When the “New Normal” is Anything But
Fashion icon André Leon Talley recently had the courage to say he would be opting out of Trumpland. By which we assume we means he will not be writing about or collaborating with any of the more fashion-forward Trumps.
Whether that implied promise — which will perhaps put him at odds with some powerful people in his circle — will be kept remains to be seen.
The first question that must lead any examination of whether a boycott of Donald, Melania, and Ivanka is appropriate is logically simple: Is Donald Trump evil?
From the answer to that question, all else must flow. If Donald Trump is truly evil, he cannot be supported. And if he is truly evil, people who support him cannot be supported.
But what is evil? Let’s not stick to a textbook definition here. Let’s consider the root idea behind the concept of evil.
Evil is a type of harm to others.
We all harm others, of course, intentionally or unintentionally. That’s an unfortunate fact of life. So you might say evil is defined in part by degree, and in part by intent.
Evil is a degree of harm to others caused by a systematic lack of caring, at best; a direct desire to hurt others, at worst. And evil can be the product of omission as well as commission. A failure to help; a failure to act, when we have the power to help: this, too, is evil.
Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Turning a blind eye to evil — failure to accept the beautiful privilege of exercising our ability to help others, one of the sterling gifts of consciousness itself — makes us as culpable as any actor who directly harms another.
Evil, at root, is selfishness run amok. We see it in the behavior of Kanye West, in bad-behaving celebrities we make more successful with clicks (we vote with clicks, whether we like to think so or not), and in our current president-elect.
Why do we support evil people?
And what can we do about them?
Evil is never destroyed by evil; so we should never seek to humiliate or harm. But we do need to fight.
And the first step is to recognize where we are complicit. And to call out those, from Tommy Hilfiger to Carolina Herrera, who may be willing to overlook evil. (Jury still out; see below.) Because when we overlook the overlookers, we join the ranks of those who have failed.
Now the most salient question: Is Donald Trump evil?
We don’t have all the answers yet.
So far, our president-elect hasn’t had the power to do much beyond talk. But the pattern we’ve seen so far — distorting not just the truth, but the concept of truth; using emotionalism, particularly fear and hatred, to manipulate people to his own ends; failure to decry evil in the form of white supremacism (even while finding ample time to humiliate those who criticize him) — paints a worrisome picture, at best.
All of this means one thing: we have to keep our eyes more open than ever.
Because, after all, from what we’ve seen so far, the “new normal” is anything but.