On a crisp, clear autumn midnight I kneel in a clearing in Rock Creek Park and feel the eyes of nocturnal animals on me as I gaze upward, lift my arms heavenward, and solemnly intone:
“Under a waxing moon I hex thee, Donald John Trump. I curse thee with bad lawyers, unflattering headlines and ungrateful mobs. May thou be locked in a limousine filled with flatulence until thou canst not breathe and thy cries for help are unheeded. May thy golf balls be replaced by dragon eggs that hatch upon impact and answer thy boasting with fire. May thine incitements fall on deaf ears, and thy lies turn to acid in thy throat. May all the pussies thou hast ever grabbed return as piranhas that clean thee to the bone.”
I am only practicing. I am not sure I’ve gotten the hang of ritual cursing. Besides, I am still looking for nine black hen feathers. I blame gentrification. A proper city ought to have a shop offering a selection of suitable curses with the requisite accompaniments.
In truth, however, incantations are needed not to summon otherworldly spirits but to awaken our fellow citizens. As cases in point, let us examine two recent calamities, one natural and one man-made.
After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Elaine Duke at Homeland Security called the federal response “a good news story.” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz responded, “This is not a good news story. This is a ‘people are dying’ story.” Trump as usual responded by denigrating her, since everything has to be about him, and anything that contradicts his alternate reality must be false or malicious. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has family in Puerto Rico, shot back, “She has been working 24/7. You have been GOLFING. You’re going straight to hell. Fastest golf cart you ever took.”
Miranda is spot-on. His multiracial portrayal of America’s founders illuminated the shared national heritage that Trump and his base reject in favor of white dominance at any cost.
Some politicians responded to Trump’s destructive behavior with the greatest bane of clarity in our discourse: false equivalence. They talked as if both sides were “playing politics,” despite Trump’s uniquely revolting stream of insults, blame, and self-congratulation, and the contrast between the quick federal response to storm damage in Texas and Florida and the slow response to that in Puerto Rico. Trump deflected criticism by declaring it an attack on first responders. He insulted Puerto Ricans by saying, “They want everything to be done for them,” then displayed his humanitarian instincts by dedicating a golf trophy to hurricane victims.
We do not have a leader of all the people. We have a con artist who inflames, distracts, and divides us for the sake of power. We have a vindictive narcissist who demonizes protests by people of color, degrades women, and calls journalists enemies of the people while praising Nazis and consorting with our nation’s greatest adversary. Other than stealing a Supreme Court seat, all he has done is sow chaos at home and abroad while enriching himself. How ironic that he accepted the resignation of HHS Secretary Tom Price for lavish travel with public money. Purging lieutenants will not solve a problem that flows from the top.
We awoke October 2 to a soundtrack of automatic gunfire on cable news. Another record-setting massacre had occurred, this time in Las Vegas. The death toll as I write is 58. Even amid shock and grief, we know matters will only worsen. Gun sales will spike. Nevada’s gun laws are among the most lax in the country. In Alabama, Republican senate candidate Roy Moore waved a pistol. Congress is considering legislation to ease the purchase of silencers. Horrors like Vegas are used not to limit high-powered weapons but to militarize policing, which disproportionately targets people of color.
Trump used the Pulse Nightclub massacre to justify his travel ban. Unluckily for him, this time the shooter was a 64-year-old white man. So he called for unity. Do not be fooled: his lodestar is rule by division. We must unleash not merely our curses but our concerted political action and our votes.
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2017 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.