I have thought about it many times over the past several years. Many, many times. But I can’t. I am an absolute coward.
I cannot stand, you see, the thought of somebody disliking me, even if I dislike what they say. I can’t tolerate it. I fret and worry and try to deconstruct conversations and replay and revisit until I make myself dizzy.
It is a profound weakness.
Case in point: A Facebook acquaintance wrote on her timeline: “I’m having a hard time following why people see Donald Trump as an anti-semite while his daughter Ivanka (obviously his pride and joy) is a conservative Jew and keeps Shabbos holy. For that matter, has Obama been such a great friend to Israel? Netanyahu? Or has this Iran deal brough them closer to a nuclear weapon? It seems AIPAC in Detroit was very clear about the outcome of an Iranian deal.”
I wanted to write, and in fact I drafted the words, “I don’t think he’s an anti-semite, but his campaign muse Steve Bannon most certainly is. And what does the Iran deal have to do with the alt-right movement in the United States?”
But I did not. I did not engage.
I made the mistake of posting a running list of hate-exposing tweets, imploring everybody to speak out against such malice so as not to have any voter bear the burden of those espousing hate in president-elect’s name. A woman responded by sharing a Snopes-debunked video of a group of people beating up some guy because he supported Trump. (It was a traffic incdient, no mention of Trump in the police report.) Her argument essentially: Both sides do it.
And what did I do, in the interest of keeping the peace with a fellow parent whose son attends my son’s school? I said of course, it’s wrong no matter what. I simply agreed with another woman who said that it’s wrong to say all Trump voters are racists, rather than saying what I wanted to say, which was: “Correct, they are not racist. But they voted for a person who has said racist things, espouses racist policies, and has a racist / anti-Semite (Steve Bannon) giving him advice.”
See, people don’t like to be made uncomfortable. People don’t like confronting externalities, like the fact that one might want change and one might hate Hillary, but if you want it that badly, you might just elect a buffoon who absorbs hate if it happens to be near him.
People don’t want to learn that my opinion of them erodes, falls to near nothing, if they can compartmentalize ugliness.
If they can say to me essentially, “but it’s not affecting you personally, so what does it matter?” It changes how I see them. Forever.
People don’t want to learn that. People want to be comfortable. I could make them uncomfortable. But I am weak, I stay silent and diplomatic, I hope that the world can see me as fair-minded.
It is my source of shame.