Fair warning: this post goes from Zero to Political in the very first paragraph, and the views of the writer are vehement and possibly inflammatory. For those of you who are desperately trying to ignore the political empörungswelle that currently is the the United States of America’s governing body (and I can’t say I blame you), there’s going to be a lot of things said in this post that may cause you an amount of upset, and I suggest you proceed at your own risk.
Today, browsing through YouTube on my lunch break at work, I happened to watch one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever seen on the Internet in a very long while. I watched one of the more recent uploads of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Ordinarily, this show makes me giggle, laugh, and flares up my injustice nerves enough that I do a bit of reading and learning about some of the many, many, many fascinating topics that John covers in a fair amount of detail. This episode made me want to run away to Scandinavia, change my name, learn to speak Sámi, and live a simple life estranged from everything I’ve ever known.
I’m not exactly sure why I keep doing this to myself. I know that watching things like this will upset me and terrify me, and therein layeth the path to exhaustion and cynicism (which are not necessarily mutually exclusive). I am very much aware that it’s easy for certain problems that are fresh in one’s mind to get blown out of proportion and seem much bigger and nastier than they actually are. I get that reactionary attitudes toward any particular issue can be harmful and spin out of control if not tempered with the appropriate facts. These are not alien concepts that I’ve only just discovered. I’m a fucking Journalism major, for Glob’s sake.
But I’m also a fairly well-educated individual who aspires to a career as an informed, pseudo-intellectual practitioner of the opinion piece. Pretentions aside, I’m not stupid. I can see when patterns are emerging, and what’s more, I’m also a fair hand at history and geography. I can see when patterns are repeating themselves. Like, nobody gets points anymore for noticing that the socioeconomic history of the Roman Empire very closely mirrors our own. That’s an observation so old that people who were long dead before I was even born had gotten their fair share of pointing it out. What I’m saying is that the patterns are there, and if they weren’t then people wouldn’t make entire careers out of analyzing them and basically predicting exactly how they’re going to happen in the future.
“All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again.”
If ever there were two sentences constructed in the English language that rob me of every ounce of hope I’ve ever had, it’s these ones.
Here’s the problem: John is pointing out a lot—and I mean a lot, like, all of them—of warning signs in regards to the reasoning and decision-making capabilities of Our New President. This goes well and truly beyond the very real fears I have felt for the futures of all of my LGBTQIA friends that I may have touched on in my previous post, beyond the fears I hold for underprivileged and profiled people across America. This is a fear the size of our entire Earth. Because Our New President is beginning to seem like the kind of person who Is Right, and because he must Be Right, then there is no room for anybody else to Be Right. Nobody can convince him of anything, because he Is Already Right. Not even facts can convince The Man Who Is Already Right. Because he Is Already Right. He was Always Right. He provably wasn’t, but He Was Already Right, so facts no longer matter.
Actual, literal facts, proofread and peer reviewed and sourced, cannot convince Our New President when he is mistaken or misinformed.
If you are not frightened right now, then please give me some of the stability and privilege you clearly have because I am so frightened right now I can barely think. I don’t even want to think about what will happen when men in Our New President’s pocket start lobbying for the removal of Net Neutrality. Imagine a world where the only news anyone can reliably get is Breitbart. I did, and now I think I would prefer to be devoured by a shoggoth.
As an aside, I do understand that a lot of people tend to scoff at using satire as a source of news, and I think that there’s a degree of validity to some of those concerns. But our country has reached a point where some of the only decent, fact-checking, transparent news sources are satire and comedy. Major news outlets are all owned by corporate media, and so have vested interest in, say, not actually giving accurate reports of the literal war crimes perpetrated against the Standing Rock protesters back when that was an actual thing that was happening. It technically hasn’t stopped happening. That pipeline is going to get built anyway, and there’s not a damn thing that anybody can do to stop it. Because apparently corporations have more rights than an entire fucking people group.
What do you think would happen if one day Exxon Mobil showed up at Vatican City and told the Pope to move because they’d found oil under the catacombs? The Pope would tell them very politely and eloquently to shove their drills up their collective asses and get lost, that’s what would happen. So please tell me why the Pope’s holy ground is worth more than any of the Standing Rock Sioux tribes’ holy ground?
Don’t actually answer that question. It answers itself, really.
I don’t actually have any answers right now. My entire existence is swimming (well, drowning, really) in uncertainty and the future is the center funnel of the whirlpool. I don’t know if it leads to Elysium or Charybdis, and I honestly wish I had brought some scuba gear.
I’m making this post as a way to let off some steam, process things, and maybe make some room in my head for rational thoughts to take root. I don’t know how anything is going to turn out. I don’t know what I’m going to do if things turn out badly. I know what I should do. I know what I want to do. But I don’t know if I’m brave enough for that.
I may be making mole hills out of mountains (one of these being distinctly more troublesome to the modern home-owner than the other), and the current administration just ends up being dumb and bungles everything and their approval ratings plummet even further than the frankly abyssal levels they’re currently at. Maybe this entire chapter of our country’s history ends up being a long-winded and supremely embarrassing joke. Maybe everything will be fine.
I mean, I can dream, right?