There seems to be this trend of revealing Trump’s latest catalogues of horrors by prefacing it with, “While you were distracted…”  I’ve seen no fewer than three this year alone.  I think it’s just a turn of phrase, but it has some unfortunate implications.  

“Distracted” implies negligence.  It implies dereliction of duty.  I mean, first of all, there are people whose job it is to pay very close attention to the workings of American politics, the better to affect the outcomes, and none of them are me.  Sure, yes, I arguably have a moral duty to care what is happening to my fellow human beings under an oppressive regime, but that doesn’t mean finding out about something a day later constitutes “distraction” on my part.  Not even on the part of the Americans who I’m sure are the target audience for this stuff.

Second, distracted by what, exactly?  What is it that I was doing when I was supposed to be paying attention to American politics?  Was I asleep?  Was I working?  Was I making dinner for my family?  Was I devoting headspace to the revised refugee/immigration ban?  I’d argue that all of these have a rightful claim on my attention.  Or did all of the terribleness manage to happen during the twelve minutes I spent playing computer solitaire?  (“Okay, NSA confirms a green background.  Introduce the proposed legislation NOW!  GO GO GO!”)

Yeah, I know I’m being cranky, but it’s an attitude I’ve been burned by before: the people who weren’t “distracted” tended to be abled people with no family obligations and a great deal of disposable income, and they ended up calling the shots and guilting the rest of us for our lives and jobs and families and other interests and self care.  I’m not saying that this is the case for the people who draft these posts; just, I think there are a lot of better ways to frame this stuff than “While you were distracted…”