I had a personal experience over the weekend that made The First Purge hit home for me in a way that it otherwise might not have, and I didn’t want to shoehorn this personal anecdote into an otherwise straight review. It’s a feeling that had been growing since long before I saw the movie, this gnawing sense that we’re losing our collective mind. Mass media has been fractured for a while now, “cyberbalkanization” was coined almost two decades ago, and most of us are well aware that we live in a kind of Google News ad-served echo chamber of our own making. Lately though, it seems like this splintering is increasing in speed and scope at an exponential rate.
Last weekend I attended a Keep Families Together march in Downtown LA. I went partly because I earnestly believe in a demilitarized border (even if you hate immigrants every study has shown that a militarized border mostly only keeps “illegals” in rather than the opposite) and because more and more, I feel like if the sane people among us don’t at least show up, the dickheads will continue to win (put simply). Also, some of my friends were going, I won’t pretend I’m Rosa Parks.
I learned a few things at the event — like that I’m still intensely uncomfortable with slogan chanting, that John Legend probably should’ve limited his appearance to one song, and that standing in the same spot for more than 90 minutes is never especially fun. Still, a mass protest is a bit like a funeral (I’ve been to too many of those lately, so it was fresh on my mind). What happens there doesn’t matter nearly as much as simply showing up. You don’t have to be the most eloquent speaker, you don’t have to achieve closure and catharsis in the first five minutes — just show up. People will remember.
Anyway, after the rally and the march, as we were leaving the event, a car pulled up alongside us. It was big white Toyota, with a Trump sticker on the passenger door and three people inside, all wearing big cardboard Trump masks. The driver appeared to be an adult woman, the passenger an adult or possibly adolescent woman, with a child in the back. All of them were yelling “Build the wall!” and making that okay-type gesture with their hands that’s kinda sorta maybe a white power symbol.
Or, I guess, the idea is that it *isn’t* a white power symbol, but the goal was to trick liberals into thinking it was, in order to expose “leftist lunacy” or whatever. That’s a fairly deep and asinine rabbit hole, but at a certain point the difference between a Nazi and being someone trying to trick people into thinking you’re a Nazi ceases being meaningful. Surprise! It’s just me, Dave!
Leaving aside the fact that the stated purpose of this rally was essentially for people to come together to say “putting children in concentration camps is bad,” I have had and continue to have meaningful friendships with people who would self-identify as “conservatives.” I can’t entirely refute the idea that I live “in a bubble,” as most people who live in cities, and especially traditionally liberal cities, do (though pretty much all urban areas lean left nowadays, even the ones in Texas). That being said, there’s a clear difference between someone who privately subscribes to a conservative ideology and someone who goes to a pro-immigrant rally to throw up white power signs. One is arguably worthy of reasoned debate, the other has clearly come looking for a fight and probably deserves one.