Monday, May 20, 2019

Reframing Resistance

For two years I've listened to incensed people insist that leaders destroy their political careers and subject themselves and their families to extreme harassment by calling out Trump. They are unpatriotic and spineless cowards for refusing to stand against an administration approved of by 90% of their party's voters. Disgusting!

And Don McGahn and the rest - who've already done their duty by testifying to Mueller - should come forward and give the Democrats their TV snippets (because no one read the Mueller Report, televised sound bites are crucial) despite White House opposition. These are people who work and socialize within the Republican eco-system, but screw their lives and livelihoods. They need to grow a pair and do what's right. This is for the nation! Make a sacrifice, dammit!

Here's the thing. Not one of these angry people would do any different. And they're too deluded and vain to recognize it.

We live in a world where each of us enables or overlooks a thousand horrors per minute. Most of us won't give a starving person a nickel. We won't pick up a piece of trash - it might soil our hands! - much less sacrifice livelihoods and become pariahs within our networks in the service of higher principle.

When stuff turns bad we ass-cover and rationalize going along. That's not cowardly behavior, it's human behavior. When Nazis snatched Jewish children and sent them on boxcars to their incineration, the individuals who opposed this were so few that movies were made about them. Consider that. Those who stick their necks out at personal risk are heroes. It is not normal behavior.

While angry patriots mouth off on Twitter about how it's time for The People in Charge to find backbones and put country over party, that's not lemonade they've personally drunk. How many times have you stood up, amid existential stakes, for what you believed was right? Have you ever done so, outside your dreams and fantasies? By "standing up", I don't mean getting mouthy on Twitter, even if you feel that aligns you with the angels and punches your virtue card. I mean tangible sacrifice for you and your loved ones in defense of higher principle. Apologies, but odds are that you, reader, are Lindsay Fucking Graham in a thousand ways, and you'd most likely Lindsay yourself even if you were in a position to save the country you love.

When people were freaking out over Trump's election victory, and it looked like Muslims might soon be slated for boxcars, not one person joined me in declaring themselves Muslim. Jesus, Jim, that's going a bit far, isn't it? Yegads.

It was awfully weak tea, really. It was mere hypothetical sacrifice, applicable only if things went a certain way (and even then only if some obscure blog posting were noticed). It wasn't in the same universe as the sacrifice of tanking one's career, one's connections, one's entire life in the here and now. Yet none of my angrily #resisting social circle would go even that far.

You have not and would not ever do what you huffily demand these people do. How do I know? Because if you had, there'd be a movie about you. I'm waiting for the movie. Show me the movie before you demand heroism from other people.

The real problem is that we have a political system requiring heroism to repel shameless tyrants. The founders knew this. It explains their deep reservations as to whether this republic thing would actually work out.

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