…reports the frog from inside a pot.
It’s not like Donald Trump, ‘politician’, this current incarnation emerged fully formed a few months ago. This jaw-droppingly embarrassing exponent of American politics is a product of years and years of our defining down what is acceptable to do to fellow citizens or to say to or about fellow human beings.
There have been a few articles in the last few years about the disappearance of George W. Bush from the election conversations subsequent to his presidency, but what’s striking about that not-so-long-ago period is how far we’ve come in that short time, how comparatively not-so-bad this aspect of life was under Bush.
i feel like we’ve totally reinvented, redefined, and reinvigorated racism in the last 10 years. When Obama was elected, i really had a gnawing fear of some ignorant gun-loving racist getting to him somewhere along the way. Naturally, i think we’re all glad that didn’t happen (aside: i wonder if there’s any metrics on the number of threats to a sitting President, and is there a hockey-stick spike in 2009? It doesn’t seem like a good omen that Wikipedia has a whole page on threats throughout history, but Obama gets his own.), but what’s happened apart from that is inarguably even more dispiriting.
Six years later, it’s okay to call human beings ‘illegals’, as if that’s the sum of all other descriptors. We look back and laugh at birtherism, but only because he showed us his damn birth certificate to all us racist assholes. We’re taking away the right to vote, insidiously. Even when we let brown people vote, we gerrymander their districts into dilute, pale shadows of their real influence. No wonder there’s no oversight on police departments, and their policy of recruiting, then arming, the most racist bully you forgot about from high school.
Point is, we woke up last year when Ferguson happened, and said holy crap, has this been happening all along? Sure it has, but it’s also getting worse. Because we’ve engineered ways to enshrine our racism in the in polite conversation, in public discourse, in the media, and in the law. The reason that the way is clear for this to get worse is that we’ve found a way to convince ourselves it isn’t, to make xenophobia reasonable, and racist acts seem sad-but-necessary .
Where do we go from here? Somewhere worse.