Busy, tired, sad, and fearful. And you?

sadbigeye

Why were these ever popular?

UPDATED AGAIN, 1/15/16, 5:05 P.M. MST

AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN, see below.

How are you?  To be honest, I’m not good.  2016 look like it’s ending as it began for me.  It’s grief and fear, full stop.  (At least last winter when I was grieving the deaths of friends, I wasn’t fearful of the future, just really sad they’d no longer be with us to enjoy it.)  I keep bursting into tears randomly through the day.  What a schmuck I am!

My undergraduate students last week wrote me sweet emails wishing that I felt better after I bawled in class right in front of them.  I asked them to look out for members of our community who may be feeling vulnerable.  I was lecturing about women and the American revolution, and ended on a slide quoting the Declaration of Sentiments (“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal. . . “), which ordinarily I would read out loud to let the class hear clearly that ringing Jeffersonian language, but instead last Wednesday I just dissolved into tears.  My students told me they liked my honesty–as though it were a strategy!  As though I had any self-control.

I’m busy and tired too, so here’s an interesting roundup of opinions from (mostly) smart people.  Caveat:  too many white ppl. in these commentaries.  I’ll revise and expand as I find commentaries like this that expand the pool.  Also, please note that in this roundup it’s only women (except for David Frum!  Go figure!) who talk about gender or misogyny and their influence on the results last week:

  • How Historians of Tomorrow Will Interpret the Human Stain’s Election (watch out for Lynn Hunt’s stemwinder.  She is pi$$ed!)
  • We Are Witnessing the Politics of Humiliation–American women reflect on the election.  (Spoiler alert:  in this round-up, Maya Jasanoff says what I said last February in my post on women and political leadership in the longue durée.)
  • David Frum, “Let’s have a fresh start. . . “
  • UPDATE:  Marie Henein, “Thank you, Hillary.  Now women know retreat is not an option,” from the Toronto Globe & Mail.  Sent to me by a friend over the border–
  • ANOTHER UPDATE, 11/14/16 12:43 P.M. MST:  Kurt Eichenwald:  “A certain kind of liberal makes me sick. These people traffic in false equivalencies, always pretending that both nominees are the same, justifying their apathy and not voting or preening about their narcissistic purity as they cast their ballot for a person they know cannot win. I have no problem with anyone who voted for Trump, because they wanted a Trump presidency. I have an enormous problem with anyone who voted for Trump or Stein or Johnson—or who didn’t vote at all—and who now expresses horror about the outcome of this election.  If you don’t like the consequences of your own actions, shut the hell up.”
  • MORE:  Jamelle Bouie, one of my favorite political reporters, at Slate:  “There is No Such Thing as a Good Trump Voter.”  Especially this part, white people:  “To face [the fact of the Human Stain’s nakedly racist rhetoric and policy positions] and then demand empathy for the people who made them a reality—who backed racist demagoguery, whatever their reasons—is to declare Trump’s victims less worthy of attention than his enablers. To insist Trump’s backers are good people is to treat their inner lives with more weight than the actual lives on the line under a Trump administration. At best, it’s myopic and solipsistic. At worst, it’s morally grotesque.
  • I’m going to paraphrase Margaret Atwood here and say this:  Trump voters are afraid Clinton voters might criticize their language or their Halloween costumes; Clinton voters are afraid that Trump voters will hurt or kill them.

Continue reading

Sad.

David Remnick, “An American Tragedy:”

Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate but a resilient, intelligent, and competent leader, who never overcame her image among millions of voters as untrustworthy and entitled. Some of this was the result of her ingrown instinct for suspicion, developed over the years after one bogus “scandal” after another. And yet, somehow, no matter how long and committed her earnest public service, she was less trusted than Trump, a flim-flam man who cheated his customers, investors, and contractors; a hollow man whose countless statements and behavior reflect a human being of dismal qualities—greedy, mendacious, and bigoted. His level of egotism is rarely exhibited outside of a clinical environment.

For eight years, the country has lived with Barack Obama as its President. Too often, we tried to diminish the racism and resentment that bubbled under the cyber-surface. But the information loop had been shattered. On Facebook, articles in the traditional, fact-based press look the same as articles from the conspiratorial alt-right media. Spokesmen for the unspeakable now have access to huge audiences. This was the cauldron, with so much misogynistic language, that helped to demean and destroy Clinton. The alt-right press was the purveyor of constant lies, propaganda, and conspiracy theories that Trump used as the oxygen of his campaign. Steve Bannon, a pivotal figure at Breitbart, was his propagandist and campaign manager.

It is all a dismal picture. Late last night, as the results were coming in from the last states, a friend called me full of sadness, full of anxiety about conflict, about war. Why not leave the country? But despair is no answer. To combat authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals—that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do.

Please look out for one another.  As wise people who counsel children in the wake of trauma say, “look for the helpers.”  Be a helper.

