What Trump Won’t Do To Me
“His name is Abdul Samad.” I say on the phone to the United Airlines service agent. Back in September, I bought my friend and I tickets to Nashville for Thanksgiving and wrote an incorrect last name for him.
“I am not sure we can change it, if it’s such a drastic change in his name.” She says. She ask me to spell it. Sure, it sounds suspect. I used his mother’s last name instead of his father’s. She doesn’t sound happy. I start to wonder if the name, so obviously Arab, is the problem. I never would have cared before.
“I’m going to have to talk to my manager.” And we go on hold.
“Maybe she’s a Trump supporter.” I whisper to my friend sitting next to me. I’m thinking maybe she’ll use her power to obstruct the amelioration of this mistake so that he doesn’t get on that plane and doesn’t stay in America and she can help make america great again. This is what I’m thinking, just a little bit. Not really but it does enter my mind.
In my Facebook newsfeed I have new and old friends that voted for Trump. Friends that have been really supportive of me my whole life and new friends that have supported my move to California. Friends that I feel very close to. Friends that are openly in disagreement with me online. I wonder, before this election, would we have ever come to this disagreement? We are so caring and empathetic otherwise, what is this new division and is it real? If we were able to see each other as people before, and still can now, how long before we start to avoid each other or stop following each other, or stopping talking to each other because the differences in opinion, so profoundly defining, become prominent over everything else.
In the Middle East, in Iran, in South America, politics divides people, families, friends. In the US it didn’t used to. In some ways, this was a bad thing, reflecting our apathy about policy in our country. But it was also good because we had the experience of being close to and loving people with very different views than us. Who we were was more important than what we thought. Now, this has changed.
I don’t want to lose my friends from my Facebook feed or from my life. This morning I deleted a post because I knew it would just cause rancor to those friends. Self-censorship now, too?
The woman from United Airlines comes back on the line after awhile and says that she made the change, he can get on the flight. I thank her and go on to discuss other flights we could possibly get on. I explain that I will be celebrating the night before because of a training graduation. We laugh about the early time of the flight. She can’t find anything affordable and decided to stick with the painful morning flight. She congratulates me for the graduation and we get off the phone smiling. She doesn’t care about his last name and doesn’t want him deported or blacklisted. I have no idea whether she voted for Trump. It doesn’t matter.
A fear-based world has everyone second guessing everyone else. What this election has done is thrown out the implicit social trust that existed before. Before, I didn’t assume, if I was in the South, that everyone wanted my friends deported. Or at least I thought the number was a lot less than 55.5% of people. Now, the thought might cross my mind. Before, I didn’t assume that 55.5% of the population hated or feared Muslims, now I might. Before, I believed that if you got to know me, you’d like me, despite the fact that my parents were from Iran. Now I wonder if even that’s enough.
While I am responsible to fight racist, xenophobic, mysogynist policy and advisors coming out of the White House, I am also responsible to keep trusting my neighbor and to stop these assumptions from taking root. I will fight the policies, not the people. I will not assume that 55.5% of the voters of this country want all this racism, xenophobia, or mysogyny. Then I am changed too. And for the worse.