Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The victory of the barbarians

I know some of you in the U.K. have an idea, from earlier this year, what I and everyone I know here are feeling today. The hateful and the ignorant among us have won.

The Supreme Court is lost, for at least a generation to come. Civil rights and freedoms fought for by our parents and grandparents (and, indeed, their parents and grandparents) may well be reversed. Every gain made in the past eight years, domestically and abroad, will be systematically attacked and, if possible, destroyed. The U.S. will be the most backward and anachronistic of all world powers, fiddling while Rome burns and delusionally pretending that that glorious heyday of (straight, white, male) affluence, the 1950s, can return. And the hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and fear that permeated this election will permeate our lives in ways we can't yet even imagine.

When Brexit passed, I mentioned the Persephone Post comparing the day to September 3, 1939. Some felt this was too extreme. But I can only say that for me, such a comparison holds some truth. If yesterday was not in itself as horrific a day in the U.S. as December 7, 1941 or September 11, 2001 (no one lost their life, and it's true that it was simply democracy at work, albeit in a terribly diseased nation), I can't help feeling that it was a similarly terrible turning point in American history. On both of those days, Americans knew their world had changed, and knew that worse things, not yet fathomable, were in store. Ditto today. 

Only this time we voted for it.

This is not a political blog, and I will return to talking books soon (when I've caught my breath and no longer want to stay in bed forever), if for no other reason than the fact that books will probably bear much of the brunt of keeping me sane for the next four years. And I will eventually try to be optimistic: Perhaps it won't be so bad; there are checks and balances in our government; there are still good people fighting for civilization; perhaps we will somehow be brought together for the common good; or, who knows, perhaps there really is an Illuminati, à la Dan Brown, guiding everything, and this mockery of a leader is only the latest figurehead! But I'm not quite ready for optimism yet.

Today, I am embarrassed to be an American.
1. a person in a savage, primitive state; uncivilized person.
2. a person without culture, refinement, or education; philistine.


  1. I'm so sorry. It's as frightening as earlier in the year (and last year) was for us. The only thing I think we can do is be the people we want people to be, do small but meaningful acts of kindness, work together. We're still working that out here (I went to a rally early on but it didn't really achieve anything concrete). Don't be embarrassed by something you clearly weren't behind, though, please. Good luck in the coming months. I suspect we'll all be doing quite a lot of comfort reading.

  2. Thank you for that. I have to keep reminding myself that I am not the only one horrified by this. 'It's only four years' is my new mantra. I'll keep coming here for cheering up!

  3. I deleted all (more than 100) politically related accounts from my Twitter feed this morning - the ones that are left are about books, movies, music, art. It felt very cleansing to do this. Looking at that feed will now be relaxing instead of agitating.

    In general, I'm going to take advantage of my remote position in Queretaro, Mexico, by tuning out of the political "conversation", which is bound to be depressing for quite some time.

    I am also dedicating myself to remaining cheerful by concentrating on what I love - my pets, my books, and so on.

    I have been specifically using my Pinterest "General Interest" board as an antidote to negativity for a number of months now. For some reason, it amuses me very much to curate this board, and I have included a number of images of book jackets from Furrowed Middlebrow.

    I only had four beers last night, which I think was quite restrained under the circumstances.

  4. Thank you, Scott. I am quite depressed and even shocked. I guess I thought it couldn't really happen. BUT - vitriol, ignorance, and hatred did win out. I wouold like to say I hope THEY (to use one of Mrs. Thirkell's favorite words)I hope THEY are happy, but alas, all of us are screwed. Tom

  5. A funny old world we live in.
    Thank heavens for books to lose ourselves in.

  6. I do indeed share your fears. What a dreadful day, and what a dreadful man the President-Elect is. The referendum here, and your election, share similarities, chief amongst them being the aggressive language and themes of division that npw seem to be part of the polical lexicon.

    This too shall pass. As BO said, the sun will rise, and I will think about the many wonderful Americans I have met, the wonderful country that you have, and know that the country that gave us Harper Lee will not be destroyed by the orange one.
    Your writing is wonderful- why not seek office yourself in 2020

  7. Nothing surprises me any more. I was sad for my country in June, and I am sad for yours today.

  8. No, don't be embarrassed to be an American, Scott. (The 50% who didn't even bother voting need to be embarrassed.) It could be your role now to carry on and keep the faith.

    Not a political blog? I don't think it's political to be in a state of shock over such soul shattering events. It's human.

  9. Many who voted for Trump did not do so out of hatred, bigotry, fear or ignorance. We did so because we want smaller government and a Supreme Court that upholds the constitution. There were other candidates in the primaries I would have preferred but all I can do now is hope Trump will surpass everyone's expectations and do a really good job. What we really need is for people from both sides of the aisle to really listen to each other and try to find a way to work together for positive changes. I assume that most of us love our country and feel blessed to be Americans. We have many rights and privileges that many in this world lack. But if we want to remain a great country we need to stop the infighting and name calling and start working together. This begins with genuine listening to each other. We are on the same team, let's act like it. BTW, I am not a white male. I am a college educated, white female. I have had several black friends over the years and enjoyed the different perspective they've had. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to make friends with any other minorities but I would love the chance. I think there has been too much fear on all sides and not enough getting to know each other. Let's reach out to each other and find what we have in common instead of focusing on our differences. Knowledge helps dispel fear and love eliminates it!

    1. Since I don't choose to allow this to become a debate (it's my blog, not a public venue, and will therefore naturally reflect my own views), I will make only one response, with all due respect: Whatever your motivation for doing so, you cannot cast a vote against my basic civil rights and then cheerfully pretend that we're on the same team. We are definitively not.

  10. Hello Scott
    It was a horrible shock - I am Canadian and my friends and I were so saddened. As a woman its a double whammy. There is so much good about America but like all countries the bad is sometimes louder. Keep up the good fight. And your blog which I love. And you live in a blue state!

  11. Thank you for your heartfelt blog and all these comments (I am especially struck by the wise, good words from LyzzyBee about small acts of kindness). I am certain I have learned the most important lessons of my life through reading - and will go on doing so.

  12. Thank you for writing so eloquently about the pain of this recent travesty. The aggressive ignorance of my fellow "citizens" is heartbreaking.

    The coming years will be a true test of this American experiment. I only hope the media and Democrats put on their britches and do their jobs.

    You are not alone. (It happens that I am married to one of these know-nothings - he lied about his vote - and now my 35 year marriage is probably going to end.)

  13. Scott, I am so sorry I missed this when you posted it. I was probably hiding under the bedclothes. You know how I feel about what is happening in both our countries. Yes indeed, this too shall pass - but in what way?

    And what depresses me almost more than anything is how we learn nothing from our mistakes. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. We think we have managed to change how things work and then we slip back into the pit yet again.

    I have had enough of it. My family escaped from Nazi persecution and here we go again with different targets. People ask me why I collect dolls houses. I always say because the world of miniatures is a controllable world. It's never been more true for me; at 75 I am retreating completely into books and my controllable small worlds.

    But it's not your fault! Thinking of you both with love. Gilx


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