Twitter is not going to shut him down. Not for the love of God, man or country. So it is going to be up to the rest of us. We the people. We are the engine that drives Twitter. Without us, there is no platform. Same goes for Facebook. We have the capacity to amplify voices, as we did today with the cold-blooded murder of a man by the name of George Floyd, or yesterday, with the absolutely painful and racist attack on Christian Cooper in Central Park. These incidents deserved to be amplified. This kind of amplification often serves to bring about a justice that would otherwise be denied, as was the case of Ahmaud Arbery.
But just as we can amplify voices, we can silence them, too. We don’t have to share. We don’t have to retweet. We don’t have to speak the names of those who seeking attention.
Look, no one is more guilty of amplifying the wrong voice than me. This is my confession, not that any of you following me hadn’t noticed this already. I have been outraged since July 2016, as a friend so kindly reminded me of the other day. I know the moment when I lost my shit, to put it so bluntly. I have pointed it out time and time again – it was when he attacked the Gold Star dad.
I am not sorry about that outrage. I am not sorry for any of the things I have said about him. I meant every word of it. I am not sorry that I have prayed for his demise nearly everyday since. I do it because I understood from the get-go that what we were dealing with was a level of evil and deception the likes of which I had never encountered in my lifetime and I’ve lived through some stuff, as my Mama used to say.
But this one thing I am guilty of and so very sorry for – amplifying his voice. Because of my anger and my hurt and my absolute mortification, I have given space to a person who I should have been seeking to silence. Bullies have to have someone to bully. I hope you can forgive me for allowing him that space.
I know better, of course. I just didn’t do better. There is truth in the saying that if our hurts don’t get healed, we end up bleeding all over everybody. And no matter how much we love Jesus and he loves us, there are some wounds that we carry with us through our lifetimes. Pray for me if it helps you. Lord knows I need it. But I know the truth of it, there is nothing that will ever heal the hurt of losing a father to a war that should never have been. An eternity in heaven with Jesus will never make any of that okay.
So to have to wake up each morning and go to bed each night with that bully’s voice booming over every news story, every headline, knowing how he mocked a POW, how he bragged about his draft-dodging and his STDs being his own personal Vietnam, not to mention the unrelenting misogyny, the bragging about the sex abuse of women, well, that has been more painful that I have words to describe. And if that wasn’t awful enough, to see the many Vietnam veterans and Gold Star families, those I love and admire and consider part of my family embrace him for God only knows what reason, well, that has felt like the kind of betrayal that made even Jesus cry out: Why have you forsaken me?
So I found outlets for my outrage. Writing, mostly. Cussing more in the past four years than I did in my entire life prior (though growing up in a trailer park I can hold my own). Outrage has become a national past-time. It dominates almost every conversation, every Twitter post, every Facebook post. Or at least far too many of them, that’s for sure. I’ve gone to more town halls, written and called my legislators more, and even donated more money to political campaigns than I have in my entire life leading into 2016.
I don’t regret any of that. I wish I had done more of that when Merrick Garland was denied his rightful place on the court.
But I do regret that I have used my sizable platform to speak his name, to give him space, to allow him opportunity to bully me and you, and all of us.
It has only created despair when what all of us needed most was the hope of a tomorrow void of him.
I have long known, of course, that bullies lose their power over us when we refuse to engage with them. The thing a bully hates most is being ignored.
Twitter should remove him. It would not be a violation of his First Amendment Rights. Nobody has the right to do to others the things he has done on that platform. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said recently her worst day as a politician was the day he tweeted at her. He has held sway over the world as we have waited on the sidelines with bated breath for the next outrageous thing he will say/type. He has bragged about killing people. He has crashed markets. He has elevated stocks that should never have been elevated. He has wounded people deeply. He is doing it still. His every action from that platform has been one of self-glorification, or to heap cruelty upon others.
So while Twitter may not silence him, I will no longer be providing him with a platform to amplify his particular brand of cruelty. I have blocked him on Twitter. If millions would, this bully would lose that power and attention he so craves. I have nothing more to say to him except, see ya at the polls in November.
Until then I am going to use what platform I have left to amplify the voices of every Democrat I can. I am making space for Biden, for McGrath, for Harrison, for Kelly, for Gideon, for Jones, etc. There is restorative work to be done, in our lives, and in this country.
Join me, won’t you?
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Burdy (Mercer University Press).
Ahmaud Ahmaud Arbery Amy Cooper Amy McGrath Andy Beshear Black Lives Matter Christian Cooper Cruelty cussing Democrats despair Donald J. Trump Doug Jones fight First Amendment First Amendment Right George Floyd Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hope Jack Dorsey Jaime Harrison Legislators Lindsey Graham Merrick Garland Minneapolis murder outrage pray Republicans Sara Gideon Supreme Court Susan Collins Swearing twitter Vietnam Vote voting