It has taken me a long to get up the courage to post this. But it’s time to take a stand and I can’t let my voice be silent any longer.
All this week, I’ve been asked by too many people why I’m upset. Why I can’t ‘grow up and get over it.’ Why I continue to compare Trump to Hitler and why I continue to ‘overreact’ and denounce him. Why I can’t just forget it. Why I can’t accept it and move on.
This post is my answer why.
Because I’m scared. Not for myself – although there is that, I’ve made no secret of my hatred for Trump in the past months – but for my friends and students, who are Muslim, gay, African-American, Jewish. Who are immigrants and married to immigrants. Who are scared they’ll be targeted for speaking out. Who are scared that their citizenship papers won’t come in soon enough. Who are just scared.
As a historian and a total news junkie, I tend to see patterns emerge. And I see this pattern emerging all too clearly. The Alt-Right has been emboldened (particularly since one of its leaders is one of Trump’s advisers) and has already started terrorizing minorities. Trump supporters – his core group, his true demographic – now have carte blanche to do whatever they want to whomever they want.
They can now be in the ascendancy – if we let them.
I teach US and world history. I teach about slavery and Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement. I teach about the KKK of the 20th century and their atrocities, and I teach about the Nazi regime and the Holocaust. I teach genocide and war, and I also teach – I hope – that there are people who stood against those things. And for some inexplicable reason . . . I thought the fight in America was over. I thought as a nation, as a society, we had moved past this. Grown up. Learned that diversity is a good thing.
Never, in the past ten years of teaching history, did I think, not once, that I would face the same fight in my own lifetime. Yes, I know. Stupid. And now, I’m scared.
So to my Trump-supporting friends, here’s the question I want to ask: why aren’t you scared along with me?
You claim to not be racist. You claim you voted for him for other reasons (though you’re hard-pressed to say what those are).
I guess some of you voted for him because you were ‘sending a message.’ I hear that a lot. I don’t understand it, but I hear it. Sending a message to who about what? And some of you voted for him because he “speaks his mind.” What does that even mean?
Some of you, I understand, voted for him because you didn’t like Hillary and that is the stupidest reason of all. You threw away the best candidate we had, the most educated, the most experienced, in favor of a power-hungry, demented sociopath (endorsed by two other fascist sociopathic dictators, BTW) who has ridiculed veterans, the mentally and physically handicapped, women, gays . . . do you get the picture?
And then some of you voted for Trump because you believed his lies. You heard his nebulous economic ideas and you know he calls himself a businessman, and you figure he’ll be good for the economy. You heard his half-assed apologies and denials and conveniently overlooked the ghastly things he said and did. You don’t understand ISIS or anything to do with the Middle East and neither does he, but he says he does and you believe him. He dodged the draft, but wants to be Commander-in-Chief. He claims he’ll bring jobs back to America and – despite the fact that he has no sound, rational plan to do that – you believed him.
You believed his lies. You ate them like candy because he said precisely what you wanted to hear. When the educated and experienced were telling you that nothing he said was true, you chose not to listen. When he told you who to blame for your problems, you believed him. When he told you what outlandish things he’d do as president, you believed him.
But I can tell you one thing that is true: Trump does not care about you, your problems, or America.
Time and again, he has catered to the lowest of the low of American society – the white supremacists, the racists, the anti-immigration and anti-Muslim groups – in short, homegrown terrorists. Yes. I went there. When a group of white American men plot to blow up a mosque and an apartment complex where mostly Muslim immigrants live, that is terrorism. Pure and simple. And these are the people he caters to. This is his demographic. The uneducated, the intolerant, the worst of America.
You’ve chosen to stand with a man who has spewed nothing but hatred and encouraged nothing but violence. You’ve chose to stand with a man who sees women as one thing and one thing only: sex toys. Trump has zero respect for women (far more disturbing to me than his ‘grab them by the pussy’ comment is the comment he made about his own daughter.) You’ve chosen to stand with a man that far more educated people than I have compared to Hitler – and their rises to power are strikingly similar. Shall we speculate that their reigns of terror might also be ?
But what’s worse, you’ve chosen to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with hatred. You’ve chosen to stand with white supremacists, the KKK, racists, and those who insist on believing in something that never existed to begin with – a white America. You’ve chosen to stand with the men in Liberal KS who plotted to kill innocent Somali immigrants. You’ve chosen to stand with the social heirs of men who hunted African-American men down with hounds and then burned them alive for no other crime than they didn’t get off the sidewalk fast enough. You’ve chosen to stand with the same people who burn black churches, spraypaint pro-Trump and Nazi graffiti on synagogues – and all the while, their fuhrer does nothing to stop them.
THAT is what you have chosen to stand with, as you voted for Trump. That history of hatred. That history of racism. That history of intolerance. That history of violence.
So – to the people I know who voted for Trump, this is why I can never look at you the same. Certainly not now, and perhaps not ever. And you can’t come to me and say “I didn’t know” because ignorance is never an excuse – and because I probably won’t believe you anyway, not in today’s social media, news-driven world.You had to know.
You had to know.
And this is why I will not be silent. This is why I will not stop fighting Trump or his supporters. This is why I will not ‘get over it.’
This is why.