Did it really take a bomb — literal and figurative — to wake us up?
I haven’t written for a while. The outrageous acts coming from Washington and the insanity of the campaign season have, frankly, left me numb:
“OMG! Did you see the crazy tweet from Trump?”
“OMG! Can (insert candidate name here) really be serious about what they just said?”
“OMG! They are actually trying to make that insane idea a law?”
And after a while I don’t have any more OMG’s to give. But maybe it took a bomb to wake me up. I don’t mean just the actual bombs delivered to Democrats and Democratic supporters but the legislative bomb of the leaked memo asking for the definition of gender to be changed to effectively erase an entire class of citizens.
The real bombs and the legislative ones are not accidental. They are calculated to boost the “base” of what passes for the Republican Party these days.
The gender bomb was not something Trump calculated; he is too stupid for that. It’s an attempt to pass a national “bathroom bill” to mollify the fear-ridden suburbanites that want their world to go back to a simpler time when everything was easy to understand.
The move was designed to assure these predominately white, middle class voters that the GOP is working to simplify life and clearly limit everything to black and white — in many cases, literally, black and white.
For conservatives, rules mean everything, and if we don’t allow a legal definition of people we don’t understand, well then, they just don’t exist. Problem solved!
It’s a simplistic world view, but one that works for them well enough — until they run into a big dose of reality. It worked for them until cisgender-white-straight was no longer a secure majority in the country. It worked as long as they could continue to live in isolated enclaves and not interact with people of color in roles other than anonymous serving class. It worked as long as they never knew or met anyone whose sexual orientation or gender identity was anything different from their own.
The gender erasure efforts are specifically designed to satisfy the fantasy world in which the GOP base lives. They are a bomb designed to do little damage to the right- wing voter and provide lots of political impact to motivate them to the polls.
What about the real bombs? Those, apparently, were the work of a Trump supporter who lived out of his van, who listened to Trump and Alex Jones and read Breitbart and watched FOX News. He figured he be a hero by attacking all those “enemies of the people” Trump screams about. He is a white guy who saw his world changing and his power and privilege declining. He is someone who is, at his core, afraid.
The same goes for the terrorist who attacked Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He’s another white guy who feared losing what privilege he had to the “other,” in this case, Jews. His actions and words showed just how afraid he was.
The fear the right wing cultivated and used with so little discretion has come home to roost. The constant barrage of accusations and hyperbole are not seen as political bombast, but as real battle cries. Much as Trump and his toadies deny it, they are inciting the violence. And sadly, I believe we have not seen the end of it.
Our country is in a very precarious state. We have an administration that behaves more like a crime family than the executive branch and a Congress that is more concerned with staying in control than the welfare of the nation. We have politicians who are caricatures rather than statespersons, and media outlets that are no more than propaganda machines for the right wing.
Until the majority of Americans realize that the phrase “OMG” has lost all meaning and that social media will not protect them from either the legislative “bombs” or the real ones, the madness will continue. Until America wakes up and faces the reality that our country is headed down a very rough road to ruin, we will all become numb.
We have a chance to change this. It starts at the ballot box, and it continues through the way we treat our fellow citizens. We cannot be numbed by fear. We cannot be complacent. We must use our power at the polls and join hands with our fellow Americans to build a better country.
That is not just a bunch of happy horseshit. It is a prescription for saving our democracy and maintaining a semblance of peace. Oh My God! Why are you still reading this? Go vote!
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.