Today, they took my children.
*This is a work of fiction. I had an idea of what it would be like to like under a Trump presidency and, there you go.
I remember the day I really realized that it was too late.
You know, for America.
I was home with my husband. I was working on the computer, and he was applying for jobs on his. We were staying with my dad that summer — and it was on the very cusp of summer: the nights were just starting to turn chilly, the days still humid and muggy. We had moved back across the country in search of better jobs, a better life — it had to be soon, I remember thinking.
I remember thinking that we were sitting on a precipice, of some sort — the whole world, teetering.
Everyone was unhappy with the way things were going, politically. We had a wolf in one corner and a snake in the other, both trying to sell America Tupperware with faulty lids, trying to convince us that theirs was the best set, the new set, the one that would keep us secure, keep our preciouses safe.
I remember thinking I’d take the wolf — wolves had always governed these woods, and I knew who I’d be getting in bed with.
We knew who we’d be getting in bed with.
That summer, though. That summer, the American people seemed to unravel. All of the old hurts, whisperings of discontentment, feelings of panic as a new, modern ground shifted underneath traditional old feet — it was a million reasons. It was any reason.
How do you make sense of a tragedy that could have been prevented? I prefer senseless acts — acts of nature, acts of god, if you will. When nature devastates we can say that it was because of environmental forces, shifts of something greater than us, movements that we couldn’t control.
When humans devastate, what do we say? The force of generations of hurts, of smallness, of meanness, of cruelty inflicted upon each other — that is a force which we can control.
But we don’t. We don’t have the vision of god, or of the sky. We only see what’s in front of us. We can’t see the storm we are creating, with our small forces.
If you want to boil down political science, sociology, economics — hell, basic biology — I’d say the reasons behind that summer were hatred and blame: I hate the way things are becoming, and I want to blame someone.
If we can distill these things further, I’d say it was fear: my life/my job/my family/my health/my country/my X isn’t what I want — and that scares me. That rocks the fuck out of my core beliefs, and I can’t fucking deal.
But it doesn’t matter how, or why: these things have roots deeper than America itself, and they’ve been growing and rotting and strengthening through family narratives and cultural storytelling since time immemorial. If only prejudice were as recessive a trait as blue eyes, or the ability to curl one’s tongue.
Leading up to that summer, the radical right had been becoming more vocal about the wrongs done to them and to their America. Years of Tea Party politics had reached a boiling point: a resurgence in nationalism and xenophobia, dedication to cherry-picked Christian ideals, contempt of intellectualism, fear of other. Contempt and outright hatred of anything that might threaten those concepts.
No room for discussion — discussion was for the weak.
Donald Trump had come on the scene as a Presidential candidate, as a joke, it seemed. We all wanted it to be a joke — even the Republican party. Who could possibly elect a man that was blatantly sexist, racist, and xenophobic? Had no experience in politics, let alone enough to hold the highest office in the land? Seemed to want the world to burn, with himself in the middle, dancing madly?
The answer, of course, was the radical right: people who felt that their way of life — traditional, conservative, white, Christian — was being threatened. The only answer for them was to stamp out anything that didn’t look like what they knew — and Trump promised to do that.
He promised to do that, and more.
I remember the day: we were working, and Fox News happened to be on in the background. A man had recently been arrested for planting bombs in New York and New Jersey — an American man. Trump was on television asking why this man should have due process, a fair trial, medical care, a lawyer?
Why should this man have rights guaranteed to every American citizen?
This man’s actions, if he was determined guilty — and since this was America, he was considered innocent until proven guilty by a fair trial — were, of course, despicable. He should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The law of America. Not the law of vigilantism. Not the law that says, “this law stands until you fuck up, and then we, the angry mob, string you up and lynch you.”
That is why America was different.
I remember the day.
My husband and I clucked our tongues, as we did a lot, in those days.
“I cannot believe he thinks we should suspend due process,” my husband said.
“He’s gross,” was my intelligent contribution.
The crowd roared in the background, thirsty for blood.
In November of 2016, Trump was elected by a narrow margin. A lot of people opted for the protest vote, and many votes went the way of Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. A lot of people, as they do, stayed home. Maybe they thought it had nothing to do with them: after all, decades have passed, with little truly changing from presidency to presidency.
I didn’t blame them too much, at the time. We all had problems and worries of our own: homes to pay for, children to feed, families to care for. We would ride out the next four years, I thought, and then we could try again.
Since then, there are a few other days I remember.
I remember the day that everyone had to register their citizenship status. I remember the day that we had to register our sexual orientations. I remember the day that my children were born: of course, for the joy of it, but also because I had to list their father as foreign born, which made their citizenship suspect — not as strong as my own. I remember the day that we listened, dumbly, to the news that all foreign born citizens were to be deported, effective immediately, regardless of marital or familial status.
I remember the last day I saw my husband, waiting to board a plane back to his home country, after years of living and working legally in the United States, paying taxes and contributing to his adopted country.
And today — I’ll always remember today.
Today, they took my children.
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