So, Trump happened. President Trump is a thing now, and I, like a lot of people, am kind of embarrassed that America has let itself go like this. I can say I’m embarrassed of America because I love America, and I can be embarrassed of something an still love it i.e. grandparents, relatives, certain songs by Justin Bieber.
There’s not much for me to add to the conversation that hasn’t already been said and covered in the thousands of op-eds and think pieces published daily. All I really can do here is to make my position clear and talk about my own family’s experience.
When Trump got elected, my wife cried and cried and my five-year-old asked me, “Why is mommy crying?” and I was at a loss for words. How am I supposed to explain racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia, antisemitism, classism and so on and so forth to his little innocent face? He still thinks Spider-Man is a real person.
What I want to say is: Son, Donald Trump represents the worst parts of America. It’s like America was sitting out on the counter at room temperature for a while and it started to separate and all this weird filmy stuff floated to the top and that filmy stuff is Donald Trump and his ilk.
I also want to say: Son, Donald Trump has repeatedly spoken out against people who look like you and your mother. He has enabled a whole unsavory host of hate-filled people to feel like they can do and say whatever awful thing they feel like. Your mother is likely crying because she is afraid for you and her family and all of the other people Donald Trump has threatened.
Some good has come out of the whole Trump thing: It has forced me to talk to my kids about these issues, which I should’ve been teaching them about all along.
So far here are some of the topics we’ve had to cover:
- Talking about race is OK, saying racist things is bad, and how to know the difference. People need to be OK talking about it. This also applies to issues of gender, religion, sexuality, etc.
- Hating people is bad. Most people, no matter how much we disagree with them, don’t deserve to be hated. I’m OK with hating ideologies but I am squeamish to say I hate a person. To say, “I hate that racist,” seems highly ironic to me. “I hate racism,” feels better. Demonizing people I disagree with is not good.
- Other people have feelings too. Civil discourse is nice. Polite discussion is nice. Openness and honesty and a willingness to pause talking to listen are great.
- Problems are complex and thus solutions to problems are also complex. If you look at an issue and your analysis is so simplistic as: “The problem is obviously brown people, so the solution is obviously to ban, deport, or wall out all varieties of brown people,” then your analysis is dumb, and you need to re-analyze the problem.
- We are religious but we are NOT Republican. You can be liberal and religious. It’s allowed. A lot of religious, Christian people have somehow gotten the idea that they HAVE to be Republican and I promise that is not the case. If ever there was a time to break with the Republican party, it’s now.
- Lying is bad. We need to place value on the truth and verifiable facts and hold our elected officials accountable for what they say.
Great, well, I’m sure this has changed a lot of people’s minds. The internet is great, isn’t it?