I’ve been pondering what seems like the recent ‘normalization’ of such things as anti-Semitism, Naziism, racism, political corruption, disrespect, and lies. At first, there is horror, then as it bombards the news, disgust that morphs to mild disgust that ultimately ends up with “meh”. It is human nature that the more we are inundated with something, the more commonplace it starts to become, until eventually we have accepted it without really thinking about it.
In May, a school shooting took the lives of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, and the nation was in shock. Stunned. The same month, a shooting in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, took the lives of ten people. More shock. Both of these events were headline news … for a while … and then they faded … and now, they are largely forgotten, replaced by other dramas and traumas, of which there are plenty to choose from.
Trump’s dinner with two anti-Semites and Hitler apologists, Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, aroused anger and horror, but after days of reporting on it, it seems to be losing its fervor. Says Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “In an early time you would call a serious person with aspirations for highest office, meeting with a Nazi, disqualifying. Now it is simply ill-advised. That’s a sign of where we are.”
When the Access Hollywood video of Donald Trump talking about how it is okay to physically attack women if you’re famous, because “they let you”, there was horror and outrage, but after it was heard and discussed for days, by the time election day rolled around it had become a joke, just “locker room talk”, they said. We moved past it, and thus it was not the horrendous thing that it really was, but rather became something of an acceptable ‘norm’.
Two years ago, most of us were up in arms over the voter restrictions that were being put into place willy nilly by the states, restrictive laws that would disenfranchise millions of Black voters, college voters, single-mom voters, and poor voters. When was the last time you heard anything much about voting rights? We became inured, accepted that we didn’t have the power to change the new laws, shrugged our shoulders and went on about our business.
Last week, Marge Greene, a U.S. Representative from Georgia, speaking of the insurrection and attempted coup on January 6th 2021 said, “And I will tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mention, it would’ve been armed.” I, and many others, undoubtedly even some Republicans, were stunned by that remark. She is saying that she would have seen more violence, more devastation, and a bloody coup, would have silenced the voices of We the People, and she’s … proud of that??? It is an affront to the people of this country, the people who pay her $174,000 per year. We should be calling for her immediate expulsion from Congress, but have you heard of such a call? How long until her remarks fade into the background and become just another ill-conceived remark by a politician?
There was a time when all of the above things and more would have been the political death of the person involved, but today we express outrage for a day or two, maybe even a week, then move on to the next abomination, for there is always another looming right around the corner. By the time the next election rolls around, we don’t even remember the horrid things they did, so we send them right back to Congress again … and again. We have become inured to it, for one can only remain outraged for so long and over so many things. Our senses are bombarded and pretty soon things that might have led us to write to our members of Congress and demand something be done, now only cause us to roll our eyes and “move along now, nothing to see here.”
Is it, then, any wonder that the word “gaslighting” is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2022? The word, defined as “The act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage,” or “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories…” experienced a 1,740% increase in lookups in 2022 alone. We the People, the common, ordinary, average Joes that keep this nation running, are being manipulated for the purpose of expanding the power and wealth of a few. Was this what he had in mind when the former guy said he would “make America great again”?