I wrote this just after the election and, for a myriad of reasons, I never shared it. I also marched a year ago, but this year I could not attend. Maybe sharing this now is my way of protesting in absentia.
For me, this has been an enormously painful year, enduring the persistent assault on values I have worked hard for and hold dear, from education to the environment. Personally, this administration cannot end soon enough.
Dear Mr. Huckabee: A Nation of Dissonance Rather than Harmony
A day after the election, Republican politician Mike Huckabee wrote, “The sun somehow seems to be shining more brightly and the birds singing more sweetly. Or perhaps it just seems that way to me.”
Yes, sir. It’s you, Mr. Huckabee. Your remarks, and similar remarks by others since the end of the election, are offensive to many. This is not because he won and she did not, but rather that your words attempt to dismiss, or diminish, the issues related to the presidency and ones that continue to divide this nation.
Some of us have firsthand experience and, therefore, the ability to identify malignant narcissism. Understand that you may not recognize the oft- missed signs, and how narcissists desperately need their “tank filled” with adoration and praise. You may not recognize how they fly off the handle whenever their thin gold veneer has been pulled back, concealing significant character defects. When his “tank is running dry,” he must “fill up” at the expense of others to appear “brilliant,” “the smartest,” “the best.” Accept that you may not be able to smell danger like those who have lived it. We recognize master “shape-shifters,” projectionists, and individuals who are void of empathy. You perceive “strength” and “confidence,” while we observe narcissistic rage and narcissistic supply. Respect the fact that some of us know how it can lead to instability, abuse, and worse.
Respect the fact that some of us have firsthand experience with institutional discrimination. While some are “tone deaf” to it, others perceive discrimination through pitch disturbances and nuanced noise. While you may only hear unpleasant sounds that elicit claims of “racism,” “bigotry,” “homophobia,” and “xenophobia,” others hear frequencies that you either select not to hear, have been trained not to hear, or that you simply cannot perceive. For those subjected to discrimination, it sounds like the series of clicks as the hammer of the gun is readied. Squeezing the trigger is nearly imperceptible, then the hammer of the gun snaps and the explosion is deafening.
Respect the fact that some of us were the objects of unrelenting bullying. The bully was the one who fed off the putdowns and name calling of others, often using the slick guise of humor, emboldening their fellow tormentors while gleefully watching their victims contract. You may have never been bullied or choose not to recognize bullying because it makes you uncomfortable. Or perhaps you are the bully and do not identify it as a problem.
Respect the fact that some of us have firsthand experience with sexual assault and/or sexual harassment. Words can serve as triggers, as memories of assaults resurface, years or even decades later.
Many believe we have elected a man who is a malignant narcissist, racist, bully, and misogynist all rolled into one. Some of us have banked our experiences over a lifetime and go to great lengths to avoid any one of these loathsome types.
Now that he’s been elected, we are told to “get over it.” “Give this guy a chance.” I didn’t vote for him, but I hope for the sake of my country, and for the sake of my family, that he is not what many of us fear.
We can both agree that the intensity of sound is measured in decibels. But neither of us can perceive what the other hears. In my estimation, this election has proven that the nation is a chorus of tone-deaf individuals incapable of recognizing that they are even tone deaf. Sure, everyone has a right to sing, but that does not diminish the discomfort for those who possess relative pitch.
This nation is one massive chorus, and we must overcome dissonance so that you, and others like you, are not the only ones who are hearing “the birds singing more sweetly.”