“He put the Edsel on the road, for chrissake!”

Sigh. Email this morning, “The First Thing is to Get Mad: Resisting Fascism.” No. You know what? I’ve decided to resist the Zeitgeist.

I have already been (since 2001?) resisting fascism. So? I’m afraid I’m joining the ranks of “Make the best of it.” That doesn’t mean accepting it, but who can live on the edge of whatever that is 24/7 for however long? I can’t. I don’t want to.

The most fascist moment in my life so far was September 18 (I think) 2001. By then the Chinese manufacture of tiny flag pins had succeeded in dumping millions on the American continent and everyone wore one. I did not.

My class was over at 11:50. A former student was meeting me for lunch. I walked out of the classroom and she was where she was supposed to be and we walked down the steps of the building together. There, on the quad, were thousands of students and faculty all lined up facing the American flag, their hands on their hearts. Seriously. The school had more than 40k students so… My student looked at me and said, “Where’s your flag pin?”

I put my hand over my heart and said, “Here. Where’s it supposed to be?” She took hers off and threw it in the trash. We walked past the horde of flag-pin wearing patriotic clones mourning the fall of the Twin Towers and went to lunch. “It looks like a Nazi rally to me,” I said.

“You’re right,” she said. “I just didn’t see it.”

I grew up during the Cold War. I lived within sight of one of the Russian’s primary targets. My dad worked for the Defense Department in a super secret capacity. Sometimes he was called to the Pentagon to advise JFK and the joint chiefs. Among the joint chiefs was the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, whom my father despised. “I can’t figure out what he’s doing there. Good God. The man put the Edsel on the road, for chrissakes.”

McNamara had no real qualifications for his job as Secretary of Defense. He was just JFK’s friend. He’s known as a major “architect” of the Viet Nam War. So…

JFK’s Attorney General was his little brother, Robert. His qualifications for the job are dubious, but he generally rose (with some grace) to the occasion and responded to historical events as they unfolded around him — including the bullet.

Those unqualified guys (including JFK, IMO) faced some yuge problems. How well they did, actually, is, I think, up for debate. The usual — some great successes, some embarrassing failures, and generally bidness as usual. But now, some 50 odd years later, what is remembered is their physical beauty and youth and the pretty words that came from their mouths. People in my generation used to ask, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” and they reminisce. In case you wonder, I was in 6th grade, in Mrs. Plummer’s English class, diagraming sentences. One of my classmates — an ardent junior Republican — shouted “Yay!” when our teacher told us, “The President has been shot.”

I never forgot that. Of course, Mrs. Plummer chastised that girl severely and lectured us on how our personal politics did not matter in the face of a national tragedy (and we’re 12?) but that was the first time I understood that it is possible for people to hate a President so much that they wish him dead.

I voted as soon as I got my ballot to stop him from winning. I voted for a person I despised and didn’t believe in just to stop this from happening. I filled in my ballot, got in the car and drove 15 miles to put it in the box at the county seat. I didn’t trust the mail. That was what I could materially, constructively do, vote against Donald Trump. I’m sure there was someone in Wisconsin doing the same thing, filling in their ballot, driving it to the county seat in some small town and putting it in the box because they did not trust the mail with this very important mission, voting against Hillary Clinton.

So…I did some math. I’m 65. I don’t want to live into my 90s. I think I’m looking at 5, 10 maybe 15 more years. That’s not long in any case. I don’t want to do this any more. Trump’s going to do what Trump is going to do. When fascism comes knocking I will resist it but for now, I’m going to write a novel, uh, er, finish the one I started.



21 thoughts on ““He put the Edsel on the road, for chrissake!”

  1. It is difficult times to do the right thing at the right time.I grew up just a few years earlier than you in England, and was around 16-17 when Kennedy was shot. I regretted it, but I was in England and preparing for my first big holiday abroad with the school,the last school class – to Leningrad of all places. I was always a little left of center. Years later it looks all so different, but I know what I prefer. In 5 years it will all be a bad dream – I hope.

    • I think the thing is that I’m tired of being all freaked out about something I can’t change. Kennedy was elected by one of the slimmest majorities in history — a situation very similar to Trump’s. “The Presidential election of 1960 was one of the closest in American history. John F. Kennedy won the popular vote by a slim margin of approximately 100,000 votes. Richard Nixon won more individual states than Kennedy, but it was Kennedy who prevailed by winning key states with many electoral votes.” It’s strange how history repeats itself… My dad didn’t think much of JFK, nor did the American people, but now he’s a big hero and a kind of martyr. I was a kid so I have NO idea. Also no idea why anyone would have voted for Nixon, but they did. Or Reagan… Or most of them, actually. Obama was a truly good president but he (like all the others) had to confront the times in which he lives and that doesn’t always work out so well… I’m tired of it. 🙂

      • They were some interesting facts about the Kennedy election. I was then too young to realise it and my parents had no real interest. Kennedy was always loved by the Brits, but there was no real knowledge or interst then about how an American president got his job. Reagan was for me the ex-film start and communist hater because of his job on the union.

      • I’ve been doing a different kind of research to find out how differently Trump is behaving from former presidents. I realized that I have just never paid attention before. I despise his campaign rhetoric and I am disgusted by him as a person and by some of the people surrounding him, but I’ve also been stunned to learn that surrounding himself with friends and family is not that strange. It seems there are a lot of “deals” made during campaigns… And as for his qualifications for the job? Many other presidents have had pretty lame qualifications. It’s true Reagan was the governor of California but before that? Anyway, I’m done being upset by it. It’s exhausting and pointless.

  2. I’m trying to find a balance of resistance but not only that. Because NO one can live on that edge all the time, at least no one our age. I do feel an obligation to not just lie still and think of England, but I also can’t deal with this all the time, which is why I simply ignored this prompt. I always did enough of this for one week. I’m having nightmares and I need to chill. I’ll ask Ganeesh to hang with you.

    • I don’t think this is worth having nightmares about. I don’t think this is worth our attention. I am convinced it’s a stragedy of the White House right now to keep people all worked up over things they cannot do anything about and for which they elected representatives to deal with. I think now it’s the job of younger people who are going to be alive more years than we are to put their queer shoulders to the wheel (as Ginsberg said) and take responsibility. It even appears to me that they are doing it. As I actually heard an Italian dad say to his son, “Roma non ha fatto in un giorno” I decided last night as I drifted off to sleep that I have other fish to fry, other clichés to use. 😉

  3. By all mean write the book. Life goes on, I will go on, but I will fight this buffoon till my dying breath in anyway that I can, granted I am surely limited by fascism. 🙂

    • I’m just over it. As I said, if it comes knocking at my door in any way, shape or form, I’ll give my life for my freedom and that of my neighbors. Otherwise? People voted for him. Many people are happy with him. I’ve been reading skewed news and when I stopped doing that, I decided to calm down. They’re idiots but no one has elected me president, published my books, stayed married to me, or given me tenure, so? The public pulse and I are clearly at odds. 🙂

  4. His own party is at odds with him! My mother loved JFK…I really think she liked the aura of JFK and Jackie and the kids. My family was not too political but when JFK was shot, I was getting a cast removed from my arm–the result of a skating rink accident where I was at the end of ‘whip’–the roller game we were strictly instructed not to play. I think my mom cried more about JFK than she did about my broken arm.

    • That whole “Camelot” thing was really lovely and romantic. No one in my family cried over JFK. My dad knew him and didn’t respect him much. I dunno. Crack the whip — yeah, we were not allowed to play that, either, but we did on ice skates. I’m surprised nothing bad came of it for my brother or me.

