I really didn’t want to talk about it. Frankly, it is wearying to think about the circumstance and fallout, which thrust a grieving Gold Star widow into the crosshairs of political sniping. It was heartbreaking enough to see Myeisha Johnson at her husband’s funeral kissing his coffin as she held onto the American flag. Wrenching to know that while she was grieving Sgt. La David Johnson, President Trump was on the golf course. He, still stewing days after his bumbled condolence call, which the young widow, told ABC News, “made me cry.” Agonizing to hear the upset and hurt in her voice in that interview, as she asked, “If my husband risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?"

Why, indeed? And why would the president complain about Johnson’s interview in a belligerent tweet, even as he insisted how and what he said was “respectful”? Just when I think there simply cannot be another bridge too far, President Trump shows me I am now living in the land of faraway bridges. It’s also hard for me not to see the venom in his attacks against black women — attacks Slate’s Jamelle Bouie observes seem to “reflect his twin contempt for women and nonwhites.”

And I am gob smacked that Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly either volunteered or was persuaded to be a player in this crass and cruel drama. I watched as he railed from the White House podium against a cultural shift that he said did not respect women. Yet moments later, he proceeded to disrespect Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a close personal friend of Myeisha and Sgt. Johnson, with a story later proven to be false. Gen. Kelly ignored demands to apologize from the women of the Congressional Black Caucus, and from Wilson herself, who said, “He lied to the American public.”

If Kelly, touted as the administration’s moral standard-bearer, could be sucked into President Trump’s vortex, what hope is there for civility and empathy? None, as Republican Sen. Jeff Flake made clear in his resignation speech on the floor of the Senate. In calling out his fellow Republicans, he warned against normalizing the president’s behavior. Those who keep silent, he said, are complicit in crippling the very foundation of our small ‘d’ democracy.

“Don’t obey in advance” is the first and fundamental of the 20 lessons in professor Timothy Snyder’s book about tyranny. The Yale scholar traces the history of failed democracies to the early easy acceptance of changes to the norm that — at first — didn’t seem like a big deal. I’m alarmed that too many Americans cannot see through the fog of division to see the bigger picture articulated by Sen. Flake and illustrated by the story of Myeisha Johnson. We are no longer shocked by lies, are being desensitized to the ugliness in tenor and tone, and we appear all too ready to accept a new norm. Myeisha Johnson ended her ABC interview saying she had nothing left to say to the president.

If our democracy is worth preserving, we can’t afford to let that be the last word.