Antifa is not the Bogeyman

We are year-round Floridians, having departed the four-season Northeast a decade or so ago. I miss the arrival of crocuses and daffodils, the heady perfume of hyacinths and lilacs, and the pleasure of snuggling before the hearth on the first cool day of fall. My husband doesn’t miss those things very much, and he is glad to have left behind the sinking feeling of the winter blues as the days grow shorter and colder. I still don’t grasp how it is that darkness falls earlier and earlier down here through the fall while the temperatures don’t change a whole lot.

To offset living in the semi-tropics, our television viewing habits have turned to streaming stories set in truly northern climes. Iceland’s police drama Trapped hooked us — murder, arson, dark humor, and compelling characters amidst endless snow and ice — and Iceland’s Fortitude gave us even more — polar bears and dark sci-fi. Iceland’s Valhalla Murders and Finland’s Deadwind both feature sympathetic single mother female leads. And endless snow and ice. Compared with the bleak black-and-white landscapes of these programs, our warm world looks even more Technicolor.

To have endured during the pandemic means having release valves and coping mechanisms, things to get upset about in our imaginations. Enduring COVID means keeping sane through escape of some kind — baking, sewing,exercise, binge-watching. Here’s a list of other Scandinavian binge-worthy television to enjoy escaping into when the news is too much.

Bogeymen are child‘S play

When I was a child, I did not think that a monster lived under my bed. We moved so often that there was no time for a bogeyman to install itself. I did think, however, that there was something living beneath the drain in the deep end of pools in our apartment complex in Rome and at the country club in Bogotá. I still swim extra fast over pool drains just in case I actually see a hand reaching for me.

We can convince ourselves of just about anything when we’re kids. As we get older, rational thinking and evidence-based beliefs should take over where black magic once predominated.

Bogeymen are scapegoats

But social media lies in wait. “I read it on the Internet,” once a satirical line tossed off by comedians and ad agencies, has been replaced by a conflagration of trending Twitter hashtags that overwhelm the psyches of anxious Americans looking for someone or something to blame for problems real or imagined.

There’s no reason not to believe it, after you watch TV, what’s going on.

Michael Johnson, Leitchfield KY, quoted by Claire Galofaro and Michael Kunzelman, AP

Who exactly is antifa? Where are they? Who are you talking about? It’s insane.

David Mour, attorney representing Kentucky protesters after their arrest

The AP’s Claire Galofaro and Michael Kunzelman recently wrote about a man in a small town in Kentucky who sat awake all night long on his front porch, shotgun loaded and ready, watching for bus loads of antifa anarchists that Donald Trump — and other sources of bogus social media — were coming. As much as Trump and his henchman William Barr might spin the narrative that anti-fascist terrorists are to blame for real or perceived violence, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that it’s anti-government and white supremacist groups that have been responsible for deadly attacks in the past few years, according to Golafaro and Kunzelman’s article.

As Savannah Behrman wrote in The Washington Post, Acting Department of Homeland security Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed that white supremacists have become the most persistent and lethal internal threat to the US.

We are all americans

Surely, extremists should be balanced in a democracy. Surely, we ought to have a leader in the White House who occupies the center and has developed his political chops in the process of engaging differing points of view in order to arrive at mutually beneficial ends. Surely, we should remove from the White House the failed president who seeks to escalate fear through Twitter storms.

Surely, it is time for getting our country back under adult supervision, someone who can remind us that there are no bogeyman, only real men and women who are suffering COVID’s impossible loss and grief and who are desperate for help. Real Black men, women, and children who are the victims of racism, and white citizens who cannot stand by and allow racism to rain down on others.

Americans have stood up for each other in remarkable ways this year: clapping for first responders, playing music for quarantined neighbors, greeting each other — at a distance — to ask how we are. Because of the pandemic, there are a lot of adults in my neighborhood who I’ve never seen, people I now greet — from behind my mask — when I’m out walking Kumba.

I shared avocados from our tree a month ago with all kinds of neighbors I didn’t really know, and learned that one woman was moved to tears by the reminder of her deceased father’s annual avocado bounty. A neighbor I knew little about has shared boxes of vegetables she receives through Feeding South Florida — which serves 1 million people — and I made her pasta sauce from the plum tomatoes and an apple pie from the bags and bags of apples she left at our door.

The bogeyman is in the white house

This week, our public schools got underway, and many of our neighbors’ children are back in brick and mortar schools without systemic COVID testing. Their parents are recovering their pre-pandemic lives and income-producing activities, not knowing how long it will be before the virus closes schools again. Governor DeSantis, a Trump loyalist, has not imposed a mask mandate on the state, and deaths have spiked this week. How many will become sick? How many more will be added to the 200,000 Americans who have died because of the failure of national leadership?

I think maybe the real bogeyman, the one who has allowed this chaos to descend, is in the White House.

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