And then I did what I had not done before, and unfollowed her. Not because she disagreed with me, but because there was no point. She wasn’t going to agree with me, I wasn’t going to agree with her, and any little whiff of dissent on my part was going to be treated as a message from Planet Evil and slammed by her and her friends—her like-minded friends, because dissenters would long since have been intimidated into silence or blasted into Unfollow Limbo.
So if the Trump election has sharpened the divisions, maybe that’s OK. Maybe before, when I thought I was conversing with people, it just seemed that way because the custom was to be more polite, or because we weren’t talking about things that mattered to us. Now the gloves are off, and we can all see where we really stand.
4. And back to that little Kurdish boy named Donald, the one who cost me the affections of Ulla. The peshmerga, the Kurdish fighting force on the front line in the battle against ISIS, was neglected almost to the point of betrayal by the previous administration. I sincerely share their hope that President Trump will do better by them, and if that costs me a few online acquaintances who won’t even engage in the most cursory effort to figure out why I think what I think, so be it.
Dr. Cheryl Benard was program director of the Initiative for Middle Eastern Youth and the Alternative Strategies Initiative within the RAND Corporation’s National Security Research Division. Her publications include Civil Democratic Islam, Building Moderate Muslim Networks, The Muslim World After 9-11, The Battle Behind the Wire - US Prisoner and Detainee Operations, and Eurojihad - Patterns of Islamist Radicalization and Terrorism in Europe. Civil Democratic Islam was one of the books found in Osama Bin Laden’s library during the raid on his compound.
Image: Women’s March on Washington. Flickr/Creative Commons/Mobilus In Mobili