I Am No Longer Pretending to be Nice
A recent op-ed in the New York Times tells us that anger is not a viable strategy for resistance: “When you answer name-calling with name-calling and tantrums with tantrums, you’re not resisting him. You’re mirroring him.” But in all honesty, I don’t know what else to do anymore. We have reached a boiling point in our country’s history, and though that has been said many times before as new crises break each week, the separation of children from their parents on the US-Mexico border is potentially the most harmful and downright horrific thing to come out of the Trump administration. I don’t really know how one would react to this situation without anger, without tears, without tantrums.
For a while I was of the belief that it would benefit not only the resistance to Trump but also the country as a whole if we could sit down with one another and have patient, meaningful debates with people whose views differ to ours. I have been told on countless occasions not to swear at Trump voters, not to group them all together as one responsible body, and not to assume that all Trump voters are racist, homophobic, sexist, or whatever other label they claim to hate. I tried this for some time, but all that I learned was that the Trump voters I knew seemed to be deeply, intentionally ignorant regarding the repercussions of their actions. Their votes were cast with selfishness; their political positions only exist to serve themselves. For such a long time, I accepted that people vote in their own specific, particular self-interest. The truth now is that this is a highly dangerous and backwards way to exist as a nation.
We have continuously medicated economic anxiety with veiled racism. We have permitted, for so long, those who are responsible for this hell-scape to avoid real consequences. We allowed Trump supporters a space in society that they never deserved, and for reasons we will never be able to explain to those who come after us. We gave the silent majority a voice. What will we tell our children - that we permitted this man and his accomplices to destroy and divide our nation? What lies will we tell them? Will we say that some people just wanted a change in the system? Will we tell the truth and say that hatred of minorities drove so many to vote for this man and his party?
Every day feels so long and difficult when this is the norm. Like many others, I am so numb and disinterested in engaging in debate with anyone who does not see the part they have played in creating this monstrosity. But the truth is that we cannot afford to live like this anymore. It is no longer dramatic or unhelpful to label each and every person who either voted for Trump or refuses to condemn him as a complicit part of his agenda. I want to be able to look back on my own words and actions and say that I gave my entire heart and soul to drawing a line between myself and anyone who refuses to acknowledge the reality of our situation. I know that it is probably useless to curse and yell and rant, but at this point, I am hardly going to bring a Trump voter over to the right side of history. So I will continue to call out racism and xenophobia where I see it, especially when it is disguised as economic anxiety or ignorance. When children are torn from their parents there is no grey area. There is no place for sides. How anyone can continue to support this man, this administration, or this party is now beyond me.
I want to say that I believe we as a nation can change, but I don’t believe that anymore. I still think there are good people in America, but it is not a good place. Clearly we didn’t magically turn into this hateful place overnight – it has been centuries in the making. Our oppression of the ‘other’ has existed as long as we as a nation have existed. We do not exist without this oppression. We pride ourselves on our hard work, our ingenuity, our individuality, and our isolationism. But we have always stepped on the shoulders of those we deem lesser to get to higher places. That’s the American way. If we ever want to become the nation we claim to be, we won't do it by giving space to hatred, and we certainly won't do it by being 'nice' to anyone who continues to support the Trump administration or remains on the sidelines of this fight.