Voted for Trump? I have only one plea.
To my friends (yes, friends) who voted for Trump: You say you voted for Trump for reasons entirely absent from hatred, racism, and misogyny. You are sick of being called a racist, a misanthrope, a sexist, a xenophobe.
So let’s start with this premise: I believe you when you say you don’t hold any of these things in your heart. I believe you when you say that these things are not why you voted for him. I BELIEVE YOU.
But/and: he and his surrogates do say hateful things, and use coded language like “certain groups” and “certain neighborhoods.” Some people are hearing those things and are now feeling emboldened to do and say truly hateful, un-American things to minority groups. The stories are pouring in: echoes of Brexit as American women have their hijabs ripped from their heads, as women are grabbed and men laugh and say “we can grab you by the pussy now,” as brown schoolchildren come home in tears because some of their white classmates have told them they’ll have to leave the country, as Black people are called n*** in the street by white people who say, “God, it feels so good to say that in public again.” (Updated 11/19/16 to add: Trump’s advisor and Cabinet appointments to date are not helping to dispel concerns that his campaign rhetoric was, in fact, a set of campaign promises.)
I know that that is not YOU. Hear me say it. Stop thinking I am saying this at you, when I am just saying it to you. I believe you, so please believe me.
Your knee-jerk reaction is going to be to shout, “Those bad apples don’t represent me, so don’t lay their horrible behavior at my feet!” How many ways can I say this? I believe you. But/and this is still a real phenomenon. You and those apples supported, and support, the same man, even if for vastly different reasons. And those bad apples feel really, really good right now. The KKK is holding a celebratory parade. A PARADE. Those awful people — who I rush to say, again and again, are not you — feel vindicated and empowered by this election result.
So here’s where I stand: You voted for him, so I believe you have a responsibility to hold him to a truly American standard.
I’m not asking you to reject the president-elect.
I’m not asking you to apologize for your vote.
I’m not telling you you’re not allowed to feel vindicated for your feelings of being ignored and left out and lied to.
I’m not telling you what your stance on immigration or refugees or Black Lives Matter should be.
Here’s what I am saying: You’ve said all along that you disagree with the ‘inelegant’ things Trump says about all kinds of groups of people. You’ve agreed that his statements about women are abhorrent. You say you like him because he gets stuff done, not because of the way he speaks. And I believe to my core that you agree that all people should be treated with decency.
So, now you get to prove it. It’s actually so simple: Demand that it end. Demand that he finally, vociferously reject the KKK and other white supremacist groups. Investigate and oppose appointments of hardliners with alt-right ties and a history of racist statements or acts. Every single time he or his surrogates says something over-generalized about any group of people — “all Black people live in inner cities and their lives are hell”; “all/most/many refugees/immigrants/Muslims/whatever are dangerous”; “that woman is only a 7” — hold him to the highest standard you have. Contact him and tell him, “I support you, I voted for you, and I demand that you stop these things.”
Now is a real chance to prove everyone wrong. It’s also a real chance to actually protect some fellow Americans and fellow humans from harm. How?
You, a good-hearted, well-intentioned, America-loving person, can publicly and loudly demand that the President-elect and all of his surrogates and appointees denounce all hate groups who are celebrating this win as a win for their agenda. You can demand — publicly, not just on your Facebook feed or just to friends — that the President-elect make a public statement disavowing and condemning every single act of violence, intimidation, bigotry, misogyny, and hatred that is being done in his name and in the name of his movement. He should just say it: “This is disgusting, it’s un-American, and I will not allow it to be done in my name or in celebration of my Presidency.” Then he should follow it up with appointments that do not threaten to further divide this diverse country.
You are the only ones who can do this.
Do it because you are all the things you say you are: loving, tolerant, inclusive, and American.
Do it because, as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good (wo)men to do nothing.”
