Walk a mile in my shoes, please!

Empathy, that’s what we need right now, lots of it. Right now, going online to talk to my friends on Facebook is not a pleasant experience. The vast majority of my friends online were rooting for Hillary Clinton, and we had many different reasons to do so: partisanship, the possibility to put a woman in the highest office, equal rights, civil rights etc. Some of my friends rooted for Trump, and, as I explained the other day, I’m sure they had very good reasons to do so, too. The United States is ruled on the principle of “majority rules, minority rights”. Many fear those rights today.

However, and this is where it becomes so difficult. One side, my side, lost. And while some supporters of Trump may gloat, many have gone quiet. For them, the election is over, let’s move on. What we tend to forget is that Trump’s movement has stirred some very nasty elements. He’s turned stones that should never have been turned.

The endorsement from the KKK and David Duke for instance. As “unwelcome” as it may have been, it helped Trump get important votes. The endorsements from nazis, alt right and other white supremacists helped, too.

If you’re part of the majority of white heterosexuals in America, the result of this election won’t change your life much, and we have yet to see whether the economy will get better, or not.

But for many others, there is a lot of reason to be afraid, and I just want you (if you have nothing to fear), to read this, think about it, and to try to see things from these people’s point of view. I’ll start in America itself, as most of my readers are Americans. The implications of a Trump presidency are mostly international though, in terms of impact:

  • Illegal immigrants. Yes, they broke the law coming here. No need to explain that. Hence the term. However, their children are American citizens. Yes, parents made a mistake, but is it fair to have the kids pay for it? Try not to judge. Just picture yourself a five year old girl in say New Orleans, an American girl, seeing the police haul off her parents. How would you feel? Don’t you think we need to tone down the rhetoric and find solutions that are balanced?
  • Picture a trans boy in middle school in North Carolina. He’s finally come out and is beginning his transition. Try to imagine what it is like to live in a body that isn’t right, regardless of “why”. This boy needs to go to the bathroom and is forced by his state to use the girl’s room… Do you think the girls will applaud a boy in their bathroom? Do you think he’ll feel safe?
  • Imagine yourself a young lawyer in a prestigious law firm in Texas. He falls in love, marries his dream partner. His life is happy and he’s on track to make partner at the firm. Until he’s fired. Why? Not because he’s a bad lawyer. No, but because he married a man. How would that make you feel, if you lost your job because of the person you love? Personally, I don’t think Obergefell is going to be reversed (these things take forever), and to pass an amendment to the constitution is literally impossible these days (and we have elections again in two years). But there are so many ways legislators can hurt the LGBT community with their “freedom of religion laws” and bathroom BS. Losing your job is just the beginning. The next step could be refusal of first aid. A couple of states already have that on their books, despite Obama…
  • Imagine being a seventeen year old woman who is “legitimately” raped. Despite the odds, she becomes pregnant. How would you feel if you were forced by the state to carry to term and raise a child that constantly, every second of your life, reminds you of the worst time of your life? I don’t think Roe is in any immediate danger either (given how long it takes for court cases to process), if that’s any consolation, but we’ve already seen what states can do by cutting funding to abortion clinics, and free health care clinics. We are likely to see a lot more of that in the coming years.

But it gets worse. Already there have been over two hundred incidents of violence against blacks, other people of “color”, LGBT and women. They tell blacks to go back to Africa, yet fail to realize that they, the white supremacists, should, consequentially then go back to Europe (shows you the level of intelligence at play here). America is the land of the Native Americans, proud peoples of color. You used to call them “redskins”… Some still do.

These fears are legitimate, not just because Mr. Trump has done little to nothing to assuage us, but because he is surrounded by people who would like to go much further. Much, much further.

There are people in Trump’s campaign (not just voters!) who would like to do the following:

  • Punish women who have abortions (according to Trump himself)
  • Make abortions illegal. Period (VP-elect Pence)
  • Force gays to go through “conversion therapy” (VP-elect Pence)
  • Round up LGBT people in concentration camps (Senators Rubio, Cruz, Trump advisor Ben Carson et al.)

People are scared, very much so, and they have good reasons. Some compare Trump to Hitler. I don’t think that’s helpful. Hitler was very open about his plans to eradicate the Jewish people whom he designated scapegoats for all of Germany’s problems. Donald Trump has done no such thing (if only Hitler had built a wall instead…) Besides, Donald Trump cannot simply send Congress home, the way Hitler did. America, luckily, is a stable democracy with a long history, a history the Weimar Republic didn’t have, when the NSDAP attacked it. That’s not to say there aren’t risks associated with a Trump presidency.

Having said that, I also believe it is vital for us to learn from history, understand the mistakes made by the other leaders around Germany and within the country itself. The media play a role here, the opposition plays a role, but also our civil society, including organizations like the ACLU and other civil and human rights organizations. We need to make sure that our voices are heard, loud and clear when the “evil forces” (there really is no other word for them) begin to to do their devil’s work, even the so called “christian” ones…

But mostly, we just have to be kind, considerate, and care for each other. Love they neighbor, as the good book teaches those who believe (and I think it’s a great rule to follow, because it’s logical), and to treat all our fellow humans the way we wish to be treated, according to the Golden Rule of all great human religions (again, a very logical rule, even for an atheist).

Let us live our lives the way we did until last Tuesday, our heads held high, but vigilant, and ready to defend our lives and our fellow humans, no matter their creed, color, age, sexuality or gender. We having nothing to fear but fear itself. It is that fear that I see paralyze my friends and allies out there these days, and that is where the real danger lies, to all of us!

Have a good week!

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Hans

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