Erik Hagerman: A human/ostrich chimera
This weekend the New York Times published one of the most infuriating pieces of reportage I've read in many a while.
It was a feature on an Ohio pig farmer named Erik Hagerman. Nonplussed by the installation of Donald Trump, he didn't turn his anguish into activism or resistance. He withdrew from the world.
Now, let me qualify this. I'm of the Catholic tradition. Withdrawing from the world to commune with your God is a time-honored practice. But this isn't what Hagerman is doing.
He's instituted something he calls "The Blockade", so that he doesn't get exposed to any news. He's neither heard nor read nor seen any news about anything that's happened since November 2016. No Charlottesville. No MeToo. No Stormy Daniels. No Parkland.
That would be easy to do if he were to truly become a hermit. But, he drives into the closest town to get coffee. He talks with friends and family. In doing so, he expects them all to live by the code of the Blockade. They're not allowed to talk about the news. He became quite cross with one of his friends and let her know so. For whatever reason, this person didn't tell him to go fuck off, but acquiesced in his demands.
I cannot begin to tell you how furious I was and am. While he lives in his not-quite-so-splendid-isolation, he's ignoring stories like these:
People are suffering, and people are fighting back against this regime. But Erik Hagerman is so ensconced in his privilege that he doesn't care. His tender sensibilities were so affected by Trump's victory that his immediate reaction was to spare himself from pain.
There's a difference between taking needed breaks and cutting yourself off from the struggles of your fellow citizens. I'm sure migrants fearing for their lives from ICE raids wish they could withdraw. They can't. That Hagerman is doing so, lifting not one finger to better his society, goes beyond moral cowardice: it is a moral evil.
Once we rid ourselves of this regime, I'm sure Hagerman will return to his life without giving a second thought to his actions. It's ever thus with people like him. He truly is an island.
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