Aaron Sorkin has never been what one might call a teddy bear. This is, after all, the man who penned a speech boldly stating in the pilot for HBO’s “The Newsroom” that America isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
(He’s also not dumb: The speech worked, prompting thinkpieces from around the Internet and gaining buzz for the show.)
So when Vanity Fair published a letter addressed to his ex-wife Julia and his 15-year-old daughter Roxy following the election, it should come as no surprise that he used it to spit venom.
It was full of sharp language and vitriol (at one point, he called the president-elect a certain type of “nozzle” that can’t be printed here; at another, he stated Trump will be impeached within the year), despite the magazine labeling it as “moving.”
“Sorkin girls,” he began. “Well the world changed late last night in a way I couldn’t protect us from. That’s a terrible feeling for a father. I won’t sugarcoat it — this is truly horrible.”
In that paragraph, he said this is “ is the first time that a thoroughly incompetent pig with dangerous ideas, a serious psychiatric disorder, no knowledge of the world and no curiosity to learn has [won the presidency.]”
Most important, though, “it was not just Donald Trump who won last night — it was his supporters too,” he wrote, referring to the 59,427,652 American citizens who voted for the Republican candidate.
It took not two paragraphs for Sorkin to state, “The Klan won last night,” likely referring to the fact that a KKK newspaper endorsed our president-elect.
He continued with a list of those “who won”:
White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons. Angry young white men who think rap music and Cinco de Mayo are a threat to their way of life (or are the reason for their way of life) have been given cause to celebrate. Men who have no right to call themselves that and who think that women who aspire to more than looking hot are shrill, ugly, and otherwise worthy of our scorn rather than our admiration struck a blow for misogynistic s‑‑‑heads everywhere.
“Hate was given hope,” the letter stated.
At one point, Sorkin touched on one of his most well-worn topics: the “intelligent elite” vs. “uninformed populist,” writing:
Abject dumbness was glamorized as being “the fresh voice of an outsider” who’s going to “shake things up.” (Did anyone bother to ask how? Is he going to re-arrange the chairs in the Roosevelt Room?) For the next four years, the President of the United States, the same office held by Washington and Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, F.D.R., J.F.K. and Barack Obama, will be held by a man-boy who’ll spend his hours exacting Twitter vengeance against all who criticize him (and those numbers will be legion). We’ve embarrassed ourselves in front of our children and the world.
This, in particular, has long been a sticking point for Sorkin who, in his most well-known show “The West Wing,” wrote a biting scene exploring just that. In it, President Jed Bartlett (Martin Sheen) and Gov. Robert Ritchie (James Brolin), his Republican opponent for the presidency, both express their detestation of each other.
Ritchie’s central argument is that Bartlett is an elite, overeducated man. Bartlett’s is that Ritchie is an idiot.
Before getting to the “moving” part of the letter, Sorkin closes his list of issues with Trump with a simple question: “What wouldn’t we give to trade this small fraction of a man for Richard Nixon right now?”
“So what do we do?” Sorkin asked, before offering a few options and even comforts.
The first is that his family, in their feelings toward the election, are “not alone.”
“A hundred million people in America and a billion more around the world feel exactly the same way we do,” he wrote.
The statement certainly holds truth, as evidenced by the trending #notmypresident hashtag that has been accompanied by words like, “Regardless of what politicians or media say, we DO NOT have to accept Trump as president” to the nationwide protests that have ended in shattered bank storefronts.
The second is to “get out of bed”:
The Trumpsters want to see people like us (Jewish, “coastal elites,” educated, socially progressive, Hollywood …) sobbing and wailing and talking about moving to Canada. I won’t give them that and neither will you.
Finally, Sorkin wrote, “we’ll f—ing fight,” assuring his daughter that such language is now appropriate.
We’re not powerless and we’re not voiceless. We don’t have majorities in the House or Senate but we do have representatives there. It’s also good to remember that most members of Trump’s own party feel exactly the same way about him that we do. We make sure that the people we sent to Washington — including Kamala Harris — take our strength with them and never take a day off.
We get involved. We do what we can to fight injustice anywhere we see it — whether it’s writing a check or rolling up our sleeves. Our family is fairly insulated from the effects of a Trump presidency so we fight for the families that aren’t. We fight for a woman to keep her right to choose. We fight for the First Amendment and we fight mostly for equality — not for a guarantee of equal outcomes but for equal opportunities. We stand up.
Sorkin concluded the letter by referencing World War II:
The battle isn’t over, it’s just begun. Grandpa fought in World War II and when he came home this country handed him an opportunity to make a great life for his family. I will not hand his granddaughter a country shaped by hateful and stupid men. Your tears last night woke me up, and I’ll never go to sleep on you again.
See the full letter here, but be warned that it contains coarse language.
The reaction to the letter was unsurprisingly mixed.
One reader didn’t like the vulgarities he employed. Others simply didn’t like the letter.
Sorkin’s particular brand of liberalism has rubbed people the wrong way in the past.
Even Salon, an outlet that leans so far left that its parody account is almost indistinguishable from the real things, has written, “Aaron Sorkin is why people hate liberals. He’s a smug, condescending know-it-all who isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. His feints toward open-mindedness are transparently phony, he mistakes his opinion for common sense, and he’s preachy.”
Many others, though, seemed energized by the letter.
“In tears. Thank you, Aaron Sorkin for your thoughts on Trump and what to do,” tweeted one user.
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