By Margaret Evans, Editor
I think y’all know me well enough by now to know I won’t be writing about basketball.
Actually, if I were smart I wouldn’t write about anything at all for a while. I’m so disoriented and discombobulated that any opinion I express might very well change a few hours from now, and almost certainly will have changed by the time you read this.
But what the heck, right? Everybody else is throwing out their two cents’ worth on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis – without checking facts, considering context, reflecting on various points of view, or accounting for the rapid pace at which things are now moving. So I guess I can, too.
Still, if you’re reading this on an actual, honest-to-goodness piece of printed paper, I would ask for your mercy and forbearance, because that means I wrote it at least a few days ago. Which might as well have been a few years ago. I can almost assure you that several earth-altering events have happened since I penned this piece – including, but not limited to, controversial executive orders from the White House, terrorist attacks in Europe, riots here at home, and whatnot. Also, please note that I am a thousand times smarter now than I was a few days ago, with a sharper, more refined point of view.
Oh, who am I kidding? By the time you read this, I’ll undoubtedly be more confused than I was when I wrote it. And by March, I may have given up entirely. I’m considering a complete boycott of all media – especially the social kind – and a retreat into my books on philosophy and religion. Even now, I’m reading up on Rene Girard and his “mimetic theory,” which has a lot to say about our current situation, I think. (Seriously, Google it! It’s way more interesting than it sounds.) I am also reading Charlotte’s Web for my book club, which has been both comforting and illuminating. E.B. White knew everything.
I woke up this morning – Friday, Feb. 3 – to find a message from a Facebook friend in Tennessee. D is a college English professor and an amateur historian and he had this to say: “S— ‘s getting real, Margaret. We are watching the purposeful cultivation of chaos by people who are intent on creating discord and upheaval. It’s only a matter of time before Trump has to display his power. And he has radicalized his followers to the point that they will be in lockstep with it. He’s doing the same thing in foreign affairs that he’s doing domestically. People are inevitably going to die violently, and I have no doubt war is part of the mechanism of control. I shudder to think about what Bannon has in store next.”
Also in my box was a message from C, an American friend who’s lived in Germany his entire adult life. C is a California native, a graduate of one of our nation’s top liberal arts colleges, a writer/translator by trade, and a lifelong progressive. He is also an enthusiastic supporter of Donald Trump. C tells me he’s recently considered moving his family – his German wife and two teenage daughters – back to the states. His reason? “The migrant disaster,” he tells me, which has brought so much “rape, violence and terrorism” to his beloved Germany. He fears for the safety of his daughters, he says. He applauds Trump’s “travel ban” and also applauds provocateur Milo Yiannapoulos, who he sees as a warrior for free speech and other cherished Western values. C calls the rioters who shut down Milo’s recent speaking gig at Berkeley “leftist fascists.”
So, two friends, two very different points of view. Both middle-aged white men, both intellectuals, both longtime progressives, both great guys – but the only thing they seem to agree on is this: The fascists are coming.
Of course, they disagree on who the fascists are. Call me crazy, but that seems like an important point . . .
Actually, just call me crazy. Period. No buts.
Unlike my friends, I have absolutely no clue what’s going on in Washington. I can’t predict what Donald Trump will do from one day to the next, and I’ve pretty much stopped trying. One minute, I’m a member of the “he’s just an inexperienced buffoon bumbling through this thing with no rhyme nor reason” faction, while the next minute, I’m in the “he’s a mastermind who’s carefully orchestrating every move to evil ends” crowd. And sometimes, I actually find myself leaning toward the “hey, he might just get some good stuff done in spite of himself” point of view.
I’m all over the place, people. I just don’t know. And the only thing that makes me different from most of the other pontificators out there, I suspect, is that I know I don’t know.
So that’s something, right? You can trust me not to lie to you. Because I don’t know . . . and I know it.
I don’t expect the Trump train to slow down anytime soon – or ever – and I predict it will continue jumping the track, or appearing to do so, on a regular basis. (No, wait, “regular” sounds too predictable. Let’s go with “whimsical.” On a whimsical basis.) As a columnist, I can either buckle up for the bumpy ride – and all the motion sickness that comes with it – or get off the train entirely. I keep trying to do just that – find a new topic, for sanity’s sake – but the Trump train is just too fascinating. And it’s all anybody’s talking about, so it’s almost impossible to ignore, despite my best intentions. I jump on Facebook “for just a minute” – to post a photo of a pileated woodpecker, or an inspirational quote I just read somewhere – and I end up in a discussion about Bannon’s bad hygiene or Trump’s latest tweet bomb.
Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in . . .
But Lent starts next month, and it seems like a good time to jump off the train for a while, if only for the sake of my spiritual wellbeing. I would like to declare – right here on this printed page, before God and the Lowcountry – that I will be giving up social media on March 1st, Ash Wednesday, for the duration of the Lenten season.
But, Lord have mercy, I’m afraid y’all might hold me to it.