I am so confused.
Time was when the world seemed to make sense. For a moment, at least. There were hippies who preferred dropping acid to dropping bombs, and presidents who paid at least lip service to positive values, and music that inspired and elevated. And I get that it wasn’t Shangri-la then—and that Shangri-la, like Camelot, has only a season to flourish before the political and social pendulum swings back the other way.
In a sense, I welcome that balance. “We” get things our way for a while, and then another “we” gets things their way for a while. As my mother used to say, it’s when both kids think what you’re doing is unfair that you’re getting it right.
I’m not confused by the pendulum swinging to the right: an intrinsically racist nation had somehow elected its first black president. You just knew there was going to be blowback from that.
I’m not confused by the hatred that this administration and the people who support it spew: there’s always been irrational, fear-fueled hatred of anyone considered The Other.
No: what’s confusing me is the ongoing cognitive dissonance I’m experiencing whenever someone who is the target of hate supports the haters. I’m finding it hard to understand when people who are otherwise rational human beings do something that actually hurts them. Sometimes one can put that down to stupidity, lack of education, lack of awareness. But… the other times? That’s so bewildering as to make Occam want to use his razor to just cut his own throat.
You want cognitive dissonance? Look no farther than Milo Yiannopoulos. He is a gay man. He recently married a black man. And yet Yiannopoulos got fired from Breitbart because he swung too far to the right—and as the organization itself is about three goose-steps to the right of the Nazi Party out of the gates, that’s saying quite a lot.
So I’m confused. A gay man. A man who marries a black man. And his agenda is anti-inclusion.
Last week in Provincetown Community Space on Facebook, a friend had to explain a decision that was clearly a painful one to make. She didn’t acknowledge a person she saw while in line at Stop & Shop, someone who had been her neighbor for six years. Why? That neighbor voted for Donald Trump.
She brings up an important issue: how do we deal with people within our own community who support someone and something so inherently destructive to that community?
I’m not surprised when we’re talking about people who benefit from this administration’s tactics: it’s in their best interests to support it. But I remain confused when women, when LGBTQ community members, when persons of color voted for Trump and continue to support this administration. It’s not in your best interests; it’s going against your best interests. It’s hurting you, and it’s hurting others you presumably care about.
In a new book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts sound a dire warning: the president’s mental state is only going to get worse, and as it does, “upholding [Trump] in his position normalizes pathology, this is why we’ve seen an enormous spike in hate crimes,” notes the book’s editor, forensic psychiatrist Bandy Lee.
Continuing to support this president and this administration makes a statement. It says that while you might not be crazy about the rise in hate crimes, they’re still not a deal-breaker for you.
And I don’t know how to talk to you about it. I cannot understand your choices. Will I ignore you when I’m grocery shopping? Will you make jokes about it that I can’t possibly find funny?
Provincetown may be less divided than other communities, but the divisions are here. I don’t know if they’ll ever heal—hell, I don’t know if we’ll even be here much longer should the taunting of North Korea turn deadly. And I don’t even know how to start a dialogue with people I understand so little. I am, in other words, confused.
What about you? What decisions have you made around this rift in the community? What do you do at Stop & Shop? Is there a way to make the world make sense again, at least here at land’s end?
Or are you as confused as I am?