Let me begin by saying I know this is an odd place for a post about the election. I also know that it will cost me some readers. I’ve made my peace with that. But I do hope that those who think both candidates were equally bad or don’t understand why so many of us are terrified by this Trump win read this with an open mind and, even if you disagree, try to understand where we’re coming from:
The day I fully understood that Trump’s candidacy was dangerously different from that of other Republican candidates was when my son drove down to Anaheim, CA to go to Disneyland with a friend during primary season. While he was on his way I turned on the news and heard about the KKK march that was taking place at that very moment in Anaheim. As I tried to reach my son I listened as the event descended into violent chaos, resulting in numerous injuries and one counter-protester being stabbed with a flagpole carrying the Confederate flag.
As Trump’s campaign continued, I watched as anti-Semitic posts on social media increased in both frequency and repulsiveness. I listened when Melania (Ms.-Anti-Online-Bullying) was asked about a reporter who, after writing a story about Melania, had been inundated with Tweets and emails with the reporter’s face super-imposed over Holocaust victims while Trump was cast as the happy SS officer ready to turn on the gas. Our soon-to-be First Lady’s response? “(The reporter) provoked them.” Melania did not condemn the anti-Semitism. She did not call for the attacks to stop. Neither did her husband.
Over the last year I’ve read the accounts of the basketball teams of mostly-Hispanic high schools who were greeted in the gymnasiums of their competitors with big pictures of Trump and calls to “Build a wall.” I’ve tried to absorb that hate crimes against Muslims are up 78% since Trump announced his candidacy.
And of course I’ve heard person after person laugh off Trump’s boasts of sexual assault.
Trump did not invent bigotry. I am not naive enough to think that the KKK sprung up in Anaheim overnight. But this was the first time in many decades that they felt confident enough to march through those Southern Californian streets.
Individuals who have hate in their hearts but previously had enough shame to restrain themselves in public forums have been emboldened by the rhetoric of Trump’s campaign. The KKK made that much clear when they officially endorsed Trump in their newspaper. They never endorsed Romney, McCain, Bush, Dole or Bill Clinton and they sure as hell didn’t endorse Obama.
But now the man who has been endorsed by The KKK, David Duke and the head of the American Nazi party who helpfully pointed out, “Donald Trump’s campaign statements, if nothing else, have shown that our views are not so unpopular as the political correctness crowd have told everyone they are!” will be our next President. It’s patently absurd to think that having seen their candidate of choice succeed these hate groups are now going to dial it down a notch.
Yes, I fear what Trump will do in the Oval Office, but I fear what he has unleashed in others more. And the fact that this wasn’t a serious consideration for half the American voting public hurts. Worse yet, I now know that it WAS a consideration for a not insignificant number of Trump voters who either embraced the hate or decided they could live with it. That hurts more. If my dignity and safety as well as the safety and dignity of those who look like me, or belong to other minority groups, is valued as less important than punishing Clinton for her husband’s trade deals or for using the wrong email server how can I feel any degree of patriotism? Yes, I know many of Trump’s voters didn’t like what he was saying but rarely did they hold him accountable by insisting that he change his rhetoric if he wanted their vote.
When Trump won my first thought was, maybe my family needs to get out of this country. Clearly that was the first impulse of many people based on the crashing of Canada’s immigration website. The logistics of becoming an expatriate would be hard for my family, but not impossible. But what about all the marginalized Americans for whom moving would be impossible? Am I supposed to abandon them when they are at their most vulnerable?
I can’t do that. I have to stand with them. Speaking out against injustice and for other people’s civil liberties has never been as important as it is now that I know half the country either doesn’t see it, doesn’t care or, in some cases, hope to be the perpetrators of that injustice.
Please don’t be one of those people. Regardless of how you voted, please hear me. Stand with me, with my son, with the Americans who tried and failed to protect us against this abuse with their votes on November 8th, 2016. Please hold our next President accountable for his words, particularly if you did support him or if you didn’t vote at all. Because his words will translate into other people’s actions. It’s already happening. Please see it and help us stop it.