Today is the day that Pr*sident Trump shut down the American borders to refugees, green card holders, and non-citizens with paid for and improved visas—if they were from certain “Muslim majority” countries… It is also the day his administration made it clear that, going forward, “Christian” refugees would be given priority over all other refugees—and then denied the existence of a religious test. (Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!) In airports around the world, administration thugs enforced this illegal and immoral action, in some places, we hear, quite gleefully. A morally courageous judge has acted to stay the order so that refugees currently stranded in airports will not necessarily be returned home, but who can say whether we truly have any rule of law in America today?
Chancellor Merkel of Germany had previously reminded Pr*sident Trump that to refuse to accept refugees from war was in violation of the Geneva Convention—apparently this made no difference to the madman.
I wrote in a Facebook post this morning that when I heard of how one refugee family from Syria, who had been previously vetted and were on their way—joyfully!—to relief in America were detained in a foreign airport, I burst out sobbing. I was sad on election night, and angry on many days since, but sobbing at the news is not my habit. The last time I sobbed at a news story was probably during the Vietnam years, when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated or when students were slaughtered by police at Kent State. Daily life, daily experience, is different in the new Amerika. We must notice!
I wrote: “‘Never Again’ has never before in my lifetime been as personally potent a slogan as it is today. Perhaps it should have been before now.”
On the morning after the election, I began posting this every morning on Facebook:
THINGS ARE NOT NORMAL.
(Trump’s America, Day #__)
I have done this for nearly eighty days. Some have wondered why. I’ve been asked, “Wouldn’t it be better to suggest actions?” This is an action. I want people to consider the abnormality of our situation every morning, and think about it. Action follows witness, but witness is essential and takes work and commitment.
Perhaps the most painful experience today was noting that of all the politicians in the United States Senate, only one Republican spoke against the outrage. The rest were silent, except for two who tweeted about sporting events.
I wrote this to my friends and family:
If I learn or know now that you voted Republican in a Senate race (or voted for Trump) and you do not show me that you have called out your Senator for the cowardly silence documented in the attached link, please do not consider yourself my friend or even my relative. I have no room for you at this time. If I have loved you in the past, I do not and will not stop loving you. If you face a personal crisis, you may still call on me. BUT, make no mistake, I cannot and will not permit you to believe that I support you in your silence. Neither “friendship” nor “family” can be normal today. Lines are being drawn and we all must stand where we will. I hope you will stand with me but if you do not, do not look to me as friend or family, our love notwithstanding. In practice this means: no family gatherings, no casual parties, no Facebook chat, no nights at the movies, no nothing, no how. The times are not normal. Take a stand and take the consequences.
Friends, please consider a similar stance. When argument cannot prevail, this might have an impact. If I am wrong, may God forgive me. But I have to navigate the times as best I can.
It’s not that I want to abandon friends or family over politics. But it is useless for me to pretend that these are normal times, and my soul sickens and rebels at the thought of it.
This is a different sort of “Punks the Muse” column. Usually, I try to be artful. Usually, I write from a place of contemplation and reflection, polishing sentences, reflecting, dreaming, trying to “be me” and speak with my true voice. I want, usually, to entertain, and, on occasion, strike a personal note that might have resonance for readers. True confession is always about the reader as much as the writer, for when we really manage to speak truths about our inner experience, we speak universally.
But this installment is not about entertainment, or identification, or anything but a howl of pain.
It may not be what’s expected for “The Storming Bohemian Punks the Muse” but in the midst of a storm, I can do nothing more than try, more than ever, to WRITE LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER.
For THIS motherfucker, the game is ON.
Rumpus original logo and artwork by James Lorenzato, aka Argyle C. Klopnick (ACK!).
“The Storming Bohemian Punks the Muse” was originally developed as a column under the editorship of Evan Karp at Litseen. An earlier incarnation of this work can be found there, along with many other interesting things.