No More Asking Where Were You

The former Killer-in Chief is vacationing in the British Virgin Islands, the guest of billionaire Richard Branson who wrote that Barack Obama told him he’d been unable to surf during his presidency. Too dangerous. Just before Obama took office, he was surfing in Hawaii when a member of his security team said this would be the last time he surfed for eight years—and for the next eight years, poor Obama was denied the opportunity to do many of the things he loved. I guess to compensate for the loss, he found new pleasures to embrace: casual Tuesdays, the day each week he studied his Kill List and selected whom to incinerate.

Now, the current Killer-in-Chief is calling death raids. The first, in Yemen, killed an eight-year-old girl, Nora, whose father, Anwar al-Awlaki, on Obama’s Kill List, was vaporized in September of 2011. A Navy Seal died (during Trump’s first-week-in-office war crime) along with noncombatants, including women. Perhaps a member of Trump’s security team had just uttered the upsetting news: “This will be the last diet coke and bucket of fried chicken you consume for four or eight years,” and to compensate for the suspension of gluttonous fast-food thrills, Trump ordered the attack.

Meanwhile, we’re witnessing increased protests, the Women’s March and the mobs at airports after Trump’s Muslim ban. Some participants are vocal opponents of neoliberalism and fascism, while others simply want the Democrats to prevail in 2018 and 2020.

I’ve been critical.

Here’s the Women’s March mission statement. Guiding Principle #1 is: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.

Among the puzzled, I’ve question, “Where were you for the past eight years when Obama expanded war? When in 2016 he dropped more than 26,000 bombs?”

“Where were you between 2009 and 2015 when Obama deported more than 2.5 million people?”

“Where were you when Obama’s regime change policies created refugee crises in the same countries affected by Donald Trump’s Muslim ban?”

“Where were you knitters and wearers of pink pussy hats when HRC laughed madly as Muammar Gaddafi was sodomized with a knife and slaughtered?”

This past week, my guy and I were invited for drinks with two other couples, neighbors. He reminded me minutes before we walked to our hosts’ condo that I’d made a vow to refrain from discussing politics with people in the building. Yet after we’d covered several topics, including the recent water problem in Chapel Hill—the result of a water main break and an overfeed of fluoride—he moved into that territory we’d decided to avoid. I jumped in, unfiltered.

I talked about the blood on Clinton’s hands. Libya. Honduras. Before I could add Syria, Haiti, Iraq, and Yemen, one of the women stood, looked at me, and said that Hillary Clinton was her candidate because during her campaign she consistently advocated for women and children. I couldn’t let this go unchallenged. “I don’t place credence in campaign promises,” I said and followed with, “Clinton’s words always have been inconsonant with her actions.”

The woman’s husband interrupted to stop the escalation. Later, we took the elevator together and when we parted, she and I hugged. I don’t want discord. I admire and respect this couple. They work as volunteers within the local community, helping impoverished families.

With this, I’ve decided to stop asking, “Where were you? Where were you the past eight years?”

It’s simplistic to criticize the newly-motivated protesters or those who took leave of protesting during the past eight years because a smooth, sophisticated black man, a Democrat, was president. It accomplishes nothing but friction at a time when we need each other desperately—to seize this moment of intensity, work together, educate about the corrupt system and the disaster of capitalism, and harness the energy necessary to achieve peace and justice for all.

Addendum: Dear god, I just read about the Scientists’ March on Washington in April. Jeez, I want to scream, “Where were you for eight years while Obama talked about climate change but did nothing?” I won’t. Instead, I’ll think it, let it briefly collide with the terrifying Trump impulses/reactions that are inflaming my neurons along with why is the drinking water fluoridated when fluoride is a neurotoxin (?) and then discard the where were you for eight years (?).

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: