Healing from an America obsessed with Donald Trump

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michelle alexander quote

  • Sriram Ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

Try as one might, it is next to impossible to ignore the US presidential primaries. It’s the shit show that keeps on giving. Most of us seem to be laughing in order to distract ourselves from our fears of a rather petrifying future. In a GOP primary that has taken on new levels of misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, the rhetoric is nothing short of chilling and batshit insane at the same time.

But despite the horrifying guano being showered on us all, candidates like Trump are not what disturb me the most. It’s easy to get disturbed by a sorry excuse for a human being like Donald Trump. It’s easy to get disturbed by a sorry excuse for humanity like the Republican Party (not to mention the equally pathetic Democrats, who seem to be nothing more than a whinier, less entertaining, version of their right-wing cousins).

In fact getting disturbed and grossed out by Trump currently happens to be the most entertaining thing in the mainstream media for pundits across the board, both liberal and conservative. (Indeed, the name “pundit” – derived from the ancient priestly class of the abhorrent caste system in India – seems really apt considering the mainstream media is a rather accurate representation of America’s very own racialized caste system.)

What is truly frightening is that Trump is only saying what a really large section of the American population wants to hear – a much larger section than a lot of naive, fresh-faced liberals would like to believe or acknowledge. Trump is not speaking to some extreme fringe, though he is very much appealing to it (as a rather nice article in The New Yorker pointed out). Trump is very much a populist, which means he is popular, which means he cannot be popular without large sections of America salivating over his odiousness. The extreme fringe is actually all around us, and Trump is speaking their language.

So make no mistake – Trump is America, even if he fails to get the nomination. For there is little chance of Trump getting the GOP ticket, despite all the craziness of the last many weeks. No doubt, greater miracles have happened, but it’s still highly unlikely.

However, even if he eventually crashes out, the people who salivate over him aren’t going anywhere. Sure, they’ll thumb their noses and vote for Bush or Christie or Cruz or Rubio or whichever wannabe-murderer-in-chief gets the ticket (all of whom have made equally horrendous statements by the way, while floundering to stay in the limelight hogged by The Man With The Do). But the disgruntled masses of America’s broad right are getting angrier and angrier at a rapidly browning and diversifying country. And while I’m of the firm belief that these chauvinists are certainly not in the majority (though only just so), I am one of those people who considers them extremely dangerous simply because of their large and increasing numbers. Yes, increasing. In no small part due to the mindless whipping up of bigoted anger and fear that demonizes racial equality, migrant justice, and gender liberation (in a country that has more wealth than any other, mind you). The worst part is that this trend doesn’t look like ebbing any time soon

And there are plenty of reasons for it.

In general, privileged communities don’t share well, and right now a lot of marginalized people in America – women, racial minorities, immigrants, queer and trans folk – are fighting hard for their inalienable rights as full human beings, despite state and corporate efforts to suppress them.

So there’s a long struggle ahead, and a lot more chauvinism and violence to come from the more privileged sections of American society as historically oppressed and marginalized communities keep fighting that good fight for justice and true equality.

But my lovelies – we’re going to have to heal from all that hatred and abuse as we do so, no?

Those of us who believe in the liberation of humanity and the earth over the close-minded insularity of nationalism, patriarchy, and religion have to ensure we privilege healing as we enter some dark decades to come.

So, let’s get started – below are a few thoughts on how we might do so, using the current presidential primaries as a case study. First of all:

