For novelist Mira Jacob, the moment evoked the attacks of Sept.11, 2001: “At four [a.m.], I bolted awake with a surge of fear I have not felt for fifteen years.” And writer Nicole Chung recalls how, that evening, she and her husband “would remain up for hours, alternately swearing and reaching for each other’s hands in bleary and increasing panic.” Stanford University scholar Jeff Chang emphasizes how Trump capitalizes on such emotions — “fear is the lubricant of demagoguery,” he says — but in their introductions to “Radical Hope,” Pulitzer winner Junot Diaz and editor Carolina De Robertis stress that fear can propel more constructive reactions. ” Poet Mohja Kahf breaks down Trump’s support, concluding wryly that “hey, really only about one-fourth of the country hates us and/or hates Black people, LGBTQ folk, Latinx peoples, Indigenous peoples, and immigrants. ” Even some of the contributors seeking to reach out to Trump’s base — at least in a think-piecey, theoretical sense — find ways to demean.
Yes, individual essays and open letters can inspire on occasion.
Less understandable is the impulse to bind collections of such essays into anthologies that, months later, purport to show a path forward for Trump’s opponents.
In a letter to her child, novelist Katie Kitamura abhors the torrent of voices and views that Trump’s election has unleashed, and warns of the “terrifying rapidity” with which words — whether they aim to assault or resist — can unmake the world.
“We need to defend another way of thinking and being, one that allows for hesitation, for nuance and mutability,” she writes.
I need to believe in the value of the doubt I now feel. It is a fate that should also elicit revulsion and profound anxiety. Follow Carlos Lozada on Twitter and read his latest book reviews, including: The case for impeaching Donald J.