(not quite) a literary journal


Kingdom of Not

by Rudy Martinez

The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski plays in the background.

September 27, 2018 will forever live in the collective consciousness of Our Bizarre America (OBA).

The signals broadcast from my laptop painted a picture of two disparate yet very American characters:

  • Dr. Christine Blasey Ford: A highly-intelligent and captivating clinical psychologist with a terrifying yet all-too-common story to tell of how white cis-male privilege forever scarred her at the age of 15. Plucked from anonymity and now symbolic of the political zeitgeist, Dr. Ford sat in front of the country as a survivor. An individual without the slightest inclination to lie.

  • Judge Brett Kavanaugh: A White man, a Catholic, a Yale graduate, and a predator hiding behind the thin veil of a choir boy, who launched into a grotesque tirade as soon as he sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee. For much of the evening, the man once viewed as calm and calculating exuded an air of disbelief. He radiated a sense of annoyance, like, “why the hell are we having to do this in the first place? I believe in God and I coach a local basketball team. Is that not enough for you?”

I watched Dr. Ford’s testimony before heading to Chinatown to show a recently arrived Texas exile around the city.

I believed every word of Dr. Ford’s testimony—I don’t care that she doesn’t recall how she got home after Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge tried to rape her. Though I lack a background in psychology, it’d make sense if someone blacked out after escaping such a dangerous situation. She must’ve been in shock, an arena of dissonance I’ll never fully comprehend. A 15-year-old’s sense of reality was shattered in mere minutes as two young men drunkenly laughed at her, it doesn’t matter how the hell she got home.

I can’t remember the last time I witnessed people crowd around a television set to “witness” history. There were about ten of us gathered around a television set the night Trump was elected. By the end of the night, the room had unconsciously separated itself by race, some of us wept and others incessantly drank and smoked, but I don’t know what the rest of San Marcos looked like. During Trump’s inauguration, I counted amongst the “boots on the ground” protesting—I didn’t want to watch the transition of power happen from afar. So, instead of watching the show, I adopted a character, albeit a minor one. But, the Ford-Kavanaugh testimonies were on every television set in New York City. Before reaching Washington Square Park, my friend and I stopped at the entrance of NYU’s Linguistics Department to watch Kavanaugh’s testimony. We watched along with a security guard and a punk rocker. When we got to the park there were people watching the testimony on their phones and listening to it on the radio. A long-awaited breeze swept through the park as a three-piece jazz band softly played near the arc. Their smoothness melted into the air. I laid down and found myself shaking, not quite knowing what to do with myself. I imagine a lot of us were mired in a similar state of incapacitating confusion.

As of Friday afternoon, as the sun sets over New York—one of the more beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed, with a soundtrack provided by Nina Simone (a live version of “West Wind”)—Kavanaugh’s fate is suspended in the air, being violently pulled at by the warring factions of our day: That of the white male privilege inherent to this country and the progressive wave of justice for the victims of sexual assault.

Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination to a wider Senate vote, but an FBI investigation, which I was foolishly against a week ago, has now been ordered by President Trump. One must imagine that this was in part to the change of heart had by Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who was confronted by two survivors of sexual assault before the Committee’s vote. During the encounter, one of the women urged Flake to look her in the face and said, “Look at me and tell me it doesn’t matter what happened to me.” Shortly after, Flake voiced his support for a “limited” FBI investigation. Initially, I didn’t think anything would come of an FBI investigation, but I now believe the FBI should turn its attention to Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s accomplice. I don’t care that he’s a recovering alcoholic and a cancer survivor whose fragile mental state will be upended by being dragged into this—he wasn’t just there, he participated, and he has to answer to the American public.

This isn’t a left-wing conspiracy or “revenge” for the 2016 election on behalf of the Clintons.

This shouldn’t boil down to someone’s work ethic while they were in high school and college or the fact that a man in a position of power has found it in himself to hire female aides.

If this is what “boys being boys” produces, then we must rid our society of “boys.”

There’s a riot going on that is impacting the very nature of life in America. I don’t write this as someone desperate to be considered an “ally;” I’ve had several instances in which I’ve been disrespectful and hurtful toward numerous women in my life, and these shortcomings are aspects of my being I am coming to terms with. The existentialist in me refuses to support the notion that men are inherently evil. But, I do think that we are taught to be evil from birth by our nurturers, with the media, in all its ubiquity, functioning as an extra parent. When our malleability is molded into the clear-cut rigidness of gender roles, we get Brett Kavanaugh and Brock Turner. We are taught that our misogynistic and predatory behavior is normal and to be excused by “hysterics” who are “out to get us.”

Kavanaugh, Trump, and all those of their ilk deserve Terror. A Terror synthesized with virtue, for sacrificing them today allows us to slouch toward a clearer tomorrow.