On Thursday, a man named Dan Goldstein noticed that Ivanka Trump was inexplicably on his JetBlue flight, so he approached her, told her that her father was ruining the country, and that now she was ruining his flight, before being escorted off the plane.
Later that night on CNN, a host whose name I didn’t catch opened a conversation about the “abusive” incident by saying (something like) “we can all agree that he was a moron and it was good he got kicked off,” before making a joke about how Ivanka, who is very rich, was flying in coach, where the scum are.
The Republican guest said this unconscionable incident was indicative of “the Left’s” inability to “get over” the fact that Trump is the president, so much so that they’ve resorted to dragging his poor rich family into it. The Democrat, who looked exactly like the Republican except for glasses, rushed to wipe the spittle from his lips and say that Democrats and Republicans could alllll agree that this was out of line. “Ivanka,” he said, “wasn’t the one making racist and misogynistic remarks during the campaign,” so, he said, Dan Goldstein should have left her out of it.
Then the three of them nodded for five straight minutes to show that they agreed about how good and true it was that we must never, under any circumstances, raise our voices at the grown daughter of a looming billionaire autocrat and that civility is a sacred ideal that binds us all in American Goodness and Trueness, by gods and goddesses, if that’s what you believe in, and they nodded and nodded until their heads fell off and rolled across the studio floor.
“Fuck,” I yelled at the men on the TV.
In sooth, the spitty Democrat man was right that Ivanka Trump was not the one making racist and misogynistic remarks for the past year and a half, stirring up hate and bile across this great and fucked-up land of ours. Nor was she the one caught on tape bragging about sexual assault to the lamest member of the Bush family. Ivanka didn’t encourage followers to commit violence or buoy white supremacists or stack her incoming cabinet with petroleum-choked Islamophobes and conspiracy theorists in hopes of looting the treasury of as much of its precious bouillon as she can get away with in the next four-to-eight years.
In fact, you guys, she’s worse. Because Ivanka’s the one profiting from it all while saying nothing to stop it. As a woman and a mother and a supposedly well-raised child — another reason the commentators were appalled that anyone would dare confront her! Her breeding! — she should know better than to stand by her disgusting father in his toxic chasm of shit. But she does it anyway. She puts on her pastel outfits and smiles right beside him.
One can only assume that Ivanka either wholeheartedly supports his agenda or she is loyal to a fault or she is concerned mainly with enriching herself. Any option makes her fair game for confrontation, but my money is on the latter. Last? Whatever. Ivanka, whose own company sent out a “fashion alert” to pimp the $10,000 bracelet she wore on her family’s eerie 60 Minutes appearance; Ivanka, who is overseeing her father’s business holdings and yet still sits in on meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders; Ivankaaaaaaaa, who wants to be the First Lady of the United States while Father’s latest bride shivers in long furs high atop Trump Tower, trying to ignore Baron’s lonely sniffles; Ivanka stands to profit immensely off the pain and suffering of many millions of humans, whether she was well-raised or not, and for that, she ought to be confronted.
Because, as the gay Jewish American hero Dan Goldstein pointed out, her father is trying to ruin our country and she is an accessory to that and she should hear that whenever she leaves the house. We should shout it at her. In fact, it’s unpatriotic not to, because that’s what Americans do: we fucking yell.
But what about her children, the pundits and concerned conservatives wondered. Her poor, rich children! No one was hurt, no one was traumatized, Goldstein, according to witnesses, didn’t even raise his voice. He looked “agitated.” I’ve had more intense and unsettling encounters with my three children online at Target. If she wants to go outside in America, she should be prepared for the occasional unpleasantness, and she can explain to her children why on her own time.
Nor does their temporary discomfort begin to compare, nor can it even be measured against, the pain and sorrow and misery and death that is to come when the Trump Administration dismantles the already flimsy Affordable Care Act, defunds Planned Parenthood, cuts social programs, separates more immigrant children from their families, puts more mothers and fathers in jail, sends their children to jail, and executes his cultural and physical war on our nation’s many millions of nonwhite Others. Not to mention the children who’ve already experienced hate-motivated violence and harassment and Nazi imagery painted on their schoolyard walls by anonymous fucking cowards who can’t even paint a fucking swastika correctly. At least our agitated hero had the courage to do it to Ivanka’s face.
All of this is to perhaps needlessly elaborate on Tressie McMillan Cottom’s tweet: “Ivanka Trump is trying to dismantle your country for personal fame and fortune. Yell at her all you’d like.”
