Nothing has made me want to be a bold activist like the events of the past year. And yet, when I try and then meet resistance, my boldness dissolves and I creep back into my little tent alone. Very alone.
The election of the Clown in Chief, the knowledge that people I know and love put him office, the racism and ignorance I read every day on my FB feed, the incessant idiotic tweets, and now Charlottesville…. There was a time when I would have seen this as a fulfillment of some apocalyptic inevitability. Only because I was taught to see the world that way. Thankfully my vision has cleared up.
But seeing things clearly isn’t exactly a blessing. It’s hard, too. The world is at once a place of marvels and a horror show. There is beauty and agony, love and hate, incredible acts of sacrifice and abhorrent acts of cruelty and selfishness.
I rarely engage in political conversation, in person or online. But the election of #45 and all the shit surrounding him have given me a different resolve. Over the past few days, I wrote some posts that got a lot of action and discussion. One was regarding the firing of the white supremacist clowns identified in the Charlottesville, VA march. I argued that, as much as I disagree with them, their march was protected as free speech and it seemed wrong to ‘out’ them and fire them from their jobs for expressing their ideas, just as it was wrong to do the same to people who march for civil rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights, or any other political stance or ideology.
You can imagine how popular my argument was.
A few people agreed with me, spoke of constitutional protections for all, of slippery slopes, of how easy it is to demonize people with whom you disagree. There was some healthy discussion. Some good points were made.
Then I watched the VICE video of the march itself, heard the rhetoric and threats and saw the actions of the marchers. These were no clowns. These were domestic terrorists.
And I changed my mind.
I wrote another post to that effect. That after hearing the words the marchers used to dehumanize anyone who wasn’t in their demographic and seeing their desperate need to ‘reclaim’ the power they felt had been stolen from them – a power over other people that was theirs by some divine right – I no longer felt they were protected. They couldn’t be ‘outed’ – they were out in plain sight – and they should be accountable for their decision to hold such an odious ideology. There was no excusing them.
I thought it was a pretty decent post.
My husband didn’t think so. He was concerned that writing such things would bring unwanted attention to me, to our family, to our children. He asked me to back off writing such posts.
I took a deep breath. I hate being censored, but I also know I don’t always think through the consequences before I do something.
He had a point. I told him I respected what he said and ok (“OK” meaning ok, I will back off political posts).
But then – because I can’t keep my mouth shut and because I was bristling a little and because I thought of all my friends of color – I stated how sad it made me that we had the privilege of “backing off” and laying low, of not speaking, and by not speaking, of not bringing attention to ourselves, while millions of other people – some of whom were our friends – did NOT have that privilege and were targeted unfairly for no other reason than the color of their skin or the language their parents spoke.
I am still reeling from the melee that followed. A thrown laptop and slammed doors and raised voices followed by the silent treatment. And this barb: “I am getting tired of your leftist bullshit. I don’t even know who the hell you are anymore!”
He told me I could write whatever I wanted, but to get some secret blog somewhere and do it so no one would know it was me, no one would read it and find their way back to my family, to him, to our kids, no one would firebomb our house or spray paint slurs on our cars or threaten our jobs.
Easy enough. Way ahead of you.
My husband is not a bad guy. He’s not a hateful person. But he is from another generation, another era. He’s an enigma. In one breath he talks of his freewheeling days in the 60s, and in the next he quotes Fox News. He laughs with and hugs his black friends in one minute, and in the next makes stereotyping derogatory remarks about how badly certain ethnic groups drive. He curses a blue streak in traffic and watches porn with me to keep our sex life active, but then serves in church and mourns my lack of faith. I’m his soulmate, the woman who saved him, his equal, but he’s the head of this house. He wants me to talk to him about things important to me, to be open, even if it’s something scary. But when I bring up things that I care about and express my thoughts and opinions honestly, he loses it, calls it bullshit, tells me he doesn’t know me anymore, and turns away from me, giving me the silent treatment. And wonders why I become more guarded.
Life is a circus of complicated people and complex maneuvers with no safety net.
So here I am, spilling out my wrenched and broken and tearful heart on my Hidden Blog. Because I can’t tell this to my family. Or my friends. Or to Facebook. Or to a god I no longer believe is there. I have no other place to take it but here. Old and hidden and alone in my own private circus tent.
At least I have that freedom. At least, for now. Still… I hoped for more than this.
“Isn’t it rich?
Isn’t it queer?
Losing my timing this late in my career
And where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns
-Sondheim, Stephen (comp). “Send In the Clowns.” A Little Night Music. 1973