Ann, I think "we", as in all of us in such situations, really did know the truth about others. But, in "normal" times, we could overlook it because our world was typically not threatened by the opinions of another. My friend thinks one way, I another - no big deal. She wins sometimes, I win others. It all shakes out in the end, doesn't it?
We chose to see our similarities as being stronger and more important than our differences. But, now, everything and everyone has gone to the extreme. We ARE threatened - and if not personally, many we know are being attacked in a myriad of ways. Our democracy is being trampled. Equality and justice are being butchered. Our country is rotting from within.
The closely-held, negative beliefs of others are spilling out like vomit on our shoes. We can no longer ignore the stench.
I liken it to a bad marriage. You have a friend who is in what you know is a bad marriage. Husband is verbally unkind - a bit of a bully. Your friend shares with you but doesn't want you to intervene. Then, the bullying increases, becomes physical, becomes life-threatening. No longer is it just your friend's business. You must make it your business, too. You must speak up. You must react because it has become a matter of life or death. You call the police or social welfare. If you lose your friend as a result of your interference, so be it. You must do what is right.
We are there now. Americans made a bad marriage with Trump. He is abusive and cruel and out-of-control. If his followers are blind to his despotism, then we must walk away so we can continue the fight without distraction. Right now, we are calling in the troops. We need to win this fight. There will be casualties.
We always knew. We turned away. We pretended not to know. But, we knew. Our blinders have been removed and we can't unsee what we saw, we can't unknow what we know.
My sadness about losing friends over politics has been replaced with gratitude that I am no longer blind to all the "isms" that surrounded me. I'd rather live with only a few in the light than with hundreds in the dark.