You know, I was upset by the election more because of what it revealed about my fellow Americans than any other reason.
I wrote in July that Trump was an openly horrible person- he flaunts his hate and derision of others for all to see- and I thought, no one could vote for this man unless they truly didn’t care about all the groups he attacked. So I wanted to believe that meant no one could vote for him. And that is what quite a lot of Americans believed as well.
Before the election.
But I grew up in red states in a Republican family, and after reading ever more nuanced articles about why people voted the way they did, I was starting to think maybe we can work through this after all. I was telling myself that, even though I still felt this undercurrent of great tension.
Then a snopes article showed up in my feed about a doctored video seeming to show a protester crying because a policeman popped her balloon. The original poster basically said this was liberalism in a nutshell. (The actual event was that the balloon had tear gas on it, which was propelled into the protester’s eyes, and fake wailing had been added to make it sound ridiculous).
I thought, wow, whoever made that doctored video was a smug asshole who has absolutely no interest whatsoever in understanding or even getting along with people who think differently from them.
And then I read the comments.
I don’t usually do that, of course. I know better than that! But I accidentally scanned the comments as I was automatically scanning for the next article in my feed. And all the comments, people, all of them- I mean, seemingly every single one of them- showed a smug and dismissive hatred. So many comments.
Because honestly it seemed as if every person who had clicked on that story and saw it debunked had to devote time, energy, and vitriol into reinforcing the original message. About how the vid still summed up liberalism, about how liberals are all whiny babies etc. (& liberal apparently means anybody— ie, any white person— less conservative than the speaker.)
And that helped me put words to this horrible unease of mine.
I think my first instinct was right.
I honestly don’t see Americans getting along. Not with each other, not any time soon.
If we could accept each other as Americans and each other’s experiences as real, we could work together to solve our problems.
Are a good deal of our problems caused by a disconnect which is caused by the segregation of working/poor people of color into urban settings and working/poor whites into rural settings? I’d say yes. And I see so many articles right now about how we all need to recognize the troubles of the rural white working/poor.
But apparently *those* are the only troubles that matter to rural white America. If rural white America doesn’t see it happening in their hometown, then it’s not real and people are just spoiled special little snowflakes making issues out of literally nothing because rural whites haven’t experienced it personally and therefore it never happens or it’s never that bad for them so everyone else should just suck it up. Also rural white America can’t seem to fathom why we are talking about immigrants or refugees or even people of color when we should be talking about Real Americans and their Real Problems.
Liberal(outlet)s are posting articles about how we need to understand rural white America, but conservative(outlet)s are not posting articles about how we need to understand urban centers and the people who live there. Instead all I can find is conservatives posting about how now everyone will have to listen to rural white America and how everyone else is a ridiculous spoiled brat who doesn’t know how to be a Real American. (& this “everyone else” refers to non-conservative white people. People of other colors- & of other marginalized groups- are often dismissed outright as cheats, sinners, criminals, defects, or terrorists ?!? when they are even remembered to exist.)
So I am not at all encouraged, people. Not at all.
I mean, America was basically founded by white supremacists who stole a continent away from the indigenous peoples and used enslaved people of color to build a nation, and this mindset and behavior has only slightly shifted and adapted over the history of this country, but goddammit it’s been 200 years. 200 years. Are we still at square one here?
If you’re not a white (straight cis heteronormative nondisabled etc) male protestant, you’re not a real American and either your problems don’t exist or they’re your fault because you’re so flawed, and who needs you.
Previous encouragement has all died away.