Mere anarchy.

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting at a busy gate for a Delta flight out of Salt Lake City. Parents calmed antsy toddlers; business travelers checked their phones. Folks exchanged pleasantries about the weather, kids. We were of many ethnicities, ages, backgrounds, and languages, in a few rows of hard plastic airport seating. A fairly normal scene.

Then the overhead TV announced some breaking news. Together, we looked up. Together, we listened as our president basically defended white supremacists.

Footage replayed of those angry white men chanting KKK slogans and brandishing torches. Hundreds of rifles in the hands of a camouflage-clad militia, shoulder to shoulder. A wall. A barrier. An army, at a beautiful university, threatening dominion.

We blinked. We people in the airport, we didn’t know how to react.

Because we couldn’t be sure of the politics of the person next to us, we became, collectively, afraid. Hesitant. A few of us murmured. Sighed. Looked furtively around at each other.

But basically, the area around the gate was now silent.

It was the strangest thing. As if we’d all been suddenly lifted into a different plane (pun intended), and now, we couldn’t make eye contact.

Something in the air had grown very, very heavy.

I keep thinking of Yeats: “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” I’d never understood the use of “mere” in connection with “anarchy” in that line. Evil as something mundane, everyday, normalized.

I get it now.

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