This isn’t funny anymore.
I mean, it hasn’t been funny for a while now, but it really really isn’t funny anymore.
I don’t give very much of a fuck that Melania Trump – or whoever wrote her speech – plagiarised Michelle Obama. It’s sort of amusing and not terribly surprising and is easy to mock and make into a meme, but it also seems to be casting a rather large shadow over that mob who was gleefully baying for the blood of the opposing party’s nominee.
I can’t watch the GOP Convention, can’t listen to the hateful bile that passes for ‘speeches’.
I can’t help but feel a chill crawl up my spine when I hear Chris Christie call Donald Trump a good and caring person. (Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.)
I can’t hear the chanting of ‘Lock her up!’ and the shouts of ‘Guilty!’ without feeling a bit sick to my stomach.
This could be the GOP Convention’s official song. If they were cool enough to be into Radiohead.
I can’t watch with ironic detachment as they collectively demonise a woman who I very much admire, and who I believe really is a good and caring person who wants to make our country better, unlike the bigoted, belligerent, sexist, ridiculously unfit and unqualified demagogue who opposes her.
I can’t just roll my eyes and shake my head and make smug jokes. This isn’t Clint Eastwood making conversation with a chair. This isn’t your typical Republican claptrap about family values and Reagan worship. I’ve seen Triumph of the Will, and this is some serious Leni Riefenstahl shit.
I can’t believe that Ted Fucking Cruz is the lone voice of reason here. (I don’t like Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz’s own children don’t appear to like Ted Cruz. But give the guy a point for stading up there amid jeers and boos and refusing to endorse the Trumpster whilst everyone else just rolls over and falls in line.)
What I see and hear shocks and saddens me. And I can’t take it.
I’m not merely afraid for my country. I’m increasingly growing afraid of my country. It’s a country I hardly recognise, and one that I’d never go back to. It’s a country I’m ashamed of. I can deal with being embarrassed by America – we’re a people who will put our flag on any and every article of clothing and wear it unironically, because that’s just how we roll, and that will never not be embarrassing. But being ashamed is harder. This isn’t me. This isn’t where I come from. This isn’t my America. To say, ‘I want my country back!’ has become so commonplace now that it’s virtually meaningless. But… I want my country back, and not only that, I want it to continue moving forward and changing and growing into the more equal and progressive place I hope it can be, the place I think it was slowly starting to become before Trump made bigotry and sexism great again, and brought the ugly underside of America to the fore and into the spotlight.
I’m not one for blind and unwavering patriotism or American exceptionalism. Despite what I grew up being taught and how much Americans like to say it, I know that America is not The Greatest Country in the World, nor did we invent Freedom. Like any country, it has its faults, some of which are unfortunately rather glaring. But it is also a great and influential country, one that others look to as an example. A country that still gives people hope. A country I want desperately to be able to defend. Because I believe that on the whole Americans are good and decent and kind. I believe in our boundless optimism and our desire to go further and do better. I believe that if we keep trying and fight hard, there might one day actually be liberty and justice for all, because deep down we really do mean it. I believe that in the end all of the things I love about America and its people will come together and ensure that Trump’s unique brand of awfulness doesn’t win. I believe the America I know is still there underneath the layer of extremist right-wing sludge. I believe we can come back from this. I have to believe that. The alternative is too much to bear.
Then maybe we can go back to laughing. Because ‘binders full of women’ is funny.