And to make a broader point: liberals need to stop being nice. Right away. Now. This sham of tolerance and civility has done nothing for the Democrats and everything for the GOP. Look at the absolute shitfuck in North Carolina, where polite Democrats assumed their Republican counterparts — who had already done everything in their power to wipe them from existence — would also be polite, and they of course weren’t, and they failed to repeal the disgusting LGBT bathroom bill.
Stop being nice. Stop. Stop it.
The outrage and disgust and ceaseless whining from the MAGAmericans over this should tell you that Ivanka’s JetBlue confronter is on the right track. Because the secret of the right wing is that they’re not tough. They’re not thick-skinned. They’re weak and scared and their entire political world view is built on a delicate and precarious artifice of red, white, and blue-stained tissue paper and any tear in it sends the whole thing blowing away. The image of the passive liberal only plays into their narrative.
Keep shouting in their faces. Keep confronting them wherever and whenever possible. Show that you’re willing to actually fight for something, goddammit, even if that entails temporarily looking mean. Because here’s the fear I have: liberals aren’t up to the task. They don’t have the backbone. They’re more comfortable debating do’s and dont’s and scolding than winning anything meaningful in the theater of the real.
If Trump’s most vocal opponents allow the debate to be shifted to civility, to proper airline etiquette, then they have absolutely zero chance of winning any of the many actual battles to come. Republicans know that any discussion of civility is always going to benefit them because Democrats are the only ones naive enough to think that we actually live in an Aaron Sorkin teleplay and not the increasingly absurd and violent preface to the final stage of the Pax Americana.
The right wing has passion, and they put it into action. Their worldview may be rotten and backwards but they know how to do confrontation politics. And it works. They believe the people who work in abortion clinics are murdering babies so what do they do? They clog up those places with screaming fanatics and posters of mutilated fetuses. Despicable as hell and effective as fuck. In 2000, the last time a lunatic lost the popular vote on his way to the White House, Republicans bussed in goons to intimidate civil servants trying to count their hanging chads. In the end, guess what happened? Al Gore politely went away and George W Bush became the most powerful member of the executive branch in a generation.
Whatever the Left’s version of that is remains to be seen, but it needs to emerge fast, and it can’t hide behind civility. That shit’s out the window.
So stop pretending that the moral high ground ever buys you anything. It’s an excuse for inaction. The “tolerant” liberal needs to go away for a while because, the fact is, liberals aren’t that tolerant anyway. They’re mean and they’re mad and they are barely able to hide it anymore. Like Markos’ article celebrating the fact that coal miners might lose their health insurance. That’s fucking mean as fuck! Or Samantha Bee’s disdain for protesters who don’t protest in the proper way, the way we all know has worked throughout history: shaking hands politely with police offIcers. That’s pretty mad!
Some will argue that yelling at Ivanka Trump while her children fart and watch Yo Gabba Gabba will only help get Trump reelected. Well, shit. The guy was already elected on the worst, most racist and divisive platform of the last 100 years, so beats me what matters anymore. If calling him and his out on it every single day gets him reelected, that’s a hell of a lot better than being Perfectly Civil and passively enabling his master plan for human agony. Seems like it’s worth a shot!
This obsession with being civil is not only disingenuous and boring; it’s bad politics. We can’t tweet the Trump Administration away. And yelling alone won’t do it either. But a unified disruption, pressure on the few senators and congressmen who still have anything resembling a spine, could inspire — or scare — some of them into action, too. The Trumps should be afraid of the American people. They should be terrified to show their faces in public. They should be worried that if they fuck up, millions of people will be angry enough to make their lives impossible. That we will physically make the halls of congress inaccessible, if need be, with angry bodies. That we will not tolerate the sickening smash and grab they’re attempting to pull on this fucked-up beautiful stupid weird country that we live in.
As I see it, which is also the correct way to see it, no one is going to do it for you. We’ve seen that time and time again. We saw it when Hillary Clinton disappeared into the mists of Sherwood Forest, emerging only to give Katy Perry awards and sip Chardonnay with Bill; we’ve seen it with our democratic leadership; we’ve seen it with the media and the pundit classes and the Good and Moral People of Twitter. No one is going to stand up to them in any meaningful way so we have to do it ourselves.
Maybe some of it will rub off on the Democrats we keep electing who sheepishly apologize to their own shadows as Republicans, whose policies the majority of America fucking despise, stomp on their necks. Maybe we can make it through this with some dignity intact and some pride at having the courage to pretend like this democracy actually belongs to us. Maybe we’ll even come to believe it.