Tag Archives: Resistance

Unfriending

5 Mar

Today I have unfriended a college friend from my Facebook page. She is a jolly, happy, fun-loving person who has a very nice life, with a kind husband, very involved in her Church, and with two children she adores and lots of cute grandchildren. She was so excited to find me on FB , and likes to share silly memes, and videos of cats.  I feel terrible about doing this, my conscience is bothering me, since on most fronts our harmless shares were quite fun.

So why did I unfriend her?  Because not only did she vote for Trump, she also began defending him. I had always assumed that she was just such a product of a patrician Republican upbringing that she blindly voted for him without really thinking about it much. I have repeatedly questioned her about how she could possibly think that this dangerously unhinged demagogue could do any good for anybody, and she has never given me any kind of response–just occasional comments about suffering under Obama and Pelosi (?!), no real evidence of a responsibly considered decision to support this man. Still, she hung on gamely through the morass of increasingly desperate and intemperate political shares that have overtaken my FB site, along with so many of us who are reeling in  terror at what this man and his minions plan to destroy in the next few months (we hope not for years). But recently she began to express sentiments defending Bannon–BANNON!–attacking other people on my site with passive-aggressive statements and comments unsupported by any evidence or factual documentation. She didn’t seem to be fazed by any criticism directed at her, a fact that astounded me, as other Facebook friends presented her with article after article presenting facts, to which she would only respond with opinion with no concrete explanation of why she held her beliefs. I and other friends sincerely asked her to explain her stances, to provide details that could exonerate the man, to no avail. Finally, I just couldn’t bear it anymore–that someone I know, that someone who is educated and considers herself a good Christian, could simply dismiss all evidence that this man and his small cabal are in no way old-fashioned Republicans or Christians, but who are out to destroy everything that I and so many others consider the basis of American democracy. I know I have other Facebook friends who probably voted for Trump but who just ignore those political shares that they don’t agree with for the sake of being able to see photos of my grandson and my considerable number of contributions to the page on art and baby otters. But she decided to wade in to political discussions in a defensively unconsidered way.

For better or worse, this is what Facebook and other social media sites have become: a platform for political alignments. And yes, many of us begin to insulate ourselves from other opinions by only having friends who share our world views, and yes, we may all be losing our sense of humor. I don’t think I have done this completely, but the current situation is, to my mind, so dire, so unprecedented, so dystopian, that I simply cannot bear to be reminded that many good, well-meaning people cannot see the perilous direction that their own actions–that is, voting for this man–are causing to take place. I have said this before: we are at a turning point as disastrous as Germany in 1933, when many good, well-meaning people also could not believe that such tragedies were in store, even for them.  There are those who would try to shame me for unfriending someone who feels that Facebook should be harmless and lighthearted, and I am truly saddened that the times require resistance and political activism rather than fun and frivolity. I will, of course, continue to put up my baby photos and comments on art and life, but Facebook is also the only platform I have to communicate common goals, and right now those goals involve saving the world as we know it from irreversible catastrophes. So sorry…..

Ruminations from afar

26 Jan

womensmarchsign_southdurras

As soon as we arrived in Australia, we announced to everyone that we were refugees from Trump’s America. In Ulladulla, I went to a small AA meeting—with the always comforting mix of people, from sheep shearers to housewives and North Shore Sydney sorts here on holiday. When I said that we were escaping Trumpism, they all laughed in a kind of skittish solidarity. Even here, thousands of miles away and in a rural setting with little access to the internet or cell phones, one can’t entirely escape the terrifying news that the United States of America has gone insane and is attempting to jettison the last vestiges of liberal democracy. While Australians are happily going about their everyday lives in this salubrious summer season, safe and prosperous, the clouds of uncertainty and impending doom hover in the background.

Newspapers—and Australian papers are generally not known for their overly liberal views–are full of fearful analysis. The Australian Financial Review—the country’s equivalent of the Wall Street Journal—carries headlines such as “Turnbull scrambles to save TPP, condemns protectionism,” with grave warnings that “the prospect of some sort of trade war with China is now a very real risk.” Another article decries Trump’s “untruths”: “What we are witnessing is the destruction of the credibility of the American government”; for the writer of these words, the worrying aspect of this destruction is that American governmental honesty was the cornerstone for all other democracies. Without that model, then no government can be trusted anymore. No matter how one feels about specific issues such as TPP, the expression of these concerns is a vivid indication of the global impact of Trump’s irresponsible and impulsively demagogic decisions.

On the glorious upside of America’s global reach and the most positive aspect of globalization: the photo above shows the community bulletin board in the tiny beach town of South Durras, near Bateman’s Bay. Durras was our favorite summer spot when we lived in Canberra, so we had to make a nostalgic visit again as we drove down the coast from Sydney. Normally this bulletin board would announce community barbecues and town meetings. I was overwhelmed with emotion to see that even in this little corner of the country, women (and men) would be marching in protest of “Trump’s inhumanity.” Proof again that this is a global issue, not just sour grapes on the part of American “elites.”

I’m writing this (long-hand!) on January 26, Australia Day, which is in itself a politically vexed holiday on the national calendar. A combination of the 4th of July—barbecues and fireworks—and Columbus Day—a cringe-making imperialist celebration of European conquest of a “new” land, appropriately considered a “day of invasion” by the indigenous people so cruelly displaced by this arrival—the day really marks the end of summer holidays and the subsequent beginning of school terms next week.

antiaustraliadaysign_bermagui

A sign in a shop window in Bermagui, NSW.

We have been in four different communities along Princes Highway today, and none of them seemed to be celebrating much, at least not communally. I am choosing to see this as a positive step—that many Australians recognize the inappropriateness of festivities on this day, at least here on the South Coast, where many Aborigines live. (To be fair, Pearl Beach and many other places still have a community barbecue with traditional snags and onions and white bread grilled amid booths selling Lamingtons and hand-crocheted doily covers for toilet-paper rolls, and TV still broadcasts an Australia Day concert from Sydney). But it could also be a sign of the increasing unease, distrust and disconnect across all Western nations concerning the citizenry’s relationship to its governments. The shock of America’s descent into xenophobic extremism, the indecent reaction by so many Americans to a perfectly decent Obama presidency, is felt as strongly here as everywhere else. The whole world is girding its loins for the uncertainties and madnesses ahead.