“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it,
and eventually they will believe it.”
History has words for what has happened to our country. History is marked by the rise of mediocre men yearning for power they do not deserve, finding themselves head of a nation that is beyond their understanding, and a heart full of so much anger that it is twisted, bent beyond reason, and seeks nothing more than to level it at someone other than themselves.
History has words for this.
“I want surveillance, and I don’t care.”
– Trump on Mosques
American Exceptionalism is the idea that the United States is inherently different from other nations, that it is our mission to spread these ideals across the world, and that because of our success in democracy, capitalism, and individualism, we are superior to every other nation around the world.
“The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force.”
What happens when the message of superiority we have so dutifully allowed ourselves since the inception of the country comes to mean only the white race? Or able-bodied? Or CIS? Or straight? Or Christian? What happens when this sense of superiority becomes a means of profiling those who have less of the power than the elite few? What happens when we forget that inclusion, diversity, and weaving both into a strong educational system helps create strong nations?
History has words for that.
What you get is years and years of fear and finger pointing that builds up to a point that you elect a man who has the moral code of someone who has been imprisoned on rape, fraud, and abuse charges.
The implicit code of decency for those in public service has been eliminated in the name of fear. It is not a recent shift.
Make no mistake, this hatred that we’ve been harboring as a country is a long time coming. This is not new or particularly shocking to those who have seen it day by day, year by year. It has been building up behind the search for middle-class security and the dream – seen only by the people this country ostracizes because of skin color, faith, gender, sexuality, love, and disabilities.
Fear creeps into even the most secure of places. It tells us that we will end up being treated the way we have treated others. The superiority breeds fear. What if someone else wants to be superior? What if they act the way we’ve been acting when they get that power? We must squash all resistance! We must eliminate all threats to our “freedoms”! Fear blossoms, spreads, a virus in the air, spreading as we speak, as we interact, as we go about our days.
Fear, like a virus, has made us weak.
We are not the exception. We have just convinced ourselves we are with selective reasoning that has reinforced our biases and our ultimate weaknesses.
Other countries have risen and fallen in the years since civilization began. We can learn from history, though we so often don’t until hindsight makes us fools.
The Roman Empire existed from 27 BCE to 349 AD. It fell for numerous reasons, some of those being high taxes on the people, – and little on the upper class – lack of education among its working class, lead in the water, overreaching of military, poor infrastructure, and political upheaval. Despite what we’ve been told, they had severe issues that led to their decline.
Rome didn’t fall in a day.
No, they worked for it. They were active participants in the things that made them decline. They had to be.
There is no such thing as passive failing.
“The point is, you can never be too greedy.”
We have actively decided as a nation that the lives of black people, Muslims, and Native Americans do not matter. We have decided that a police state is safer than a nation with more gun laws. We have decided that transsexual lives don’t matter as they are killed and commit suicide. We have decided that healthcare is a right only the wealthy should have. We have decided that true love only matters if you are able to breed from the pairing.
Americanism tells us that if you want healthcare, you just have to depend on that individualism. Work harder. Bigotry is safer than acknowledging our failures to love. Don’t want to be arrested? Don’t be a person of color! Want to get married? Stop being gay!
The United States didn’t fall in a day as many of you think. We’ve worked for this. We’ve worked really, really hard to find ourselves here.
“The fact is that we need unpredictability.”
– Trump on nuclear weapons.
Some of you may feel like this is an overreaction. When Obama was elected I heard time and time again that he would run the country into the ground. There was no basis for this belief, other than the fact that he was black in a country that defined its success by the white model of superiority.
Trump has given us reasons to fear. His own words and actions have told us the content of his character. He has told us the country he believes in and the people he trusts to handle it. Spoiler alert: it’s not your neighbor of color; it’s not a woman; it’s not you.
He is a believer in exceptionalism, in superiority. Only he is qualified.
“I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.”
Let’s be real here – America was built on the backs of others. We stole from the Native Americans, we enslaved the Africans, we stole again from the Mexicans, we’ve given people rights only to take them away the next year, and we’ve appropriated from all cultures in popular culture.
Our history is problematic.
This year, a man came up through the ranks with hateful rhetoric, words of vitriol, and fearmongering—AND WE LET HIM DO IT. Instead of reporting on his hatefulness, we paraded it out. We gave him a platform. We laughed. We mocked. But we didn’t stop him. His words were only countered by citizen reporters and independent news outlets, who knew what impact this would have. The severity of his speeches were only taken seriously by the people who knew this hate wasn’t going away – who dealt with these words on a daily basis.
We were too privileged to see it. Our privilege told is that he only means it some of the time. Or that the checks and balances will keep him in line.
“I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
Words matter. They settle into the stone of a country and give rise to powerful beauty or unmitigated terror.
His words have seeped into the mindset of the people. They have given bigots a platform, too. They have told people like the KKK that it is okay to reveal their hate publicly without fear of repercussions. All the toxic things that we’ve been fighting to get rid of since the inception of our country has risen up and found a voice, a face, a man.
He has given the country leave to hate. We took him up on it.
“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.”
I’m an optimistic person. I genuinely am. I like to believe in the heart of people, in the goodness. I like to believe that somewhere under the hate, there is simply a scared person looking for answers. But this goes beyond that reasoning.
History has words for this. We have learned this lesson. We have learned what fear dictating policy does to a nation. We have seen it in recent history. Survivors of the oppression still live. Internment camps were in our backyard. Internment camps were in the heart of nations built on top of the minds of unbelievably brave and educated people in Europe. Millions died for an idea – for superiority.
As I look to my optimism, I can only look to the people today who lament that such hate has won. I can only look to the people who tried. I can only look to the people who will suffer the most as the hate continues to find voice in the heart of a country so afraid of change that it settles for a man who is basic, mean, dumb, and full of ignorance and arrogance.
To my LGBTQIA brothers, sisters, and everyone else, who will be killed or hurt because of expressing who you are – I stand with you.
To my POC who suffer every day for your skin color, who are killed for simply breathing while a person of color – I stand with you.
To my disabled friends, who will have their healthcare stripped from them and are mocked for your conditions – I stand with you.
To my friends who believe in something other than Christianity and will be watched and frightened to believe and to worship – I stand with you.
To my fellow women, who will be told they are inferior and their bodies put in the hands of gross idiots – I stand with you.
To anyone else who fights for the equality of all – I stand with you.
We are better in our diversity, in our differences, in our minds that are untouched by hate and willing to learn about the world around us. Today, hate won, but I know that those who love are still out there.
I stand with you.
“When we drop fear, we can draw nearer to people, we can draw nearer to the earth, we can draw nearer to all the heavenly creatures that surround us.”
— Bell Hooks