Sitting Political Shiva

I started following the Israeli newspaper Haaretz’s Twitter feed during their last general election. As you may recall, the polls were wrong about that one too. An interesting link popped up on their feed:

I posted the tweet because Haaretz recently went behind a paywall with no free stories and Chrome’s incognito feature did not work. Oy, just oy.

I’m an agnostic who was raised Greek-Orthodox but most of my mother’s bridge playing and real estate cronies were Jewish, so I learned about sitting shiva as a child.  I remember going with her to Mrs. Rosenberg’s house when her husband died.  Mrs. Rosenberg was the Holocaust survivor I’ve written about before.  I didn’t even complain about going because Mrs. R and I had a mutual admiration society. She remains one of my heroes. She was also as funny as hell. I’m convinced that I learned the essence of black comedy from her. It’s the Shoah survivor’s ethos: nothing will ever be as bad as what they went through, in her case at Treblinka.

Just in case some of you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a definition of shiva:

Shiva is the week long period of mourning following a loved one’s death. During this time, family members traditionally gather in one home to receive visitors. The word “shiva” means seven, signifying the seven day mourning period in which mourners are supposed to sit low to the ground.

When I saw the headline, I realized that I had metaphorically sat shiva all day Wednesday. For many of us, Hillary Clinton’s loss felt like a death in the family. If it doesn’t to you, please have some respect for those of us who are mourning. We’re sitting political shiva.

I spent the day trading messages with friends on social media and via text. One close friend works at an oil company and had to deal with triumphant Trumpers. He described the people of color at his firm as looking like they expected deportation or worse at any moment. I cannot blame them. Some of Dr. A’s med students came to her in tears yesterday. That gives me hope for the future of the medical profession.

I checked in with two dear friends in the afternoon. One of whom’s four-year old daughter was upset because the mean man beat the nice lady. It’s a pity that so many so-called grown ups couldn’t see what a child can and elected a goniff. That’s Yiddish for a thief, dishonest person, or scoundrel. That fits the Insult Comedian to a T.

After undergoing First Draft therapy by writing The Fearful Country and sitting virtual political shiva, Dr. A and I attended a Krewe meeting. Most of my Krewe mates looked as if they had slept precious little. I certainly did. Some of us had planned to suggest alternative election related themes but the Krewe wanted to develop a previously discussed theme. And that’s okay. The desire to move on from a trauma is understandable. The non-Krewe business conversation was about the election and how upset everyone was. The d word came up in the conversation: Devastated. The evening was a combination of sitting shiva and an Irish wake.

I sat next to my Spank protege who prefers to call me her Spank daddy. She converted to Judaism when she married. We talked about our mutual horror at how many forms of bigotry had been normalized by the Insult Comedian and his deplorable followers. The previously unspoken has been spoken. Loudly. Anti-Semitism has never left us but it’s back in its most virulent form since the 1940’s. An example of that is this:

That’s right, Kristallnacht took place on November 9-10 in 1938. America just elected a candidate who ran an anti-Semitic campaign. David Duke is celebrating with an exuberant, Heil, Trump. Yet another reason we’re sitting political shiva.

The mood on social media yesterday ranged from solemn to vengeful. The Trumpers were attacking perfect strangers for their supposed imperfections. One friend received hate messages from people who objected to a white chick being married to a black guy. This was deeply upsetting to me as they’re one of the sweetest couples I know. We’re also sitting shiva for the death of civility.

I had to deal with some vestigial Dudebros who wanted to say I told you so. I invited them to a “block party” but have no idea why they decided to crawl out of the woodwork. Actually, I do: everything has been normalized by the electoral college victory of the Insult Comedian. Btw, he’s attacked the electoral college in the past, now he loves it. Typical.

I think that the time for what ifs is down the road. I am skeptical that Sanders would have done better but I’m not certain about that. I do know that the stench of anti-Semitism was all over this election and a septuagenarian Jewish socialist would have felt it as well as incessant red baiting. Shorter Adrastos, I don’t know for sure and neither does anybody else. I am, however, not attacking individuals I disagree with on the internet. It’s called keyboard courage. Instead, I’m sitting political shiva.

My theory of what happened is a simple one. After a bruising primary campaign, Hillary Clinton had a great convention, won the debates, took a solid, steady lead and then came the first Comey letter. It depressed Democratic turnout and she lost the electoral vote but won the popular vote. The election was decided by James Comey, Rudy Giuliani, and the MSM’s sporadic attention to Trump’s scandals with an assist from Wikileaks, Russian intelligence, and the alt-right. Trump’s electoral vote victory has mainstreamed the latter. That’s another reason we’re sitting political shiva.

The Trumpers are already acting vengeful towards their enemies. The cartoon villain’s cartoon lackey, Omarosa, is openly discussing an enemies list. That’s right, a person who’s best known as a hiss-provoking reality show villain will have influence in the next administration. I wonder who will be Propaganda Minister: Bannon or Conway?

