I’m a writer (er, obviously, are you new here?) and with everything going on, with the Capitol Siege and Stupid Coup and all of it, I want to give voice to it, I want to write about it, to make sense of it, but I have no sense of it. I have no meaningful words. I have a lot of anger. And it’s frustrating, being a writer, being someone who would very much like to articulate all of this into something cogent, something clarifying, something with a little context to it, but I don’t really have it. It’s elusive — or perhaps sense and sensibility are cowering in the shadow of anger and anxiety over what this country is experiencing right now.
So, instead of approaching with some bring-together point, or some manner of thesis, I’m just going to put words down in an order. I do not know if these words will be useful to you, or even to me. I can barely promise they’ll even make sense.
I think this country has been injured.
It has been bled and hobbled. And it’s not just the Capitol siege, full of its gaggle of militant dipshits and troll-faced traitors. That’s an injury, too, a sucking chest wound in our democracy that is currently being covered over with a wad of Band-Aids, not even with their adhesive strips exposed — no, it’s just a gummy, inelegant wad of them shoved into the hole as triage. It’s been the death-by-a-thousand-cuts against truth and fact and expertise. It didn’t start now, it didn’t even start under Trump. It was the GOP under Obama, and it was the GOP under Bush, too, and arguably under Reagan and on and on, backward through time, and it’s this ceaseless assault on collective reality. I was going to say it’s an attack on our agreed-upon reality, but even there — “agreed-upon” shouldn’t even be a thing you have to say. We shouldn’t have to agree about facts. Agreement didn’t used to be necessary. Sky’s blue, water’s wet. Now, you can find a reality to suit your desires — as if the world is a simulation, and all we have to do is dial up our preferred Truth, we just need to ask it to tell us what we want to hear. We call upon Alexa and say, Alexa, please tell me that Obama was Kenyan, and there are WMDs in Iraq, and Trump is a masculine genius God-King who will rout all the Satanic Pedophiles hanging out at Tom Hanks’ house. Siri, please confirm for me that vaccines are bad, that the coronavirus isn’t real, that Jesus was a capitalist with a machine gun. Google, show me the UFOs, the healing comet, the flat earth.
And where does that come from? I don’t know. I really don’t. It comes out of bigotry, in part, I’d guess — white supremacy protecting itself in the only way it can, which is by building for itself a temple of lies in which to dwell. (It can’t be built on truth, because if you believe white people are somehow supreme, boy howdy do I have some white people to prove you wrong.) Obama was a smart guy, an intellectual, but he was also a Radical Black Islamic Socialist, wasn’t he, so shit, I can’t believe him going on and on about these quote-unquote BOOKS he’s read, about these quote-unquote VACCINES that don’t cause autism, about these quote-unquote HUMAN RIGHTS that he must’ve just made up. And that bigotry also comes from the people who want to use it, who aren’t True Believers in the bigoted sense, they just know they can point a finger away from themselves. They blame THE CARAVAN or CHINA or BLACK LIVES MATTER or TRANSGENDER BATHROOM ATHLETES while they pick your pocket and stick you with pins, bleeding you and saying, “Oops, wasn’t me, wasn’t me, it was THEM over there.”
Problem is, that’s a dangerous gambit, isn’t it? The GOP started a forest fire, thinking, well, hey, lookit that. Got us a nice fire here. We can warm ourselves by it, we can use it for light, and it’ll rage on and burn down the houses of all our foes. Ha ha, burn, fire, burn. Then they realize the fire has turned toward them, roaring up on their houses, on their families. Because you don’t control a forest fire. You don’t leash a tornado, can’t ride chaos like a horse. And they learned that lesson on Wednesday — cowering with their Congressional cohorts while a mob of terrorists came looking for them with zip-ties and nooses. Because at the end of the day, they didn’t save Trump, and that meant they were not “patriots,” and had to go. Of course, they didn’t learn the lesson for long. Hell, that night, some of them were back at it. Hawley’s smug horse face, looking at the camera instead of the Congresspeople he just spent hours huddled with — going on about electoral integrity, spreading that lie around mighty thick. Cruz, too, digging in his heels. Mo Brooks, Jim Jordan, all of them. Some of them, like Lindsey Graham, said they were off the Trump Train, but sure enough, they bought a new ticket and are back on board. Graham was traveling with Trump just today, wasn’t he? Best buddies.
