Since the day Donald Trump was elected president, liberals have squawked and screeched about how we’re literally living in the Handmaid’s Tale. In case you’re unfamiliar, it’s a Hulu show based off of a novel imagining an overthrow of the United States government by ultra religious zealots. It’s a great show. Or at least the first two seasons were.
When the show starts, viewers are plunged headfirst into the realities of Gilead — or what used to be known as New England. A woman, her husband, and their child are on the run, trying to get past the border and make their way into Canada. As the show progresses, we learn more about exactly how Gilead came to be. We learn about the gradual changes that paved the way for this overthrow, and how seemingly good, everyday people misinterpreted and weaponized the Bible to create an abomination.
The thing is, the people that inflict the most human suffering usually don’t set out intending to. They start wide eyed and idealistic, hoping to change the world for the better. Every once in a while, they do. But more often than not, they fail, and they fail, and they fail again — and don’t care how many lives their failures destroy because their ideological fantasy is more important than its devastating reality. They’re so blinded by their allegiance to a set of ideas that they can’t see — or actively hide — the societal collapse and misery around them.
In the series, women are quite literally second class citizens. They aren’t allowed to read or write — much less participate in the political process. As the show progresses, we learn that Commander Waterford — one of the highest ranking figures in Gilead — was actually ancillary to his wife leading up to the creation of Gillead. She was the star. She was the headliner. She was giving the talks on college campuses, and wrote books advocating for a “return to tradition.” And after she got what she thought she wanted, she was the one who had her body mutilated — by the government that she created, for daring to read in public and challenging her husband’s authority.
She was left to grapple with the hell of her own design. She had to answer for it. And no matter how many different ways she tried to rationalize what she’d done, when all was said and done, she knew deep down that the world was worse because of her.
Even though the third season of the Handmaid’s Tale sucked, one episode really stuck with me. Not because the writing had improved, but because of the imagery. “Gilead” came to be when fanatical Christians successfully took over New England. To do that, they had to go to war with the United States — and as Gilead tried to claim more territory and expand its borders, that war continued. In the third season, they take over the Capitol. The Lincoln Memorial is destroyed because it was “designed by a heretic” and the Washington Monument has been converted into a giant cross.
As statues across the country are vandalized and removed by the so-called “good guys,” I almost want to laugh at the irony. For the first time since Trump was elected, we’re actually living in something that resembles the Handmaid’s Tale. And President Trump isn’t to blame for it. His detractors are.
I know some people think the Handmaid’s Tale is just about abortion, or just about religious extremism. They might point to Trump being the first sitting president to participate in the March for Life — the biggest and longest standing pro-life demonstration in the country — and use it to prove that we really are living in the Handmaid’s Tale. Or maybe they’ll point to the wave of restrictive abortion laws we saw last spring.
I understand the argument even if I think the logic is shoddy, because no matter what Trump or his administration want to do, they still have to abide by checks and balances. The abortion laws that surfaced last year had to be introduced by elected officials and voted on. They weren’t executive orders.
Even still, I get the comparison. But seeing video after video of rabid mobs bring down these statues, I can’t help but think that those scenes more closely resemble a well intentioned revolution that rapidly devolves into dystopia, hurting infinitely more than it helps.
Just look at the riots. They called them “the language of the unheard” and tried to justify them six ways to Sunday. They said we cared more about property than black lives if we criticized them. But these riots destroyed even more black lives — key word being ‘lives.’ As in the black people forced to live with the aftermath. The decreased police presence, the subsequent explosions of crime, the businesses that close their doors or vacate, the jobs lost, and the millions needed to repair the damage that these cities can’t afford, and may never come from the federal government. And all of this three months into a pandemic that ravaged black America, leaving over half of the demographic unemployed by May.
Just like the riots, the statue removals were supposed to be about something bigger. They were supposed to be noble. They were supposed to mean something, and do something.
Of course, some insist the riots were effective because they led to the arrests and charges of George Floyd’s killer and the cops that stood idly by, and let him die. And I guess none of us will ever really know. But the six officers involved in Freddie Gray’s death are walking free today, years after rioters reduced Baltimore to rubble.
I won’t dismiss the possibility of riots leading to expedited accountability for the injustices that made national headlines. But I will say with certainty that what’s happening won’t lead to anything good in the long term. It won’t help black Americans, or any Americans for that matter, in a significant way. It will help commie academics grow their followings, grab cable news slots and sell their books. And it will be at the expense of America, and the vast majority of people that make up this country — no matter what color they are.
We’re told to think of America in factions. There’s white America and black America. We’re told that the symbols and relics held up by American history belong to white America alone, and must be eradicated to fight white supremacy. But that just isn’t the case. If we take a wrecking ball to America’s foundation, America will fall with it. Not just white America, not just black America, but America as a whole.
Our flag, our monuments, our institutions — belong to all of us. We can’t be proud of all of them, and not all of them are worth fighting for. But if without our history — as sordid as it may be — we have no future. And none of us will be better off.