Let’s Face It, People Suck
I remember as a kid occasionally trespassing onto the guarded properties of the discussions of weight. In conversation, I was a wanderer, and I had a pretty good idea about what sorts of subjects should be off-limits and what should not. What I mean by that is, staying between the lines in mannerly conversation was rather intuitive. The one subject that I had to learn about was weight. Men would discuss weight…depending, but women generally did not want to divulge. Ok, fair enough. Don’t ask your mom, or Aunt Betty, or Mrs. Miller how many pounds she was packin’. That’s a no-no. Noted.
What tended to throw me was, let’s say, by the time I was in junior high. My friends became more kids of both (cisgender) genders, and less just a pack of cub scouts. So, conversations evolved within the new social arrangement. And within those groups where a girl might just as easily be my best friend as a boy, the subject or weight remained fixed. Girls tended not to discuss a number where boys were mostly indifferent. I can recall many conversations over what seemed at the time to be many years, where I said, I am looking at you. I can see you. If you tell me the number, you’re not going to change one way or another. I don’t recall that argument ever once being effective. Looking at the evidence, and hearing an empirical assessment of that evidence were worlds apart. Never the twain shall meet.
Over the years, and now over at least several decades, I have had the occasion, and even the obligation to ask all manner of personal questions. I am naturally curious about people, so I have logged lots of useless information, just as a preoccupation. In all of that time, and through all of those trials, the only thing as slippery as the subject of weight is racism. Racism is like a person standing next to you, going face first into a cake, with no hands or utensils, making noises of pleasure and delight, but never giving you the number in their head. Dude, I can see you eating that cake, you’re not even trying to hide your intense desire for it. What difference does it make if you claim your actual weight?
None. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference as long as cake and being fat are legal, and they are. Being a racist is just like that.
When I was becoming a Marine, I remember being concerned that the “brainwashing” that was rumored would change me. I went in expecting that I’d go to war soon, and I did not mind that. What I did not want to recognize myself within my own mind because of some programming. The change was different from what I expected. Change happens. It happens fairly quickly…but you do still recognize yourself. The important part is, my inner voice is still the same. I felt the same way about family, Christmas, puppies, hometown…whatever. Barely drank then, rarely drink now. Never got a tattoo. Same dude.
My concern when I joined the LAPD was similar, but a little different. It was a little more grounded than than the spooky ‘brainwashing’ thing. Most who discussed the career with me talked about becoming jaded to humanity by seeing the underside of it on a daily and nightly basis. Another very close, yet slightly different concern was about burnout. One is related to the other. Among the people discussing burnout and becoming jaded were the LAPD psychiatrists themselves. They explained in mandatory meetings that this sort of thing was a real possibility without careful self care.
In 5 and a half years in the USMC, and 5 years on the LAPD, I can safely say that I never became jaded. I can officiate at a scene where there are dead bodies, but I avoid films where there is gratuitous violence. I have the same disgust for inhumane treatment now as I did when I walked out of a movie theater in high school where my friends and I went to see “Humanoids from the Deep.” I never developed a thirst for or indifference to violence.
For me, the real loss of innocence came in my 50s. I came through what I thought might be a challenging 10 years completely unscathed. The last 4 years, however, represent the greatest loss of innocence for me than any previous period in my lifetime. The shock of seeing Donald Trump elected was somewhat stunning. I have almost lost the ability to describe it because the world of decency has deteriorated so much since then, and that occurred in a different context of innocence and expectation. Who hasn’t known that politicians are soulless and mendacious, but what I have seen, from so many, in the last 4 years would make Satan blush. (You can’t hide, Lindsay Graham). There really are too many to name, and they are not all Republicans…although they vastly outperform Democrats in fully foul fuckery.
So, when we entertain the question of is Donald Trump a racist? Yeah, almost certainly. And while that’s not a good thing, that is probably one of his better, least harmful qualities. Are his supporters racist? Probably. Probably not. Yes, and no. Most of all, it hardly matters. This society is full of racists, and morons, and all sorts of other creepy shit that never gave me nightmares in my 20s. I once found a head and a pair of feet in a dumpster in an alley behind Santa Monica Blvd, and it bothers me much more that our government is taking children away from people at the Southern border. DHS is making women have hysterectomies. Trump is talking to crowds about “good genes”, and our people versus those people. We sped way past racism. We are at the Nuremberg Rally rest stop. Trump laughed his way through an impeachment and is doing the same collusion with Russia as we speak.
Once upon a time, I would have told you that this was not possible.