So here we are… in the aftermath of yet another school shooting and I must tell you, it has driven me over the edge. I felt frazzled all day yesterday and my anger has not abated.
But don’t feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for the parents who are planning funeral arrangements for their children right now in Florida. Once I’m done with this blog I’m going to donate to this page: https://www.gofundme.com/stonemandouglasvictimsfund and I encourage you to do the same.
Americans are generous people and they will give. Sadly, all our government does is take.
The past few months, the whole country has been in a state of frenzy. There is a palpable anger over Russian interference and a corrupt, autocratic President who cannot keep out the Russians. He cannot even console a nation in grief. Rather than speaking from the heart, he reads from a teleprompter with the charisma of a fish. His administration is riddled with scandals, he has introduced kleptocratic tax reform, his budget is a hoax, he’s deporting law-abiding fathers and mothers, is about to deport Dreamers and has unleashed a hatred of the Other (people of color, women, the poor, immigrants), that mentally ill people, like the shooter yesterday, feel emboldened to act upon what was once a latent hatred.
I hardly recognize this country.
I came to this country as an immigrant and had a great deal of admiration for this place. It truly felt like a New World still. The Old World had a dark history which had left sinister scars on my own family history: The Netherlands was occupied by the Nazis for five years and while my family was not Jewish, the stories I grew up with often drove me to tears. Such as the story of my great-uncle who married a fellow artist, a Jewish woman, to keep her out of the camps. She was saved but before getting married, the Nazis mandated she get sterilized. Once the war was over, she found out all of her family had been killed and the desire for children, which may have been all the greater when your family is wiped off the map, was squashed because she had been sterilized against her will. Like we do with dogs and cats because there are too many dogs and cats.
The deportations in this country have started already. Deportations today, camps tomorrow, sterilizations the day after tomorrow.
Democracy dies in darkness.
Part of my family was in the Dutch East Indies when the Japanese invaded during WWII. Like the Jews in Europe, they were quickly stripped of their civil rights and ended up in Japanese starvation camps. My great-uncle resisted and was tortured by the Japanese, to die shortly before the war was over.
Resistance today, torture tomorrow?
Democracy dies when no one is looking.
My great-uncle’s wife and three children survived the camps, but as they were evacuated, his two daughters were brutally murdered by Indonesian revolutionaries. Maybe they were collateral damage of Dutch colonialism and exploitation but from a personal angle, the war and its aftermath left a troublesome scar on my family that I have written about in this book.
And America? America, in my limited world view of things, had been the liberator. I know there is every bit of revisionist history about the atomic bombs these days, and whether they were justified, but the Japanese Emperor was not going to stop at anything and if the bombs hadn’t fallen, all those people in (and outside) the camps would have slowly starved to death. Yes, America prevented the death of my great-aunt and her son.
I came to this country in the 1990s so I could leave all that dark history behind me. I came to a country that thrived on immigrants, a country that sent so much Marshall Aid to Europe after the war that, in some ways, America felt like a benevolent Santa Claus. Sure, the burdens of being a world power came with the same overreach and blunders of the imperialists. Vietnam was a mistake, the war in Iraq a travesty but there was still plenty to be proud of — and we were forging ahead, in internet technology, science and innovation.
And now? I’m not so sure…
Last night, I felt a pit in my stomach, and debating gun control with people on social media felt like a total waste of time. I enjoy trolling someone as inept and mentally challenged as 45, and I do report people who preach violence and hatred, but I also see more of America’s dark underbelly. I’m tired of it. And I’m scared.
My sense of powerlessness, the lack of checks and balances, the feeling that 45 and the GOP just serve an oligarchy and will saddle our kids with debt, the fear of a war with North Korea, the daily maligning of the press and FBI, the conspiracy theories of Fox News, the insults and the hatred coming from deranged Oval Office tweets, the stories of deportations– this is a world (minus the tweets) that my grandparents and parents lived in when the Germans and the Japanese invaded and, while opposing the fascist regime, they did way too little in terms of resistance, and finally could not do anything to stem the tide of evil, deportations, killings and general oppression.
The sense of powerlessness and mounting anger peaked yesterday and today when members of the GOP and our President talked about the mental health of the shooter but NOT the PTSD of the victims, and showed, in addition, an utter refusal to even consider reasonable gun proposals that a majority of Americans back, like the ban of assault rifles (80% in favor) and enhanced background checks (90% in favor).
Democracy dies when you won’t even bring a vote to the floor.
The American experiment is failing, folks, and in the words of the woman who was killed in Charlottesville by “some very fine people”, If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.
So what am I going to do about it?
I’m going to push back on some of the volunteering I do and use that time to make the blue wave happen. That means phone banks, knocking on doors, getting people to register to vote, drive them to the polls and maybe even run for office myself.
Enough is enough.
And yes… I want to have an answer when my grandchild asks me: “But what did you do about it?”
The GOP, once the party of libertarianism and fiscal responsibility, has lacked the backbone to loudly condemn white supremacy, hate crimes, gun proliferation, wife beaters, Southern judges who date young girls, Russian interference, Trump’s attacks on the press and the FBI, unfair deportations and abuse of ICE, attacks on the Special Counsel, and the daily erosion of our constitutional values and freedoms.
Democracy dies when people stop speaking up. Democracy dies when people stop organizing. It is happening here: a silent coup, orchestrated by a Russian dictator who has the goods on our used car salesman of a President.
If you still stand with Trump, you stand with treason, and if you support the NRA, you have blood on your hands. You simply do not represent what this country is all about.