I hate politics with a fiery, burning passion.
Oh, politics are interesting to read about, the moving and grooving of opinion, this, that, and the other. But only in fiction or in the history books. Anything more modern that twenty years ago and odds are good I’m going to be irritable when it’s brought up. And sometimes red-hot furious, depending on the subject
This election, though, I thought I’d might like to say something. Maybe because I’m up so early in the morning, for once not as a night owl but as a guy who’s been going to bed and rising at regular times, and four am ain’t one of them.
When Barrack Obama became President, I cringed. Not because of anything he had done or said, or for who he was. Because I knew that whenever anyone said anything that might be interpreted as critical about him there would be an immediate cry of “Racist!” And I spent eight years being pretty much right about that.
What I didn’t expect to see–and maybe I was being foolish–was that this would become the default response for pretty much everything. You make the wrong comment about women, you’re a misogynist. You say the wrong thing about gays and you were homophobic. In fact, if you weren’t toeing the right line, you probably were -phobic, with whatever it is they thought you were against put in on the left.
Now when there’s general wrong doing, well and good. That’s not how it happens.
In 2014 a group of gaming journalist were up in arms over the mistreatment of a female game designer. She received (and for all I know continues to receive) hateful email and what not. These journalists wrote simultaneous articles condemning all gamers (that is to say people who play video games as a serious hobby) as misogynist basement dwellers who didn’t want women in video games.
Not just the gamers who sent the emails. You know. The ones who deserved condemnation. All gamers.
Including me, apparently. Thirty some years a gamer and I’d never known I was supposed to be keeping women out of the culture. What was I doing with my time?
When people complained about this, the game journalists and their allies began to do things such as referring to the complainers as worse than ISIS. You know. The terrorist group. The one that kills people.
I would simply love to be making that up.
In 2015 and again to a lesser extent this year journalists referred to the Science Fiction literary group known as Sad Puppies as racists, homophobic, and misogynists because they tried to get certain names on an awards ballot. The word “Nazi” even came up. Never mind that there was a wide selection of people chosen for the awards. Never mind that women had been picked to run the silly group this year and, I assume, next. The Puppies didn’t behave as they were supposed to do, thus.
Then again in 2015 we have Nobel Prize-winning biologist Tim Hunt who told a joke during a speech about not wanting women in the lab. He was needless to say publicly humiliated and lost his career over it. Never mind that in the people there realized he wasn’t being serious when he said it. Two journalist did not and they destroyed him for it.
On and on.
The problem being with attacks like this, the slinging of names, is that like in the Hunt case they all too often worked. Lives ruined, and sometimes over words. Just words.
Yesterday the American people elected Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. This has shocked a lot of people, what with him being often described as a misogynist, Islamophobic, and no doubt other words describing hatefulness. They can’t believe it’s happened. They’ve even begun suggesting that his win means that entirely too many Americans are like him
I’m not among these people. I’ve suspected Trump would win for some time. And here in the odd hours of the morning I’ve come up with a theory about why.
My father had a favorite poem. He kept it on his desk where he worked, and as I’ve always appreciated it I’ve set it down on my site for pretty much its entire existence. It’s by Stephen Crane and it goes something like this:
“Think as I think,” said a man,
“Or you are abominably wicked;
You are a toad.”
And after I had thought of it,
I said, “I will, then, be a toad.”
I think the majority of Americans just declared they’re alright with being called a toad. That they are tired of being called names and quite frankly dehumanized whenever their thoughts and ideas don’t mesh with other people.
I also think the anti-Trump people don’t realize this at all.
I don’t like Trump. I wish he wasn’t the President of the United States. I wish the Democratic party had put up a candidate for every American and not just the ones they didn’t find deplorable.
That didn’t happen, and for four years, barring something terrible happening, Donald Trump is the President of the United States. Maybe it’s the worst thing that’s happened to this country. Maybe it’s the best. We’re going to find out no matter what side we were on or who we voted for.
What we need to do as a people in the next four years is find a way to communicate with one another. To actually listen. To understand each other. To be flexible in our thoughts and in how we relate to one another. To be at times willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and not assuming the worst possible motives. To not hurt people because they said something perceived as unpleasant.
This is my hope, my wish, my prayer.
As it has been for the past forty-three years of my life.
You can see how well that’s worked so far.