Monday, November 14, 2016

You may not want to hear this, but it's your fault

This weekend was not a happy weekend for the Zymog. Two of my close friends, and a friend of a third close friend, suffered what can only be called racial harassment. The nature of the harassment, and the things that were said to them, make it clear that this only happened because of Donald Trump being elected.

I got a lot of my friends mad at me when I reposted on Facebook a blog article that says, more or less, "if you voted for Donald Trump, then it's partly your fault, and you need to fix it."

A lot of people don't want to hear that. Bear with me here, okay? Don't close your mind and get all upset yet.

Let's start with a scene from Disney's Aladdin

Jafar used his third wish from the lamp: "I wish to be an ALL-POWERFUL GENIE!"

So the genie said, "Way to go, Al" and granted Jafar's wish. Jafar became this huge, red genie. 

"Yessss. YESSSSSSS! The power! THE ABSOLUTE POWER! The universe is mine, to command, to control!" 

He was reveling in his power, when suddenly Aladdin said, "Not so fast, Jafar! You wanted to be a genie? Well, you got it. AND EVERYTHING THAT GOES WITH IT. Phenomenal cosmic power —"

Suddenly two two bracelets of slavery were clamped onto his wrists, and against his cries of "No! NOOOOOO!" he got sucked into his own tiny lamp.

"— itty bitty living space!"

Hang onto that story. It will become immediately relevant. (You gotta admit, I did a pretty good job reciting the scene from memory, didn't I? I'm sure that my grandchildren can do better than I did.)

Now, follow this logic:

Many voters in this country fell for the Supreme Court scam: they voted for Trump or for Clinton because they wanted to preserve the conservative or liberal majority, respectively, on the Supreme Court. I have heard from a lot of people who voted for both candidates, who told me that that was the only reason they voted for them. Well, that and all the other stuff they didn't like about the other candidate. They were both awful.

But, the Trump supporters told me, they didn't like Donald Trump because of his racist, misogynist, reactionary, petulant, et cetera, ways. They ignored, or pretended that they didn't see, all of the radical right-wingers who were chanting at Trump's rallies and posting hateful garbage on the Internet. Or they hoped it would all go away after he got elected.

(If, at this time, you want to tell me "Yeah, but Clinton supporters were the ones who actually committed violent acts at the rallies," I'm going to ask you to stay with me here. Don't distract yourself. I'm not talking about Clinton.)

Way back in June 2016, Mitt Romney warned that Donald Trump's hateful rhetoric, if he were to win the election, would change the face of America. He warned that the extreme racists would consider themselves legitimized by Trump's victory, and somehow authorized to practice their nasty racism. "Emboldened" is the current term for it. (See this CNN article, entitled "Mitt Romney says Trump will change America with 'trickle-down racism'."

So Donald Trump got elected. (And the extreme liberals - I mean progressives - Clinton supporters, anyway - rioted. That's also a post for another time. I don't want to dwell on it here. It's a distraction. Let's keep focused on Trump and his supporters, okay?)

In the three days following his election, these three things happened to friends of mine. This isn't something I'm reposting from a remote newspaper or blog, okay? Two of these are first-hand, and the third one is second-hand, but it still counts because I know these people and I know when it happened to them.

These things really happened.

1. This first one is from one of my former math students. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. legally, before she was born. She and her two sisters graduated from college. This woman is working as a teacher in a downtown Denver elementary school (which Donald Trump disparagingly referred to as "inner city," because he didn't want to say "black" or "Hispanic" or "low-income" or "crime-ridden") while she is pursuing a graduate degree. Someone left this comment on her FB page, the day after the election: 

Try to convince me that this was not a direct result of Trump being elected. Go ahead. I'll be glad to call you an ostrich.

2. This second one is from one of my parishioners. This woman is from Saipan, an island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Saipan, and the other islands in the CNMI, have been part of the United States since 1944, and its inhabitants are natural-born U.S. Citizens. Got that? Not immigrants. Citizens, just as much as native Hawaiians and Alaskans are citizens.

She works at a large nationwide retail store here in Colorado, whose owners were yuge donors to the Trump campaign. This happened to her on Friday, three days after the election:

Again, try to tell me that this wasn't a direct result of Trump getting elected. Try to tell me (or her) that it would have happened if Clinton had been elected instead - or that it would have happened if this weren't an election year.

3. This third one is a friend-of-a-friend. One of my friends works with a Muslim man, whose brother lives and works in Seattle. This extended Muslim family immigrated legally to the United States years ago, fleeing an oppressive regime in the Middle East, and looking for freedom. They bought into all the ideals which constitute the American Dream, and have been working hard at becoming Americans. On Wednesday morning, the guy in Seattle found this piece of paper under his windshield:

I'm sure you will agree with me that this is despicable. You will even tell me that you would never do this yourself, or condone anyone else doing it. You might even point out the cowardice of the perpetrator, since he didn't leave his name or contact information on the paper.