Then they go on and instead of acknowledging any of it, they cast blame away. They point fingers. They deflect, duck, dodge. They don’t talk about COVID deaths or the people who died in the riot. They just piss and moan about lost Twitter followers, about how it’s not nice to impeach Mister You’re Special And He Loves You President. How dare you be divisive, and try to hold someone accountable for their actions? This, from the party of personal responsibility. (Also, from the pro-life party, from the party of state’s rights, from the Christian party — all while demonstrating a love of death, a dismissal of state’s rights, and vices that would make Jesus Christ himself wanna throw fists.) They say, you impeach Trump, you’re just being divisive. You’ll cause more violence, tut-tut, tsk-tsk. It’s a threat. It’s an abuser trick. Oh, I know I hit you, but don’t tell anyone, or I’ll hit you harder next time. They talk of wanting unity and healing? Go fuck yourselves.
You don’t unify with people who tried to tear you apart.
You don’t build new bridges to the people that burned the first bridges.
You can’t heal when people keep ripping out the damn stitches.
They first have to stop doing the harm. Then they have to own the harm they caused. There must be accountability. That comes from apologizing, from saying, well, shit, that really got away from us — ha ha, oops, our fucking bad, by the way, Joe Biden is president and we lied for political gain and accidentally unleashed a violent insurrection on ourselves. It’s leadership they need, someone to step in and say, we’re going to return to the party of personal responsibility, and not rely on victims to do our redemption for us. Because that’s not how any of this works.
But they’re not going to do that. They’ve proven that. They’re still out there caping for a man who would gladly shove them into a woodchipper if it earned him a moment’s entertainment. They, with him, incited this. They unleashed this. They gave these people, their deplorables, a wagon train of lies leading to some fake-ass promised land — a chosen people for a chosen reality going to a utopia of guns and white people and personal liberty and American exceptionalism. So, I dunno. I dunno what we do. Hold them accountable where we can. Demand that no one work with them, that if they do, they’re done. Close the door any any cultists in our lives. Gotta say no more of this. But I really don’t know. I’m not sure what happens next. As long as they keep offering up their choice of realities, as long as they refuse fact and truth, they’re going to continue to embolden these people. They’re stirred by the lie, driven by inequities that they think are their burden instead of the reality, which is that they’re the ones who are more equal than equal. This isn’t economic anxiety. This is bigotry and madness. And the Republicans still think they can steer that forest fire. They can’t. They’ll learn that the hard way — as if last Wednesday wasn’t enough. Worse will come and they’ll try to skirt blame then, too. Because that’s who they are. Craven, soft-spined lickspittles in service to their God-King, a man who has been like this since the beginning, since 2016, since 2015, since the 90s, since the 80s, always a vapid, lying narcissist whose only love is the spray-tanned naugahyde fuckhead in the mirror. He’s a tumor drawing bloodflow to himself, and they think they can siphon a little for themselves, but they can’t. He’ll eat them up, too. Because he’s a cancer. And that cancer is very advanced, now. BTW, it’s not like we didn’t fucking tell you. Anybody with a spit-depth understanding of history and twelve brain cells to bounce together looked at that guy and said, “Yeah, he’s cancer.” But you all kept on chewing asbestos thinking it was cheese crackers.
(Not YOU all, you all. I know you’re not the ones.)
Jesus. I mean, I didn’t know that when I was writing Wanderers, I was putting this out there. I know I’m not a prognosticator — it’s never the point of science-fiction, to tell the future, but just the same, a white supremacist militia coup of the government driven by a narcissist and using a pandemic as cover, welp. Welp, welp, welp. WELP.
I’m just sort of angry? John Scalzi noted that though this was different from 9/11, it’s also very 9/11 in how it feels, and… yeah. It does. That was an injury, too. Feels like that’s one more sucking chest wound that got us here, somehow. I’m angry and worried and feel helpless to watch what’s to come next week. I’m hoping it isn’t much. That it’s like the Twitter protest that just happened, which is to say, nobody showed up. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. But the threats are big, and it’s just as likely that Wednesday was only a trial run.
