We see them only briefly, the protesters at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. They seem to flicker on our screens, unable to make themselves understood.
These are time travelers, sent to us with a message from a desperate future. It’s a place where the U.S. Constitution is seen not to guarantee individual liberty, but rather to support a kind of economic feudalism, where the wealthy have the power and status once conferred by divine right.
Why have they arrived now, and not at some earlier, more critical moment? Like the moment when corporations took on personhood. Or the period when businesses began to adopt religions that allow invidious discrimination. Or the day that the commercial voice grew louder than the voice of the people.
But what is special about our moment in time is that it is the moment when we fully embrace the bliss of ignorance. We will withhold from ourselves the information that we already possess about the candidate, Brett Kavanaugh. We are ready to agree with him that if our President commits a crime, we shouldn’t even know about it, because of the inconvenience that knowledge would cause.
Perhaps our day is simply the furthest point back in time that a human can reach, who wants us to warn us about surrendering fact to persuasion, truth to power. Of course it could be that messengers have traveled even further back, and we have been ignoring them all along.
My friends ask, sardonically, what these people can possibly hope to accomplish? Don’t they know how foolish they look, shouting and waving their signs? What’s interesting, I think, is not what these people look like to us. It’s what we look like to them.