  • Don’t buy into the mass bullshit (aka the mainstream media): The mainstream media truly is a whole load of mass bullshit for the vast majority of the population. It has to be when all the media houses are controlled by a handful of rich, powerful, white men. Sure, they have their Benetton-ad-type, sufficiently diverse (and conventionally good looking) talking heads, but make no mistake: the mainstream media in America, including the so-called “liberal” channels, are catering to the existing power-ridden status quo. Ditch that shit, or if you do end up being a news junkie like I am, figure out how to consume that crap with a critical eye that can catch the bullshit and read between the lines. It is this same mainstream media that gets sickeningly titillated by human filth like Trump and the rest of the gang. You will be a whole lot better treating the filth and the voyeuristic talking heads with the disdain they deserve. Simultaneously…
  • Remember, there be many who hate, but there also be many who love (and they be a whole lot more): Those who hate will ultimately never outnumber and never defeat those who love. I don’t say this out of any sappy sentimentality. Really (despite the sap I have liberally doused some of my other articles with). On the contrary, it’s cold, hard logic that guides this particular thought. It’s really simple. To truly survive and thrive as a species, which equally means living in communion with the earth and non-human souls, our only shot is to trust in love in its broadest and most universalizing sense. We either live together or we die alone. Most of us know this. It’s hardwired into our DNA. It’s how we survived as a species many millenia back. We survived with love, community care, and solidarity, not hateful insularity. And those of us who believe in love and community ultimately far outnumber those who don’t. Don’t buy into the bullshit that power, authority, and domination ensure survival. They only ensure power, authority, and domination – and only for a temporary amount of time; a few centuries at best. Eventually the shiny, wealthy societies of the Western world are going to crumble into the dust and at that time, the choice will become much clearer for those who feel it is their right to consume and appropriate at the cost of the majority of the world (and then get angry when marginalized communities fight for greater equality and refuse to accept the scraps that fall from the tables of the privileged few). Don’t wait for the state and corporate elites to get their act together. They’re never going to get there. Also don’t wait for the hate-mongering assholes who support them. It’ll be too late if we wait for them. So it’s best to start without them and hope they join us eventually. Which is why it’s crucial to…
  • Seek community with others who are also fighting the good fight (and focus on caring for each other): This is so crucial, so very crucial. My friends, there be dark times ahead and it doesn’t matter who wins this election. America, and the West in general, is hurtling towards some major clashes with the more marginalized populations (inside and outside national borders) fighting for their rights as full human beings. And as we fight this good fight, we must remember that we need each other now more than ever. Let’s seek each other out and actually start caring for each other. I had written about this in a previous article that examined healing while fighting the good fight to be free. There are a lot of people in various struggles for freedom, both in their personal lives and in larger mass movements. And we ignore each other’s pain and suffering at our own peril. Indeed, I am of the opinion that it’s even more important that we actually care for each other and build solidarity with each other rather than just focus on public campaigns or activism. I’ve been in so many organizing meetings where people who fight for all these great causes of justice and liberation don’t give a shit about their own comrades sitting across the table from them or standing next to them at a picket line. (Men tend to do this far more often and regularly than women and trans folk, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone). It’s depressing to see, and I think most so-called progressives have it ass-backwards. Let’s fight for each other first before we fight the power. When we fight with love and solidarity, power doesn’t stand a fucking chance in hell. Therefore it naturally stands to reason that you should…
  • Never, ever place any leader, authority figure, or politician on a pedestal (even if they are of a similar political hue): Please don’t do this. And if you have been doing this, stop right now. I know how easy it can be to get sucked into thinking about the next great hope. But there’s no such thing. It’s all bells and whistles. The rates of black people being incarcerated or immigrants being deported has remained depressingly static under Obama, if not higher. The Obama regime deported more immigrants than Bush, while incarcerated as many if not more black men and women. It doesn’t surprise me in the least. When you place any leader, authority figure, or politician on a pedestal, all you do is two things – (1) inadvertently dehumanize yourself as somehow less worthy than some talking-points politician who is nothing more than a puppet of predatory capital and (2) eventually feel rather stupid as the reality of the bullshit settles in. Why bother? Fight the good fight alongside your loved ones, your friends, your comrades. They are the people who matter. They are the next great hope; and not some power-hungry authority figure who truly doesn’t give a mangy rat’s ass about you. In that spirit, please also…
  • Remember that the most liberating changes in society happen organically through people like you and me: This is the other side of the coin to refraining from deifying political leaders. Truly liberatory change has only ever happened through “ordinary” faceless people. The civil rights movement came before MLK or Malcolm X, stayed long after they were assassinated, morphing into different forms, and was the real reason for the victories. No doubt MLK and X were exceptional human beings and awe-inspiring martyrs for the cause, but they would have been nothing more than unknown ministers with exceptional oratorical skills had it not been for the unknown masses braving bullets and bombs for their collective freedom. Black liberation struggles have existed ever since the earliest times of slavery. We tend to think of great changes in society as emerging from one leader or one moment. In reality those are, for the most part, iconic cultural moments that inspire but do little else. Because real, grassroots change for the better evolves and emerges over time through masses of faceless people like you and me doing our little bits in struggle and solidarity with others like you and me. So, in that spirit, let me conclude by saying that…
  • Most important of all – never let the forces of oppression defeat you: The Trumps of the world and their murderous minions can never defeat us if we refuse to accept their authority and power in our hearts and souls. Please note that I’m not suggesting that this will prevent us from getting hurt, violated, even killed by the forces of oppression. What I am suggesting that is that we will not allow ourselves to be dehumanized by those attempting to dehumanize us if we simply refuse to be defeated by them no matter what they throw at us. Really, just try it out. Look deep within you and tell yourself that you will not be defeated by the forces of oppression. Do it as many times as you need in order to believe it. Once you believe, and I mean truly believe, that the forces of oppression might tear your body, heart and mind apart, but can never defeat you, it becomes a very powerful tool to fight that good fight while importantly healing in the process.

Fight for love, fight for liberation, and laugh like you know it.

Them bigoted jokers got nothing on you my friend.

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