I’m really not sure what happens now. I hope it’s okay. But I don’t think it is. I think they opened the door to something — opened it wide in 2016, widest in 2020, but it had been slowly drifting open for a long while before that — and now the horror behind that door is out. Snakes out of a bag. Gonna be hard to get them back into it, maybe. Stay safe, everybody.Love to you for reading. Be good. Be vigilant, I guess. Care about each other best as you know how.
If you need some more (and better) reading than what I put here:
24 responses to “I Want To Say Something, But I Don’t Know What”
Thanks for being such a voice for sanity, Mr. Wendig. I really appreciate it. You make me laugh. You make me cry. You help draw the poison out of the air.
Thanks, Chuck. You are 100% right-on, and a prognosticator of the finest order–and in great company. Thomas Pynchon wrote (in Gravity’s Rainbow) “…a chaos of peeves, whims, hallucinations and all-round assholery.” That sure says orange trump turd to me. Another prognosticator, Mark Twain, said about the same “…it can be proven…that the only native, American criminal class is congress.”
So we Vote. Write letters. Listen to the more reasonable of these so-called “victimized folks”–there certainly are plenty of disenfranchised, impoverished Americans among them. To me, the venal congress persons that supported the Clown-in-Chief are worse. At least the mob BELIEVED the lie they were fighting for. And Boycott the evil companies that support these elected cowards–and let your friends and family know about them so they can vote with their wallets too. And In the words of a great Starship commander: “Never give up, never surrender.”
Ten years or so ago, I dipped my toe into the Intertubes. I chose a character’s name from Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here as my screen persona. In some places, I still use it.
I had no idea at the time I was prescient. (At least the nym I use here managed to live through a LOT of shit, and survived.) I’m in my 60s now, and I’ve experienced a lot of shit also (including bullets whizzing above my head) but I don’t remember being as deeply and existentially frightened as now.
Thank you for Indi’s Medium piece. He’s correct. “You’ve opened up a Pandora’s box of instability. All kinds of demons come out.”
I hope we can survive the continuing onslaught of demons.
Take care, Chuck, and everyone.
I agree with everything you said and the link you supplied was correct. This was a coup and it isn’t over. I just keep asking myself what they thick they’re going to have once things descend into chaos. Nobody seems to be paying attention to history. Putin is laughing his ass off about how easy it was to tip our country over.
Thank you for articulating my thoughts so well.
At least when 9/11 happened we had a President for a President and not a … whatever that was.
Oh, you mean the guy who used a brazen attack on our country as a springboard for launching two unnecessary wars?
You’re talking about THAT guy?
Well, he was definitely a real… he was real, all right.
thank you for writing this. I always welcome your thoughts and am feeling right there with you….how will we ever get out of this….
Thank you Chuck. Even though you didn’t know what to say, you said it perfectly.
Here’s to better days!
In the immortal words of John the Baptist, “You bunch of snakes! Who warned you to run from the coming judgement? Do something to show that you have really given up your sins.”
In the less immortal but nonetheless true words of Shane Claiborne, “It goes in this order… Truth comes before repentance. (And repentance comes with reparations and accountability.) Repentance comes before reconciliation. Reconciliation comes before unity.”
From the outside watching it remotely, not being a US citizen it still hurt, in some ways it hurt even more than 9/11 because this was Americans doing this to each other. For as Long as I can remember America was the land of hope. It was the country I wanted to go to when I was a kid ( and I did at the age of 13 ) and it is the country where at least half of my friends still either live or come from. It’s been a storm that has been brewing for a really long time, maybe since from the time the country began, and now it’s finally reached tipping point. I couldn’t watch to be honest. For the first time I could not stay up glued to news feeds and watch it was too painful and it made me too angry.
In this current age of enlightened hatred it feels as though there are two halves warring with each other, the side that’s maturing, growing up and understanding that things change-for the better- and the side that’s so firmly stuck in the this is how it should always be and I can’t cope with change so I am gonna burn the house down. Adults or at least maturing teenagers vs screaming tantrum throwing toddlers and spoiled kids who don’t know how to move past the it’s all about me stage and if you are not like me then you are the enemy.