But you cannot convince me that this is not a direct result of Trump being elected. When the message starts with "We won! Now ...", it's pretty clear and undeniable.

Now, here's the part that you don't want to hear. And you may get offended by this. If you voted for Trump, and if Trump won your state, then these racist incidents are partly your fault.

Follow my logic here. And remember that scene from Aladdin.

1. If you voted for Donald Trump, and so did a majority of voters in your state, then you were part of that majority. That's an important distinction.

2. If the majority of voters in your state voted for Trump, then all of the electoral votes in your state went for Trump.

3. Donald Trump won in 31 states, giving him over 300 electoral votes and winning him the election.

Okay so far? You can take part of the credit for electing Donald Trump. You can loudly proclaim, "My candidate won!"

4. As a result of Donald Trump's election victory, many racists and extremists, lowlifes who had been hiding in the shadows for years, muttering to themselves on their racist blogs, suddenly felt empowered. They moved out into the light and began openly harassing and threatening minorities and immigrants. 

I have given you three examples in support of this fact. Do you want more? Are three witnesses not enough for you?

Now, I know you weren't voting to embolden the low-level racists and hatemongers. You were voting to preserve the Supreme Court majority, or to keep the Clintons from looting the White House for a second time. You had no intention, with your vote, of causing pain to my former student, my Saipan friend, or that Muslim immigrant in Seattle.

And yet, just like Jafar, you got Donald Trump - and everything that goes with him. You don't get to pick and choose which consequences of Trump's ascension you voted for. You voted for all of it.

You can't say "I just wanted the Supremes, not all the rest of it." You knew, going in, that you were going to get all of it. But you squeezed your eyes shut, held your nose, and voted for him anyway.

And, just like Romney said it would, the "trickle-down racism" happened. And, whether you want to admit it or not, even if it wasn't your intention, it's partly your fault.

On Sunday, November 13, five days after the election, Donald Trump was interviewed on 60 Minutes.  Leslie Stahl asked him about the harassment that had been taking place, and in typical Trumpian reality-distortion mode, he said:

Donald Trump: I don’t hear it—I saw, I saw one or two instances…
Lesley Stahl: On social media?
Donald Trump: But I think it’s a very small amount. Again, I think it’s--
One or two instances? I have told you of three real instances, and I'm just one person - a white male person, no less.

So then, to his credit, Trump said:
Lesley Stahl: Do you want to say anything to those people?
Donald Trump: I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, ‘cause I’m gonna bring this country together.
 Lesley Stahl: They’re harassing Latinos, Muslims--
Donald Trump: I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, “Stop it.” If it-- if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.
So Donald Trump told everyone to knock it off with the racist stuff that's been going on. Do you think it will work? The horses have left the barn, Mr. Trump. There's no use locking the door now.

Now, if you are a white person who voted for Donald Trump, what are you going to do about it? You voted for him, what are you going to to do fix it?

John Pavolovitz, a white Christian blogger, pointed the finger at all of the white Christians who voted for Trump, and told them what they need to do to fix the situation. Basically, he told them that this mess was their fault. He gave them two tasks:
1. Reach out to the victimized minorities, tell them you're sorry, and try to make amends.
2. Stand up to the perpetrators. Protect the victims. Do your part to bring an end to the harassment.
And he suggested that this should be done, live and in person, person to person.

For some reason, a lot of white Christian voters reacted poorly to his article. He was very blunt, he did point the finger of blame, and it made a lot of people uncomfortable. In reaction, there was a lot of "It's not my fault" and "I don't have to fix anything." (Remember Jafar.) And, even in the face of what he said in his blog, many people insisted that it was up to the victims to reach out, to establish a dialogue, and to be forgiving.

The Latinos and the Muslims aren't the ones who need to have a change of heart. And it's time that everyone who helped to put Donald Trump in the White House take their share of the blame and do their part to make amends.

Some of the white Christians didn't take kindly to be singled out. They say that's not fair. Some of them, not really understanding what "racist" means, have told me that it's "racist" to single them out like that. Then I challenge them to explain away this article from Religion News Service, entitled "White evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons carried Trump", or this one from World Religion News, entitled "Why the majority of Christians voted for Donald Trump".

This is where I'm supposed to put down two or three pithy statements and a final zinger, to make a powerful concluding paragraph. I don't have any. I'm too tired.

No comments: