I am officially afraid for our country’s future.
December 7th, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, an event that drove America into one of our most fear-driven and shameful moments in history (speaking, of course, of the Japanese internment camps) Donald Trump went on record saying that he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering our country. He announced this to the cheers of his supporters. The mere fact that anyone even felt compelled to cheer at all solidifies what many of us have grimly suspected for months – we, as a collective society, have not learned from our past mistakes.
Since the attacks on Paris, it seems like the world by way of the Internet has exploded into two camps: those who refuse to let fear dominate compassion and those who have crumbled into a pile of hate, driven by fear.
Countless think-pieces have been written about the shameful fear-driven rhetoric that continues to dominate so many of the political conversations. We’ve compared the Syrian refugee crisis to the Jewish refugees of the 1940’s. We’ve compared Islamophobia to our embarrassing post-Pearl Harbor reactions. Some of us who are teachers spend months on World War 2 and The Holocaust with our students, and we try to convey that the reason why we learn about such dark times is so we can improve, as humans, in the future.
But we are not improving.
And it’s not just these reactions that makes us feel like our country is divided into right and wrong, good and bad. It’s the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, to strip women of basic healthcare rights. It’s the ongoing male-centric discussion about women’s bodies, as though they have any f*cking say what happens to our bodies. It’s the lack of action against our country’s painfully obvious gun problem, the fact that day after day, we are offering thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers. When do people stop and say – this must end.
Our witty and sarcastic 140-character tweets are not enough anymore. Our French flag profile pictures are not enough anymore. Our thoughts and prayers are not enough anymore.
And I think we needed this most recent Trump soundbite to get to this point. We need to see how far our country has gone down this rabbit hole of fear-washed hate.
We’ve needed to get this angry. I’m glad that we’re angry. But the next question is – where do we go next?
We are at this point, this dreadful point where one of the political frontrunners’ beliefs can easily be compared to Nazi ideology. But we cannot waste time by asking ourselves how we got here. We cannot be foolish.
We know how we got here. We got here by laughing at Trump, by tuning in to the GOP debates and playing drinking games instead of feeling concerned. We got here by passing off his xenophobia as foolish ignorance, making funny gifs, rolling our eyes, filling our voices with snark. We gave the media their ratings, encouraging them to cover Trump’s campaign more than anyone else, allowing Trump to continue to have the magnitude of airtime that he’s been able to have. We are as much to blame for his success as his supporters. By our own mistakes, we’ve given power to this bigot, this racist (and as Arianna Huffington said, we are calling him that now – because that’s what he is.)
We all made these mistakes together – so, it’s time to own them, and then it’s time to act.
There are enough of us out there – enough of us who care, who feel compassion towards others less fortunate, enough of us who want our country to simply do better than we did decades ago.
But we need to do more than just write and tweet and speak. We need to band together, to get involved in this election, to fight for the candidates who will not hurt our country any further. Now, more than ever, it is time to get involved. We cannot sit back and rest on our opinions any longer.
If we don’t take action – if we don’t do something – we’ll be in the history books one day, on the wrong side, yet again.
Or maybe we won’t be. Maybe there won’t be any more history books.
We are no longer fighting for the present, but for the future.