BELL VIEW--Leonard Cohen said, “You can keep the body as well-oiled and receptive as possible, but whether you're actually going to be able to go for the long haul is really not your own choice.”
You can say that again. I’ve commented before that the eight-year Obama administration felt to many white people like an unending torment. It marked, for them, the end of a certain aspect of their privilege: the ability to ignore race and issues of race for long stretches of time. The Trump administration has been, for me, and I suspect people like me, a kind of mirror image of that shock: the end of the period where I could imagine white racism and misogyny was on the decline.
The exhausting whiplash of this vile era has me swinging between ecstasies of rage and utter depletion. I am empty now. I have nothing to say. Sure, I could continue to vent my frustration, shame, anger, fear, nausea, sadness, disgust …. But what good comes of any of it? Am I preaching to the choir? Who knows? Who cares? What difference will any of it make? I don’t have the energy to trace down links to support these bits and pieces of terrible news that have drifted into my consciousness – but here are some items that stand out.
I heard a story on the radio the other day that a reporter went to a college campus and asked a group of 20 college kids who among them intended to vote. One person raised her hand. True? I don’t know. But it feels true – and these days that’s about all that counts. My interactions with people on social media lead me to conclude that the Brett Kavanaugh fiasco has changed exactly no one’s mind. Women. Wives. Mothers. If they supported Trump before they support him still. Mocking a victim of sexual abuse did not move them. “Plowing through” on the decision to elevate to the Supreme Court someone credibly accused of multiple incidents of sexual assault did not change their minds. Failing to contact witnesses who could corroborate the claims against Brett Kavanaugh had no impact on their certainty of his innocence.
In my naïve belief that this event created yet another window of opportunity to change the mind of one person, I have re-engaged in my futile habit of arguing with the other side. Nothing can move them. “Brett Kavanaugh was denied due process,” the say. How? I ask. Due process equals notice and an opportunity to be heard. Was he denied those things? “But he was deprived of the presumption of innocence.” Again, I ask, how? The presumption of innocence attaches in a trial. I’d love to give Brett Kavanaugh the presumption of innocence and put him on trial for the allegations against him. The presumption of innocence does not mean I have to believe he’s innocent. “There was no evidence to support the allegation,” they scream. No evidence? I say. But Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony is evidence, direct evidence of the things she says she witnessed. Debbie Ramirez’s testimony – if anyone had bothered to take it – also amounts to evidence. “It’s hearsay!”
When will this end? I think the answer is: never. My particular plight: frustrated rage, sleepless nights, constant discomfort – combined with an ever growing fear that my children will live in a world much less hospitable than the one I inherited – does not compare with the suffering of billions of people before me, now, and in the future. I can’t expect sympathy from this broken world for the suffering of one frustrated liberal. I only raise the issue here because my suffering arises out of the empathy I was taught as a child to feel for others less fortunate than me. I don’t say this to paint myself as a saint – only to point out that the only antidote I can find to alleviate my suffering is to stop caring about people less fortunate than me. Because, after all, I’ll be just fine.
(David Bell is a writer, attorney, former president of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and writes for CityWatch.)