Wednesday, August 9, 2017

to hell with the shell

When Donald Trump won the presidency, our vocabularies could not accommodate the reality that this ignorant geyser of hate had ascended to a position of leadership.

We’re paradoxically left reminded: This is not normal.

In an essay for the New York Times Magazine, Teju Cole wrote, “All around were the unmistakable signs of normalization in progress. Many were falling into line without being pushed. It was happening at tremendous speed, like a contagion.”

David Remnick told CNN, “Less than a week after the election is over, suddenly Washington is going about its business talking about who’s going to get what jobs. You would think that Mitt Romney had won. It’s a hallucination.”

With each new twist in the Trump saga—the uptick in hate crimes, the Twitter rants against the First Amendment, the seeking of security clearances for family members—we hear the same plea.

“He is not normal,” insisted John Oliver.

We’re missing an opportunity to make a strong statement. Trump himself aims to center poor uneducated white men as “normal” and push everyone else out of frame.

Trump won the electoral college vote. Our system chose him. To more than 60 million of our fellow countrymen, Donald Trump is normal.

Trump resembles Richard Nixon, who petitioned a “silent majority” of Americans to reassert their values during the turmoil of the late 1960s.

Both carried within them a rejection of the upheavals changing and reshaping society. They were conservative anthems, hostile to the changing demographics.

In conversations about social justice, normalization often exists in opposition to intolerance or bigotry.

But to de-normalizing Trump, the normative is defamiliarizing. It presumes there’s an in-crowd to be venerated and an out-crowd to be shunned.

And it makes that veneration of Trump and shunning of liberals a matter of dogmatic principle.

We have excellent cause to shun Trump. He is a racist, sexist, Islamophobic, and liar.

Trump’s cornucopia of hatred and incompetence place him well outside our accepted social norms. But railing against Trump just plays into his grubby hands.

We want our fellow citizens to know and understand that Donald Trump is aberrant, just as we want countries to interact peacefully, and we want each person to have the same rights as everyone else.

But we can’t dream Trump away. We can’t deny that the United States drank his poison.

The problem with Trump isn’t that he’s only abnormal. He’s also abominable.

(text by Katy Waldman)

No comments: