Such a redundantly tangled mess

Dear President Trump,

Oh, where to start? Who the hell knows? I don’t. The original question implies there’s a single right answer and it also implies that it’s important to choose the starting point correctly. And yes, sometimes it is critical to start somewhere specific, like the beginning or maybe another strategic juncture that helps you make whatever point you want to make or get wherever you need or want to go. Sometimes, though, a situation is such a redundantly tangled mess that it doesn’t much matter where you start, you’ll either get lucky (or happen to have amazing insight and skill) and work out something useful or you’ll further tighten the knots.

Since I think we’re currently in a redundantly tangled mess, I’m choosing to officially start the content of today’s letter by telling you that I finally (finally) finished Seth Abramson’s opus, Proof of Conspiracy, last night, which fittingly turns out to have been acquittal eve. The sucker took me months to read and I’m neither a slow reader nor a slouch (i.e., I read virtually every night) – it’s long and dense and disturbing and sickening. There are so many messed up threads and layers to the stories of who worked tirelessly in the shadows to install you and their ongoing efforts to keep you in place that I would have needed to come up with a system to diagram everything to have a prayer of keeping all the shit straight. I didn’t do that and realistically, if I had taken on that level of engagement, I wouldn’t finish the thing for another four or five months. Instead, I let it wash over me and came away with the sense that we’re in deeper trouble than most of us can even imagine.

A few pages from the end, Abramson drops a poignant statistic from a WP article – it’s the finding that hate crimes increased 226%, on average, across the counties where you held 2016 election rallies (Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton and Valerie Martinez-Ebers; 3/22/19). The reporters talk about their methods and the statistical covariates they used but what they don’t tell us is what time frames they used for either the pre-you era or the post-you era. The article implies that the post-you era is all the time after each event going forward until some date in 2019 when they pulled their data and presumably they matched these durations with pre-you time. And yes, I’m getting bogged down in methodological details that I can’t even argue matter all that much; it’s a coping mechanism to focus on minutia when I’m stressed. I also should acknowledge that if the base-rate of hate crimes was very, very low then even a 226% increase isn’t going to result in that many additional hate crimes numerically (e.g., if there were 10 in a county in the three years prior to one of your rallies, then a 226% increase would suggest there were about 23 in the three years after that rally).

Obviously we have to be careful with statistics, both with regards to how they are derived and how they are used, and this one is no exception, but really, any increase in the rate of hate crimes is a shitty legacy to have. I am quite certain, however, that you would have liked to trot it out last night as a badge of honor. Since you couldn’t, you instead honored one of the worst fomenters of hate in modern time (I’m not deigning to type his name) with a presidential medal of freedom – an incredible “f*ck you” move even for you.

May we be safe in these off the hook daunting times.
May we be willing to figure out how to step up instrumentally and do it.
May we do some grieving and then get onto the business of reclaiming democracy.
May you not start a war with your now endless supply of ‘get out of jail free’ cards.

Tracy Simpson

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