Giving a Dam(n) for Oroville

I never intended to politicize this page. I’m just an ex-trucker turned dog trainer who decided to blog very occasionally on my adventures behind the windshield and other things. To be totally transparent, I’m pretty liberal, but that’s a view not held by a majority of truckers. I really did want them to enjoy this place once I started posting here in earnest. While I still feel that way, I just can’t avoid my activism creeping in and taking this place over.

Last night, something happened that I can’t ignore, and which could change the tone of the page in the future. An order was issued asking nearly 200,000 of my fellow Americans to evacuate their homes because the Oroville Dam in California is in danger. While most social media activity was in support of the affected area, something very troubling was also occurring in a parallel universe that I hoped I’d never see in America. Twitter was suddenly ablaze with Trump supporters virtually laughing over their fellow citizens’ misfortune in the most despicable display of anti-American values that I’ve ever seen. They were commenting about how Hollywood liberals should fix the dam, about California being unable to fix the dam because it supports sanctuary cities, to blaming Obama for no stimulus money going to fix the dam, etc. These heartless tweeters seem to  have as little compassion for their own countrymen, the REAL PEOPLE affected by this, as they have for the “wretched refuse” of the “teeming shores” of other lands. Many of them seemed amused that this misfortune was happening in a blue state (it was completely lost on these often self-described “deplorables” that the affected district actually voted red, not that it should matter).

Meanwhile, one of the very first offers of help came from the Sacramento Sikh community. Mayor Darrell Steinberg (@Mayor_Steinberg) tweeted seven temple addresses and said they were ready with food and “any in need” were welcome. THAT is a typical American response during a neighborhood, state, or national disaster. I’m embarrassed for my country that the first thought that crept into my head was how many times these generous people have probably heard the sting of the word “towelhead.” How many times has that word been uttered by the same type people who are busily spewing hate from their keyboards today as they simultaneously fail to provide any support or information that could be critical to real people finding shelter or resources for themselves or their animals.

Did any of these narrow minded fools even consider that truckers headed to California last night might benefit from a word of warning, rather than another 140 characters worth of vitriol against immigrants, or liberals, or the poor? Instead of tweeting hate, could they not have reserved using hashtags about the dam to further their own political agenda for just one day, instead reserving them for useful info? One of the last things I tweeted last night on @extruckerlady was the Caltrans information about which highways were impacted. I hoped with all my heart that no trucker would come to harm because they remained uninformed. That, my friends is the highest best use of social media – keeping people safe from harm.

We can never agree on everything. I’m always going to be at odds with my conservative friends on some issues, and they with me. But when we allow the greediest and basest factions in our country to divide us to the point where we’re so busy trying to be right that we forget how to be considerate about the fate of our neighbors, then we’ve lost what it means to be Americans. We simply have to keep giving a damn about each other. Black, white, red, yellow, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, male, female, trans, LGBTQ, young, old, rich, poor, landed, homeless, veteran, conscientious objector, liberal, conservative etc. etc. If you say “America First” that implies EVERY American deserves the same care and respect. That doesn’t mean we have to agree, it just means we care for each other enough to know that politics shouldn’t overshadow pulling together in a crisis. We simply cannot let the greed at the top translate to dismissing the suffering of our countrymen, or worse, laughing at it.