Updated to include links recently shared with me: https://www.splcenter.org/tell-donald-trump-reject-hate-and-bigotry-0
On November 9th, 2016 Shaun King began documenting the hate crimes and hate speech that are direct results of the 2016…www.change.org
Update 2: I wrote this piece because writing is a form of critical thinking for me. I wanted to share it with friends to get their perspectives. I had no idea or expectation that it would be shared so widely, but I’m grateful for any conversations it has started. The vast majority of criticisms I am receiving are along the lines of “why aren’t you condemning violence from the left?” (I have also been criticized by anti-Trump people as being too conciliatory; to them I say that my intention was to find a way to unify against immediate violence.) So I want to make it very clear: of course I condemn violence. (For that matter, every time someone tries to slut-shame Melania Trump, I condemn it, and I have done that throughout this campaign.) I do not, however, condemn the act of protest. The people protesting are doing so because their own or their fellow Americans’ very place at the American table has been threatened or undermined by Trump’s campaign rhetoric and promises. Why should they welcome their removal from the table?
My point with this piece was to ask Trump supporters to ask a very powerful man — Trump — to speak directly to the minority who are committing acts of intimidation and violence in his name. My hypothesis was that he might listen to you, his voters, and in turn, that minority might listen to him. So…can you do that? He’s not going to listen to someone like me, who has vocally opposed his candidacy from its very first day. But he might listen to hundreds or thousands of Americans who voted for him.
Anyway, back to the protestors: who will they listen to? I will support any voice that might speak to them and ask them to reject any violence.
By the way, I’ve pretty much abandoned the comments section here because it’s too difficult to deal with (and I have home and work responsibilities…this isn’t my job), but feel free to tweet at me — @jessicashortall on twitter. Just…please be nice. I didn’t call you any names here, and I ask the same of you. Even if you think this piece is wrong or off-base or a failure, please be civil.
Update 3: 11/13/16: I was so thankful today to see Donald Trump say, unequivocally, “stop it” to his supporters who are intimidating minorities. Yet in the same moment, we saw Trump announce his appointment of Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist — the Karl Rove to Trump’s George W. Bush. This is no longer disconnected Trump supporters acting, unapproved, in his name. I keep hearing “give him a chance” and “wait and see.” Well, we are seeing: this is the president-elect himself, appointing a hero to white nationalists to advise him in every decision. Today, Republican Ohio governor John Kasich’s chief advisor called Bannon an “anti-Semite” who is “ racist, fascist extreme right.” So the game has changed. This is no longer a fringe of his supporters; this is the open embrace of the anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-Black, anti-Muslim fringe that so many feared was predicted by Trump’s campaign rhetoric, and that so many more assumed was just a campaign tactic. So…now what? Where are the Trump voters who were sure that this was all just bluster or “off the cuff” speech? I know you’re out there, and I am desperate to unite with you in calling for moderate appointees. This latest development has me feeling like my original plea is meaningless. If this is where Trump wants to go, where do we go from here?
If you care about stopping Bannon and other extremists from getting into OUR house, here’s a start:
1) FIND your 2 Senators and your 1 Congressperson.
Member of Congress: http://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep (You may need your +4 ZIP code to get your exact Congressperson. You can find that at https://tools.usps.com/go/ZipLookupAction!input.action)
SAVE THEIR NUMBERS INTO YOUR PHONE.
2) CALL THEM. Every day. Preferably at the district, not DC, office. Choose the option to speak to a staffer. Ask them WHEN (not if) they intend to denounce the appointment of a white nationalist hero to serve in OUR White House. Tell them this transcends party, and that if they don’t do it, we will consider them accountable for whatever comes as a result of this appointment. Talk to them about Sessions, Flynn, anyone who concerns you as not representing your values. Say that you require a response. I’m dead serious about calling every day — and TELL them you’re going to keep calling. If you don’t speak, you don’t get heard. Get it to the point where they sigh when they hear your name because it’s YOU again.
3) Tell them to vocally oppose any “Muslim registry” as un-American and a dangerous repeat of the historical precedents of Japanese internments and, yes, the Holocaust.
4) If you plan to attend a protest, make your signs and chants about financial conflicts of interest and extremist appointments. Make this the focus for now.
5) Call any institution you have connection to that has power, with the same message, and ask them to speak up: Your college president, your chamber of commerce, your faith leaders, associations you belong to, organizations you donate to.
6) SHARE this call to action — especially with red-state friends, as many elected Democrats are now speaking out. Republicans have the power, and we need them to speak.
Update 4: The American Nazi Party and the KKK are publicly applauding Bannon’s appointment. We’re still waiting for the widespread condemnation of this, outside of Democrats. We’re still waiting for an exploration of Trump’s finances and business dealings, as the potential for national-security-risk conflicts of interest is high.