  5. I can’t see how Trump will last a full term. Surely the other politicians won’t stand for it. I read somewhere that Trump suffers from Narcissistic personality disorder and after reading about it, makes a lot of sense. Good luck with your writing, Martha, that’s really so much more important for you to concentrate on, rather than feeling helpless!

    • No one thought Trump could possibly win the election, so while I’m hopeful he won’t last a full term, I’ve come to grips with the fact that he might. Many people conjecture (I believe accurately) that he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The Evil-X did and watching Trump in the debates was like being in a room with the Evil-X. Anyway — there are movements afoot all over the place to get him out of there. Meanwhile we live in interesting times and I can see why the Chinese used “May you live in interesting times” as a curse. 😉

  6. I was in the fourth grade. I’ve never admitted this before, but when they came over the intercom to tell us JFK had been shot, me and this little girl I was sitting next to giggled and clapped our hands. Of course, I was only 10 years old and influenced by my father’s dislike for him, but I’ve felt bad ever since.
    I was about to say fascist is a bit much, but then I looked it up . . .
    You are right about the misdirection tactic, though. “Look! a squirrel!” I think it’s funny as hell. I wonder when the media will figure out how they’re being played.
    If I was going to resist, I’d pick my battles. Instead of resisting every little thing and running the risk of being dismissed as just another screeching moon bat, I’d wait until there is something to complain about that can actually get some traction with a large portion of the people.
    As far as being patriotic, I’m a disabled vet, I belong to the American Legion, I say the pledge of allegiance twice a month at the Legion hall when we have our meetings along with other veterans, of which, there are plenty of Trump detractors–it’s about 50/50 like the rest of the country.
    Being a vet, I laugh at all these so called patriots: Limbaugh, who hid behind student and medical deferments (he had a cyst on his ass) when his country called, Hannity and his great Americans who would no doubt shit their pants if they had to back up their patriotism with their ass, and all the talking heads who had something better to do (like go to Harvard) when they had a chance to serve their country–where they learned how to take our money when we got back.
    For all of the resisters I’d say, don’t let the other side claim the flag . . . or patriotism itself. Those things belong to all of us.

    • I agree with you. I think the press is just having a really good time raking in money on sensationalist stories they don’t even have to make up themselves. Trump has manipulated them into a defensive posture; their hackles are up. They are being played and they’re playing the American people in turn.

      I don’t know about patriotism. That is honestly a big question to me. I think that the more people talk about it, the less they probably have and that’s borne out in what you’ve said here.

      • True. Patriotism, for me, is more about the tribe, the idea that I’ll stand next to you on the wall when the screaming hordes come to kill our loved ones and take our shit. ” . . . he who sheds his blood with me today is my brother.”

      • I discover that I get really pissed off when foreigners criticize my country. Traveling out of the country during the past decade+ hasn’t always been easy. I might not like the policies of my government, but when an outsider goes off on “Murica” I get very annoyed.

        I look at other nations as complex, with internal workings of culture and politics that I cannot possibly understand as an outsider. I do not judge them even if (as in the Peoples Republic of China) I don’t like them. How am I to know what brought them to this place? I don’t think I can. Raised to hate communism, I soon saw how communism worked in the PRC and why. The more I learned about Chinese philosophy and history, the more I could see how communism fit with Confucianism. It makes sense whether I like it or not.

        I think most people go off on the business of another country without knowing much about its internal struggles. So, I guess, that’s patriotism. I don’t believe “My country right or wrong” but I do believe, “Judge not lest…” Kind of like one’s family. I can dis my brother, but you’d better not. 😉

      • “Wrapping up in the flag is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”–I don’t remember who said that but I’ve always loved that quote.

  7. “Cultivate your garden…” “The evil of the day is sufficient thereof…” “The devil is in the details…” And so on. Or, perhaps, “This, too, shall pass…”? At present, I do not believe I am in dire straits–yet. One church is looking for new members: The Church of Hopeful Uncertainty…

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