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An Open Letter To The Writers Speaking Out Against Trump

[Last week, hundreds of authors from Stephen King and Jennifer Egan to Dave Eggers and Amy Tan singed a petition against Donald Trump. The petition and signatures were published at Lit Hub as “An Open Letter to the American People.”]

Because this line, “American history, despite periods of nativism and bigotry, has from the first been a grand experiment in bringing people of different backgrounds together, not pitting them against one another,” from the Writers Against Trump statement is not only empirically false, it’s a continuation of the ongoing legacy of sanitized lies America has shoved down its own throat since its creation;

Because we, the people who continue to struggle in the face of that lie, and whose ancestors suffered and died from the reality that lie conceals, are fully fed the fuck up with people who claim to have our backs dishonoring our past and perpetuating that lie;

Because in an age when we still have to shut down highways to declare whose lives matter, the lie of American exceptionalism and “a grand experiment” is really a way of valuing one life, one story, one experience over another;

Because no matter how many times you say words like “freedom” and “justice,” genocide is still genocide and slavery is still slavery. Rape is still rape;

Because American foreign policy is and has always meant perpetual war;

Because Wounded Knee, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Grenada, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Mexico, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Chile, Argentina, the Philippines, Libya, Sudan, Puerto Rico, the Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Seminoles and on and on and on…;

Because, as James Baldwin wrote: “it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime”;

Because, as Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote: “In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body — it is heritage”;

Because, as Rebecca Solnit wrote in the very same publication in which your letter appeared: “There are stories beneath the stories and around the stories. The recent event on the surface is often merely the hood ornament on the mighty social engine that is a story driving the culture. We call those dominant narratives or paradigms or memes or metaphors we live by or frameworks. However we describe them, they are immensely powerful forces. And the dominant culture mostly goes about reinforcing the stories that are the pillars propping it up and too often the bars of someone else’s cage”;

Because, as you wrote: “as writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power”;

Because, as you wrote: “the search for justice is predicated on a respect for the truth”;

Because your self-indulgent willful delusion weakens your argument, makes you look like a joke to the rest of the world, and serves only yourself and those you claim to be against, and right now, in this heightened crisis amidst an ongoing crisis, when the stakes are so very high, we can’t afford to lie to ourselves anymore about where we came from and we won’t continue to swallow this same lie in the name of solidarity or unity or good intentions or any of the other make-believe justifications you bring to the table in the interest of giving yourselves a pass once again;

Because American literature has erased us, demonized us, falsified our gods and made a mockery of our struggles, and we need the custodians of story to do better or step aside;

Because literature is about telling the truth, and our job as writers requires us to sit with our discomfort, with our complexity, with our painful histories, and face them head on in order to call them by their name and move forward;

For all these reasons, we, the undersigned, as a matter of conscience, oppose, unequivocally, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump for the Presidency of the United States AND the facile, violent lie of American history being a “grand experiment.”

Written by

Daniel José Older is the New York Times bestselling author of Salsa Nocturna, the Bone Street Rumba series and SHADOWSHAPER. More at:

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