Trump’s America — a more unkind, harsher place
Recently, SaltWire published a letter from a reader who decried the “Trump-bashing” perceived in the paper’s editorial content.
By means of a response, I will not criticize the American president, but as a resident of the ruby-red State of Oklahoma, I would like to address how life has directly changed since his election and subsequent inauguration.
As well as being a former resident of St. John’s, I have transitioned from male to female over a period of several (sometimes arduous) years. During those years I’d get a few glances askance from strangers, or uncomfortable tittering, with scattered (if sometimes indelicately-phrased) questions from curious neighbours. And if someone didn’t approve of what they saw, it was relatively rare for them to verbalize it in front of me.
Shortly following the election, the local culture underwent an obsequious change; men in denim overalls would hurl profanityladen threats while women with their silver hair tucked into a flame-red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap would bark ugly slurs, injected with biblical references neither seemed to fully comprehend. Even school-aged kids, standing around outside the library, began to feel emboldened enough to shout epitaphs at a stranger they’d never seen before.
What for several years would be a relatively scarce encounter has become an almost-daily reality for me, in the span of a couple of weeks.
That’s been a very real, entirely palpable change within the civility of my neighbours. Instead of tacit tolerance for what might have been exotic and strange to them at first, with the hope of an eventual mutual understanding of one another, I’m experiencing a far more vulgar, overstated-yet-silent, feeling: the dehumanizing sense of incompatibility with this kind of society.
And I can’t help but wonder, was it always thus? Or has this downwind gust of hatred been coiled perpetually below the surface, even of President Barack Obama’s “Liberal America,” waiting to strike at a moment’s notice? For these same words that express unadulterated hostility also breed distrust (even to the point of paranoia) in kind.
The writer punctuated the letter to which I’d initially alluded with the phrase, “Too bad!” Yes it is, indeed, “too bad!” when a nation as influential as the United States allows itself to become a “bully-state,” where anger, distrust, and wilful ignorance are proudly worn as badges of honour in the civil war on basic human compassion.
I don’t know that the election of this ill-experienced leader is the direct cause. All I know is that each morning, when that glorious golden globe from the firmament sends forth its first rays of sunshine of the day, it glows upon all of us equally, and since the middle of November, I’ve been increasingly thankful for each and every day that I live to see it.
Since the middle of November, my neighbours seem to have forgotten a simple detail that my beloved mother taught me from the day I began to speak: words matter.
If we use them irresponsibly, or recklessly, the consequences are far-reaching. I am but one person (amongst millions) breathing different air in Trump’s America than we did before. Whether or not that’s fresh air depends on whether or not you can un-ironically look at Trump’s dispassionate face scowling up from any magazine and say, “We’re winning!”
Trump’s abuse has seasoned the vernacular of almost everything that’s said around these parts, in some way or another. Even I catch myself saying, “That’s really, really great, so amazing...” not for the want of a more erudite vocabulary, but because it “sounds right,” even if superfluous. But because we tend to repeat what we hear. Words matter!