Sunday door-knocking in Greeley: a report from the ground on election 2016

Just do it!

Just do it!

This Tuesday, I’m taking a break from my Teaser Tuesday feature to urge you first to GET OUT AND VOTE if you haven’t already!  VAMOS A VOTAR, mi amigas y amigos.

OK then:  now for my report from the ground in my no-longer-so-swingy swing state.  I spent all day Sunday knocking on at least 80 doors in a few different neighborhoods in Greeley and Evans, Colorado.  It took me pretty much all day, from about 9:45 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon.  My pedometer estimated that I covered 9.3 miles.  I observed a number of things that might be of interest to you, my dear readers. Continue reading

American biography in the age of the Human Stain

Yale University Press. 2016

Yale University Press. 2016

As you while away the hours today waiting to vote tomorrow, and/or obsessively clicking on political news stories and the latest, last polls–click on over to my refreshing, totally non-political chat with Sara Damiano at the Junto about The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright.  Sara asked what I’d like people to take away from my book about a woman I say has been “doomed to obscurity:” Continue reading

Trust, gender queerness, and Hillary Clinton

annetaintorpantsElizabeth Kolbert asks, “How can Americans trust Donald Trump?”  After all, as she notes, “As has been amply documented, Trump’s relationship to the truth is on par with his relationships with women—opportunistic and abusive. Daniel Dale, a Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star, who since mid-September has been publishing a more or less daily tally of Trump’s false claims, recently called the Republican candidate’s campaign rhetoric a veritable ‘avalanche of wrongness.'”  He lies constantly, unabashedly, and aggressively.

This, as Kolbert goes on to note, is precisely why people see him as more honest than Hillary Clinton:  he lies with gusto and conviction, which makes his lies feel true to people:

One way to understand the up-is-down logic of this election is as an expression of what might be called American sentimentalism. What moves the electorate is not true facts but true feelings.

Donald Trump is the kind of jerk who authentically, genuinely, unabashedly inhabits his own jerkiness. The indifference to reality he’s displayed on the campaign trail is the same indifference he displayed as a businessman, a husband, a boss, and a taxpayer. His narcissism, petulance, and whatever other character flaw you care to choose aren’t under wraps; they’re on view for all to see and hear. In this sense, he truly is the real thing.

By way of contrast, Kolbert argues, Clinton’s emotional control and public presentation of herself feels inauthentic because it’s so polished.  “Clinton, meanwhile, is constantly role-playing. On the campaign trail, she displays an interest in people that, one can only assume, she doesn’t always feel. In her speeches, she invokes lofty ideals, when doubtless she’s often motivated by expedience. The high-minded, Presidential persona she’s committed to is constraining in many ways.”  In other words, she behaves like we expect most adults with any modicum of authority to behave. Continue reading

Teaser Tuesday: What was it like to visit the Château Saint-Louis?

Samuel de Champlain presides over the Upper City of Quebec and the Chateau Frontenac

Samuel de Champlain presides over Cap Diamant and the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City

In today’s Teaser Tuesday, in which I present a snippet from my new book The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright and share a little information from behind the scenes, we follow Mali/Esther as she crosses the border into the city of Québec in the autumn of 1708.  She was probably in the company of one of the mission priests who had worked with Wabanaki people for nearly thirty years, Jacques Bigot.  When she arrived, she was installed at the home of the elderly Governor of New France, Philippe de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil. With his significantly younger Acadian-born wife, Louise-Élisabeth de Joybert, Marquise de Vaudreuil, he spent most of the 1690s and 1700s filling up their châteaux in Montreal and then in Québec with their eleven children, so Mali would have been in the company of a number of children close to her in age.

With her move to Québec, Mali moved into a highly status-conscious world dominated by French- and Canadian-born nobles.  Why would a New England-born Wabanaki twelve year-old be taken into the home of the governor of New France?  Read on and enjoy this excerpt from chapter 3 and a little smidge from chapter 4: Continue reading

“An Election All About Sex & Gender.” Who ever would have predicted this?

What a surprise!

Who among us ever would have forseen this?  I’m not mocking Rebecca Traister; I truly appreciate her analysis this year and am glad she’s finally getting the teevee time she and her–well, our–ideas deserve.  Men’s marital infidelity and sexual adventurism, even sexual abuse, is fundamentally knitted into the spoils successful male pols in our republican (small-r) system have claimed since the U.S. began.

It is totally blowing our collective mind to imagine how a woman could inhabit the most important political role in our system, and our brains are being wrung of all kinds of socio-sexual anxieties around the prospect of Hillary Clinton as the next U.S. president.  She doesn’t just represent change because she has a woman’s body.  Her presidency would force us to reckon (in good and ugly ways alike) about how political power works here and what we think winning pols are entitled to.   Continue reading