Rejecting the New Normal: Liberals, Give Each Other Some Room
In the wake of one of the most dangerous referendums on democracy the US has ever seen, liberals and progressives are still fighting with each other — this time, over calls of taking the high-road, waiting to see, giving the benefit of the doubt. The underlying motivation is the need, as kind and caring and fair people, to normalize, to not seem disagreeable, to not stoop to an unseemly level.
When Charlie Chaplin made his satire, “The Great Dictator,” in 1940, it was soothing for American audiences. Hitler was destroying Europe, but we’d not yet felt the sting. Mocking him felt good — a buffoon, a narcissist, someone who could never possibly succeed. His talk about the Jews was all talk, no one would ever really do what he said — rid the world of them.
We didn’t know about the concentration camps then. We didn’t know what they really were. Years later, in his 1964 biography, Chaplin wrote that had he known of the horrors at the time, he never would have made the film.
Liberals find themselves on the doorstep of more history now. Comedy news shows are giving us real, distressing facts, but, since they’re framed in comedy, we end up laughing instead of screaming. Watching and agreeing and shaking our heads seems like taking part in the denunciation, like we’re actually doing something. We are aghast, but we try to push the fears these broadcasts elicit to the back of our minds. Let’s wait and see. He couldn’t possibly get away with any of this. Someone will stop him. He’ll screw up and be out. All of the things we told ourselves during the election.
If you don’t want to drive yourself insane every day remembering what’s actually happening in your country, that’s your prerogative. But plenty of people have their eyes wide open. We don’t need to stop talking about the facts and promoting awareness in order to “wait and see.” By the very nature of time, we are all going to see what comes next. There’s no stopping that.
But “wait” for what? Say nothing? Comment on nothing? Remain silent and hope it works out or goes away. Have we learned nothing from history?
Protesters and progressives who are calling out the NOT NORMAL behavior of the Pres-Elect and his staff choices on a daily basis do not want to “keep the country divided.” Just the opposite, they want to ensure that what we have is not destroyed by a lunatic band, that we do not give them a pass on things that are NOT NORMAL. No one believes that the election results will be turned around. Protesters, by and large, have said they are in the streets so that the Pres-Elect will know that his vision did not win a mandate. That he is strongly opposed on the things he LITERALLY said, not horror fantasies that are being conjured up by a bitter, losing side.
If you want to tell yourself things will be all right, that’s fine. But many of us are determined to actually ENSURE that things are all right. I’d rather be proven wrong as an alarmist (I pray I am proven wrong as an alarmist) than be proven wrong as a pacifist. Pick your poison, but don’t shove a spoonful of sugar down the throats of those who choose to be awake, vocal and active. They’re on your side.