When It’s Convenient

Ah, I see we are about to have a #BelieveWomen moment re: Tara Reade’s accusations against Joe Biden.

Nah, of course not. Because the real hashtag is #BelieveWomenWhenIt’sConvenient.

Electoral Win

In other news, I’ve been unanimously elected the chair of my department.

Number one item on my agenda is to make people forget the cc function on their emails.

The slogan is, “figure it out yourself, I’m not your mom.”

The bio is, “I don’t know anything, I haven’t met anyone, and I’m not planning to learn.”

The leadership style is, “can I press a mute button on all of you?”

I very sincerely shared all this with people but they said they love my sense of humor.

Trouble is, I don’t have one.

Totalitarian Enjoyment

So I’m reading Sophie Hannah’s new novel Perfect Little Children, and it’s great fun like everything she writes. But there’s one little episode that’s quite scary.

A pair of teenagers decide to bully a teacher, the only teacher at their extremely crappy public school who cares about students and tries to teach them something. One of the bored teenagers is not completely white, so of course they accuse the teacher of raaaaaacism. (The ‘racism’ in question is assuming that somebody called Murad might be Muslim.) The mother of one of the kids joins in the bullying and together they leave the teacher cowering in terror and weeping in humiliation. The story is delivered with such triumphant self-righteousness that even the Soviet propaganda piece about Pavlik Morozov looks like a feat of nuanced thinking in comparison.

Once again, totalitarianism is not an economic system or even a system of government. It’s a way of thinking. It’s a way of relating to yourself and others.

I once saw a program on drug addiction where a specialist in treating addicts said, “We are failing to make a difference because we are too prissy to just come out and say that people take drugs because it feels so darn good.”

It’s the same with totalitarianism. It just feels so incredibly good.

Progress

One thing I got to say for the current events is that I no longer have to struggle quite as hard to convince the contributors to my volume that “transnational” and “border-crossing” aren’t synonymous with “wonderful” and “amazing.” A contributor from the country that was hit particularly hard wrote in to say that she now gets what I’ve been driving at this whole time.

Needing People

Today I dreamt that I was visiting huge group activities. People were getting together and… just being together.

I’m also noticing in myself and unexpected warmth and kindness to people.

I don’t normally need people, and it’s only been 10 days of a real quarantine so this feels strange.

Collapse of Distance

My teaching persona is very distant and closed-off (which is why I get a 100% response on my online activities), so it’s quite uncomfortable to get a glimpse into student bedrooms as we do Zoom meetings. My students are always formally dressed, and I never have any pyjama incidents in class or online. But it’s still kind of uncomfortable. Like when you see gigantic posters of politicians they support right behind them and stuff like that. I’m deeply non-judgmental, it’s just weird.

We had a Zoom meeting with colleagues this morning and obviously spoke Spanish.

“Wow, your students’ Spanish really improved,” said a colleague’s husband after overhearing the discussion. “They are so fluent all of a sudden.”