Critical Cynicism

An unconscionable sexual predator, reality television, orange, goonish, combover preacher-of-negativity and advocate of violence, who is imbued with a weird infantile desire of retaliation is somehow the U.S. President-elect with less than 2 million of the popular vote. He’s already packed his transition team with leaders of hate groups and stacking his cabinet with nightmare sycophants. Over the past week I’ve heard “it’ll be fine.” Sure it will, if you’re a white man completely devoid of empathy to any other person.napoleon-trump

There are plenty of reasonable people who voted for this disgusting, perplexingly-accented, man-baby. I know a few. They’re not all bad people, they have many reasons why they voted for an atrocious walking spray-tan who looks as though he smells like a mixture of expired Aqua Net and under-boob cheese. Demonizing his supporters is a pointless and short-sighted endeavor. Relentless marginalization and categorization, this treating the political process like a sport, is too limiting and robs us of conversation and progress.

The cancerous tumor on the American psyche that is the 24 hour news cycle has subconsciously primed people to treat politics like choosing a team. Except there’s only two teams. And what do fans of one team do to the other? Demonize them, excuse our own teams

By David Rowe
By David Rowe

failings and overlooking horrific actions by members of our team. It’s the only way I can see people justifying overt racist rhetoric to the point of  emboldening and even employing hate groups. In fact, I’d say that the dramatic increase in hate crimes over the last few days is akin to when a city riots after their team wins a championship. Not all Trump supporters are racist but all racists are Trump supporters.

The reason people voted for El Presidente Trump (which I hope is a moniker that’ll mess with his knee-jerk xenophobia) are not singular, they are multi-faceted and nuanced . Generalizing isn’t working. We are humanity. Deeply flawed, ultimately nihilistic organism that is humanity. We are all trying to figure out the best way for us and our families and friends to be okay, others be damned. Not even prosper, just not have to worry so much.

To that end, I would like to advocate critical cynicism. Some voters thought that Trump would be the one to uproot a flawed system. That’s cynicism, not critical cynicism. Obviously, those voters were right, the system is deeply flawed, as evidenced by the person who won the popular vote still somehow not winning. But critical cynicism would have lead a person to evaluate the risk/reward ratio. Certainly Clinton would have preserved the status quo which is heinous and flawed, but the alternative in this case was a gooey “strong man” whose word pasta hypnotized people desperate for hope and change beneficial to them.cynisism-clinton

Critical cynicism isn’t “critical thinking,” it’s starting at a point of distrust and forcing the person in power to dissuade you of that distrust, or at least convince you, with all the information at our disposal, that the alternative to this heinous decision, is this other, hideous, unspeakable consequence.

For example, in the wake of Trump, I keep hearing people try to normalize his platform of bigotry or to a lesser extent, “we are going to be okay,” and I want to share that optimism, but let’s be critically cynical. A climate-change denier is being considered as head of EPA, a Creationist  for Secretary of Education, an anti-Semite as co-chief-of-staff, Russian meddling in the election, emboldened racists, people who are heads of hate groups are acting as part of the transition team, one of the architects of the 2008 real estate crash is being considered as the Treasury Secretary, who all worked to undermine a completely qualified yet ultimately demonized candidate. Cormac McCarthy couldn’t have written something so bleak. It’s up to the incoming stormtroopers to intellectually dissuade me of that current truth.there-is-no-god-cormac-mccarthy

In order to foster and feed and nurture the righteousness of that critical cynicism, I need to maintain a policy of understanding and respectful conversation starting from a position of deep distrust.

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11 Comments

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  1. I want to take all the truly cool people I’ve met online over the years and run away to an island. You in?

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  2. We seem to be a long way from Reagan’s “Trust, but verify.”

    I’ve been more or less on silent mode, where I’ll stay for a couple months. I don’t want to give these guys another reason to kick me out.

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  3. I’m naturally critically cynical. I usually approach everything I’m told with a heapin’ helpin’ of distrust anyway. Some people find it annoying, especially when they actually have to look past the surface of whatever they’re trying to convince me.

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  4. Yep. I’m mostly still just sad, until someone says something like “Don’t worry/it’ll be ok/lets give him a chance/calm down” and I turn into a lady hulk and LOSE MY EVERLOVING MIND.

    DONT TELL ME TO CALM DOWN! He’s a marital rapist/sexual predator who insulted, threatened, and humiliated women every chance he got. Even if he didn’t enact even one of his horrible, horrible policies, it’s still a HUGE blow for women/minorities/immigrants and other marginalized populations. (And before anyone goes “white women voted for trump” – yes, I know. That’s the insidious nature of internalized misogyny in good ol ‘murica.)

    No normalizing of this guy. It’s clown fascism. Say no to clown fascism.

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  5. I don’t know what to add or comment on, PVP. You articulated it better than I could. Somehow, I take solace in the fact that millions of us are outraged and wanting to take a stance – or so it seems. There are organized peaceful movements going on. I don’t know – like you, I’m shocked, scared, and I’ve been physically ill. Moment by moment, breath by breath, we’ll find our way. We have no other choice.

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    • I wish I shared even your minimalistic optimism. The state has figured out how, ever since the civil rights movements, how to “deal with” protestors. Infiltrate, undermine, overtly squash with militaristic precision, spread false narrative, repeat. Look at the DAPL protests. All while white supremacists are being named to high level positions that will ensure they have a future as lobbyists and influencers for decades to come. Will we find our way, or will our way be carved for us like a maze of horrors on Halloween except the scary people actually get to touch you inappropriately? It keeps getting worse. Breath by breath, some other astoundingly awful thing is being established. It took me a week to write even a moderately reasonable look at the situation, but even after I posted it, he appointed a virulent anti-semite as his advisor. My worry has turned into full blown panic. I have a kid, a daughter. It’s not a matter of if she’s screwed but a matter of how much. Before she’s even able to understand it, she has been told that she’s no more than an object to be fondled by grotesque bullies who will then tell her she’s ugly after pawing at her then get elected to the highest job in the land. He and all the people he is appointing are monsters who eschew understanding and empathy for useless bluster and disdain. It’s bleak. The bigots are being more and more emboldened daily. How do we combat an ideology? After 15 years of war against an ideology, it’s proven that all that aggression does is splinter and further radicalize that fringe element. So what is there to do? Literally, I don’t know what to do against emboldened hate that starts at the presidential level.

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  6. abeerfortheshower November 15, 2016 — 11:05 am

    I, for one, am eagerly looking forward to Donald Trump’s plan to slingshot us all into the sun and “just get it over with.”

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  7. I read an article a few minutes ago about a woman who was in a restaurant (I think in New York). She bemoaned his win. A Trump supporter, a so-called man, pushed people aside to get to her and punch her in the face. The restaurant issued a statement that the man and his partner are no longer allowed to dine there–after the police get through with them. But nothing serious will happen to the puncher. Trump is supposed to be in court soon here in Florida to be held accountable for Trump University. Nothing will be done in court, though. Nothing is okay. Nothing is all right. All I can do is try to show love and kindness. That’s my way of making it okay because as a citizen of the United States I am now totally and completely without power.

    Love,
    Janie, who has serious election loss grief

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    • All I can hope is that the reasonable people who unreasonably voted for him see that this virulent misogynist and racist (not through words, but through deeds) isn’t the outsider they hoped for and join in the revolt when he reveals himself (as if he hasn’t already) as the snake oil salesman in a constant state of bankruptcy that he is.

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