A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Since I’ve posted the video Aftermath: 2016, I have been told that good people voted for Trump. I have been told that people who voted for Trump aren’t racist. ..They have gay relatives…Half-Mexican sons…Are disabled themselves…And love and respect women. I have been told they are good people.
(I have also been told that I’m a cunt who should have been aborted and should be raped by ISIS. But I’m sure those are good people, too.)
So you voted for Trump and you say you’re a good person? Prove it. You obviously like reality shows, you voted like you think you’re in one. Pretend you’re a contestant on “So You Think You’re Not a Racist.”
Your first challenge is to clean your side of the street. You want me to believe that white supremacists are taking over your party, but you’re not one of them? Take your party back. You wouldn’t let assholes crash your actual party and then let them stay just because they like cake, too. Denounce the white supremacists. You can start by not calling them “alt right.”
Putting alt in front of anything sounds like they’re doing something cool and unconventional. These aren’t people who believe in a flat tax and enjoy listening to the Smiths. There is nothing cool about painting swastikas on a playground, giving the Sig Heil salute or saying Jews aren’t people. And if you think there is, that makes you a white supremacist, too, and we fought a World War to prove they weren’t good people.
But if you are one of these Trump voting good people, show us. Start a petition saying that you don’t support the appointment of Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist. You don’t support men who refer to any women as a “bunch of dykes,” – which is what he said – because that is hate speech. You don’t support someone who is also praised by the KKK and other white supremacist groups. Say that you’re a Republican but this is not what you’re about. It shouldn’t be that hard if it’s not.
While you’re at it, add Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions’s name to that petition. Many horrible things can be said about his record on race, but it can probably be best summed up by the fact that he was found too racist to be confirmed by the Senate for a Federal judgeship by 1986 standards. You want to make America great again. Seems it was pretty great in 1986 when we didn’t think people who were racist should be judges.
Let your chosen reps know you’re against a Muslim registry. Unless you think it’s OK that we register Americans based on their religious beliefs. All religions, right? Or do you think it’s just OK that we register non-white Americans based on their religious beliefs? That would make you racist and/or xenophobic and since you claim to not be either, come out against a Muslim registry.
And you’re not a misogynist, you just didn’t like Hillary. It didn’t matter that she was a woman. So I’m waiting for you to treat your President Elect’s transgressions like you would treat Hillary’s. Like what about the Trump Foundation’s money being used to help Trump and his campaign? How about Trump making an official phone call to the President of Argentina and 3 days later having his long delayed building permits for his construction project approved? Why aren’t you in the streets demanding that he release his tax returns finally so we know what his conflicts of interests are? I mean didn’t you criticize Hillary for using her foundation to trade favors and misuse funds? Remember those speeches to Goldman Sachs you were so upset about because you thought Hillary was beholden to Wall St.? Trump wants Steve Mnuchin to be Treasury Secretary. He actually worked for Goldman Sachs for 17 years. In terms of conflict of interest, that’s like hiring a pedophile to be the gymnastics coach. But I’m sure you’re making your outage at this known. Or was Hillary different? Just not different because she’s a woman, different.
Also, if you have LGBTQ relatives, that doesn’t automatically make you not a homophobe. It’s not a get out of jail free card for bigots who enjoy the theater. You need to do some work here, too. Say you do not agree with Vice President elect Mike Pence, who once signed a bill that would imprison gay couples who applied for a marriage license and tried to take funding away from HIV research and use it for gay conversion therapy. Ask the GOP to not role back marriage equality as they have said they want to, and protest the appointment of Supreme Court Justices who will do just that. Tell them you support the Obama administration’s anti-gay bullying campaign in schools and encourage them to continue it. Or are you OK with your LGBTQ relatives not having the same rights as you, undergoing shock therapy and lacking safety at school? You love them, you just don’t care if they get beat up, imprisoned or electrocuted. But you want us to know that you’re a good person. Just not the type of good person who can be bothered to stand up for people you love.
Maybe you voted for Trump not because you like him, but because you’re a Republican and you vote straight down party lines. Then what are you doing to get the word out about reasonable GOP candidates: reasonable being the ones who actually have experience and AREN’T white supremacists or sexual predators? That’s a pretty low bar. It should be easy to find someone.
And this should be a no brainer and I can’t believe I have to say it but would one of you have the courage to say Trump was wrong to mock a disabled man? This shouldn’t be a political thing, this should be a human being thing. You would reprimand a child for this behavior and yet you looked the other way when an adult man did it. Or you participated in the excuses about why it was taken out of context. What is the context for making fun of the disabled? In your opinion as a good person, that is.
Say that all of the 1000 plus hate crimes that have been committed since Trump was “elected,” that all of the people who have said, “we don’t have to tolerate your kind now that Trump is President,” tell us all that these people do not speak for you. You’re probably wondering, “Do I really have to tell you that?” The answer is yes, you do. Because you blew your last chance to tell us that these people didn’t speak for you when you voted to elect Donald Trump to speak for you.
Your side of the street is filthy. And whether you’re lying down in the gutter with the trash or just stepping over it to get into your house doesn’t change that fact. Right now you’re a bad neighbor. You’re letting your trash blow into our yards while you refuse to do anything about it and tell us to just get over it. So be a good neighbor and prove to the rest of us you’re not all the things we think you are. Prove you’re a good person.
Denounce these things to us. And most importantly denounce them to each other. Because your lack of saying something, whether it was in your families, in public or in your own party, is why we’re here. You might be a good person, but I know many more good people who are afraid for their lives and the lives of those they love, and they have good reason. Good people need to ask themselves tough questions sometimes. And friends, we are past the point where any good person should be able to stomach this just because they want less taxes, or someone to abolish Obamacare, or Hillary voted for Iraq, or any of the reasons you told yourself you voted for Trump.
For weeks now I’ve been thinking of this photo of Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine, the first group of African American students to attend classes at the segregated Little Rock Central High School. The photo is of Elizabeth on her way to class, being followed by a group of white people, one of whom was caught mid-yell. That woman’s name was Hazel Bryan. You don’t need me to tell you what she was yelling. It wasn’t “Welcome.”
I think about that picture a lot and most of what I think is, “If you voted for Trump, right now you’re in that photo.” If you’re not Hazel Bryan, then you’re one of the white people standing silently with her. You didn’t yell, “We don’t want to integrate,” but you stood by the people who did and said nothing while they said it. You’re on the wrong side of that picture and the wrong side of history. Don’t stand by the bigots while you say nothing. Stand up for what you say you believe is right and say something.
Hazel Bryan did. She realized that wasn’t how she wanted to be remembered, how she wanted her children to learn about her. She got into activism and social work. She apologized. And she did something.
That’s what good people do.
Copyright 2017 Tess Rafferty.
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