Letter to my Trump voting family

My dear family,

I want to ask you to picture yourself standing in a train station, on a platform between two trains parked in front of you. You are choosing to get on one train or the other.

One of the trains represents the Democratic Party. It advocates policies and perspectives that you disagree with, perhaps some that you think are immoral. So you choose not to get on that train.

The other train, the Republican Party, advocates policies that you support. The problem is, Donald Trump, the driver of that train, has advanced racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, and bigoted views. Even if you think his language is insincere, even if you think he is only being provocative and un-PC, even if you think his words do not reflect his true feelings or plans, many other people on his train disagree. Many other people on his train are bigoted. The KKK is having a party on his train. People on his train are spray painting “Make America White Again” on buildings and swastikas in schools, burning a black church and writing “Trump 2016” on it, creating an online chatroom named “Lynchings” and adding black students at the University of Pennsylvania (Trump’s alma mater) to it. Threatening to light Muslim women on fire unless they remove their head covering. Shouting “go back to Hong Kong you chink” at a friend of a friend of mine in San Francisco from a car with Trump ’16 stickers. Racist graffiti in a school in Maple Grove. Racist graffiti on one of the elementary schools here in Alameda. And on, and on, and on.*

The reason I’m torturing this train metaphor is that, while you may not harbor bigoted views, you are joining others that do. I have heard a few of you say horrifically, explicitly racist things over the years. But I want to believe almost all of you have good and kind hearts. You are choosing to get on that train for many reasons that, while I might disagree with them, are motivated by goodness. I am not telling you not to get on that train, or to choose the other train. I am telling you that you must repudiate the rhetoric and attitude of the Trump campaign. I am telling you that you must honestly face up to the possibilities that he represents. I am telling you that you must stand up and fight against the hate that has been unleashed by his victory on the part of far too many people on the train with you.

I’m sure many of you have said or thought “where are all the moderate Muslims standing up against extremism, fundamentalism, and terrorism?” I am asking you the same question now, with the mirror turned back in your direction.

This is a profoundly new and dangerous situation. Protests would not be happening if John Kasich, Mitt Romney, John McCain, or another sane Republican had been elected. You know this: the best of the mainstream of the Republican Party repudiated Trump during the Primaries. What is happening is not a Republican vs Democrat issue. Consider the words of John Weaver, the chief strategist of the McCain and Kasich campaigns, in reference to Trump’s choice for White House Chief of Strategy, Steve Bannon: “The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant America.” Or the words of Republican pollster Ana Navarro: “I want [Trump] to stop playing games and pretending that he doesn’t know these hate crimes are going on out there. I want him to really, genuinely address his supporters. He needs to do more. Donald Trump needs to understand that, whether he is a racist or not, he peddled in this for the last 18 months, and he unearthed an ugly underbelly in America.”

We are not protesting because our “team” lost (in fact, I don’t consider myself a Democrat.) We are protesting because we have seen what has been unleashed by Trump’s campaign and victory, and we are scared for our friends, neighbors, and family members. We are protesting because we know where racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and bigotry can lead. We are protesting because the anti-Semitic head of the leading White Nationalist alt-right website, who called the Pope a “commie,” is now Trump’s Chief of Strategy. We are protesting because we consider it our duty to stand up against the people on your train who will hurt others if they are not stopped.

If you think this is an overreaction, please believe me that I hope you’re right. The problem is, based on the rhetoric, behavior, and actions of Trump and many around him, there is good reason to worry. This is a time to decide what you stand for. We hope you will join us in standing up against bigotry.

*Please take some time to look here: http://whywereafraid.com/ I’m sure some of you will deny that these incidents are real. If that is your response to these stories, please ask yourself why your first instinct isn’t compassion and concern. It is true that some of these incidents are anonymous anecdotes, and cannot be verified, and that others have been found to be false. On the other hand, many of them are well documented, and in the open. Again, if your response to such stories is denial and deflection rather than horror, I hope you’ll take a long look in the mirror. Ask yourself how many Muslims, immigrants, homosexuals, or people of color you know, and why you have such a hard time sympathizing with people you don’t know.