November 9th: True confession: I climbed out of the echo chamber that I had been living in. You know how things were before the election – I talked to other liberals who were and still are friends and neighbors; we had extended each other’s arguments and thoughts, patted ourselves on the back when one of us articulated an idea that helped distill the thoughts that we on our own struggled to articulate.
On the night of the election, I could not sleep. I sat into the wee hours of the morning feeling stunned, defeated. And, in the dark night, as the results sank in, I wrote this piece – “Why I will listen to Rush Limbaugh.” And, I followed through on what I had committed to do. The time spent reading newspapers and magazines consumed my waking hours. I read Breitbart, Red State, watched Fox News and listened to Rush Limbaugh as I said I would.
I felt scared about the future. I didn’t know what to expect. And, then, events started unfolding too many to name here. Trump’s selection of leaders to run federal agencies who were determined to dismantle them. Remember Rick Perry and the Department of Energy? Then, came the health care debacle, where he completely disregarded concerns about not thousands but millions of people losing health care coverage. Then, came the insults thrown at North Korea’s leader – the “locked and loaded” phrase that made a chilling impact. I started thinking of the families of thousands of service members who could be in harm’s way if there was war declared at moment’s notice.
But, all of the fear I felt earlier paled into oblivion when I saw the march in Charlottesville. When I saw young men, not older white men, but young men in their twenties some who were even in their teens march spewing hate, my heart started thudding frantically.
I could not recognize America. I could not even cry. Hell, I could not even recognize what it was to be human at that point.
And, I still can’t.
I felt as the editor of India Currents, a magazine that serves a minority readership, I should be saying something. Something to condemn this atrocity. And, so, I sat in front of my computer. No words came. Through the most personal of tragedies or the headiest of triumphs, I’ve always managed to write. Something. Anything. But, there were no words on the page.
Then, I said – let me listen to what others are saying. I listened to the recriminations pour in – rebukes, stern statements, Fox News hosts crying on live TV, and finally Republican senators standing up for what is purely human decency. And, I heard this statement most often – “We need to come together as a nation.”
I sit here thinking – How? I really don’t see any light at the end of this tunnel. Racism, bigotry and pure hatred are out in the open and you cannot put this genie back into the bottle. We have moved back several decades, heck, we’ve moved back a hundred years or more actually.
I write this with a sense of hopelessness and defeat – my words will be resounding in yet another echo chamber.
We were far apart before the election; we’ve moved so far apart now that I don’t see how we can meet.