When oppressed people have the playbook of bigots, don’t shut them out, listen to them!
In recent days some people who I considered to be friends have described me as “nuts” or “delusional” for being concerned about the Donald Trump candidacy, especially in light of his using propaganda from white supremacist websites. Some people even asked if I really believed that it could happen here.
OF COURSE it can happen here. It can happen anywhere! And it is much more likely to happen when people who have never had to deal with bigotry in their lives silence those who have. There are people who are members of various oppressed minorities. The levels of oppression have differed over the years. But they have still seen things and experienced hatred that the privileged class has not seen before.
Let me be clear, if you are fortunate enough to have been born into a setting where you haven’t experienced hate and bigotry then I am happy for your good fortune. However, other people have not been so lucky. And I become less and less happy about good fortune when you not only ignore the please of people who have seen the hate and bigotry, but you actively seek to silence them. I was told by one of my friends that he was concerned about my paranoia and that I should “get off social media”.
My experiences are far from the worse being experienced today in the United States. I was raised Jewish. I learned in my Hebrew day school all about the Holocaust. When my teacher (who had survived the Holocaust) had to leave the room during Holocaust presentations, that effected me to my core. The human brain cannot fathom the atrocities when it hears that millions of people died. But it can definitely see the pain of one soul who lived it. I had people act in horror when an ex girlfriend told them that she was dating a “jew”. I have seen and witnessed many examples of people who want to kill other Jews. It terrified us that a Louisiana election for Governor was between a crook and a former grand wizard of the KKK (and at the time we lived in Maryland). Despite all what I have witnessed and been through, I am still pretty well off comparatively on the oppression scale. But there is that little alarm in the back of my head that goes off when something seems wrong. And this Trump candidacy is sending off warning signals.
And it is not just Jews. Many other oppressed classes are sending up their own warning flares about what a Trump presidency would mean to them. Yet the non-oppressed classes just want to silence them.
I came up with a sports metaphor and I think it is fairly spot on. We have seen how people use bigotry rise to power. We have that playbook. We can go through it and see what the next move is going to be. We are jumping up and down, screaming that they are going to be doing a pass play next. Yet you insist on shoving 8 men in the box and defending the run when the other team has put 5 wide receivers out there. You lose the game that way. Well, we are fearful that we will lose the game here. We fear that the neo-nazis and white supremacists Trump panders to will have a voice in his administration.
If you ignore us and silence us, what will we be able to do when they come after you next?