It was a gorgeous day in Sacramento yesterday. Cloudless blue skies, bluer for the absence of the lessened amount of car exhaust that drains the sky of some of its color when more Sacramento drivers are out and on the road, clogging the major freeways here in numbers much great than a few decades ago. Until the pandemic struck, more people weren’t driving, and the skies became prettier again.
I had a piece up on my blogsite yesterday that drew a bit more readers and more response than many other pieces have done. If you didn’t see it, it was a personal essay about the gulf that has developed between my brother and me over our wildly divergent views of Trump and the Republicans. Most of the response was from people who wanted to acknowledge similar estrangement from relatives over Donald Trump and right wing politics.
But, predictably, there were those who can’t forget or forgive the fact that we don’t agree on every jot and tittle of left wing politics, that though we may share similar dreams for a better future, we don’t share the same all-or-nothing-at-all approach to bettering things.
One of those people shows up daily to record a rating of 1 for anything I write. I could write a piece against killing kittens for pleasure, and even if I wrote it well, this rather compulsive and rather hate-filled creature would still take a precious moment of life to record that rating of 1, often adding a few words of venom to the numerical disapproval, as he, or maybe she, did yesterday. I don’t know the writer’s gender because the nom de blog this particular constant commenter has chosen hides even that. Anyway, the writer writes: “Maybe there is a good reason people quit talking to you and do not read past the first paragraph of your drivel and spew. Maybe being pompously lectured, insulted and told how brilliant you are and stupid everyone else is drives normal people away. That kind of stuff is typical psychology of dry drunks and why most people do not much care for them. It is the same surface arrogant mentality with its bluster masking underlying insecurity that drove them to drinking in the first place and never got addressed.”
More often than not, I ignore stuff like that, from right or left. But not yesterday. I replied, although not particularly for the benefit or edification of the person who prompted me.
I wrote: “I sometimes find myself as little aligned with some of the “progressives” on this site as I do my brother. I wouldn’t want to live in a world they made, a world where the apparatchiks are as nasty as some of the ideologues here who cannot see or seem to care about the harm they persist in doing while boasting of their inability to see even the slightest difference between a guy like Trump and people like Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden. They are people so infinitesimally small of spirit, or heart, or soul that they can post an automatic score of 1 to even the most naked renderings of the heart. These are the kind of lefties who put the left in such bad odor with people who are or should be our natural kin and comrades. They think themselves to be intellectuals, and they think too much in ways that wind up perverting revolutions, the kind of people who ultimately design re-education camps, kill those who stray off the path even a centimeter from the orthodoxy, the enforced and encoded fantasies of the true believers, the cultists, the narrow, and the ugly of spirit. In fact, despite the gulf between my brother and myself, I feel closer in shared humanity to him than I do to some of the whackos found here, people who are too close to Trumpian in their allegiance to doctrine or dogma where the real rubber meets the metaphorical road. Pol Pot leftists, or Putin leftists, or Stalinists with the same sort of often dehumaning zealotry that makes a Jim Jones or a patriot who would destroy a village in order to save it.
I would not forsake a brother for people like that. Some people on this blogsite seem to have misplaced the values that undergird their politics, trading them for mindless allegiance to vaguely understood political ideals. Why would anyone forsake a brother for what some of these people are peddling with so little heart, and not much more brain. They are as much my enemies as Trump, and for what seems more and more like the same reasons.
The Chimpster who calls me a “dry drunk” thinks he or she can shame me for a thing that doesn’t shame me in the slightest. I had a problem, a disease shared by an uncountable number of fellow human beings. I am not ashamed of having suffered this disease, nor am I ashamed of having confronted it, no more ashamed than I would be if I contracted the COVID-19, fought a battle with it, and then got better. I would, however, be ashamed to be a person who would try to shame anyone for having had and then admitted having had a disease that has made many people pariahs to those who would presume to judge them.”
Then, having cleared my mind of all that, I turned back to check messages on Facebook and found a picture of Donald J. Trump playing golf superimposed over The front page of yesterday’s New York Times, that powerful exercise in journalism that listed the names of 1,000 of the soon-to-be 100,000 people who have died of the coronavirus. The Times didn’t just list their names; it also included a few words about each of them, transforming them from numbers that Donald Trump is willing to describe as a “great victory,” or a testimonial to his wonderful leadership that made the number so insignificant. I just had to write:
“Hatred of this man just isn’t a powerful enough emotion. He didn’t create the pandemic, but he’s made it incomparably worse. He didn’t create racism, but he’s made that worse, too. He didn’t create the problem at the border, but he made it immeasurably worse, and truly evil. He didn’t invent sexism, sexual predation, pedophilia, and general male creepiness, but he widened the parameters for it. He didn’t make capitalism merciless in its inequities; he just made such mercilessness seem more acceptable, which made it more merciless. He didn’t give old white males such a bad name all by himself, but he sure made it harder for those of us who are old white men to hold our heads up. He didn’t make it necessary to refer to so many people of both genders as assholes, but he allowed more of them to come out and moon us all so shamelessly. He didn’t invent stupidity, but he sure exemplifies it, and arrogance, too, and smug privilege, and narcissism of the very worst kind. The motherfucker. If his mother had been worth a good goddamn, she would have strangled him in his crib. Angry post to follow.”
So, that was a pretty sizeable chunk of Sunday, and here we are on a Monday in the time of pandemic. It’s damn near enough to make a very old and very white man feel the blues, and need to hear some, too.
This, then, in memory of Lucky Peterson who died on Friday, and for Kelly, who took me to see him play.
This content was originally published here.