Iran, World War III, and Jokes That Might Be, But Probably Aren’t, Funny
We joke about pain, yet detachment is a part of the problem
At some bad hour on January 3, the Twitter account of God quote-tweeted “No it didn’t. He’s still President” in response to CNBC’s “America just took out the world’s no.1 bad guy” tweet. This was in reference to the Trump administration’s targeted killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the notorious military leader of Iran’s Quds Force, which may or may not be the spark that starts America’s new war with Iran (we still don’t know). A few hours later, I had a direct message from someone I did not follow: “Just to be clear, that God tweet is a joke right? Like, you don’t actually think Trump (as horrifically awful as he is) is worse than Soleimani (one of the largest mass murderers in the world). I love your writing and appreciate your opinion, especially on Iran, but I’m confused why you would retweet that joke right after retweeting that the jokes are disgusting? Unless you don’t think it’s a joke?” I sighed and thought about ignoring it and blocking him but instead replied, “No, it’s not a joke, God really tweeted that.” He didn’t reply.
What a roller coaster these first days of a new decade have been and among them this dilemma of correct emotions, as most of us fight drowning in the predominant obvious one: rage. On the one hand I retweeted the poet Danez Smith’s “The jokes are disgusting. Period.” On the other hand, I retweeted writer Molly Jong-Fast’s “I’m starting to suspect that making a dimwitted reality television host president may have been a mistake.” And then I retweeted what I hoped was a compromise of all my conflicting feelings, writer Ashley Ford’s, “The conversation about making jokes or not making jokes is really about people not having the space or language for earnestness & retreating into safe emotional spaces. I get why it makes some people mad, and I get why others feel it’s damn near required. Just talk about it.”
But the thing was, as was often the case with social media, nobody was talking about anything and talking at everything as per usual.
How does one know what to feel and what to express? I felt complex swirls of marbled awful: anger at America, frustration at Iran, hopelessness at how both…