The awfulness of this election will endure for the next four years. Tolerance, mutual respect, and common decency were dealt a terrible, but not fatal, blow in 2016. Many of us are still reeling and that’s why we’re sitting political shiva. We need to grieve before we can move on.

The aftermath of this horrendous year and dreadful election result reminds me of what some New Orleanians did on Inauguration Day in 2005. We held a Jazz Funeral for Democracy to mourn Bush’s second term complete with brass bands and a horse-drawn bier. We did not know that disaster would come our way in a mere seven months. Here are two of Dr. A’s pictures of that march through downtown New Orleans:

17542083463_89731019e2

17539881704_f0a0986a64

I hadn’t seen that Flickr photo album for years. The second picture made me smile. The gent in the top hat and tails is-not Fred Astaire-my old friend Bob Smith. He’s more likely to be seen in a kilt now but I know he’s grieving over what happened this week. We all mourn the passing of someone/something special in our own way: from jazz funerals to demonstrations to wakes to sitting shiva. Me, I’m sitting political shiva this week.

Back to the Jazz Funeral for Democracy. 2016 is one of the worst years in our nation’s history but so was 2005. Remember, we elected Barack Obama four years after Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry. We as a people should not have to go through this but we do. And that is why this gentile is sitting political shiva.

6 thoughts on “Sitting Political Shiva

  1. mmferry1965 says:

    “I do know that the stench of anti-Semitism was all over this election and a septuagenarian Jewish socialist would have felt it as well as incessant red baiting.”

    Agree with you on that. Am not sure exactly what else they would’ve done, but you can bet it would’ve been ugly.

    And I’m also thinking, and this is … troubling … but am thinking that, it might have been lesser-of-evils for us, but not for a sizable bloc of Trump voters. They voted for him, not against HRC. They would’ve voted for him against Sanders as well. They LIKE what Trump represents.

    Goddamn.

    Like

    • Peter Adrastos Athas says:

      It wasn’t a lesser of two evils vote for me at all. Not even close to that.

      Like

      • MichaelF says:

        But it was definitely a lesser-of-evils vote for lots of people, and the media narrative really pushed that angle when they weren’t moralizing about the email nothingburger.

        I think the various non-scandals/Clinton Rules put a lot of people in the less-enthusiastic category. Several fairly close friends were surprisingly ambivalent about HRC, and at least one was sure there had to be something to all the scandal-mongering besides the decades-long quest by the wingnuts to drag her down. Others reason I got for “ok, ok, guess I’ll settle for her” included support for Sanders, distrust of her corporate ties (but again, one wanted Biden, apparently without knowing he’s just as close if not closer to the big banks)…oh, and of course that Trump is a disaster.

        I thought Michael Moore was being shrill when he warned us…and of course I discounted the “missing white voters” who turned out to be there after all…guess they finally found someone they liked enough to put forth the effort. Which again, is troubling: They want Trump…

        Like

  2. Lex says:

    More than half of everybody who makes $50k or less voted for Clinton. More than half of everybody who makes more voted Trump. Sanders could have done nothing about that, and this election was never about “economic anxiety.”

    Or, Neal Gabler writing at BillMoyers.com:

    * * *

    This generally has been called the “hate election” because everyone professed to hate both candidates. It turned out to be the hate election because, and let’s not mince words, of the hatefulness of the electorate. In the years to come, we will brace for the violence, the anger, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the nativism, the white sense of grievance that will undoubtedly be unleashed now that we have destroyed the values that have bound us.

    We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.

    If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.

    * * *

    I said months ago that people were supporting Trump because he hates whom they hate. In the cold, clear light of day, I think I got it right. That and four bucks will get you a cup of bad coffee. Now comes the hard part.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Peter Adrastos Athas says:

    Thanks for sharing the Gabler piece. I’m a big fan of his books.

    Like

  4. iceblue2 says:

    We all like to think everyone is as informed about the political process, about what the candidates stand for, about every utterance, as we are. They aren’t. They aren’t engaged. They barely vote. They have been hearing about Clinton for years. They hear tidbits on the radio ads. They see the TV ads bashing her while they are watching their favorite escape TV show. They hear Trump in Clinton ads and identify with him when he says most of what he says. Clinton served them up over and over. So, unless they were attached to cable news and something other than FOX, they didn’t see anything but Trump and hear about her emails and how corrupt she was. It didn’t matter how trivial the whole thing was. They hear CLASSIFIED and to them it’s a mortal sin. Way worse than anything Trump ‘said’. Trump didn’t kill 4 people in Benghazi. That’s it. So they voted for him. Somewhat simplistic, but people not engaged, who don’t breathe politics, they were OK with all that Trump said. They didn’t consider policy and the implications of an actual presidency because none of that was forced in their face.
    Now we live with that.
    The question should have been how do we get to the uninformed, busy with their lives voters. They should have focused more on policy. No one even had any idea what his policies would be other than building a wall. Guess they will find out now.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: