Friday, November 25, 2016

The Trump Effect

Over the last few weeks I have been watching the worst of humanity come out of my country's shadows, emboldened by a Trump victory.  Hate crimes in this country have risen to epic proportions in the few short weeks since the election.  The white nationalists, neo-Nazis and the KKK have declared that Trump's the President that gives them legitimacy.  Sadly, they are right.  Instead of denouncing these deplorable groups, by name, in the strongest terms possible Trump has taken to Twitter to denounce the cast of "Hamilton" for a respectable message to Mike Pence. Before that it was the protestors who became the focus of his rage.  Trump is not a man, he is a child who wants to sit at the grown-ups table, yet he has no idea how to use a fork and knife yet!  He throws temper tantrums that would be funny if they weren't so pathetic.  He even uses his surrogates to issue stern warnings to anyone who may speak out against him (Bring it on, Trump!).  This is the person who is supposed to lead the United States of America?!

Each day more horrible stories of hate come to light and each one breaks my heart.  From swastikas being spray painted on playgrounds to a video of a white nationalist convention at which they are giving the Nazi salute and scream "Heil Trump," one day seems to be worse than the last.  Recently, though two stories have just destroyed me.  One is that of the shooting death of James Means, a 15-year-old boy from West Virginia at the hands of a racist white man who proudly, and without remorse, admitted to police that he did in fact shoot James. A police detective quoted the man, whose name I will not mention because I do not want to give him any publicity, as saying, "The way I look at it, that's another piece of trash off the street."  While the life of this young man meant nothing to the racist monster who murdered him in cold blood, James Means' life meant a great deal to everyone who knew and loved him.  James' memory will live on long past the days of the monster who killed him.  "James wanted to grow up to be a businessman and open a mechanic shop," according to Obi Henderson, founder of a program called Dream Chasers, which helps "at risk" youth develop career goals.

The other story is that of Jordan Jackson.  Jordan is 8 years-old, a straight A student with a 4.0 GPA. He was hospitalized with a broken humerus and post concussion syndrome after he was beaten on the playground of  his school while he was trying to protect his 4 year-old sister.  To quote from the GoFundMe page that has been set up by Jordan's uncle, Cris Colbert: 

Nov. 14, Jordan (8yo) was on the playground after school hours at Spanish Lake Primary, along with his 4-year-old sister, J'Niaha, while they waited for Alana to bring them home for the day. An incident broke out between Jordan and another elementary-aged boy - a teacher's child - when the other child is said to have begun throwing mulch at Jordan.  Jordan asked the child to stop to no avail. At that point, the other child's 13-year-old brother approached Jordan and pushed him to the ground.
Jordan walked away from the incident, but returned upon noticing mulch was now being thrown at his sister, J'Niaha, by the younger child under the command of the 13-year-old. A fight broke out between Jordan and the younger child when the 13-year-old again approached Jordan. At this time, a previously un-involved fourth grade student entered the incident saying to Jordan: 'You need to go back to the cotton farm.'  
It is then that Jordan sustained the injuries - a fractured right humerus and what would later be diagnosed as post-concussion syndrome.

A fifth grade student, who is said to have witnessed the entire account, walked Jordan to the classroom where Jackson was, and informed her of the events. There were no adult witnesses to the event, however surveillance footage is available and is being used by the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office for their investigation. 

If you feel so inclined, please go to the GoFundMe page that has been set up for Jordan and donate if you can.

This Trump Effect is frightening and despicable.  I fear for my country.  As I have told my friends and family, I will stand with them and fight for them until my last breath.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Postmortem - An Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dear Mr. Trump,

You won the election.  Congratulations.

I would like to let you know upfront that I did not vote for you. I do not agree with you. In fact, I generally dislike you. These things are rights afforded to me by the Constitution of the United States. I cherish my 1st Amendment rights just as much, if not more so, than your supporters cherish their 2nd Amendment rights.  Over the next 4 years, I will exercise my 1st Amendment rights at every possible opportunity.

During the course of your campaign you made extremely hyperbolic claims about yourself, your wealth, your intelligence, even your genitalia (something that was a true low point for American politics).  You blatantly lied at every single press conference and rally.  Your lies were to the point that no one really knows if there was anything truthful that came out of your mouth during the last 18 months.  Sure, your constituents bought it hook, line and sinker, but the rest of us saw through your lies.  When we called you on it, you made ridiculous claims about people being against you, Hillary Clinton's emails or the election being rigged.  You did everything possible to distract from the real issue of you not having any knowledge of the real issues.

You gave legitimacy to the worst elements of our society and the alt-right.  These were the people Hillary Clinton was talking about when she discussed the "basket of deplorables." You fostered a level of misogyny and rape culture, through your words, actions and choice of running mate that has honestly left me and many scared to death. You and your campaign have given the LGBT community, Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, the Latino community, African Americans, the disabled and women a multitude of reasons to be frightened of what your administration will do.

Now that you have won, my question is simple: Did you mean everything you said in order to get elected?  For example:

Are you going to repeal Obamacare?  If so, what about the 20 million of us who got health insurance because of it?  What about those of us with medical issues that are considered pre-existing conditions?  Are you going to rip the rug out from under all of us?

Are you going to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides vital healthcare to so many women across the country?  Are you going to appoint a Supreme Court justice so staunchly pro-life that there is a chance Roe v. Wade will be overturned if it's ever brought before the Court, effectively setting women's reproductive rights back 40 years?

Are you going to ban Muslims from entering the country?  What about the Muslim citizens of this country, should they make sure they never go on vacation outside of the United States?  Are you going to order police departments across the nation to investigate every person of the Muslim faith? What about the Muslim Americans who honorably serve their country?  Do you even realize that you are spitting in their faces and on the graves of those who gave their lives for us?

How will you handle the White House Press Core or the media at large?  Will you do what you did during the campaign and harass them, call them names, or revoke their credentials if they write or air a story you don't like?  Will you take away their 1st Amendment rights?

Are you going to have a "deportation force" charged with the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants?  Are you honestly going to rip families apart?  If so, how can you sleep at night?

Are you seriously going to build a wall between the United States and Mexico?  Do you honestly believe Mexico will pay for it?  I would like to let you know right now that I do not want a single penny of my tax dollars going towards it.

The office of the President is supposed to respected, but respect must be earned, Mr. Trump.  Over the last 18 months, you have done nothing to earn the respect of at least 59,755,284 Americans.  You have done nothing to earn my respect and, to be very honest, I am not sure that you could ever do enough to undo the damage you have done to earn it.

Tonight there have been protests in major cities across America due to the outrage of you winning this election.  I am proud to say that my city was one of them.  People protested because the man you have shown yourself to be is not someone who deserves our respect.  The man you have shown yourself to be over these 18 long months is not someone who deserves to lead this nation.  The man you have shown yourself to be is, to be very blunt, a con artist, a pathological liar, a misogynist, a racist, a homophobe, and a dim-witted buffoon.  You have shown an unbelievable lack of knowledge about the Constitution, as well as the basic issues and laws of this nation.  You have pledged to overturn every "unconstitutional" executive order President Obama signed.  Can you honestly not grasp the fact that President Obama is a Constitutional scholar and former Constitution law professor?  What exactly do you think he did that was unconstitutional?

Mr. Trump, you have a lot of work to do in order to heal the chasm that you and your campaign have created in this country.  You must work for all Americans, not simply the ones you pandered to during the seemingly endless campaign.  You have a plethora of fences to be mended, and I am honestly not sure if you are capable of doing so.  I currently have no faith in you, your running mate or your team. I believe that you will continue to create discord in this nation.  I know that this is a very negative view.  I understand that I need to keep an open mind about you, but in my heart I simply don't trust you in any way, shape or form.  I hope and pray that I am wrong.  For the country that I love, I hope and pray that you will surprise me. I hope and pray that you will truly be a president for all Americans, but you have very big shoes to fill.

If I could give you some advice as you prepare to take office, it would be to offer a sincere and heartfelt apology to all of the Americans you have railed against, insulted, demeaned, degraded, demonized and attacked over the course of your campaign.  I know you believe that you are never wrong, but over the last 18 months you have been wrong every single day.  You are not infallible, and the sooner you understand that the better.  You must understand that your words now carry tremendous weight; choose them very carefully.  There is no room for error here.  There is no room for rhetoric, vitriol or hyperbole any longer. We are a vast nation with citizens of every race, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation.  As of January 20, 2017, you are our representative to the world, for better or worse.  As a nation, we rise and we fall on your shoulders. You must understand this, internalize and accept this. The sooner you do this the sooner you have the chance of gaining our respect and the respect of the world.

We will be watching you very closely, Mr. Trump.  Please rise to the occasion.