How nausea, rage and terror can build a better United States
American Underpants | by Anna Minard
No opening line is safe here, because the news gets so strange every day that any comment on the general state of things will be out of date in 20 minutes. I have zero jokes to make along the lines of “At least _________ hasn’t happened yet!” Because it could happen in the time I type that sentence. Anything you can imagine that could fill that blank is a potential headline tomorrow morning, from a presidential piss scandal (NOOOOOOOOOOOOO WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY) to a press conference in front of a table full of “documents” that are obviously just blank pieces of paper to, say, the full-on breakdown of American society and our way of life. Maybe because of an insomniac tweet! Who knows.
So I’ll say a thing that will be true no matter what happens: this is real. This is really happening.
And the fact this is repeated regularly — on late-night comedy, at dinner parties, in the darkness as we try to fall asleep — is a good sign. It means our brains know that what’s going on around us is so wild, so outside of the normal order of things, so fundamentally unacceptable that we can still register shock about it.
I do not enjoy the fact that I have moments nearly every day where I pause and think, “On Friday, Donald J. Trump will become President of the United States, the real United States, where I really live. It isn’t a dream, isn’t a movie, isn’t a joke. This is my life, my one short beautiful moment to occupy this planet, and Trump is about to be in charge of all the rules and death machines.” My breath catches, I have to steady myself on the furniture. I can feel the chemicals of fear and sadness and rage and hopelessness fill my blood and churn my stomach.
Well, GOOD. That only makes sense. And I’m not alone.
But the fact a feeling of shock and dread is only natural doesn’t mean the only response to that feeling is to duck and cover. You can weaponize that fear, that anger. We’re doing it every day.
The people I love are filling the furnace of their rage and resistance with that pure fuel, and the engines sound ferocious. We’re sharpening ourselves into swords, hardening into diamonds. The things we do the best, we’re perfecting. We’re practicing our apocalypse skills, we’re postering our houses and streets and bodies with images of leadership, defiance, hope. We’re holding each other close and partying even harder.
We’re making space to listen and think clearly; re-learning history so we can use it to safeguard the future.
There are people who want to flee. There are people who want to burn everything down and build something new from the ashes. There is someplace in between those two ends where we can meet. We can protect the people in most danger — communities have been doing this for centuries in all sorts of situations. (Middle-class white liberals are just catching up on lots of people’s reality.)
We can invent new systems to replace broken ones. New leaders can learn how to organize in chaos.
And as always, we need you, neighbors! I know if you could, you’d scooch your section of the continent away from this trash fire. But you can’t. So please, pay attention to what happens in your government and keep your families and your values safe. And make a little space if some of us come screaming northward for safety. And give us some leadership, and some creative ideas, if you have some to spare.
And jokes! If you can think of any jokes, please mail them to me. I’m fresh out.
Anna Minard is Planet S’s Official American. Follow her on Twitter: @minardanna.