Friday, November 11, 2016

Liberal Kitsch

I've been spending a lot of time on Facebook and reading newspapers online trying to adjust to our new reality. I am petrified about everything: Trump's cabinet, a Republican government, Giuliani (the worst of the worst, and then some), nuclear codes, global warming, the alt-right, racist violence, school bullying, spineless Democrats, etc.
Though I don't have any, I'm very worried about the children. Imagine the powerlessness of children who witness such results and are supposed to continue trusting and obeying the adults who make such terrible decisions.
I am also suffering from echo chamber fatigue. It is amazing to me how social media (Facebook, Twitter) amplifies and distorts our sense that we are among like-minded citizens, all clamoring for the same thing and no one else can hear us. I think I know one person who may be a Trump sympathizer, and he hides it. One person among 800 "friends" on Facebook.
And I am also disturbed and deeply annoyed by some reactions on the liberal side.
As always happens in moments of crisis, the easiest shorthand for expressing ourselves tends to come wrapped in pat, sentimental empty gestures. Instant sainthood is bestowed (to yourself, by yourself) by changing your avatar or wearing some sort of symbol of solidarity with the nightmare du jour. This is (still) a free country and knock yourselves out, but this does not work for me. I don't take well to sentimentality.
I hope I do not offend my well-meaning friends who feel the same way I do about Trump, but choose to express themselves differently. Calls for togetherness, prayer and compassion may be what is needed; they don't do much for me. I find some of the most impassioned exhortations for solidarity easy to preach from the comfort of our devices, but not as easy to follow through. And their capital sin: they're corny.
It's liberal kitsch.
For instance, that safety pin symbol. Nice sentiment; by all means wear it, but I am not going to wear a safety pin in order to demonstrate my self-serving, self-righteous moral superiority. Instead, and I sure hope it doesn't come to pass, I will try to intervene if I see bigoted attacks in action. In fact, I shared a useful primer on how to do that on, where else, Facebook.
I have been on the receiving end of people saying idiotic and hateful things about Jews, and sometimes Mexicans more than once. It always feels like a kick in the gut, sucks the air right out of you, makes your knees go weak. I used to kind of let it go, or deflate it with a joke, or be too rattled to put a stop to it. Sometimes I politely disagreed. But ever since a Mexican student told me after 9/11 that Jews who worked at the Twin Towers had called each other the night before in order to save their own skin, I decided that I will not tolerate politely this kind of bullshit anymore. This applies to all hateful rhetoric.

I am happy to march against Trump. I am happy to do whatever it takes to pressure this new government to respect human dignity and not destroy the world, but when people say #notmypresident, I have to part company with them. Imagine for a second if Hillary had won and Trump supporters came up with #notmypresident. Liberals would collapse in fits of outrage.
I beg you all to grow up. Hillary won the popular vote, NOT BY A LANDSLIDE. Trump won the Electoral College by a wide margin. He won legitimately, and democracy means that we accept the result. We may not accept the man, his policies, or his party and we should protest and do everything in our power to counter and oppose their influence. They don't have consensus and they should be reminded of it every second of their lives. But we were aghast when Trump intimated that he would not concede, and now we are acting like him?
We need to make our voices heard, but let's be tough and smart, like Harry Reid. Let's hope the Democrats will grow a spine and some cojones and make it as hard for these people to govern as they did for Obama these last 8 years.