Where to begin?
I haven’t been writing. At a time of crisis, I feel too overwhelmed, too burdened by the myriad topics, so I don’t write.
I don’t know where to begin.
I want to resist, but am not sure how to resist what is thus far yet to come, and is instead only speculation and a harbinger of doom.
I want to defend. I want to defend the people the Trump administration sees as less-than: Women, Muslims, people of color, people with disabilities, poor people, LGBT, the planet--anyone who is isn’t rich, white, and male.
I want this reality to disappear. The worst of America should not ever win. It is naive to perpetuate the myth that America has been a perfect hero, always doing good and providing equality. But, America should improve as the years pass instead of taking a leap 75 years backwards in one election. The worst of America won this election, and the best of America is frightened, stunned.
We are girding up our loins for social battles, legal battles, preparing to harbor anyone the Trump administration deems “unfit” to be American.
I read an article in the Huffington Post about what those who have studied Nazis can teach us about reactions to the election of Trump. The article discusses how people--including liberals--have tended to come up with excuses for the election result such as, Hillary didn’t have a hard enough line against ISIS. The ultimate point is, even people opposed to the ascension of power of a madman, totalitarian, or authoritarian often end up “coordinating,” or getting in line. They begin to, if not totally support the new leader, tow the line enough to enable the new regime to take control and maim communities.
Quoting Hannah Arendt, a German-born Jewish political theorist, the article said, “The problem, the personal problem, was not what our enemies did, but what our friends did. Friends ‘coordinated’ or got in line.”
We can’t get in line. It is frustrating because there is a definite sense of foreboding and an acknowledgment that something is rotten in the state of U.S. But without definites and specifics, it’s hard to prepare, so we try to prepare for every foreseeable and unforeseeable possibility of what is to come.
The mental and emotional toll that takes is heartbreaking.
Almost daily I have a moment of panic. I can’t breathe, my heart aches, I want to ram my head against a wall until the pain subsides, and curl up in a ball on the floor. Every day brings a new horror as I read the news, the latest being that Trump wants to, “greatly strengthen and expand [the United States’] nuclear capability,” disregarding years of national security precedent.
We cannot accept this demagoguery. We cannot stand by and watch rights be stripped from us and others.
In the wake of the rise of hate crimes, including ample harassment against Muslims, I’ve begun to think a lot about America’s “Greatest Generation.” We have long peddled the mythology that during World War II America was heroic, standing up against fascism and embracing freedom for all.
And yet, we rounded up Japanese-Americans and sent them to camps and thought that was just fine, not seeing the irony. With the rise of a leader in America who used hate speech and fear-mongering to win an election, tactics reminiscent of leaders like Hitler, instead of hearing those words and rejecting them, we embrace them and harass Muslims.
Did Americans during World War II actually care about what Hitler was doing to the Jews? Or did they just not like Hitler? The extent of the Holocaust wasn’t known to Americans until after the war, but it was no secret that Hitler was registering them, sending them to ghettos and camps, robbing them of rights.
I see fellow Americans embrace Trump and attempt to justify Muslim registration. There is no justification for this hate and fear.
The incoming administration may be a time of reckoning for the United States. We purport to value freedom, tout our beloved Amendments and Constitution, and love the idea that we are the heroes of the world. If we do not stand up against bigotry, hate, propaganda, destruction--if we don’t do this as individuals as well as a unified country--we spit upon the values we claim to hold so dear.
It is a truth so often repeated it almost seems cliche, but is nonetheless essential to understand: If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor (Desmond Tutu).
Don’t be neutral. Find ways to fight the battle against injustice. Strengthen your communities and welcome love and acceptance.
We are all counting on you.