Not a Literary Post, But a Necessary One

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Well, the unthinkable has happened. The United States has elected reality TV star Donald Trump as our next president, following an unconscionable, hate-filled campaign that has turned us from an international laughingstock into an international nightmare.

Even if you voted for Trump in spite of his ignorant, bigoted rhetoric, and not because of it, it’s important to understand the message you have sent to family, friends, neighbors, and strangers across the country:

that you will tolerate both incompetence and abuse in your leader(s),
that you accept a nationalist and backward-looking ideology,
and that you are willing to overlook, among other things, Trump’s:

  • total lack of government or military experience
  • total lack of policy knowledge
  • half-assed and ever-shifting platform
  • refusal to release his tax returns
  • unabashed pride in avoiding federal income taxes
  • support for military torture and war crimes
  • attacks on Latinos
  • attacks on Muslims
  • attacks on immigrants
  • attacks on Jews
  • attacks on African Americans
  • attacks on the disabled
  • attacks on veterans and their families
  • attacks on women
  • boasts of committing sexual assault
  • actual sexual assault/harassment accusations from at least 10 women
  • encouragement of the “birther” movement questioning Obama’s nationality
  • fraudulent university and foundation
  • rejection of common sense gun control measures
  • business failures large and small
  • diverse personal hobbies, including bullying and belittlement
  • threats to the Constitution and the peaceful transfer of power
  • incitement of political violence, and
  • lies, lies, and more lies.

What’s left to say? Apparently all of Trump’s ridiculous masculine posturing worked. Apparently Trump’s violations of nearly every Christian value didn’t cost him many votes among white evangelicals. Apparently Trump’s supporters truly believe an elitist multi-billionaire will be the champion of the working class despite his long history of cheating them. Apparently even facts, from climate change to crime statistics, are irrelevant these days.

If you voted for Trump, know this: Your vote feels like a “fuck you” to everyone Trump has alienated during his campaign. It feels like a personal, to-my-face “fuck you” as a woman, and to my husband as an immigrant. It feels like 48% of the nation saying “You don’t matter.” It feels like hearing you insist that this is your America—a white supremacist patriarchy through and through—and that we’re not welcome here.

It feels like fear.

Please, please prove us wrong. Until then, Donald Trump may represent you—but he does not represent me.

I wanted to end this post on an uplifting note, because many of us could use one right now. And I couldn’t find anything more inspiring than this Monday-night Facebook update from George Takei, legendary actor and activist:

Many fans have written asking for some words of advice, solace, or perhaps even hope as we find ourselves here, the night before the election. Indulge a fellow of my more advanced years, and permit me to convey some perspective and to expand upon a theme I have spoken of before. From where I stand, progress may be painful, but in the end, the forces of reason, compassion, and equality always prevail. Yes, we will win.

When I was a boy of four, my family and I were interned for years inside barbed wire prison camps because we happened to look like the enemy who had bombed Pearl Harbor. Today, Japanese Americans are a proud part of our national heritage, and we were the first to stand with Muslim Americans after 9/11 to decry calls for racial and religious profiling. We came from a dark place, but we remember, and we carry a bright torch. Tolerance and acceptance will flourish in America. We will win.

When I was a young man, in many states I could not by law even marry a Caucasian because of strict anti-miscegenation laws. Today, after decades of struggle to gain recognition and equality, for both biracial and same sex couples, I am legally married to my gay, white, male spouse, Brad. What once was the love that dare not speak its name can now shout itself freely from the chapel. Love and understanding took root across the land, and young people today can be with whomever they were destined to love. We will win.

I marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during an era where the most basic rights of association, voting and participation in civil society were denied in Jim Crow America. But Dr. King inspired and reminded America of its promise. And while we still have far, far to go, I am always amazed that I lived to see the election of our first African American president. The road to true equal rights and justice is not, and has never been, an easy one. But despite its many twists and turns, we will continue to march along it. We will win.

From Selma to Stonewall, Seneca Falls to Standing Rock, the history of America is often forged in a crucible of conflict and courage. Today, it is no different. We may face setback, or we may face triumph, but the direction will remain clear so long as our vision and our convictions do. You need only take measure of the passion of America’s youth—more cosmopolitan, more diverse, more rooted in science, more aware of their responsibilities as stewards of this Earth than any generation before them—to regain confidence in our national future. Look to them. We will win.

So tomorrow, as our nation at last finishes the most wrenching election in recent memory, I cast my own vote with both an eye to our past, where we have already overcome so much, and an eye to our future, where so much promise remains. We will vote, we will get through this. We will win.

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One thought on “Not a Literary Post, But a Necessary One

  1. Pingback: Literary New England | The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

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