Note: This the fourth installment of The Toilet Zone, a commentary series on the Trump presidency.
“Your silence will not protect you.” ― Audre Lorde
We are approaching the first six months of the Trump presidency. While I write, during the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, Trump met for the first time with Russian President, Vladimir Putin. After a brief public press event, they convened for over two hours behind closed doors. It’s been reported that Trump opened the meeting by confronting Putin on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. As was to be expected, Putin denied it. Representatives for each leader who were in the room, told different stories describing the tenor and tone of the meeting. No surprise.
There are many issues facing the world, yet the leader of our country continues to distract, gaslight, bully, threaten, and deceive the American public; attack the free press, dismiss some of our allies, while aligning with the alt-right, special interests, and groups that may undermine democracy and the security of our country. His communication style is sending random tweets, featuring unproven accusations, threats, and paranoid musings, unvetted by his staff for veracity and messaging, and displaying a disregard for the people he was elected to lead and protect.
This is the environment we find ourselves living in again, long-range missile tests by North Korea and the potential of a nuclear war in the not-too-distant future, cyberattacks by Russia and other hackers threatening our elections, infrastructure, and privacy. Our nation and its people are being led by someone unsuited to protect and serve, who some believe is mentally ill and/or unstable, and in the very least unpredictable, insecure, and surrounded by advisers and cabinet members with hidden agendas for personal profit and power. In my opinion, Trump is constitutionally incapable of leading our country.
It’s both time to “duck and cover” and ironically — for those voters who continue to blindly support Trump’s agenda — it’s time to stop their version of “duck and cover” denial — and wake up!
Duck & Cover
First, a little history lesson. Growing up during the Cold War, under the threat of nuclear attack, Duck & Cover was a public service campaign to teach us how to survive such an attack. Looking back, it seems inconceivable that elementary school children needed to practice Civil Defense drills and duck and cover strategies.
As an elementary student in the mid-1950’s with a vivid imagination, I remember a firsthand experience. We had a “bomb scare” at school in Racine, Wisconsin. Someone had called in a bomb threat and the principal released all the students. I recall running home the ten blocks or so, looking up at the sky at airplanes, wondering which one might carry nuclear warheads. Oh my!
You see, in my seven-year-old mind, I mixed-up bomb scares, nuclear war, and the end of the world. Once I made it home, I immediately ducked under a chair until my mother, who was home with by baby sister Cindy, asked me why I was home so early and what was I doing. In between pleading with her to duck and cover, she was able to sort out what was going on and reassured me we were safe.
Before there were survivalists and preppers, 1950’s and 1960’s Americans were building fallout and bomb shelters to protect their families from nuclear blasts, stocking them with provisions, everything they would need to survive underground until it was safe enough to reemerge.
As my regular readers already know, I’m a cinephile, and I always enjoy connecting the dots between culture and films. A contemporary version of this story features a man compelled to build a storm shelter to protect his family, which was a secondary use of fallout shelters in the mid-plains and tornado alley. The film is Take Shelter. From Wikipedia: “Take Shelter is a 2011 American psychological thriller drama film written and directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father (Shannon) questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.”
In the end, we learned to live under the threat of a fallout cloud over our heads, to some degree by cloaking ourselves in a cocoon of denial and distraction. There were periods that would reawaken our fears and cut through our denial like the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, and the probability (later disproved) of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Today, it’s North Korea and Kim Jong-un, the messianic Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army, among other titles, who is committed to developing long-range ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads able to reach Alaska, Northwestern U.S, plus closer to their border, our allies in South Korea. It’s a new world in which we live, under a cloud of potential danger and destruction.
Your Silence Will Not Protect You
Today, the threats are real, and we must remain aware and vigilant. I don’t want to sound paranoid, or as an alarmist, like the lead character in Take Shelter who is preparing for the apocalypse. It’s incumbent that we investigate, address, shore up and protect our cybersecurity, infrastructure, and ensure that our leaders, especially the President, his military leaders, and cabinet, are prepared to react cautiously, timely, and appropriately in the best interests of the United States, and in our role as a leader of the free world.
A few words of caution and advice to some of the voters who elected and continue to support Trump. Warning: Clichés and platitudes follow: Question authority, make sure that our leaders words and actions match, that they walk the walk, and not simply talk the talk.
We must not blindly follow Trump, the Pied Piper of deception and distraction. We must continue to fully investigate Russian interference with our elections and other cybercriminal attacks, including alleged hacking of U.S. infrastructure as recently as June 28th at the Wolf Creek Nuclear Plant, by the group Grizzly Steppe.
This is not a time to metaphorically duck and cover. Our civil defense strategy needs to be more than fallout shelters, and less than arming ourselves with guns, prepping, and denial. We must question whether our President is capable of leading our country and protecting our interests at home and abroad.
We must remember this is a participatory government and we each have a duty as citizens to speak up, rise-up, and act to protect both our democracy and our lives.
Related Reading from The Toilet Zone commentary series: