In the words of Teju Cole, "evil settles into everyday life when people are unable or unwilling to recognize it. It makes its home among us when we are keen to minimize it or describe it as something else."
Well, I for one am not keen to minimize it or describe it as something else, and I am willing to call it out whenever and wherever I see it, no matter the consequences.
Consider all that has happened in the past few days since Trump was elected President. The hate speech. The Nazi flags. The screaming racial epithets. The Swastikas. The threats among children--white children to brown children--that their parents will be deported. Chants of "build the wall."
They will gaslight you in epic fashion before they will let you think this is real. They will tell you the news is over-exaggerated and biased. They will tell you it's actually the protesters' fault (and who cares if it is, because it's still happening). It's you, not them. They will blame the victims. They will call you sore losers, cry babies, weak children. They will liken it to a baseball game, get over it, your team didn't win. They will be the ones who think they are immune, who think they will benefit from a Trump presidency, who think they've been wronged and will now be made whole. They will tell you God is on their side.
Well, they are about to find out the hard way how truly wrong things can get, divine intervention notwithstanding. Because sadly, this is no game. Far from it. The analogy is fatally flawed.
They don't see that this is not about winning and losing, unless you're talking about losing democracy as we know it. They don't see that this will make their lives miserable, too, and soon. Trump isn't going to sprinkle the country with new industrial jobs, build a wall on the border, keep factories from going to Mexico, and rid America of brown people.
All of that's a total con, just like every other con Donald Trump has ever pulled off. None of that will happen. But what will happen is stuff like this:
The American Academy of Pediatrics will take the shocking (and I am fairly certain unprecedented) step of advising its membership of 64,000 physicians on how to explain this election to their patients. Think about that for a minute. An American medical organization felt compelled to issue a statement on how to help children process the 2016 United States presidency.
President Trump will continue to hold rallies, which his advisers call "old fashioned" (that's one way of putting it) because he needs to get high off his own narcissism supply simply to "govern." Because he likes the adulation and instant gratification that the cheering crowds provide.
In short, white hate will be white hot, empowered, emboldened, condoned, and rabidly violent all over America. If this doesn't terrify you, it should.
Some of my family members died in the Holocaust. Just a few of some six million Jews. But a footnote in history is that Hitler killed 14 million other people, too. NOT just Jews, NOT just ethnic undesirables, but disabled people, gay people, political adversaries and dissidents as well, leaving behind a gutted continent and an Aryan nation that ultimately cannibalized itself; and the few who remained fled to all corners of the globe to escape prosecution for war crimes, mostly unsuccessfully.
"It can happen here, it must never happen here." Every American Jew knows this refrain. Every single one. It's as ingrained as any passage in the bible. We all heard it growing up.
And how can it happen?
By staying silent, refusing to bear witness, refusing to say this is not normal, and this is not okay. Deciding to just go on with our lives as though the election of an incompetent autocrat with a strong following of vocal white supremacists (and silent white supremacist enablers) slowly takes root like a cancer in the American body politic.
And by the time we diagnose ourselves, we are on our death bed.
If you think I'm exaggerating, then you're in the company of many people I know, including my own spouse. And all I can tell you is go read a history book and don't buy into the myth of American exceptionalism. No democracy is immune from individuals hell bent on assaulting its infrastructure. No society is immune from hate.
And if none of this even concerns you, then I'm sorry, but you're asleep at the wheel and we don't have much in common. But if you, like me, oppose hate in all its forms then we must all bear witness. Each and every one of us, today and every day of a Trump presidency.
For this is not normal, and this is not okay.