I have seen a lot of people be cruel on social media. I’ve seen some remarkably cruel Biden supporters and some remarkably cruel Bernie supporters. Because the majority of journalists are anti-Bernie, they pick up more bile from Bernie supporters than Biden supporters, creating the illusion that the phenomenon is one-sided.
The reply from Sanders supporters is that this whole discourse removes the focus from the cruelties of America to online jousting. Indeed, we argue, so much of our opposition’s campaign tends to focus on image rather than substance. The idea that America was “normal” before Trump, and we have to return to that normality, substitutes spectacle for reality.
Seeing the horror
I have spent days thinking about it, and I still don’t know what to say to make you stop gazing at the spectacle. To make you hear the screams of the trapped and dying. What is there to do but to keep stating what is happening?
I want you to engage in mental exercise. Clear your mind and try to process these things fully, without minimising the horror. Relate to them as you would news of something terrible happening to a friend.
Today Nate Woods was executed for the death of three cops. Someone else had confessed to killing all three of them. It took him almost thirty minutes to die.
There are approximately 70,000 children in immigration detention right now. Do you remember when you were most scared as a child? Can you magnify that by 70,000 times? They were in cages under Obama too.
45,000 people die a year due to lack of health insurance. Can you imagine being so sick and so frightened?
Half a million Americans will go bankrupt each year due to medical expenses. Do you remember the time you were most financially stressed? Multiply it by a time when you were also fearful for your health, then multiply it by 500,000.
Kalief Browder was driven to suicide by a system that new it had no case against him but refused to let him go, keeping him in jail for three years. Bloomberg, now dear to many liberals was in charge of New York at the time.
Up to million dead as a result of the Iraq war. How many widows and orphans? All under a president who since been canonised as “normal”- as an honorary member of the “resistance”.
Regarding the statistics. It’s so hard to make anyone feel anything about numbers. But you can do it if you choose to. We can all remember agonies we have suffered, and we can all imagine, at least abstractly, what it would mean for those agonies to extend infinitely. From the point of view of our imaginations, 70,000 might as well be infinite.
Or perhaps the problem is a lack of imputed agency. We tend to think of things done by vast corporations and governments as just “happening” as not being (im)moral acts in the way choices by individual humans are. There are accountable people, although it is unlikely they will ever be held to account.
A friend once told me about a certain historian who, when discussing an incident which led to the brutal torture of thousands, advised that it might be somewhat easier to grasp the scale if you imagined one person being tortured tens of thousands of times, rather than tens of thousands of people being tortured.
These things would all continue if Trump left office and replaced by some moderate. Many of these problems might continue even if we elected the best possible president, but at least then the fightback would have begun.
The correct response to these facts is compassion, rage and grief. These are crimes that cry to heaven for vengeance. The correct response to these facts is to prepare for revolution. That is why we are yelling. There is no excuse for some of what has been said, but there is a reason. Please join us, vote with us, and fight with us.