Two things happened during the award presentation for the Emmys that I simply cannot ignore. The first was the appearance of Sean Spicer. While working out today, I listened as various folks discussed whether Sean Spicer’s appearance at the Emmys was a riot in a fun way or a riot in a totally offensive way. Half those asked thought that others needed to lighten up and not take themselves or Sean Spicer so seriously. They felt that Spicer’s appearance at the Emmys was totally fun and funny. The other half of the commentators – the half deemed lacking in a sense of humor – felt that Spicer’s appearance wasn’t the least bit funny. They felt he should have been booed off-stage.
For the record, I have a great sense of humor. I’m a regular smart ass who loves a good quip, a good prank, a well-timed joke. But I find myself agreeing with the camp that felt that Sean Spicer should have been jeered not cheered.
What Sean Spicer, what Sarah Huckabee, what Kellyanne Conway have done to this country is simply unforgivable. They have demeaned and diminished the office of the presidency. They have demeaned and diminished the office of White House Press Secretary. They have done this by blatantly and willingly lying on behalf of this president.
That is no laughing matter.
Sean Spicer’s real role in the White House was as Chief Enabler. Narcissism is Trump’s addiction. Spicer was complicit in feeding Trump’s addiction.
Spicer claims that he now regrets lecturing the press and the country about the size of Trump’s inauguration size, just one of hundreds of lies he repeated on Trump’s behalf. While the crowd may have been small, Spicer’s lying on Trump’s behalf is no small matter. And shame on the audiences who accept Spicer’s ill-timed and questionable mea culpa. Sean Spicer simply is not a credible communicator.
He is about to embark on his new career path – capitalizing on lying to the American public. He will undoubtedly be speaking to an audience near you soon. If you pay good money to go hear this man tell you more lies, then you deserve to be lied to. As someone whose whole career has been about truth, I have no respect for Sean Spicer. I do not find him funny. Nor do I find his half-assed apologies any more sincere than I found his overblown lectures about inauguration’s crowd size.
Sean Spicer isn’t a joke. He’s a danger and so is the brand he aligned himself with – the Trump brand.
But there was one quiet yet shining moment in the Emmys.
It was the moment when a real truth-teller stepped on stage.
Her name is Margaret Atwood.
She is hope embodied for every storyteller who has ever put pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard.
That’s the year of publication for The Handmaid’s Tale.
“The control of women and babies has been a feature of every repressive regime on the planet,” Atwood noted, explaining in part her thinking behind writing the novel that led to the year’s Emmy-winning TV series.
The novel is not anti-religious as some have suggested. Rather, Atwood explains, it is against the use of religion as a front for tyranny, which is prophetically enough exactly where we find ourselves politically in this nation right now under this president, the very one that Sean Spicer lied to protect.
There are many times as a writer when I have questioned why I write. I could have made a hell of a lot more money teaching, and that is saying something considering how poorly we value teachers in this country (especially adjuncts). My most important works as a writer have been some of my most poorly performing sales wise. The story of my father’s death in war is the poorest performing book of all my work, at least when it comes to sales. People simply don’t want to read about what happens to a family of the fallen. It makes them too sad. That’s what the booksellers have always told me. (A big shout out to all of you readers who were courageous enough to take that hard journey with me. Thank you.)
I sometimes wonder if I have wasted my talents, my life, squandered whatever it was God intended for me to accomplish with this one creative life of mine. Surely, I was supposed to do more than selling paperbacks out of the trunk of my car to hapless unsuspecting souls too kind to turn me away.
These are the thoughts I have on some of my worse days as a writer.
There are, of course, darker days than even that.
Days when I have sworn to the Creator of all Good that I cannot, will not write another single word because who gives a damn what I think or feel anyway?
But then Margaret Atwood walks quietly on stage, doesn’t say a single word, but smiles that knowing smile of hers, thirty some years after the publication of her prophetic and troubling tale of repression and tyranny and in that moment, I know once more that telling the truth matters.
Even in the age where people find humor in having a president blatantly lie to them, unrepentantly lie to them, truth matters more than ever.
And so I return once more to the keyboard with hopes that one day, perhaps 35 years from the time I put fingers to keyboard, something true I write will resonate with an audience who sorely needs it.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of CHRISTIAN BEND ( Mercer University Press).