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.