At work, I’m often accused, lovingly, of being too positive, of giving people the benefit of the doubt. I used to think that I could not live in a world where I automatically assume the worst of people.
I’m not feeling that way right now.
For 36 hours, I’ve been trying to process the massacre in Orlando. My first thoughts went to my LGBTQIA+ students. I checked in with a couple of them, to make sure they felt supported and safe. Beyond that, I am spent.
I have no hope right now that anything will get better. Seeing Donald Trump’s complete assholery today has stripped away any remaining hope I have. Knowing how many people agree with him has destroyed my confidence that we can ever unite as a country on the simplest idea that human life should be valued. All human life.
You can make this about ISIS all you want, but that does not erase previous mass shootings (mostly perpetrated by white men, mind you, and I’ll save the gun control rant for another time) or ignorance or intolerance of not only the LGBTQIA+ community, but also anyone who lacks the fortune of an Anglicized last name.
Hear their names. Recognize how many of these people were Hispanic. Then tell me this wasn’t a double hate crime.
Donald Trump, in the past year, has repeatedly threatened to ban Muslims, to build a wall, to halt immigration. Had he been around 110 years ago, my maternal great-great grandparents would have died at the hands of the Russian government, because they were Jews. Had Trump been around 160 years ago, my paternal great-great-great grandparents would have endured continued persecution in Denmark for their newfound Mormon faith.
Instead, both sets of ancestors miraculously survived an ocean and a hostile America, and here I am, a product of their tenacity and faith. Because do not fool yourselves–America has never been kind to immigrants (even if they were white) and definitely has never been kind to anyone with brown skin.
Last week I read Adam Cohen’s book “Imbeciles,” which is about the Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell. A mere 90 years ago, the Supreme Court in an 8-1–EIGHT TO ONE–decision agreed with eugenicists that the purity of the white race must be preserved. (You didn’t think the Germans came up with that entirely on their own, did you?) What immigrant groups were acceptable? Nordic. English, so long as they were wealthy. French. Northern Italians were fine, but Southern Italians were too brown. Irish were undesirable. All of eastern Europe had to be kept out. They designed tests to qualify immigrants and people in lower socio-economic classes as different levels of morons, feeble-minded, imbeciles.
And then they worked through the court system to legally sterilize them to make sure they did not have children. They told the women they sterilized that the scars on their stomachs were from appendectomies. 70,000 Americans sterilized before the fervor of eugenics died down.
You might say “But we’d never do that today.”
Look at the past 36 hours. Look at Twitter. Look at Facebook. Go read any transcript of Donald Trump’s ramblings from the past year.
Yes we would.
We already have. Multiple times.
It’s built into our cultural DNA. Find the Other, demonize the Other, deny the Other basic human rights, eradicate the Other.
Forget that the Other is a human being, forget that the Other is a child of God.
I have spent 36 hours weeping for humanity. I see no light at the end of this tunnel.