I didn’t come up with that like, “If the past were a foreign country, it just invaded.” Someone else it. If I’d been more responsible, I’d have closer attention to whom so that I could give them credit, but these last couple of days I’ve been in kind of an emotional daze. I remember the same kind of numb fog when my father died.
Over reaction, you say? Trust me, I was not that emotionally invested in Hillary Clinton. But since my childhood I have been deeply emotionally invested in America. The America that I thought I knew.
The afternoon of September 11, 2001 and for at least the next week, everything felt different. Worse than being trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone or the Outer Limits. Anxiety and uncertainty gripped us. The day of the 9/11 the skies were conspicuously empty. Having grown up with my dad working at the airport for American Airlines, I had always been unconsciously aware of the constant mostly unnoticed rhythm of traffic in the skies and of the crisscrossing of vapor trails.
This week, after the unthinkable happened, I now eye everyone with suspicion.
At school, I wait for the middle school boys to become Rolfe, the delivery boy teenage suitor tuned Hitler youth and challenge my authority and accuse me of being a traitor to the new state.
At the grocery store I worry that every immigrant or Latino is afraid of me because they imagine that I hate them, I’m judging them or I’m ready to falsely accuse them of something or deport them- because I’m a white male. A middle-aged, middle-class, white male. Especially the girls. I’m acutely aware (even if it’s irrational) that they fear me most. Almost as if I’m Frankenstein’s Monster visiting the village, and they cower around corners to avoid my slightest glance.
Yeah, my Black and Latino and Gay “friends” are just former students on Facebook, far away, not people I live around or work with every day (I’m not trying to show them off as Liberal trophies of tolerance), but I fear too that they may not trust me or like me anymore. Will they resent me? Will they be waiting for me to turn on them like everyone else seems to have in the last few days? Am I just another “one of them” to them?
I view everyone differently. Dear friends and neighbors and family too. Who can I be open with? Who feels like I do? Who’s going to scoff at my concerns? Who will judge me derisively as a “libtard?”
Who casually, callously, uncritically voted for him just because they didn’t like her, didn’t trust her?
Who voted for him with conviction, with passion, because they were convinced that he truly is the only one who can take back our country and make it great again?
And who relished voting for him because he lets them say what they’ve always wanted to say. He legitimizes their fiery, passionate, fucking hatred of those fucking fucktards that have been fucking up our country so long?
Who would write me off and marginalize my values, the compassion and kindness and egalitarianism that I was taught- as soft, irresponsible, weak, not really Christian.
Who would betray me should the day come, like it does in Sinclair Lewis’ novel ‘It Can’t Happen Here,’ when the the thugs come to take me to the re-education camps? Or at least, who would let that happen if someone else betrayed me?
Who would beat me up, vandalize my home, threaten my family?
And I think of my daughters. Will they never be allowed to hold office? Will they lose their right to vote? Will no one believe them if they’re ever harassed, or assaulted, abused, or raped?
Will they never be good enough because they’re not thin enough, not blonde enough, not sexy enough?
What about my daughter with the speech impediment and variety of other special needs.
Will she be denied Medicare? Will she be denied a job? Will she be beaten up?
So yes, I feel like we’ve been invaded. But maybe not like France or Belgium. Maybe more like Austria. Invaded by invitation. And yes, I’m resentful, but if it makes the invaders feel any more self-satisfied, I’m more fearful than I am angry.
But don’t get too complacent or smug. Soon my fog will lift and righteous indignation and deep commitment will connect to others who feel like I do. We know we’re not alone. We’re already reaching out. Soon we’ll shake off our funk and reorganize. And then we’ll begin to rise back up.
And love will find a way. Decency will find a way. Kindness, compassion, community… even justice will find a way and she will take her country back, so that she can once again offer liberty and justice to ALL.
Because the arch of history is long, but believe it or not, like it or not, it will bend toward justice.