspended or terminated a long time ago for continually unleashing falsehood, misinformation and mass distrust. Fortunately, he has not (yet) been given free access to software or button(s) with which to launch weapon(s) of mass destruction.

    In any case, those who are fair-minded and discerning are not easily swayed by his constant thrashing around and beating in the bush. Speaking of whether “the president really is a very stable genius”, SoundEagle’s adage is that Trump is a fool’s idea of a genius. In addition, the POTUS has long slid from being a “Law and Order” President to a “Flaw and Border” President.

    2020, the Year of the Rat, has brought us not the plague (black death) but Covid-19. And 2020 also brought out the worst of divisive politics and demagogic incitement. I wonder whether it could get even worse in 2021. What a day it was to unfold with sedition, insurrection and coup d’état on the 6th!

    Whilst some of us may take some comfort in our living somewhere else, there is the danger that oppressive politics may spread elsewhere or be mirrored by other corrupt politicians outside their origins.

    Speaking of who has been enabling Trump, as far as I know, the outgoing POTUS has managed to raise 250 million dollars so far in his fight to overturn the election results. Some discerning folks consider this to be a grift to raise money. That amount is still increasing.

    Democracy is not a given. It can be quite fragile, can fail rather badly, and often is approximately as good and benevolent (or bad and malevolent) as the members who practise, control and/or legislate it. We all need to do our parts in contributing to the smooth and equitable functioning of a civil country and democratic society. I have done mine in highlighting many of the most fundamental causes through my writings, and I hope that you will find more answers and solutions to these thorny issues in my latest and recently expanded post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity” and published at http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2020/12/19/misquotation-pandemic-and-disinformation-polemic-mind-pollution-by-viral-falsity/

    I would be delighted if you could kindly submit your comment to my said article, as I am very keen and curious to know what you think or make of it regarding the increasingly pressing issues that many of us are facing, worsen all the more by mental pitfalls (or even mental health), social media, digital globalization, populism, Trumpism, illiberal democracy, and other behavioural and sociopolitical factors.

    Please be informed that you might need to use a desktop or laptop computer with a large screen to view the rich multimedia contents available for heightening your multisensory enjoyment at my blog, which could be too powerful and feature-rich for iPad, iPhone, tablet or other portable devices to handle properly or adequately.

    In addition, since my blog contains advanced styling and multimedia components plus animations, it is highly recommended to read my posts and pages directly in my blog so that you will be able to see and experience all of the refined and glorious details. Hence, it is prudent to refrain from viewing my blog in the WordPress Reader, which tends to ignore or strip away some styling and formatting components, and also fails to display animations, all of which are aplenty in my posts and pages, which will look very different and even improper or amiss in the WordPress Reader.

    I would like to wish both of you a very happy New Year. May you find 2021 very much to your liking and highly conducive to your writing, reading, thinking and blogging!

  6. stewartry says:

    Oh, God, that’s so hard. I count my blessings because my immediate family is on the same page in loathing the Orange Oligarch … although … my brother gets, or used to when we could all still get together, very quiet when we’re engaging in some gleeful Trump-bashing. I have had horrible suspicions that he might have voted that way – either that, or he just doesn’t care. I’ve been really lucky, and I’m grateful – and I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. It’ll take time. I hope your family can begin to heal soon now that – please Great Bird of the Galaxy – tensions in the country should start to ease.

    I agree with you completely about the value of books. I’ve got a quote saved by Tolkien about escapism, and Lord Peter and LotR both are great escapism – but they also both lend themselves to deeper discussions of what is and might be. The insistence on No Political Posts in the group amounted to everyone simultaneously sticking their heads in the sand. Having your butt sticking up in the air is unsightly and unsafe, and if you’re that blind and deaf you’ll never know if someone’s coming up to give you a deserved kick in the rump …

  7. stewartry says:

    Thank you! That is a very, very quotable comment! I appreciate the discussion.

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