The Glibness of Outrage

In utter frustration, former Republican pundit Nicolle Wallace, on her MSNBC show, recently said, I’m paraphrasing, why are we not marching on the detention centers, how long can we wait when we already know, the cruelty is the point?

That phrase has become another meme of the Trump regine, “The cruelty is the point.” This regime which revels in picking on the vulnerable including abusing refugee children and penning their parents up with little food, water, or shelter. This criminal administration has made it legal to hunt hibernating animals, is fighting to end Obamacare for everyone including young people still living with their parents, and has banned people from entering the country based on religion or level of desperation.

Hannah Arendt

Our responses to this American evil have become glib, even banal and we know we must do more.


Friday evening a few thousand people around the country did do something. They call it Lights for Liberty, rallied and spoke, carried signs, all the usual stuff focusing this time on America’s new concentration camps, news of which are broadcast nightly or hourly, depending on how obsessed you are with everything that’s going on.

Have we become immune or inurred to the level of horror our country shruggingly perpetrates? I don’t think so. Have we reached a place where we can no longer express the depredations we see, no, there are folks who know how to tell this story in living color. Thank goodness, they keep telling it like Julie K Brown who never stopped telling the Epstein sex trafficking story until it finally got picked up.

One of the reasons we seem to be tolerating these crises is that despite the two plus years of ongoing drama and ugliness, I believe we are still in collective shock. First, we couldn’t believe Trump got elected, then we thought it couldn’t be as bad as all that. Then we began to find out it’s worse than we thought but it’s not quite 1939 again yet….

Waking Up From our Collective Shock

Our collective shock is like a slow moving version of driving by the proverbial accident and not being able to look away. We are slowly moving out of the deer in the headlights phase as we begin to see the end of democracy barreling toward us ….we see it and in some cases, smell or taste it….

..but this is 2019. Aren’t we Americans, who live in the land of less drama, where we expect to get the winning lotto ticket at any time andopting out of the rat race or at least believing we won’t go back to the 3/5ths of a person status of the olden days…

Yet, now here it is-astounding levels of corruption in the open, a total loss of boundaries, shameless racism and the usurpation of power, and there seem to be few courts or legislators left to protect from our worst instincts.

Is this Who We Are?

Our gut response has been to declare this is not America, this is not Us while an alternative instinct is to glibly announce a list of old and current injusticess that demonstrate the opposite-this has been and continues to be us. Neither of these responses is helpful. We are as susceptible as any country to mass persecutions, especially of non-white peoples. It’s in our DNA, our origins or oranges, whichever way you choose to describe it.

Yeah, it is BUT, we are still a young democracy, the place where people continue to attempt to enter for safety and opportunity. The Trump approach is to confirm the worst of our history and make it a permanent feature of who we are and have been, what we represent. Denying the yin and yang of America takes us out of historical context AND leaves us without hope, without a blueprint to a better our future.

Signs of Resistance, Class of 2018

Back to the grim ugliness. If we allow it to become the norm, we are lost-we cannot cope with the constant ratcheting up of fear, hate and hopelessness. We can take heart in all the young brilliant young, and some not so young, candidates who came out of nowhere in 2018 and fought to win. Let’s support them in every way we can and model our resistance after them and for them.

“Meanwhile” as Stephen Colbert likes to opine, there’s work to be done. We have not yet begun to exercise our considerable power. I doubt that in a country our size, we’ll all converge on DC (ala Hong Kong) and stay there til the neo Nazis give up and leave, even when we vote them out, which we surely will do. So how to we actively oppose and truly resist this right wing putsch?

General Strike, Rolling Strikes, You Decide

There are creative ways of making change including sabotaging the saboteurs of democracy- start with rolling strikes and economic boycotts the day after an immigration raid or the day before another crazy criminal judge is appointed, we leave work, go on strike and refuse to participate in the economy.

Most of us, although not all of us all the time, can afford to refuse to participate for a day, no work (unless involved in a life saving response) no shopping, including online, no eating out and no livestreaming recreation, but yes to participating in the public economy, that is going to a park, library or community center or contributing to a charity which protects one of those in our despised relations from the xenophobic playbook. It may take a week or two to get this started but it shouldn’t take much more to parallyze our institutions and begin to frighten the elite.

Overwhelm the System

We can also do the converse, call every government agency that stands to hurt us until their lines shut down, overwhelm the websites with demands, donate piles of pennies to the Congress people who hate us, fill their offices with feathers and pointy plant gifts. lob cat vidoes at their portals and build walls of old books and magazines around their CDP offices. Besiege the consulates with questions, concerns and, I don’t know, used condoms?

What can we do? We can do a lot. The functioning of this oligarchic system depends on us going along and doing the necessary work. Keep working if you must but operate on a curve, respond with a question, give them anything and everything they don’t want. Don’t play along, play but not by the rules, make up new ones.

Rebellion is ours and revolution is in how you see it. No complicty, no camps, no way. Show up at the airports, the radio and tv stations, the googles and Silicon Valleys-theyr’e all over the country. Put your “bodies upon the gears” and the gears are everywhere!

Mario Savio

2 Comments on "The Glibness of Outrage"

  1. Thank you Pam. We must not let all this wear us down.

  2. Thank you Pamela-
    Can we each vow to add one new way of resisting daily or weekly?

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