Opinion

Don’t underestimate the absurdness of our nation’s current events

The incoming Trump administration poses a threat to many and upends the long-established status quo.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Let me take a moment of your valuable time to talk about memes.

In this time of short attention spans, memes—which have captured the long-practiced form of photo captioning and made it mainstream—have proliferated.

They vary in comedic value and subject matter, and it feels as if there’s a new style every day. Though one can argue about the amount that memes contribute to society and to the advance of human intellect and humor, they are inarguably culturally relevant.

One of my personal favorite memes originated from web cartoonist K.C. Green. It shows a cartoon dog, sitting at a kitchen table with a cup of coffee. The room he is in is engulfed in flames. Smoke hovers above the room as the fire appears to spread. The intrepid canine, however, pays the impending danger no mind. He stoically stays perched in his chair, smiling to himself. He then decides to say to himself, “This is fine.” His courage and positivity are admirable; the world around him is (literally) falling apart, and he remains happy as a clam, content to declare his situation A-OK.

So now that I’ve spent 190 words describing a meme to you, you’re probably wondering where I’m headed with this. Although memes, the one I described in particular, can be taken at face value and appreciated for their apparent humor, they also occasionally require more reflection. Although none of us are physically engulfed in flames right now (if you are, you should stop reading this column—my ramblings are not a priority right now), we need to look around, and resist the urge to declare the world around us fine.

In less than a week, Donald Trump will assume the presidency of the United States. He and his henchmen have decided that his victory—which relied on the very antiquated electoral system designed specifically to combat the type of candidacy that he represented—is a “blank check” to do whatever they want.

The Affordable Care Act is being repealed, taking away health insurance from 20 million Americans. President Barack Obama himself has said that he would fully support a new plan that gave better coverage at a more affordable price. No plan has been proposed to replace the ACA. And yet, many of those who are unaffected by these actions decide that “this is fine.”

Scott Pruitt, the man who has been chosen to run the Environmental Protection Agency, was highly involved in many lawsuits intended to weaken the EPA itself. This is the political equivalent of selecting a general of an enemy country to run our armed forces. Pruitt has made a name for himself by trying to weaken environmental regulations and destroy the EPA and its efforts. Now he’s running the agency. A December poll showed that a huge majority of Americans—and even a solid majority of Trump supporters—want to maintain our climate policies. Yet Republican leaders have decided that the election of Trump was a mandate to dismantle vital laws in a time when environmental action is more important than ever.

Our intelligence agencies, some of the most reliable, prestigious and efficient in the world, have stated clearly that Russia interfered with our elections. Our democratic process, which we fought an entire Revolution to secure, has been compromised at its core. Elections free of domestic or foreign interference are the most vital pillar in our democracy. During the Cold War, this type of attack would have led to calls for war from people on both sides of the aisle. Instead, our president-elect and many in the Republican leadership have shrugged and said “this is fine.”

At every stage in our lives, we like to convince ourselves that the world around us is normal. The thought that things are not the way they should be is certainly not a pleasant one. We all like to put blind faith in the notion that things will work out, and everything happens for a reason. This is a natural human instinct.

In a time such as this, however, we cannot tell ourselves that what we’re currently living through is OK. The unimaginable continues to manifest itself every single day. It is imperative to always remember that this is not normal. This is not fine.

For millions of Americans—women, immigrants, members of the LGBT community, people of color, the press, essentially anyone who wants our democratic freedoms to be protected—these times are terrifying.

Even if you yourself don’t think you’ll be impacted (and you probably will), there are a myriad of people around you who are worried, and rightfully so. Even if the flames aren’t touching you, that doesn’t mean they do not exist, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t highly dangerous. The world we live in is changing, and to many, it isn’t changing for the better. This is not normal. This is not fine.

Sebastian is a sophomore majoring in history and environmental studies. What are your thoughts on recent events and the upcoming inauguration? Have you taken action to hold officials accountable? Please send all comments, questions and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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