Sunday, November 13, 2016

Don't Tell People Not to Be Alarmed by Trump/Pence

As noted in the prior post, the weekend has been difficult as the husband and I try to continue relationships with "friends" who voted for Donald Trump.  Among the things we have been told is that none of the things Trump pledge to do to win the Christofascist vote will happen.  We have also been told by individuals that "they've got our back."  Of course, all of those making such statements are white, heterosexual Christians who have no clue as to what it is like to be gay and to know what it is like to face open animus.  I take no comfort in any of these platitudes and attempts to assuage the speakers' own uneasiness that just maybe they should have done their homework and that perhaps they may have made a horrific mistake.  A piece the Times of Israel makes the case that I and others may not be over reacting or being melodramatic.  And even if we are, no one should be telling us to "get over it" and "move on."  Better to prepare for the worse and hope for the best than to stick one's head in the sand.  Here are article excerpts:
Georg [my grandfather] was Jewish. Elsa [my grandmother] was half-Jewish. The family was not religious in the slightest; they were fully assimilated to the cultural life of the glittering Austrian capital.
When Hitler came in, my grandfather shook his head. “There have always been anti-Semites,” he said. “We’ll stay quiet, and things will get better.”
Georg was an optimist. Hitler was just another colorful rabble-rousing politician. Things would settle down.
Elsa knew better. She knew what was coming, even if she couldn’t fully name it. Within a few weeks of Hitler’s takeover she was working to get the family out of the country. She tried contacts in the US, New Zealand, France, and even India. They all came to naught — until she learned of a special program in the UK that would allow Jewish doctors and engineers to emigrate with their families.
Georg didn’t want to go. Elsa told him she was taking my father (then 3) and my aunt (then 6) and going, and he could stay behind and look for another wife if he liked. My grandfather, protesting all the way that my grandmother was overreacting and having delusions, reluctantly sold his [medical] practice.
My family settled in England, first near Manchester and later in rural Oxfordshire. As you might guess, nearly all the rest of my father’s extended family perished in the Holocaust.
My grandmother’s fear saved the family. My grandfather’s sweet confidence and optimism would have killed them.
So when you tell me, a noted soother and calmer of others, that I should tell Muslims and women and people of color that they have nothing to fear from Trump, I think that perhaps you want me to be like my grandfather.
People are scared. They have every right to be. Trump’s words speak of an intent to violate fundamental liberties; Trump’s words inveigle violence; Trump’s words abrogate a social contract that says that we should quietly respect election results.
Perhaps Trump will be a better leader than we thought. The burden is entirely on him to prove that his campaign was an act, and that he and his followers pose no threat to women and minorities. Until then, suspicion. Until then, fear. Until then, anger.  Until then, I’m thinking like Elsa, not Georg.

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