2020. You have been positively toxic. You brought us a pandemic, one of the most tumultuous elections of my lifetime, and you seem convinced to complicate both of those issues as we move into the final month of your existence. We seem to be well on our way to peaking during a second or third wave of COVID deaths, and Trump seems to be trying to find new ways to throw Democracy in the trash as punishment for his defeat. The short version, this year hasn’t been an easy one for anyone.
This sets the back drop of the reason for starting this blog. Because of the pandemic, we’re all trying to adjust and reacclimate to some sort of new norm. Some of us are adapting in order to find creative outlets, and others are trying to add revenue streams in order to ride all of these pandemic waves we have been assaulted with. However, one thing is universally true, this pandemic has made this year feel like one of the longest on record. This has brought about one of the more troubling trends that seems to get drowned out in the all the other noise that makes up 2020. What is that trend you ask? I am talking about toxic positivity.
The pandemic is a political and a medical issue, and it is tangentially related to this discussion, but for the moment I want to talk about the 2020 election, or more specifically, the immediate aftermath. Any reasonable person knows that Biden won the election, and that no amount of frivolous lawsuits/recounts/bloviating will be able to reverse that reality. Then there is the “silent majority” who seem to brush off all evidence of Trump’s defeat as a part of some diabolical conspiracy concocted by the Left and the Liberal Media to overturn the will of the people. Another thing reasonable people understand is that life doesn’t fit comfortably into binaries. With that being said, there is another trend starting to gain traction and it’s this inauspicious desire for us to forget the last four years (especially the last year) in an effort to come together and heal the nation. While the motives of such actors are probably pure, the very idea seems pernicious to me.
I say pernicious because to unite and heal would be to forgive and forget a lot of what has happened over the last four years. If you are a member of the left, more specifically the progressive left, the last four years have been one of the most intense and sustained episodes of gaslighting one can endure. There has been an increase in instances of violence in the name of white supremacy, there has been a massive push to delegitimize the media while at the same time legitimizing actual Nazis. The lies, the racism, the misogyny, the perpetual power grab all lead to an environment that this time, there is no forgive and forget.
Cops murdered people of color and then attacked protesters fighting against that systemic racism and protesters were universally condemned as violent. There was no effort to understand the issue, contextualize the riots, or actually come to the truth about the riots (as in not all the crimes were committed by protestors). The right has treated vigilantes murdering protestors as heroes. Brandishing a weapon, irresponsibly, in an aggressive and racist manor now gets you a spot on the RNC convention stage. Those who continued to wear their silly hats and fly their silly flags in the wake of all this destabilizing behavior were, correctly, linked with the worst tendencies of society. What was the response to all of this? They labelled the left as fascists, socialists, communists, and the real racists. I’ve been called anti-American for being a liberal, and I’ve been called a terrorist for getting gassed while doing the superhuman feat of sitting on a bus bench holding a sign in the middle of a protest.
The final transgression we’re being asked to ignore, or forget, is the infantile response the right has had toward the pandemic. More lies and disinformation has been spread only to result in more death, more sickness, and deepened economic strain. This has all been painted as just another conspiracy cooked by the Left to infringe on the rights of Americans. Rights, of course, that are not very well understood by those making these claims. These people have been more than willing to ignore the best practices designed, supported, and implemented by medical officials in favor of a poor man’s crusade to protect rights that were never in danger of being violated. And like The Crusades of medieval times, it has cost us lives. As I write this, the United States has lost around 270,000 people, and by the end of the year it’s expected we will surpass the 300,000 mark which is about 5x greater than the deaths we can typically expect during a particularly ruthless flu year.
So with all of this that has been laid out today, and so much more that would take more real estate that can feasibly covered in a single blog post, we are expected to forgive and forget the transgressions heaped upon this country and its people. We are being asked to act like it never happened, which to me is a continuation of the gaslighting we have been forced to endure for the last 5 years (I’m including the campaign leading up to the 2016 election). It is this that I find most detrimental to the path forward, because acting like it never happened is how we got to the point where we allowed it to happen all over again. If that’s what you were expecting when you read the Harmony part of this title, I want to let you know now that you will be disappointed with this author. There isn’t an idea I abhor greater than the idea that this is all just a difference of opinion. The very idea of that is positively toxic.
Thanks for sticking this one out.