“... know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.” -- Mike "Renfield" Pence
It is a little known fact that the Judge of History is either drunk or sleeping one off most of the time. Because of all the gods conjured by the imagination of humans, he has one of the easiest gig of all.
As catastrophes unfold or despotism spreads, the Judge of History does absolutely nothing but lie back and dine on the prayers of the suffering and the hopes of the oppressed that one day in the far future the Judge of History will decide that enough time has passed and enough of the principals have died.
Then, once the coast is clear, the Judge of History will sober up, take up his mighty Quill of History, crack open his mighty Book of History, and render his Final Judgment.
Those catastrophes? Yep, they were pretty damned catastrophic.
And that despotism? Yep, it was pretty damned despotic.
After all, if the descendants of the authors of the catastrophes are still around and are still powerful...or if the despotism has become normalized and systemic...it might be best to get drunk again for a generation or two or three. Y'know, just until the coast is clear. Then, maybe, the Judge of History will get back to the Quill and the Book and his Final Judgment.
This Yelp review of the Judge of History was occasioned this week by two stories stories of Remembering Stuff. On you could see marching towards you on the calendar, and the other that came out of nowhere. The first, was the 20th anniversary of the unprovoked and illegal invasion of Iraq, and the second was the story of a man named Ben Barnes decided, after 43 years, to come clean about his part in the plot to sabotage the re-election campaign of Jimmy Carter.
So this week we have two cases where the actions of responsible men and women failed in real-time and all we had left to us was to wait and hope for the Judgment of History.
And you know what? The Judgment of History is mostly bullshit. The sabotage of the Carter campaign happened two generations ago. Reagan is dead. John Connolly is dead. Carter is in hospice and 43 years out of power. The damage is done. And after 20 years, we're still waiting for any of architects of and cheerleaders of the Iraq War to pay any price for what they have done.
And the lesson we should be learning in this moment – right now – is that appeals to the judgment of history about Trump and the GOP are such bullshit.
Because, yeah, 20 years or 40 years from now, on their deathbed, Tucker Carlson or Laura Ingraham or Kevin McCarthy or Kellyanne Conway may tell all, but so what? By that time the damage will not only have been done, but the the chain reactions from that damage will have already been woven into the fabric of whatever's left of our culture.
This is what the moral monsters on the Right understand. That once you have a sufficiently large, armed, rage-drunk mob of bigots and imbeciles on you saide, you can quite worrying about the judgment of history -- which in nothing but the feeble, third cousin twice removed of conscience anyway. Once they have real power in the real world, they can get away with anything, reap the rewards of their crimes, duck the consequences, and go smirking to their graves unscathed by the evil that they have done.
I feel seen on this one, because I invoke the history books frequently. Your post reminds me that I probably shouldn't. Victors write the history books, and the damage of:
((social inertia X time) X institutionalized awfulness)
... effortlessly outweighs any harsh words in a history book. Most Americans, even a large percentage of conservative Americans, would quickly agree that racism is bad, but we as a society remain enormously unwilling to unwind systemic racism from our institutions and culture, let alone try to repair the damage and resolve the inequities arising from it. And many (most?) of those conservative Americans are all too willing to try and move the goalposts on what racism is rather than admit they're guilty of it.
(In fairness, some conservatives do still revel in their racism. Generally, I think that's less common than it used to be.)
However, perhaps a bit immodestly, I'll say this does tie back into a sentiment I send you both quite often:
What you do FUCKING MATTERS. And thank you for doing it.
And one of the reasons why what you do matters is that the gatekeepers, the refs, the umpires, the venerated American institution that enjoys specific and unique Constitutional protection to do its fucking job, the American media, remains not just asleep at the wheel but tacitly on the side of the Republican party. The people who are supposed to call out saboteurs to the American federal republic are instead, essentially, handing out crowbars and sledgehammers, and cheering as the buildings fall.
Sorry if I'm doomy-doom-doom today. Thanks for all you do.
In future Florida history books, they'll report that a bunch of leftists cleverly disguised as Trump supporters attacked the government on January 6 to make Nancy Pelosi President, but were thwarted by armed patriots led by Ron DeSantis and George Santos.
"... and the other that came out of nowhere."
By that I presume you mean when compared to the inexorability of an anniversary. Because some of us knew at about 1 p.m. Jan. 20, 1981, that that deal was made, and I presume you did too. For 16-year-old me, it was the first instance of looking around at our six- and seven-figure Beltway media and thinking "So, you guys aren't gonna ..."
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