Along with millions of other minority classes hanging off the end of their sword 4 years later, I have no interest in making friends.
During his victory speech, President Elect Joe Biden asked the deeply divided American Public to “Give each other a chance.” For many of us, that’s not just a steep request… it is an insult to our dignity.
While the concept of unity in a post Trump era sounds poetic on paper, the chasm created by his base in one too wide to bridge easily. Minorities, especially Muslims that they have demonized, LGBTQ people they have threatened and persecuted, women they have endangered, Mexicans they called rapists, black people who were used as pawns to stoke fear and incite radical acts of violent racism for four years have no obligation to extend an olive branch to our proud attackers that have responded to Trump’s frequent, relentless dog whistles and required us to invest valuable time and energy fending them off with a stick.
Trump’s Presidency did not create the dark underbelly of bigotry in our society, but unveiled them. He invited them out into the open, from beneath the hood and preyed upon their deeply seated prejudices against us by giving them permission to launch merciless, hate fueled campaigns whereupon they laid a target firmly on our backs.
It is this influence aggregated by Trump over his one term tenure in Office and the eager acceptance- even approval- of his victimization of the most marginalized communities that make his Supporters, not just different politically, but remarkably cruel and an existential threat to the safety of the rest of us. We are, to put it simply, the “Them” they have felt at liberty to ridicule and torment from beneath a cult-like sea of red hats, chanting ill-inducing, racist rhetoric in concert at their MAGA rallies as if they were at Rock Concerts singing along to the lyrics.
Trump supporters were not just Republicans who held different political ideologies than the rest of us. They were an organized militia, heavily armed collectives that sought to alienate and ostracize- even criminalize- any American who dared reject or criticize the caustic, inflammatory rhetoric preached from the Nation’s most powerful seat. They aligned themselves against us as if we were an enemy tribe, a dangerous threat to their privilege and superiority as Trump created the mythology that we are anti-American; We are the enemy. They treated us like we were no longer welcome in our own country while demanding that those who immigrated here go back to their countries of origin, even if they were born here. “Send Them Back! Send Them Back!” They sang in unison in response to four Congresswomen of color. We watched them do it over and over again, live, broadcast into our homes. Hate on parade, unapologetic, gleefully free of shame or repudiation. It was Hate that bound them together; Hate that fashioned them into a frightening fellowship where they found like-minds and they feed off each other’s disdain for anyone unlike themselves.
We watched this saga unfold over four long years. A saga that saw us vilified for defending innocent black men against police brutality. We had our own military forced turned against us for hoisting placards in protest. We stood by as a gaggle of Trump Supporters waving American flags in one hand and Trump flags in the other chanted “Kill the Transgenders” and “Jews will not replace us.”
And then the Coronvirus: We stood by and watched in horror as Trump, during a global pandemic, urged his followers not to wear a mask, politicizing it as a hoax perpetuated by democrats to hurt him, personally. This act alone resulted in millions of his followers deliberately putting the lives of our most fragile citizens at risk, simply to show their allegiance to Donald Trump. Where he travelled, waves of death followed, hospitals overflowed and countless lives were lost- an avoidable consequence you can trace directly back to the President and his misinformation campaign. We sat in sorrow as we watched him call for residents of states led by Democrat Governors to “Liberate” themselves- and then his supporters descend on the steps of state houses armed with AK-47’s and AR-13’s because they’d been asked to wear a mask and help prevent the spread of a deadly virus.
We watched them ridicule and harass a 14 year old girl for being a climate change activist, yet uplift and celebrate a 17 year old boy who travelled across state lines to hunt protesters with his assault rifle. He killed 2 people and injured a third, and the Trump base crowd-funded his 2 million dollar bail to see him released from jail. They wear T-Shirts emblazoned with his likeness, elevating him to celebrity status while making memes to mock the climate change activist.
It isn’t a few bad apples. After an agonizing and chaotic four years, Trump Supporters knew who he was. They knew about his hush money payments to adult film stars with whom he committed adultery. They knew about the 27 accusations of sexual assault and rape. They knew he was using his power to enrich himself and his family, cozying up to notorious foreign dictators while insulting our allies. They cheered as he sought to strip us of our healthcare and legalize discrimination against us in every sector. They just did not care because they wanted that world Trump believed he could create… and that was a world without the vast majority of us among them by means of preventing our ability to thrive in it. Yet, over 70 million Americans voted for him again- a mere 8 million fewer than did not support him in his bid for re-election. In some states, the difference between candidates was less than 20,000 votes- in one state, less than 12,000. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. They watched the divide happen. They identified the rest of us as the “Them” they needed to exterminate like pests because things like our marriage equality, feminism and voting rights inconvenienced them, assaulted their sensibilities, agitated their inherent bigotry now raw and on permanent display for the entire world to see -and these things they tried to take away from us- and had they won, they would have joyfully stripped us of. They wanted to make us refugees in our own homeland while serving in bizarre, cult-like fashion a con-man whose manipulation and criminality they were indifferent to. They splayed themselves eagerly before a reality star they still idolate; Championed a regime that has caused insurmountable damage to our country, sabotaged our most trusted institutions and undermined our democracy in pursuit of limitless power and freedom from accountability. And they nearly won.
But, give them a chance?
Joe Biden, these are not the kind of people I would expect to whom anyone should ever give a chance. Instead, I would ask those most affected by them to remember them.
Remember them so that this cannot happen again. So that in 4 more years, 12 more years, 50 years from now, our children are not fighting the same battle we have over again.
They have shown us who they are and our responsibility to our own values is to believe them. Our obligation is to our safety now, not to endear ourselves to those who, even still, seek to reshape America into a country in which they can compromise that safety for no other reason than the pleasure they reap from our suffering they sew.