For most of my adult life, I have adhered to a broad pro-democracy, anti-racism and anti nasty things mentality, swinging back and forth between liberalism and conservatism depending on the issue and on the personalities in power.
I have assumed without thinking about it that I lived in the normal world. In that world, there was no support for a man who in the first debate for his party's candidacy said, with a straight face, that he would not accept the outcome if he didn't win. In that world, a presidential candidate who middle-fingered the mainstream press, mocked a disabled reporter, and got caught on tape saying the crotch-grab was his preferred technique for picking up women would sink without a trace.
But now Donald Trump is to be the next American president and my world has changed. Actually the world has not changed. It's my perception of it. I felt as the election results became clear towards the end, that a shell had shattered and I was stepping over its pieces into a strange and bigger world, one in which ― and this was the revelation ― I had until now been incubating as the member of just one of its tribes. My tribe, you see, thought it was the world.
Our members tend to be educated, and live in cities. Many of us live in foreign countries and marry foreigners. We don't care about race. We pretend not to be biased on religion but we are ― we lean to the secular. If Muslims did not throw bricks through your window, we would criticize them more, but in theory, not to the faces of their nice, moderate members. Our members read the labels on food packaging, pick up dog poo and worry about climate change. In America, we tend to vote Democrat but we have both liberal and conservative leanings. We are open to others. Yes, we are generous-spirited. Unless, like some distant cousins, they remind us of Adolf Hitler.
Many of our men have beards ― short ones. Long ones are another tribe who we see as zombie death cultists. We consider media like The Daily Telegraph and Fox News to be far right. Our own media, like The New York Times and CNN, are neutral and objective. If someone in a social gathering said they would vote for Brexit or Donald Trump the room would go quiet. Trump supporters are Nazis and freaks who live in the woods and carry sub-machine guns.
But in the new world, I now realize that what passed for fairness and goodness was limited. Actually, my tribe's folk are arrogant, out-of-touch, and, you could say, even bigoted. In our zeal for the theoretical goodness of our ideas, we did not see, let alone care about, the suffering of people around us. What does the professor care about a small business that fails? Boo-hoo, Plumber Joe. We have been exposed as the kind of liberals who would demonstrate for a gay couple whose baker refused to make a wedding cake, but against an election result that didn't go our way. We would welcome speakers who espouse violence but ban The Daily Mail for espousing an idea we didn't like.
In the post-2016 US election world, I'm looking for a new place. My biggest concern right now is about the media I dip into. My old loyalties are fractured. Now, when I see a New York Times columnist, like Frank Bruno did last week, moan on about Trump, I get this surge of anger and stop reading. Just watch how these elitists pretend they never got it wrong. They remind me of the leftist Korea scholars who still can't accept that the better Korea grew, by luck and hard work, from the rightist part.
When I see a post on Facebook about a half a dozen loony toons who Donald Trump has denounced giving Nazi salutes as if this spectacle represents the future under his leadership, I realize I must have been standing close to the shell when it broke because half the tribe is still in there in the yolk wallowing in their delusions.
What we need is media with the gravitas of The New York Times or The Guardian that covers all sectors of the country ― instead of missing out huge constituencies such as the one that swung the election for Trump.
As for our own attitudes, we need to come in for a recall and get checked for our own biases. For, as soon as fighting a prejudice becomes fashionable, you know that the real prejudices have moved on.
Michael Breen is the CEO of Insight Communications Consultants, a public relations company, and author of "The Koreans" and "Kim Jong-il: North Korea's Dear Leader."