It’ll be a difficult Thanksgiving, but I love you, so…

16 Nov

Hey, you look great. And that turkey! Fresh bread, too? You’ve outdone yourself this year.

I brought pie. It’s from Costco, but they make darned good pies.

I also brought some stuff for you to read. I know you don’t want to–I know we’re all sick to death of politics–but it’s important to me.

(Let me tell you a secret: the stuff I brought you to read isn’t really about politics. It’s about socio-cultural issues hidden under the politi–wait! This isn’t boring. Trust me. I included some stuff on Nazis. Just like Indiana Jones!)

Let’s start by saying that this isn’t about Hillary losing. Instead, it’s about how I’m concerned that Trump won, as a message of intolerance and hate that he pushed throughout his campaign might become a normalized part of American life. This bothers me. A lot.

I’m not alone. Here’s a piece from Sean Patrick Hughes, a Bronze Star recipient and veterans’ affairs advocate, who notes that Trump was elected “because the only message that matters for the American government in 2016 is a need for change.”

“[…] the ultimate choice that was made, the one people will remember a hundred years from now, was a willingness to ignore personal decency and fair treatment towards people who are different in service to that change.”

My primary concern is the possibility–perhaps the likelihood!–that this willingness to ignore decency and fair treatment towards all Americans will persist for the duration of the Trump Administration. It is also quite possible that it will become worse: many people and organizations who are opposed to concepts such as equal rights have been using Trump’s campaign to promote their message. They have seen his victory as proof of concept, and are willing to move ahead to push the boundaries.

kkkhead

For example, The Crusader, the official publication of the Klu Klux Klan, backed Trump’s campaign before his victory over Clinton. After Nov 9, the Klan announced that “TRUMP=TRUMP’S RACE UNITED MY PEOPLE” and pledged to hold a parade in his honor.

Trump’s early decisions for his cabinet have indicated that he will continue to act in a manner favorable to white supremacists. The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups and hate crimes, noted that Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon to a senior counselor’s position was widely celebrated by supremacist groups. Trump’s campaign promise that Muslims and other immigrant groups might be tracked or forced to register is now being discussed at length by Kris Kobach, who has served as Trump’s immigration advisor and may become an authority in the Department of Border Control.

Also, please note that references to RNC Chair Reince Priebus’s appointment contained the line, “Reince is going to utilize his personal connections with the speaker and others, to make the trains run on time.” This is interesting for two reasons: first, the trains already run on time, give or take; second, this quote is widely and frequently attributed to Mussolini.

If you don’t think that either Trump’s victory or these appointments can have much influence over how Americans think and behave towards others, perhaps you might want to read about the spike in hate crimes that have occurred since election day. These crimes are believed to have spiked as a direct result of the election, as Trump has–wittingly or not–legitimized the ability to target and act against persons seen as Other.

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I could go on. In fact, I could provide you with references of hate crimes in the very community in which you live. It’s not hard: the FBI noted that hate crimes overall spiked in 2015, with a significant jump in crimes against Muslims.

I don’t want this. More importantly, I don’t want to be a part of this. So I’m not going to be quiet. I’m not going to sit still and wait for the next four years to end, hoping for politics as usual. I’m not going to contribute to a culture of hate, if by inactivity than anything else.

I know you might not feel the same way, but I hope you do.

Those who didn’t like Trump’s treatment of those who were different than themselves were able to tell themselves that such attitudes were acceptable. As Hughes put it, they “couldn’t live with the alternative.”

“So you rationalized out of fear that speaking up would enable it. Well, that risk is gone now. You avoided the end you couldn’t live with. That excuse is gone. And now it’s fair to say that tolerance of that behavior from here on can only be seen as an endorsement of it.”

I won’t be tolerant. Or passive. Or silent.

Now, I have a lot of other concerns, too, including freedom of the press, preservation of the Constitution and the rule of law, and the collapse of global climate change initiatives. All of these and much, much more are seriously threatened by Trump’s term in office; I will happily provide you with more reading material on these topics if you’d like.

But I am most concerned about an American society in which open, aggressive hate for anyone different becomes the norm.

Listen, I hope I’m wrong about this. I honestly, truly hope I’m being an alarmist liberal wingnut who’s freaking out about the sky falling down. If I am? That’s our best-case scenario. That is literally the best I can hope for, that I’m terrified over nothing. Because the next-best scenario is that our President-elect is a bumbling idiot who spends four years in an actionless holding pattern. If he’s competent? If he manages to fulfill the dreams of those who want to destroy or shun the Other? We have legitimized hate.

I don’t want this to happen. If you’re the kind of person I believe you to be, you don’t want this to happen, either.

Maybe we can start by talking about it.

5 Responses to “It’ll be a difficult Thanksgiving, but I love you, so…”

  1. Dane November 16, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    Well said. Thank you.

    I wanted to “Share” this to FB, but the image that gets slapped onto the posting is the “Make America White Again” image, and I’m not putting a swastika on my FB page, even if it’s in the context of critiquing it. Do you know of a way for me to change/delete that image from the Share? Though I suppose I can just hand-craft an HTML link the old-fashioned way in a normal posting.

    • KBSpangler November 16, 2016 at 9:23 pm #

      I don’t know if this is possible, sorry. The top image is auto-selected.

      • Eileen Young November 17, 2016 at 2:01 am #

        WordPress offers the ability to set a featured image if you use their newer interface (the blue one, not the traditional grey one) – it’s on the left, under categories and tags.

  2. Jules November 17, 2016 at 7:39 am #

    So yeah, Europeans sympathise.

    Here in German Academia, every single American speaker we had on the conference last week, opened with some gallows humour remark* on Trump’s victory.
    It seems to me the academic elite, both in Europe and in the USA, is universally opposed to him.

    I use ‘elite’ with mixed feelings here. On the one hand, I personally believe rational, academic enlightnment to be the way forward for all of humanity. Us scientists should strive to to lead the way for that, for everyone’s benefit.
    On the other hand, ‘elite’ has connotations of aloofness and removal from reality.
    The abject surprise and disbelief among European scientists indicated to me that there is apparently a divide; the left and right wings have become so removed they don’t understand eachother anymore. How else could we be surprised at what apparently the _majority_ thinks?
    I worry how to heal that divide, but haven’t a clue.

    * things like “do you have any open positions here, because after this outcome, I don’t feel like going back” etc.

    P.s. some acquaintences working at a national cement company apparently have a new in-joke: “we should put out a bid on Trump’s Mexican wall: top quality cement, AND that collective German experience in building walls!”
    Who said Germans don’t do (dark) humour?

  3. Lloyd Williams November 21, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

    This was a crappy election. I think it was a result of how bitterly partisan the parties have become. I think we can add it to our ‘best case scenario’ that the Republicans and Democrats become so jointly terrified about what Trump does in office that they actually start talking to each other. Perhaps they might start compromising on some issues…but I think that is wishful thinking on my part.

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