marshmello nightmare

Since November of last year, my sleep has become increasingly troubled and disturbed. Nearly every night I awaken at the crisis point in a nightmare. Many of the nocturnal terrors are variations on a racing theme. In most of them I am watching a race between Donald Trump’s kleptocrats and various investigative reporters and committees. All of them involve the general question of how much irreversible damage will be done to democratic institutions, how many Americans will die, how greatly will ignorance be energized, and how much power will America loose among the nations of the world before Trump can be removed from office.

In one of my nightmares, Trump inaugurates the first hereditary American autocracy after “burning the Reichstag,” then declaring martial law, suspending the constitution, and achieving complete control of the broadcast and print media. In others, Trump succeeds in destroying public education, boosts creationist and climate change-denying parochial schools, expands home schooling to produce more obedient minions to serve the dictator, and brings about a society-wide failure of reality testing.

Some nights I awaken in the midst of the complete collapse of social systems and healthcare, with siphoning of all tax moneys into the private coffers of Republican officials who brought to a successful conclusion the cover-up of Trump’s conflicts of interest and Russian ties by managing to shut down the Senate and House investigative committees and suppressing both the FBI and CIA sources of information.

Sometimes I awaken during the burning of a Planned Parenthood clinic, or seeing poor and desperate women dying of back-alley, coat-hanger abortions after Trump’s imprisonment of doctors who terminate pregnancies. I witness the births of thousands of children who cannot be cared for by unemployed, undereducated, and powerless parents whose meagre resources have been confiscated to swell the coffers of a country club of billionaires. I see the suppression of Planned Parenthood International leading to runaway population growth in third-world nations, with subsequent explosions of violent conflicts over straitened resources. I see public demonstrations being violently suppressed by Trump’s brown-shirted “Second-Amendment friends, who will know what to do.”

Many nights I am awakened by the terror of witnessing the complete destruction of scientific research and education, with the subsequent collapse of scientific medicine, a runaway environmental greenhouse, melting and collapse of icecaps in Greenland and Antarctica, and millions of refugees fleeing the great coastal cities of the world as ever faster rises in sea level make it no longer possible to live and carry on business in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, New Orleans, and most of the major cities of Florida.

Last night I awoke from the most horrific nightmare of all. I had dreamed that the investigations of Russia-gate and Trump’s profiteering had come to the point where the president was about to be impeached or removed from office by means of the twenty-fifth amendment to the United States Constitution. Looking like Noah with his ark, I saw Trump gathering up his family, Vice President Pence and his wife, Secretary of State Tillerson and his family, Attorney General Sessions and his wife, and several other officials who had been involved in the original conspiracy. I watched them all being ushered by Trump into Airforce One. I witnessed the aircraft take off, heading eastward. I watched in horror as the craft landed in Moscow and Trump turned the craft—with all its secrets—over to Vladimir Putin in exchange for asylum for everyone in the ark.

The vividness of the dream last night makes me afraid to go to sleep tonight. Will there be phantasmal terrors in my sleeping brain that will be even more frightening than the horror I (indeed we all) recently witnessed—the scene of House Republicans at the White House high-fiving and celebrating their vote to deny healthcare to more than twenty million people? Their cruel act could lead to the imminent death of hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of Americans who own no banks and whose bank accounts are empty. In my dreams tonight, will I see the Senate pass the House bill without change? Will I see Trump then sign and seal the death warrants for all of those who were condemned to death by the House vote today? Will I awaken one day soon and be unable to decide if I am perceiving reality or still having a nightmare? Will I become as great a failure at reality testing as Donald Trump? I have become fearful of the dark. I am becoming fearful of learning the truth.

Frank Zindler is the past interim President of American Atheists, a member of the American Atheists board of directors, the chief editor of American Atheists Press, and an esteemed academic and activist. 

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