I get my joy and hope where I can, these days. It’s hard with Trump parading around the White House as everyone pretends that he’s President. Hannah Arendt put her finger on something important when she coined the phrase “The Banality of evil,” in Eichmann in Jerusalem. Trump shows us something else, though: The pettiness of evil. He’s far too flamboyant to be banal; most of the time, he seems to be trying to act out a classic supervillain who cackles and boasts to the hero about his evil plans. But everything Trump says or does is driven by a pettiness of mind, spirit, and imagination that you just don’t get from Doctor Doom or a Bond villain.
On Saturday, I got to indulge in a little bit of petty glee at the story of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family getting kicked out of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. As predicted, there’s been much clutching of pearls and wringing of hands, even from the left wing. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who I revere as a certifiable badass, said that the Red Hen should have served Huckabee Sanders:
Soon, we’re going to hear this as the latest evidence that white Xian conservatives are truly the most oppressed population in the United States: The manager of the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, told White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family to leave, allegedly because of her association with Trump.
On this, the first Monday in Pride Month 2018, I woke up to find out that the Supreme Court had flipped the bird to queer communites by ruling in favor of the Christian bakery that refused a gay couple. I spent yesterday going back and forth from the bathroom while dealing with a massive upset stomach, and the Supremes’ decision makes that look like the highlight of my week.
What I really find upsetting is not the decision itself, but the way that people in my social media feeds are responding to it. A lot of the reactions amount to queers and progressives throwing up their hands and going, “Welp, we’re doomed. This is the beginning of Gilead.”
Things like this ruling shouldn’t be an excuse to surrender; they should be seen as a call to action, especially at the beginning of Pride Month. This is a month when we commemorate transgender women and sex workers throwing bricks at the cops, even if we sometimes forget that as we watch Budweiser floats with muscled cis-boys in their twenties roll by.
David Smalley just published a blog post over on Patheos that is so pompous, so hackneyed, so insufferably wrapped in ego and bad argument that I almost feel inspired to start a Social Justice Nonfiction version of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest in order to pay tribute.
Point number one: Fuck you, Trevor Noah . The line “vegan ISIS” might have sounded very, very clever in your writers room, but it has fuck-all to do with reality.
There’s a lot of potential, legitimate discussion to be had about the tactics of antifa groups and black blocs. Not a single one starts with the assumption that protesters who oppose fascism and white supremacy are moral equals to the cheap-suit Klanners who marched at Charlottesville and attempted to do the same in San Francisco and Berkeley just last week.
I think of Gary Numan as an icon of early 1980s new wave, so it was a really pleasant surprise to find out that not only does he have a new album and video out, but he’s been very active in the last 37 years since “Cars” hit the U.S. charts. Even better, those years look to have been really good to the man, creatively and otherwise. I admit that mentally I’ve had Numan kind of locked away, preserved in a lucite box where skinny ties and Moog synthesizers will always be cutting edge. Numan, apparently, wasn’t willing to stay in that box.
I’m very happy to hear, courtesy of the Anti-Defamation League, that the “OK” symbol hasn’t been co-opted as a secret sign by White Nationalists after all.
For many people, calling Bernie Sanders a centrist is the most counter-intuitive kind of doublespeak there is. He may have lost the Democratic primary last year, but he did in fact win the branding war: in the media, Sanders is immediately associated with the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party. This is a neat trick, given that he’s steadfastly refused to share his mailing lists with the party, support their candidates, or even join the Democratic Party, something that’s generally considered a prerequisite for being part of the leadership.