Two weeks ago I posted about my blogger friend Michelangelo Signorile's open letter at Huffington Post to a long-time, long-distance friend after he learned that she had voted for Donald Trump. Michelangelo's letter well summarized my feelings towards "friends" who had voted for Trump (and in my view, racism, bigotry, homophobia and neo-fascism) when he said that he had realized that he had never really known the woman addressed in his letter. Like the woman Michelangelo addressed, many of my Trump supporting "friends" can not seek to excuse themselves by citing that they live in the Rust Belt and/or had experienced “economic anxiety” during the Obama years (most are actually quite well off financially). Now, Michelangelo has a new post that looks at the reactions his open letter has evoked. Like Michelangelo's experience, many of my "friends" seek to either depict me as "intolerant" or claim that this is only disagreement about "politics" and conveniently ignore the extremists and vitriolic homophobes Trump is placing in positions of power. The reality is that I will likely never trust or feel comfortable with these "friends" some of whom I continue to see for the sake of neighborhood and social harmony. Here are highlights from Michelangelo's latest piece:
There was a lot of response on social media and elsewhere, most of it positive, much of it from people in far more difficult situations ― people who opposed Trump and were struggling with relationships they’ve had with parents, siblings, children or closer friends who voted for Trump. Many expressed how the letter articulated thoughts similar to their own, no matter how differently (or similarly) they may navigate this in their own lives.
Then there were the Trump supporters who criticized the piece. They almost universally claimed they couldn’t believe anyone was breaking off a friendship over “politics.” This, to me, was both ludicrous and disingenuous ― if very telling ― particularly since I’d addressed it right there in the open letter.
Many of these Trump supporters ― a lot of them traditional Republicans who went “home,” as political pundits nauseatingly put it ― are defensive about the fact that they voted for the unstable racist, misogynist and self-proclaimed sexual assaulter, and they’re fearful of admitting to themselves and certainly others that they tolerated hate and bigotry. They can’t face that they’re in bed with what appears to be a large swath of other Trump supporters who actually revel in their own racism, pushing white supremacist hate and feeling emboldened by what they view as Trump’s embrace: making Steve Bannon his chief White House strategist. So, they conjure up all kinds of rationalizations or whirl around in a sort of denial.
These are the Trump supporters that went bonkers over my open letter to my friend. . . . On several websites and on social media they portrayed me as the “intolerant” liberal. Of course, I’m proudly intolerant of bigotry -– but that’s not what they meant.
I’ve pointed out how Mike Pence is running the transition and is already getting the anti-LGBTQ agenda set regarding domestic policy, and that Trump’s cabinet picks who will run the government departments are a who’s who of homophobia.
But even if that weren’t true, why would you give a chance (as this critic put it) to someone who pandered to those who hate you? Trump courted evangelicals and promised to appoint judges to overturn the historic Obergefell ruling on marriage equality (and he has publicly opposed marriage equality since 2000). Even if you believe he wouldn’t do that, why would you give even conditional support to a man who has given hope to the people who detest you and wish you harm?
The rationalizers can’t face the fact that there will be no peace because Trump is a bigot who ran a hate-filled campaign and has shown no remorse for doing so, nor is he making any attempt to heal any wounds.
Debating them about my personal choice regarding a friendship ― or even referring to them here by name ― would only be giving them an opportunity to attempt to legitimize the terrible choice they made in the election. And they surely don’t deserve that.