Time to get a little personal today, because I am not made of stone. I have spent every day since July 6th in a perpetual state of anxiety over the fate of the world. I have been getting what the great Hunter S Thompson referred to as "the fear." It started on the 6th when I watched the video of Alton Sterling's killing at the hands of the Baton Rouge police. Two years ago after watching Tamir Rice get killed by the Cleveland police I resolved never to watch one of those videos again, because the images from Rice's death have been haunting my idle thoughts ever since. In Alton Sterling's case I suddenly felt some kind of duty to bear witness, and it was much more horrifying than I could have imagined. I soon learned of Philando Castile's murder, which was just as horrifying. I spent a good half hour that day sobbing in front of my computer, feeling helpless. Every day since has been full of some kind of horror.
Having the summer off, I am stewing in the misery. I am on Twitter all day, and if an hour goes by when I am not, I wonder what new horror awaits me. On Thursday I checked in on the news before leaving for an evening session at the gym. Once I got there the slaughter in Nice was plastered all over the televisions. That night I finally cracked a bit. The recent events were already building on things that had been shaking me, from the mass murder in Orlando to Brexit to the continuing prospect of a Trump presidency. I am fairly skeptical about the power of prayer; I tend to think that the unseen force that animates the universe cares little or not at all for the fate of humanity. (If it did it would have a lot to answer for.) But Thursday night I walked out of the gym slathered in sweat, walked across a baking parking lot, got into my car, and fervently prayed. In that moment I again felt completely helpless.
Of course, things only got worse. That night the president's televised roundtable on police violence was terribly framed, and only served to make everyone mad at him and to confirm them in their opinions. I knew watching it that nothing was going to change. The next day the attempted coup in Turkey led to hundreds of dead and the possibility of an authoritarian crackdown by Erdogan. Today after an hour away from Twitter I learned of the murder of three police officers in Baton Rouge.
It is not just that horror seems to pile on top of horror, it is that there is no end in sight. Every terror attack gives more and more power to the forces of bigotry. In Europe and America the reactionaries are using the violence for their own ends, just as much as the radicals are. The likes of Le Pen, Fortyn, Gingrich, Boris Johnson, and Trump exult in the blood of the innocents, calling for eradication, deportation, and "law and order." All the while restricting access to firearms is off of America's political table, making more mass shootings an inevitability. The murder of police officers is making attempts to hold police accountable even more difficult. That will mean more killings by edgy police, and then probably more killings in return. Even if Trump loses, the politics in this country are so divided that nothing will change for better. Nothing. Things will only get worse. Trump has introduced white supremacist nationalism into the American mainstream, and as whites get more resentful in a nation that's less white, their anger will only get more powerful. Calls to deport or strip basic rights from Muslims have also been normalized by Trump. And if Trump wins...well, my mind cannot bear to contemplate such a catastrophe.
American politics will only get more uglier and more violent. Europe will only get more xenophobic. Erdogan will only get more authoritarian. Russia and China will only get more nationalistic. The mass shootings will only get bigger and more common. The center will not hold. Time for a beer.