I haven’t written anything of substance for weeks.
I was able to keep going when the prospect of a Trump presidency depressed and frightened me, even when the reality of the Trump presidency turned out to be more chaotic and unsettling than I had imagined. I can function in opposition to an administration, as I have for most of my life, even recognizing that the stakes are higher than they have ever been; I don’t believe the Democratic Party has the starch to restore checks and balance to American polity, but I can imagine various coalitions that might.
The Trump candidacy brought hate groups out of the shadows; there were more than a thousand hate crimes in the first month following his inauguration. Even so, I thought the rule of law and the mechanisms of justice would hold. The response to the assault on what I had taken to be ordinary decency in Charlottesville shook me. Once again, I heard rhetoric and saw violence that has become, incredibly, almost commonplace in the last year.
Many of the 917 hate groups in the United States identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (Please donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center … they’re on the front line of hate crimes) were represented in Charlottesville, claiming to Unite the Right in order to “take back America”. They are found in red states and blue, in the North and in the South. The President’s reluctance to condemn race warriors was more than disheartening, emboldening nativist white supremacists as much of candidate Trump’s rhetoric had and contributed to the perception that for all but White Christian heterosexual Americans there would be “no safe space”.
It breaks my heart to see we are still a nation divided by racial hatred. I’ll do what I can, but I do despair.
On September 11th, 2001, I was hiking and camping with a group of 10th graders in the Upper Yosemite, on a trail from Glen Aulin to May Lake. I ran into another hiker on September 12th who told me that New York City had been attacked. I said nothing to my students; I did not know if the account was credible. We came out of the woods on Friday of that week, and I saw the news for the first time.
I was shaken then as I am now, almost frozen with despair. I could not read or write for months, and I had to stop watching and listening to journalists. I closed down in many ways, gathering my family close and paying attention to my job.
The only safe distraction came in watching sports. I would have watched strongest man competitions, lumber sports, dock diving dogs, but, thankfully, the baseball season came back to life, and I found particular comfort in watching college football.
All of which is to explain why, after amusing myself by writing whimsically on a daily basis, I am unable to summon much whimsy. I’ve posted an earlier essay hoping that the center can hold, the rule of law survive, and safe places can be maintained, but, for a bit, I’m writing about sports, and about college football in particular.
I write about football for Fansided, a blog site operated by the Time Magazine octopus. The agreement under which I write (for free) insists that I not post on any other site, so the Cogitator may publish infrequently until I am encouraged enough by the nation’s ability to restore itself to post again. I’ll post the football stuff on Facebook, but expect that all but a few diehard fans of Michigan football will follow me to the rabid fan site.
Thanks to those who have followed me here.