Ah the New Year TM the time of the year to give thanks for the things in our lives and to look forward to the New Year. Wait, is that right? No, that’s Thanksgiving. Yeah, Thanksgiving is the day we give thanks for stuff. New Years is for making promises to ourselves that we never fulfill and binge drinking till we puke and look for someone to kiss. Screw it. I’m sticking to the theme. So let me just say, that the thing I’m most thankful for in 2015 is Donald J. Trump.
Yes, Donald Trump. That Donald Trump. Now you know that feeling of rage and disgust you’re feeling right now, that’s why I’m thankful for him. I’m thankful for that racist, homophobic, sexist, classist man. I love that he induces so much rage, disgust, vilification, and outrage. I’m glad he gets all that media coverage, I’m glad so many people are publicly following him. The fact that he is getting actual endorsements from neo-Nazis is a thing of beauty to me.
Why am I thankful that someone so terrible is getting all this attention? Easy, because it’s an opportunity to see what real terribleness looks like.
Somewhere along the line, we forgot what this stuff actually looked like, and that’s terrible because we started attacking the wrong people. Thanks to our actually marginalizing the sexists, the racists, and the homophobic to the fringes of our culture, only to lash out at them when they decide to poke their heads up, we started to develop cases of friendly fire that are pretty damn terrible. How many times have you seen some clueless but well-meaning white guy say something that sounds kind of offensive, but was merely dated or out of touch, just to see them torn to shreds in the media and by blood thirsty activists? Far too often right? Here’s my thing, I’m a trans woman so I’m pretty familiar with sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and all the damage it causes, but I’m a white trans woman. This means that I am in no way intimately familiar with all the issues people of color have to face on a daily basis. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I probably have one or two prejudiced or insensitive opinions bouncing around in my head.
“Oh my god, did she just admit to being a racist,” you’re sitting there thinking. And you would be dead fucking wrong.
I am not racist. I fully support civil rights, I agree with Black Lives Matter (trademark pending), I agree that racial minorities are marginalized, victims of disproportionate violence, suffer unfair criminal sentencing, are victims of economic disadvantage, on and on. I have no problem with having a minority authority figure be my boss, a cop, or a President of the United States play a role in my life. I find minority people attractive based on the standards of attraction that I already have in place for people of my own race. I would stand in a protest to an event of clear racism to show my support, and I have ended a friendship because despite all my protestations, that person would not stop being a bigot. I am not racist.
Yet, because I might use an older phrase to describe something, or be unfamiliar with an issue, or god forbid, enjoy the product of a minorities culture, I can be called a racist. I’m not a racist, I’m more than likely just a clueless but well-meaning putz. You see, I understand this because I’m both privileged in being white, but also have a stake in a minority community. This means that I have been subjected to a lot of stupid people in my life. Sometimes even about my gender identity. God knows how many times I’ve had a conversation with someone that sets my teeth to grinding like a drunk college girl on dollar margarita night; just standing there with that polite smile you have on your face when you’re trying to run those Mormons off your doorstep without breaking the hose, as I blink out more code for “fuck this person with broken glass”, while they say some absolutely ignorant shit about transgender people to me. Then I pop back with a barely contained snide question such as, “So you’ve never met a woman without a uterus,” or “How many women do you know hardly ever wear a skirt?”
Right in that moment as I claim victory and dance over their rhetorical corpse, so many people instead of blubbering and storming off go, “Gee, I never thought about it like that. Huh, I guess you’re right. I’m sorry I was being a douche.” I hate to say it, but that always feels like you just got denied a sexual climax and a sneeze right at the same time rolled together. But it’s worth it. It’s so worth it to have that moment where you were about to go into a bliss filled hate the bigot rage and realize that you actually just changed their mind because they weren’t actually a Klan hood wearing bigot, just a clueless idiot. As a white person, someone who used to live as a man, and was upper-middle class, I’ve been that clueless idiot so many times.
That’s why I’m thankful for Donald Trump. Because now this guy who is irredeemably a bigot and relishes it like some fat, sweaty, suspenders wearing and cigar chomping redneck, is dragging his ilk out of the woodwork. Now we can clearly see all these bigoted people running around spouting some truly vile things, and advocating policies that are one pair of jackboots away from a mid-century German political party, and know what the hell an actual bigot looks like. Far too long we have kept them locked up in dark corners of the internet and allowed them to whisper in secret at parties and barbeques. Now they are out and walking amongst us sane folk.
Maybe now, instead of turning on that teacher who was a little absentminded about what the class lesson might be interpreted as, we can think about the other way she was thinking of it. Perhaps we won’t demand people be fired for saying something that was a little tacky but ultimately resolvable by a teaching moment. If we’re lucky, all the Social Jacobin Warriors will turn their anger on him and his ilk that those of us who are willing to have an intelligent conversation can talk and reason with people who aren’t actually hateful people, but just a little out of touch and make this a better world. Maybe now, we won’t ruin people’s lives over a poorly chosen word, or a lack of social decorum.
Ah, who am I kidding? We’re gonna turn on these poor saps like poor Simon blundering into the fire circle as the mob whips themselves into a frenzy in an attempt to defeat the Lord of the Flies.