He’s coming. To Kansas City. Tonight. It is a gray, dull, drizzly day here, which is fitting. As though Mother Nature herself conspired to dress appropriately for the orgy of hatred that is unfolding across the prairie. Nay, across all the land.
Yes, I said “nay.” Sorry, something about that man makes me draw up Elizabethan-speak from the bottom of my English major soul. Something wicked this way comes…
But enough about him. It’s not about him. As we well know, he is just a mouthpiece. A pandering demagogue who harnesses the discontent of a baser element; and then gathers power by speaking aloud the prejudicial toxic waste they’ve harbored forever. But once he is out of the picture, another will step up to take his place. And another, and another. He has unleashed the power of hate speech for a new generation, and evidence of that normalized bigotry is cropping up everywhere.
Case in point: My friend Dawn and her family were recently on a road trip in the Southwest. They came through the small town of Mayhill, New Mexico, which Dawn calls “the only place to pee for miles and miles and miles.” They stopped at a convenience store there, and encountered this lovely reading material, displayed on the front door:
In case you can’t see the fine print… that top part says “Obama and Other Muslims Not Welcome Here.” And this is not a remote-New-Mexico phenomenon. (Although, I have driven through that country a few times and felt like I was in the beginnings of a Stephen King novel. What with all the closed up gas stations and drifting tumbleweed and bizarrely nonsensical billboards…but we digress).
This is a thing now. A taped to the front door, right out there for the neighbors to see kind of thing. It is not confined to a certain region or demographic. Say what you will about Appalachia and/or the rural south, but this is everywhere. “Unwelcome” signs are now posted everywhere, directed at everyone from interracial families in Kentucky, to same sex couples in Colorado, to Muslims everywhere… This not-so-subtle message is finding expression in new and terrifying ways.
Is it new? Of course not. But it’s newly normalized. Is it all Trump’s fault? Nah. But he is the newly elected spokesperson; and I think “elected” is the appropriate word here. When he comes to town, you see who shows up. You see what they do to black women, to dissenters, to people with head coverings. This is what we’re dealing with now.
Meanwhile: In downtown Kansas City today, one group is marching for immigration reform.
Others are staging a peaceful protest of the Trump rally.
Still others– activists, teachers, and other community leaders –are in the midst of a several days’ walk from KC to Topeka, in protest of the state’s systematic de-funding of public education.
As me and my large-crowd-anxiety sit here in the suburbs–praying for the safety of all and watching for the Dark Mark to appear over a certain downtown venue–I am thankful today for those who remember that social change is a slow wave, but a wave we keep in motion nonetheless; I am grateful for pastors, preachers, believers, and MAYBE a few politicians (maybe)–who continue to insist that the arc of history bends towards justice. Peace, love and mercy out there to you all. The other side may be loud and mean, with endless stores of poorly-printed signage… but love wins. Always.
Easter is coming, y’all. Hang in there.