The New Freedoms

Attacking the free press, maligning minorities, banning religious groups and attempts to rescind healthcare for the poorest and sickest Americans. Just another week in what has become the frighteningly banal norm since January 20, 2017.

These seemingly systematic bids to quash the democratic values upon which this country was founded are at once confusing and terrifying. After all, multitudes throughout our relatively short history have actually died in order to obtain and subsequently defend them. And yet, the core Drumpf supporters (not to mention anyone in the GOP with a shred of power) are nevertheless, well, supporting him and, therefore, giving these once American-as-apple-pie values the proverbial finger. It stands to question: why?

Why would anyone be so eager to rescind his own freedom to speak freely? Why would anyone raised in this country applaud attacks on the free press? And it seems quite odd, given the number of times a typical American student is taught the story of the Mayflower, that so many are embracing a travel ban that is quite clearly a thinly veiled plot to keep out 1 religious minority, Muslims, often fleeing their own persecution.

Well, nobody does anything without a reason, a tit for a tat, a quid pro quo. And the quid we are getting for our quo is a generous host of new “freedoms,” ushered in through a combination of decades old fear mongering, ever increasing suspicion of the other and, of course, President Drumpf himself.

One such Trumpian freedom Americans now enjoy is total freedom from any obligation to be factually accurate. It’s no secret Drumpf has a tenuous relationship with the evidence-based statement, constantly throwing around obvious lies and hyperbolic terms such as “best” and “most” when they hardly apply. Who can forget the inauguration crowd tirade? Or the oft-mocked Conway “alternative facts” slip? The problem is, Ms. Conway wasn’t making a boo-boo; she was right. At this strange moment in history you are free to posit wild, easily disprovable claims with little to no recourse, provided you deliver them with a combination of unfaltering ego and inflammatory, hateful rage.

Another is freedom from compassion. The multiple iterations of the travel ban, the attacks on the transgender, Muslim and Hispanic communities, the unbelievably cruel budget proposal, the list goes on. These measures have 1 thing in common: a disturbing lack of compassion for humanity, proffering a potential legislative punch in the gut to the most marginalized members of society all in the effort to heap a hearty dose of tax cuts upon the very rich. The sense that we are all in this together, working toward a common goal, now feels quaint…tired. Like quilting circles or representative democracy. Instead, we are totally free, nay, encouraged, to lay judgment upon our brethren, especially those who have not sufficiently pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. And double freedom points for those willing to blame a fellow American’s situation, however dire, upon moral failing!

This brings us to the favorite new freedom: misogyny. That is, open and unapologetic misogyny. Let me be clear: misogyny is a tale as old as time. Song as old as rhyme. But in a time where we have experienced an ever-growing population of “stay at home dads,” not to mention the proliferation of “mannies,” open misogynists had been, prior to the Trumpian era, ostracized and dismissed as, sigh, so last year. Not any more: it’s open season on women. Sluts, whores, femtards, baby killers. You may now use these terms freely, openly, without penalty. Go ahead: try! See if anyone balks.

I bet they don’t. Not when the leader of the free world encourages it. Not when Congress is shoving their healthcare bill down our throats, which defunds Planned Parenthood out of what seems to be mere spite. Not when Drumpf continually refers to women as “pigs” for lacking his preferred physique, “bleeding” for calling him out on his bullshit, and “disgusting” for nursing their infant child.

It is the eve of Independence Day I am assaulted with a droning, incessant onslaught of explosive blasts. Fireworks, of course. Normally denizens of the magical realm of childhood, they are at present a deeply chilling chimera for those of us still clinging to a time when facts mattered, compassion was valued and the common hope was for equality among gender. Despite my feelings on the matter, I suspect the revelers I hear rejoicing in the distance are nothing less than ecstatic to celebrate that which Drumpf hath wrought. Let the new freedoms ring!

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