Crashes of clapping, clamorous thunder rattled the windows of my elitist writer’s cottage the other night, waking me from the only five hours of peace I get these days. I scanned Facebook, half-awake. I happened across The Atlantic’s article on the National Policy Institute’s conference headed by alt-right leader Richard Spencer, that corn-fed Appalachian Ken doll. The conference was attended by 200 of America’s most dedicated white supremacists and held a few blocks from the U.S. Holocaust Museum.
Screw the repercussions, I thought, as my thumb pressed firmly on the share button.
My stinging anxiety has only risen with each new appointment made by Trump. [Sharp inhale.] Steve Bannon, who is as flamboyant about his white separatism as Liberace was about ruffled collars, is White House chief strategist. Ironically, imagining Bannon in a ruffled collar is mildly entertaining until you remember Steven Bannon is an actual person who exists.
Within hours, Facebook comments poured in. A conversation started. A dynamite solution emerged from this virtual exchange of ideas. It was a thought that didn’t occur to me, presumably because all my brain space is filled with panic for marginalized populations and the very real threat to our livelihood. An online acquaintance dished out a heavy-handed response and then, “Just chill.”
Just chill. That’s it!
So this is for all my concerned countrymen and women. There have been more than 700 hate incidents reported since the election, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Since 2015, there has been a 15 percent increase in active hate groups operating in this country. Trump has appointed recognized xenophobic, racist men and a totally unqualified woman (but yeah! A woman!) to top positions in his cabinet. This is deeply unsettling.
But remember, our solution is to chill.
How racist did you have to be in 1985 to be denied a federal judgeship? Ask Jeff Sessions, who said a white lawyer working for black clients was a race traitor and once called a black lawyer “boy.” This is our new U.S. attorney general — the principal legal expert of the United States of America. No big deal! Everything is fine!
According to the New York Times, Michael Flynn, incoming national security adviser, “exhibits a loose relationship with facts, leading his subordinates to refer to Flynn’s repeated dubious assertions as ‘Flynn Facts’.” Hold up a minute. Can we change that to “Flynn Fun Facts”? That sounds way more chill than saying “Guy Who Blatantly Misrepresents the Truth.”
And one of our token women? Betsy DeVos? Neither she nor her children have ever attended public school, she has never been a teacher and she holds no degree in education. What makes DeVos qualified to be education secretary? She has a pulse? Well, that’ll work. Because this is America. And we’re going to make it great again by dissolving our public schools, the glue that holds the fabric of our beloved nation together.
Everybody quit freaking out five seconds. Here’s how you can go from reeling to relaxed in short order. Let’s start with a technique some close to Vice President-elect Mike Pence has suggested: shock therapy. I recommend using an old fork in your standard light socket. Choosing the right room in your house is important. Be sure to make it a frequently used room, just in case you knock your own lights out and need to be found quickly. Our aim is to chill, not kill.
When you stick Grandma’s heirloom baby spoon into the toaster oven, don’t be surprised if you shock yourself gay. Some think you can shock gay people straight. By simple deduction, you can only assume it works both ways. Now that’s equality!
If the prospect of zapping yourself to the chill-zone seems a little daunting, you can try just regular duct tape, which can be found in your neighbor’s Hillary Clinton bug-out bag. All you do is shove a wadded-up copy of the Constitution in your mouth and wrap the tape very neatly around your head. You can try this in conjunction with the light-socket suggestion if you’d like. The tape will also help with the screaming.
Maybe you’re thinking: “Susan, the future of our country is a mushroom cloud on the horizon. We can’t be silent. We can’t be passive. Millions of lives depend on continued vigilance and bravery. Lord Voldemort didn’t even scare me this bad.” I applaud your awareness, but we really need to just chill. So, consult your therapist and see about getting a prescription for elephant tranquilizers. Take three or four of those babies, slam a cup of coffee and get out there and just relax! Keep calling it the alt-right and not modern white supremacy. Give Trump a chance and don’t pipe up when you see democracy, civility and safety being dismantled one maneuver at a time. Remember to consult your therapist and, thanks to Mike Pompeo, who supports robust online surveillance programs, the state will probably also be consulting your therapist.
We are in dangerous times. History has told us about them. Don’t forget that the strongholds of freedom, equality and opportunity were fortified by tranquil and courteous means. America was made great with silence. It was because our Founding Fathers did everyone a favor and just chilled out. Don’t you remember? Me neither. Must be time for another tranquilizer.
Susan Duty is a local writer, teacher and “fighter pilot” at Poppa Rollo’s Pizza. Visit her website at girlnamedsooz.com.