What an awful news week. Hit after hit, most of it far, far away – in the bizarro world of Trump’s Washington, where darkness swirls under lemon hair in a president’s head and malevolence grips all 3 branches of federal government. And by our southern border where even congressmen are having a hard time getting in to bear witness, where children are wrenched from their parents; scared, alone, isolated by language, poorly treated. How do we know? Reporters have told us, showed us, and made sure we heard. But I admit to feeling helpless and weary, even as I watch resilient, determined people put their bodies on the line in 90 degree-plus weather, to show up for what’s right. I feel played out, overwhelmed and useless, even as I type words to tell you how many brave fighters we have in New Jersey. I’m watching kitten videos and drinking sangria just to cope. Then last night, another mass shooting – in Annapolis. Gerald Fischman, killed in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette, was my cousin’s former co-worker. Second time in 34 days the shootings feel close; our 11- and 14-year old cousins escaped with their lives as a kid shot up their middle school last month. I am low.
Then today, at my lowest, here comes Allison Peltzman, my buddy at ACLU-NJ, calling in her people, asking them to show up for the Capital Gazette, and thanking all the newspeople she says “keep democracy alive.” And including me. I’m so grateful. That was a gut-punch to my sadness, just when I needed it. And – more than that – an honor to be named in that company.
Allison’s message is above. She thanked those who do the vital work of journalism. But I need to say that Allison all her colleagues at American Civil Liberties Union* stand behind freedom of the press itself, and free speech rights. There is nothing more American than what ACLU does; there is no time it’s been more needed.
* I live with a board member of ACLU-NJ. You know I’d be writing this whether I did or not.