Personally, I am not a fan of science fiction with its alien worlds and strange creatures possessing incredible powers.
I’m more the kind of ‘here and now’ person, quite possibly too grounded in reality to be a writer. But I suspect it’s less a lack of imagination and more a deep concern with the ever-urgent issue of the real world: power and corruption.
Never in my wildest imagination did I think I’d actually live in an alien world. It wasn’t even a nightmare I envisioned. But unbidden and unimagined it materialized on November 8th.
Sometimes in times that shake us to the core we turn to history for precedents, examples or lessons. As it happened, recently I attended a cultural event at the Temple Emanu-El in New York City that proved to be just such an instructive historical parable on today’s situation.
Ostensibly, the program “The People v. King David,” was a trial in which three esteemed jurists (Alan Dershowitz, Chris Cuomo and Judge Alison Nathan, a federal judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York) conducted an in-absentia trial. The ancient royal stood accused of adultery and murder in the first degree. For those who already know the biblical account of how he raped the teenaged Bathsheba, wife of his loyal officer Uriah, made her pregnant and tried to conceal the act by ordering the murder of the husband, I will not recount the details. I should say that the rapt audience of two thousand was to serve as the jury by punching out ballots and trying to avoid hanging chads.
The stellar defense was delivered by Alan Dershowitz, as Chris Cuomo commented, “the rich can afford the best lawyers.” The honorable Judge Alison Nathan presided. The heart of the prosecution’s argument, brilliantly executed by Chris Cuomo, was abuse of power. As much as the trial fascinated me, my ears pricked up even more at the parallels to our current reality.
It is that very aspect of Trumpian politics that concerns me most. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts completely. This is no news.
On the Access Hollywood tape Trump, has already clearly stated his strategy for satisfying his carnal urges. Perhaps the ghost of King David whispered into his ear. Would he also listen to him on how to dispatch inconvenient opponents, perhaps even those in his own circle? No one can tell. Time will. Chris Christie has been sidelined, and Mitt Romney, briefly under consideration for one of the highest posts in the administration, has been swept aside.
What a topsy turvy world this is for the millions who voted for another candidate! I never imagined I’d be praying for Mitt to actually get the job for which he interviewed like a supplicant to the new king. Mitt, a republican wholly at the opposite spectrum of all my beliefs, became my idea of a moderating influence on the unpredictable bully with a finger on the nuclear button. The very thought sickens me.
I can’t believe how low I’d sunken, how pathetic was my wish for Mitt to hold Hillary’s position, how the thought I could become the shivering Bathsheba cowering in her nakedness before King David’s soldiers frightens me. And I suspect I am not alone. Millions will live in fear of promises broken, of being marginalized, deported, suspected, rejected, reduced to the birth country of ones’ grandparents.
What better evidence does anyone need that our universe has been altered into a surreal charade? Nominations of a gallery of rouges make even Republicans cringe. Each is a kick to the solar plexus.
The candidate for Attorney General has fought voting rights, the one for EPA administrator has sued the agency and doesn’t believe in climate change, the man to head a vaccine safety commission doesn’t believe in vaccines, the candidate to run HUD doesn’t believe in social services, and a man to run the Energy Department which deals with nuclear facilities wanted to shut this department down as useless. I can’t bear to say their names, or to continue this Alice in Wonderland dirge.
I don’t know yet what we must do to not only survive, but thrive, for the next four years. Write about every ill-considered move? Sign petitions? March? Somehow we must find a way to avoid Bathsheba’s and Uriah’s fate. The best I can do for now is to paraphrase President Obama’s parting words: let us be vigilant, but not fearful. Or better yet, I’ll share with you what my friend Kathleen F. reminded me. Remember Bob Marley’s words: “…Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight.”
Annette Libeskind Berkovits is author of the recently released memoir, “In the Unlikeliest of Places: How Nachman Libeskind Survived the Nazis, Gulags and Soviet Communism,” Wilfrid Laurier University Press (Canada.) Her essays and poetry have appeared in Silk Road: a Literary Crossroads; Persimmon Tree, Lifezette, The Thought Catalog, Women Writers, Women’s Books, and American Gothic.
Annette’s next book, “Confessions of an Accidental Curator” will be forthcoming in April, 2017
Please visit her website: www.annetteberkovits.com for more information.