I just want to slap them and send them to their rooms ( this is totally the wrong approach I blame my upbringing for this and it’s why I don’t have kids) instead I sit and wait and hope against hope that maturity wins out over hatred and bigotry. Sometimes it feels like too much frigging effort and I’ve cut a dear friend out of my life because they have turned into a raving conspiracy nut job which has broken my heart. I’d say something to them but they’d not even remotely understand they are so entrenched in the rabbit hole of conspiracy. So I walk away.
I hope the wrong rights itself a bit, that things get better, they will actually because eventually they always do but we seem to have to go through hell to get there. There’s lots of good out there, Chuck, so hold on to that with all your might. It’s what will keep you, and us afloat.
!00% correct! You provide a powerful and productive service on the best of days with your words and your site, and here you are helping us through the worst of days as well. Sharing yourself, your fears and frustrations, is a brave and courageous thing on those best days; here and now they are all the more important and appreciated. Thanks for helping to label our feelings and putting them into context. It’s nice to know there are sane people out there who can help guide the ship that carries all of us (even the crazies, and there are many of them I would gladly offer a one way trip to the sun where they can finally see the light). You make a real difference. Sincerely, -Alex
It just makes me sad that my own parents are trump supporters. They act just like he does. They’re so deep in the cult they don’t listen to reason. I don’t know how they got this bad. Their attempts to bully and gaslight me get me down.
So sorry to hear this. My brother is the same way.
I’m dialing in from Australia, Chuck, and I think the answer to your question, “We shouldn’t have to agree about facts. Agreement didn’t used to be necessary … Where does it come from?”, I would say the answer is:A; It comes from ignoring the crucial binding nature of free universal education. Education helps human minds contextualise information, prioritise stuff that seems to make sense over stuff that doesn’t. And it also B: not winning the debate over religion. When religious faith is allowed to stand beside science as equal and alternative, you get nonsense competing equally with sense. We built a fabulous state education system in Australia. It was defined by law as secular, which meant religious dogma was banned and unconstitutional. It’s been chipped away and now we have a growing menace of anti-vaxer nonsense and G-6 radio-wave bird-killing, cancer spreading threats. Like your QAnon followers, people who believe this rubbish don’t have the education or skills to weigh up evidence and opinion and decide that one seems to fit the facts better than the other. Pooring money into education is crucial for democracy, especially now that the professional newspaper industry is dying.
I didn’t know how to articulate what I wanted to say. This is it. Complete with the feeling of feeling so angry and so lost that I’m just not sure how it all goes together or where we go from here. Thank you.
Hello from India. The newspaper I read condemned the riots, but also seemingly praised the allies who abandoned Trump, and I thought, wow, that’d never have happened over here, loyalty is bought with money in Indian politics. What a prompt response, I thought.
I did not know that they were back with him again. Just goes to prove that governments, politicians, all of them, all over the world are crooked.
Even though the date was virtually circled on USA’s calendar by Trump raging on Twitter, the police seemed to be unprepared. The next date that’s circled is Jan 20, and I hope this Coup Klux Klan doesn’t repeat itself then.
Take care, everyone.
I love your writing, even when you’re in shock – which is what you currently sound like. Here in the UK, I was shocked by what happened; I can’t begin to imagine what it feels like for you guys. After seeing the footage of the Capitol building being stormed and hearing what some Trump followers were saying I understood for the first time how come Hitler got such a grip on power and the German population. Your blog and Indi’s piece just added to the feeling that we’re seeing the rise of a dictator right in front of us.
Sigh. Wiping tear away that is brimming in lower lid. Thank you. Please keep writing to/for us.
You said it all. Perfectly. Thank you SO much.
Thanks for saying what I’ve been wanting to shout out… Only thing I know to do is talk and pray to GOD. We’re in trouble..
Thanks for sharing. I have been processing this through James Fowler’s “Stages of Faith.” People tell themselves stories in order to make sense of their world – this is the story that helps me.
[…] Speaking of the dumb coup attempt, but also not to rehash it, Chuck Wendig wrote a piece (which seems to align quite well with how I’ve felt about the whole thing) in his blog post: “I Want To Say Something, But I Don’t Know What.” […]