It’s easy to pick upon the vulnerable and the weak, who are disproportionately women, children, and persons with disabilities. It’s so cheap, tacky, and tawdry that only a leader like Conquistador Loot-and-Pillage Donald J. Trump could stoop that low.
For our convenience, the New York Times puts it all above today’s front-page fold.
All we can do is document the horrors in his dismantling health care, in blaming the Dominicans for hurricanes or for not controlling climates, and in re-urbanizing drug addiction that started in the suburbs.
And finally, we can also ascribe this leadership to another faceless collective culprit — the 50 white men who live in a 50-mile radius of San Francisco, who try to control even more of our lives as their algorithms impact our society, our politics, and our economies.
There is not much room for hope when the vulnerable lie between the leadership of Trump and the techno-testosterone-y-geeks who do not just see people as targets to prey upon but target all people by dehumanizing them as 0’s and 1’s.
Why do we study a woman’s every move? Some women can speak, and some women cannot speak. Or if these women dare to speak when they shouldn’t, we see how they say nothing. Their generic bland words convey a static form of silence.
Husband by their side, they shake their heads in agreement, as all the while their bodies are screaming no. Their bodies betray their words, undercutting their veracity.
Picture Mommy on the steps of her house, smiling to her 3-year-old son who is frightened by the noise of his father’s rising anger, indicative of pending violence. She’s says Daddy’s not mad, Mommy’s okay. She smiles. But the terror behind her smile reveals her lie. She convinces no one, and her son associates smiles with lies and terror.
I had a teacher like this, the only teacher I remember from elementary school. Mr. T smiled and spoke softly when he was mad, and he would hurl abusive insults at anyone who disturbed classroom peace. Whereas I can’t remember one of the “yellers,” as we called the female teachers who expressed their anger. Expressing their anger was direct. No mixed-up signals, no ambiguous social cues. Unpleasant . . . it was true.
The most an abused woman can do is sneakily shout for help. Melania certainly did with her highly interpreted wrist-flick rejection of Trump. You have to watch it 5 or 6 times, but it’s there.
And of course there is the infamous happy/sad façade or the creepy or skin-crawling meme of Melania at her husband’s 2017 Inauguration. No mistaking that face.
Whether it is Melania’s wrist or her quick frown-of-relief smile we all see, what we see is real, albeit subjective.
Crazy counternarratives can be spun, for sure. These narratives will be heard in captions by those in their part of the polarized political valley. But these narratives will be twisted and counterintuitive. Bodies are visceral. Bodies express feeling more freely than words. The difference between recoiling and rejecting someone’s spontaneous touch is immense. We don’t need words to know something strange is going on. The movement requires explanation. The movement is significant.
So if politics includes bodies in movement, not just words, how can we read American Political Thought that does not cover bodies of thought, but only words — let alone published words from eras when white men with property had a monopoly?
There are no bodies in thought. Yet bodies moving in emotional reaction can be pegged as triggers.
Here’s a picture that won’t surprise you. By picture, I mean read the lawsuit. A sample: “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you would have been good and better and I would have been good and better.”
What I mean by “better” is more effective in hiring, targeting, harassing, and then firing their loyal women announcers (who undoubtedly don’t believe in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, protecting them from discrimination, until it “suits” them).
Not since I was in Switzerland — on my way to Unterwasser — have I seen an all-white, male, middle-aged road crew. And I saw it in New Jersey, no less — not just New Jersey, but the Plainfields. North Plainfield, Plainfield, and Watchung are divided by Highway 22. It’s hard to find the bridge over the highway that literally separates wealthy Watchung from the largely poor, demographically diverse Plainfields (South Plainfield is more prosperous).
Together, North Plainfield and Plainfield are about three-quarters non-white, and Watchung is the mirror opposite — three-quarters white. Or put it this way, South Plainfield and Watchung have T R U M P signs in their front yards, whereas the Plainfields do not (with the exception again, of South Plainfield)
The Plainfields’ poverty rate seems unremarkable without putting it in statewide context. New Jersey is the wealthiest state in the nation; it beats Connecticut. Yet in this wealthy state are some of the poorest cities in the nation, including Camden and Plainfield. In Plainfield, even the building where Planned Parenthood is housed is marked “for sale.”
Plainfield, what is more, is home to a historic Quaker house museum and a Unitarian congregation, with the relatively new kid on the block, so to speak, being one of the many physical homes across the nation of #BlackLivesMatter.
Why does it matter that the municipal work crew I saw was all white, middle-aged men? Because as jobs diminish and municipal public-works jobs are even more difficult to find, connections, favors, and favoritism must matter even more.
So this got me thinking, why all of a sudden are municipal public-works road jobs (possibly; this is an unfounded social science hypothesis, after all, an observation) going to what is demographically categorized as, or the embodiment of, Trump supporters? Or put more plainly, why all the signs in the border town South Plainfield –- even the wealthy Watchung did not have that many T- R- U- M -P* signs.
*The spaced out letters work well we all have vision problems in middle age. The lettering reads like a general practitioner’s eye-exam.