I don’t Like Ending Friendships, But Farewell, My Liberal Friend
Dear Liberal Friend,
I don’t know if you will read this, since you may or may not be following my social media. We exchanged some text messages this week and I’ve decided our friendship is over. I don’t like ending friendships and rarely do. But Donald J. Trump has driven you insane. For 30 years we were buddies, sharing our good and bad times, commiserating and (I hope) supporting one another.
We used to have long and rich conversations about everything, including politics. It didn’t feel as though we were on opposite sides of an impassable trench. When it came to racial issues I remained in full agreement with most of what you said, even through the Obama years when I had drifted toward the right.
On issues of sex and sexuality, perhaps I can understand why you’ve become hostile. You met me when I was gay-identified. I suspect, though I will never know, that you never believed me when I said I met a woman and fell in love with her. In 2001, you were supposed to be one of my groomsmen but you didn’t show up for the wedding. You had a very good explanation for what happened, which didn’t involve you saying that the marriage was going to be an untenable, miserable fraud. I took what you said at face value and felt we could continue in our friendship, because we had already been buddies for a long time.
Basically, through the twists and turns of our crazy lives, I knew, over the course of three decades, that I could count on your being generous about character judgments. I sought to show the same generosity. We didn’t have to be politically correct. We could have fun talking.
That all ended when Trump ran for president. I tried to joke around and laugh through your expressions of alarm about Trump. But that wasn’t working anymore. There was only Trump and a litany of phrases that repeated every time you talked about him: “white supremacy,” “misogyny,” “liar,” “fraud,” “monster.” Just after Trump won the presidency, you told me you felt unsafe and ill knowing that there were Trump voters in California. That over 30% of Californians voted for him devastated you. You decided you would arm yourself and prepare for war.
Gradually, I see, you have moved from hating Trump to saying hateful things to me. In a casual discussion about a Taylor Swift video this week, you made these cruel statements to me: “I will keep never trusting you,” “I will always be wary of your friendship,” and “I know you think you are better than me.” This was because I did not agree with your claim that Taylor Swift’s video, “Look What You Made Me Do,” was “weaponizing white womanhood” and promoting neo-Nazi white supremacy.
During the many times we spoke, I have tried not to bring my political pain into the conversation. But since you associate me and Taylor Swift with neo-Nazis who want to kill black people by electing Trump, I think it’s time I get some thoughts off my chest. You told me, during election season, that the only moral thing for me to do would be to vote for Evan McMullin if I didn’t want to vote for Hillary. Or I should vote for Bernie or Jill Stein. That way I could ease my conscience but still not have to vote for Donald Trump. That this would mean, of course, facilitating the election of Hillary Clinton seemed a small matter in your calculations.
Those were horrible things to say: inconsiderate, tactless, even heartless. Because of the Hillary Clinton Democrats and the supposedly pro-black, pro-gay, pro-working-class, and pro-woman liberals in California, I suffered through eight years of torture at work. It was not a passing snub or a minor annoyance. I devoted most of my life to building up my scholarship and getting tenure. I arrived in California as a man with a PhD/MA in English and Classics, lettered in seven (soon to be eight) languages, weighing 195 pounds and scoring high on the Army’s fitness test. After being investigated, threatened, slandered, defamed, insulted, pushed around, screamed at, and blocked from all professional advancement, I had to give up tenure and move my family over 1,000 miles away to rebuild my life. Though I am finally getting back into shape, when I fled Los Angeles I was obese, not in good health, and constantly anxious. My tribulations occurred when a Clinton Foundation crony was my dean, Kamala Harris was the Attorney General, Jerry Brown was the Governor, and Barack Obama was the President. These people destroyed my career and endangered my family, ruthlessly. No alleged racist conservative ever did anything of the sort. And you think I can take lightly the possibility of Hillary Clinton being the next president?
I cannot listen to any more of your complaints about people who are white supremacist or misogynist. Nobody even knows what those words mean anymore. When we were in college they were fatuous; now they are dangerously prone to manipulation, and mere forms of slander. Your political camp has had a chance many times over to show that you know how to build a kind society. Or, at the very least, treat one Latino professor with a complicated life story halfway decently. You couldn’t. None of the 100+ people working in CSUN’s English department could. None of the vast range of gay friends I’ve had over the last 40+ years could. And worst of all, you couldn’t. You can’t even manage one friendship with a friend who thought the world of you and was willing to do anything to stay friends.
I’ll take your white supremacists and misogynists. I can deal with them. They are nicer to me. They listen. They don’t do one tenth of the harm you and your camp have done to me. The “white supremacist” Christians don’t harm me, and they’ve never harmed you. Brown v. Board of Education was over sixty years ago, like the difference between 1913, when women wore corsets, and 1973, when abortion became legal everywhere in the US. Sixty years aren’t nothing. Eight years of a black president aren’t nothing. There comes a time when you have to concede that you’ve had power and hold enough power still, that you ought to show the world how you might create something better than everything you complain about. The cold comfort of nagging America and antagonizing me will not bring you happiness or vindicate you in the history books. But I don’t see any hope of something new emerging from your thoughts.
For 30 years you climbed the corporate ladder, having come from a stable and rich household. With your law degree and shrewdness at the office, you make something like three times my yearly salary. I fell in love with a woman. When I fell in love with her, I made love to her. When I made love to her, I married her. When I married her, I let God bring us children. When I let God bring us children, I stayed, raised them, and did whatever I had to, to keep our family together. I couldn’t work 15 hours a day to enhance my reputation. My children arrived on God’s schedule, whenever God decided they would be born. I chose to rush home as soon as I could, to be with my kids to see my kids grow. I chose to stay up late listening to my wife, knowing I’d be sleepy the next day, because I wanted her to know I cared and wanted our lives to be part of each other, forever.
In other words, I paid the Christian man’s tax. I stood by my principles and angered the gays and feminists at my California job. It wasn’t my style to smile and tap dance and feign some phony liberalism that wasn’t me. So I didn’t move up the ladder the way you did, as you were free to think of your career and nothing more. So you are a rich man, and I am not. That’s okay. It’s a beautiful thing to live in a nation where we have and make choices. But I refuse to be berated by someone who has far more than I do. I will not sit through long lectures casting me as an oppressor and shaming me because I refused to resign my country to a godless Clinton reign that would be more of what I’d already endured in California.
I put up with a lot of insults because I was your friend. I can’t do this anymore. I will pray for you. You are wrong about Trump, America, and conservative Christians. Someday you will see that. But I can’t be the one to get you to any such point of view. It isn’t fair to expect me to take insults and indignities each time I reach out to you.
If you are reading this, I am sorry we couldn’t grow as friends deeper into middle age. But there are cases of people who form strong friendships as teenagers, who really grow into such different people that there’s no point in hanging on to the relationship anymore. Fortunately I am have been off Facebook for a year, so parting ways is easier for us.
Godspeed. Seek Jesus first and the rest will follow.
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