By now, unfortunately, a 'tween girl at El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago's little exercise in apartheid cosplay has been hauled into the national spotlight because she happened to be standing behind him when the lizard-brained chant of "send her back" erupted in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar, a sitting member of the United States Congress. Because of the wizardry of modern video technology, television had zoomed right in on her as she slowly picks up the chant with no apparent enthusiasm. She then became little more than an object lesson. I wish her well. I hope she grows up to be Dorothy Day. I hope she grows up to be Exene Cervenka, if that's what she wants. I hope she grows up happy and at peace with the world. I hope she grows up in a country where incitement-to-riot isn't a net-plus in presidential elections. I hope, but it's getting harder by the hour.
This was a racist speech down to its last dipthong. This was a fascist rally down to its bones. You don't have to be even a casual student of history to recognize that, because, somewhere deep in all of us, is this same angry political Id, this fear and distrust of the other tribe just over the misty mountains. In April, in a cave in the Phillippines, researchers discovered evidence of a new species of ancient hominid, Homo luzonensis. For years now, scientists have discovered that the evolution of human beings was not as straightforward a line as had been thought. There were other species of the genus Homo that never made it this far, either because they were bred out of their distinct existence, or because they were crowded out by a more dominant species.
Whatever ferocious genetic and biological imperatives made Homo sapiens survive long enough to invent frozen yogurt and produce Donald Trump are still there in all of us. We recognize this fact, even if only subliminally. The best of us regard it with a healthy fear as something to be controlled. The worst of us act on it, and other people end up dead. And some of us tease it out of people and do so for their own power and profit, and don't care if they can control the results as long as they get theirs. Poets and novelists have made it their meat for centuries now.
In 1818, Mary Shelley published her Frankenstein Or, The Modern Prometheus. By the end, both man and monster are destroyed. Victor Frankenstein laments:
The form of the monster on whom I had bestowed existence was for ever before my eyes, and I raved incessantly concerning him.
But his creation has the right of it, and understands humanity better than does the man who brought him to life again.
I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.
The president* has a predator's gift for bringing out the native self-destruction in people for his own profit. What he has done in the last three years has been his masterwork in this regard. He doesn't plague himself with doubt about what he's creating around him. He is proud of his monster. He glories in its anger and its destruction and, while he cannot imagine its love, he believes with all his heart in its rage. He is Frankenstein without conscience.
All of that is going to be on vivid display over the next 18 months or so, just as it was on vivid display Wednesday night in North Carolina. The details are already so well-known as to beggar repeating, but what existed in that hall exists all around us now. As a nation, in our politics, we are both Frankenstein and Creature as one, and the president* seems to be the only one who grasps this basic fact, grasps it well enough to use as both sword and shield. I hope that young girl comes one day to realize fully what happened around her on Wednesday night, and to learn from it and to grow away from it. I hope, but it gets harder by the hour.
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