I Write Letters

image of a cracked U.S. flag

Dear Republican Members of Congress:

I read in this Slate article that many, or even most, of you don't like Donald Trump. That you understand he is dangerous and incompetent. That lots of you "are in various degrees of shock, horror, and disgust at what's going on in this administration."

We don't agree on much, members of the Republican Caucus, but we agree on that.

The thing is, you're not doing anything about it. And why? "None of them want to be decapitated by a primary challenge. Nobody wants the social media fanaticism of the alt-right turned on them."

I'm sorry, WHAT? You are watching your country slide into ruin and the entire world destabilize under the leadership of a catastrophically destructive scofflaw who likely colluded with a hostile foreign power to influence the outcome of our election, and you're worried about your jobs and social media harassment? ARE YOU SHITTING ME?

You fucking cowards.

Your primary job is to protect this country. You don't deserve your jobs if you're unwilling to do that.

And what, pray tell, would be the worst fate to befall you if you were to lose your job in the course of vigorously defending this nation from its lie-breathing dragon of a president, whose ascent to power you abetted with your cowardice? Rick Santorum served two inglorious terms as a U.S. Senator, has spent his time mounting failed presidential bids ever since, and recently landed a sweet gig as a CNN contributor. We've seen you repeatedly fail upwards, so risking your jobs isn't much of a risk at all.

As for your quivering pusillanimity at the prospect of being on the blunt end of social media opprobrium, I have nothing but a heaping bucketload of contempt to offer you.

In the 13 years I have been doing this work, social media harassment is a routine part of my every day. It's just a constant backdrop to the rest of what I'm obliged to navigate as the cost of being a woman who speaks out against injustice and the annihilative politics that emanate almost exclusively from your side of the aisle.

I have been mercilessly inundated for years with gross harassment. [Content Note: Descriptions of abuse.]

Death threats. Rape threats. Threats to kill my family, my pets. Detailed emails describing what it would be like to commit various acts of violence against me. Emails imagining what sex is like between my husband and me, and how he must hate it because I am disgusting. Hopes that someone else will hurt me. Admonishments to kill myself.

Pictures of weapons that people want to use on me. Photoshopped images of me being jizzed on, raped, sliced, diced, murdered. Pictures of dead fetuses.

Pictures of my house. Emails and comments the entire text of which is just my address. Threats. Insults. Slurs. Oh my god, so many slurs.

Harassing phone calls. Voicemails with threats of violence. My home address and phone numbers published. A publicly posted campaign offering a reward to anyone for proof of my rape and/or murder.

Private images stolen and published. Photoshopped images of me as various historical tyrants. Hate sites. My image used in fake Twitter accounts, online dating profiles, blogs. My life scrutinized, my privacy invaded, lies told about me, my appearance mocked, my reported experiences audited.

People have pounded on my front door. Dumped garbage on my lawn. Smashed a phone just beneath my office window, as if to say this is how close I can get.

I have seen my face broadcast on cable news beneath a graphic of a sniper's crosshairs. I have listened to a conservative man say on national television that he wants to personally bankrupt me. (After, by the way, he got me fired from my job.)

All of this, and then some, because I have dedicated my life to trying to prevent the very outcome you now refuse to publicly acknowledge. Because no matter how much you might like to pretend otherwise, Donald Trump is not an outlier of your party; he is its inevitable endgame.

And all the while, I have had to listen to narratives about how Republicans are the "Real Americans." I have had to listen to Republicans call me a traitor for supporting Democrats, for protesting war, for marrying an immigrant. I have seen pick-up trucks drive by my house sporting bumper sticks reading "Liberal Hunting License," and fielded threats from self-identified Republicans because I am a progressive writer.

I have watched John Kerry, a war hero, be diminished as a coward by men who avoided service. I have watched Barack Obama, our first Black president, be subjected to delegitimizing tactics on the basis of his race by people who believe only white people can be truly American. I have watched Hillary Clinton, a woman who has given her life to public service, accused of being careless with classified information by people who now tolerate Russian meddling to destroy the core of our democracy.

All my years have been spent listening to Republicans tell me how it is they who are the great patriots of this nation. That people like me would see America brought to its knees with our capitulation.

Yet now, in this moment, in the middle of a profound and urgent national crisis, with evidence of foreign election meddling and a president whose own fealty to this nation is deeply suspect (which is merely one point in a vast constellation of failures), the Great Patriots of the Republican Party are nowhere to be found.

Because you are worried about social media scorn and being primaried.

Get your heads out of your asses. There are millions upon millions of people in this country with a hell of a lot more to lose than you will ever have.

You are supposed to protect them. You're cowering in silence to keep a job you're not even willing to do.

Shame on you. Shame on you.

You fucking cowards.

No Love,

[H/T for the Slate article to Aphra_Behn. Image via Pixabay.]

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