No Thank You, Trump America

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It was quiet in front of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC on election night.

It saddens me to see so much racism and bigotry erupt within days of Donald Trump’s election. Even more disgusting is the way Washington insiders and business luminaries, people who fought so hard against Trump, have flip flopped and suddenly support his presidency, essentially ignoring the intense xenophobia, bigotry and misogyny we have witnessed over the past year. Of course, these people have political and business interests at stake.

I do not. Even if I did have interests at stake, I would not sacrifice my principles and would continue to fight Trump.

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A woman texts and clutches the fence separating the White House and Lafayette Park on election night.

And yet Trumpers say, Give him a chance. We must come together and support him, they say. Worse, some are insistent that people should not protest.

No thank you, Trump America.

Though Trumpers keep trying to stymie public dissatisfaction with the election, more and more protests break out. And with good reason. Telling people to be silent and endure is the beginning of a fascist state. Silence the opposition, and force them to get in line.

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No thank you, Trump America.

I have experienced similar push back every time I have published a photo from election night or a protest photo depicting a scene that is not pro-Trump. The below photo received an extra amount of angst and misogyny on Instagram and in a private Facebook group. In other cases I have been trolled online by pro-Trumpers telling me to move to a different country, or shut up, or to read the bible, or some other form of bullying.

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In all cases I have simply deleted their comments. This is not dialogue, this is more xenophobia, bigotry and misogyny. It borders on fascism and violates protesters’ civil rights.

Not My President

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A despondent woman outside of the White House on election night.

This hateful orange buffoon now elected president is someone I must suffer. The acts of the people he has inspired are Deplorable. I will not give him an open mind because he has given me enough data to make a conclusive decision about his character. He is not my president.

It is unfortunate that so many Americans felt this disenfranchised that they were desperate enough to take this risk on. Our political parties were so weak that they could not come together and meet our country’s needs.

But Trump is a liar. He has lied about bringing back manufacturing jobs, building the wall, kicking out immigrants, and making fat cats like himself pay more taxes. Even if the Trump risk pays off — which it won’t — the impact on civil liberties will create a dark stain on America’s fiber for decades.

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Protest in San Antonio.

After all of Donald Trump’s behavior and deceitful acts over the past year, and continuing lies and backtracking, he needs to earn my respect, not the other way around. His election has destroyed the prestige of the Presidency. Until he behaves his way into a more mindful and respectful disposition for a significant period of time, I will continue to assess Trump as a dangerous narcissist that hoodwinked America.

At the same time, he will be in power for four years. It is what it is. My best recourse is to fight for the protection of civil liberties, and continue to actively seek new and better politicians than what either party is currently offering.

We Must Be Vigilant

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San Antonio protesters.

When George W. Bush won the oval office there was unease in Washington, but things settled in relatively quickly. Then 9-11 hit, and the rest was history. By the time Iraq occurred any pushback against W. was labelled as Un-American, Liberal, or Un-Patriotic. Eventually people became outspoken in spite of W.

Donald Trump and his presidency do not deserve the opportunity that W. got. I have seen more swastikas in the past week than I have in the past decade. I have seen more reports of hate crimes in the past week than I have in the past year, and that’s in spite of Trump’s caustic presidential campaign and the many reports of police violence against African Americans.

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Protest in front of the White House on election night.

Islamic Americans are wondering if it is their turn to flee. Mexican Americans — some who have been here for generations — and other Latin American immigrants — legal and illegal — fear the potential impact on their lives. Women wonder if they will have to fight off pimply white males assaulting them. On and on it goes. It is time to stand up to hate crime at every opportunity.

Trump and that small group of supporters who are using this election as an endorsement of xenophobia, bigotry and misogyny cannot be given mulligan after mulligan. We will lose everything that makes America free and inclusive if we allow that to happen.

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Two men waiting for a Hillary party that never happened in front of the White House.

A word of caution to those who disagree with Trump: We cannot fight hate with hate. Violence destroys the message. Protestors have invoked the swastika as a method of protesting against Trump. I have been the subject of persecution in my past. My relatives in Europe flee-ed the Nazi threat. This is not a casual reference. In fact, it is a hurtful one, one that inspires as much fear and hate in protest as it seeks to combat. The more mindful we can be about our use of symbolism, the more impactful our message will be.

We must say no, we must raise our voice, but we have to take on the principles of Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Peaceful protest is the way. We cannot hurt others to save ourselves. This is something that we must repeat over and over again. Civil disobedience must invoke peaceful change.

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Protest in San Antonio.

Given the amount of vitriol I have already received from hateful pro-Trump supporters, I have closed comments on this blog post. Please continue the conversation with me on social networks.

I’m Grateful the United States Let Us In

November is time for gratitude in the United States. Yet after the terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month, the United States of America is divided about whether or not to let suffering war-torn Syrian refugees into the country. Some Americans fear refugees are hidden agents of ISIS or Daesh as the terrorist group is coming to be known.

The whole conversation sickens me, in large part because the very nature of it goes against the very fiber of this country. So let me proclaim my gratitude this month for the Americans who let my Jewish relatives into the country, refugees of antisemitism in the 19th century and war-torn Nazi Germany.

Most of my ancestors came from Germany and Russia in the 19th century to escape anti-semitism. While conditions were better, they met milder forms of anti-semitism in the United States. My father’s ancestors changed their names from Lowenstein to Livingston to mitigate some of the bigotry they experienced.

One relative decided to fight back. Sigmund Livingston formed the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, which now is simply the Anti-Defamation League, a cause that fights for tolerance of all races and religions.

Later, the last group of my lineage left Switzerland at the feet of the Nazi army, which was granted access to cross the Alps and invade Italy. Though Switzerland was neutral, officials could not guarantee my ancestors’ safety. My grandfather and his brother and sister — the Bigars — were told to flee Lausanne and they did, barely escaping Venice on a boat hours before the Nazis arrived. They made their way to New York with nothing, and started their lives anew.

Freedom Starts at Home

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When you consider the ancestry of most Americans, they, too, were refugees. Whether rebels or slaves, by choice or by force, they ended up here. Thanks to the U.S. Constitution, their descendants have an open opportunity to build better lives here, the so-called American Dream.

Watching politicians engage in every activity possible to deny access to Syrian refugees makes me question that dream. This great prejudice, bigotry if you would, is perhaps one of the greatest exercises in hypocrisy Americans could engage in. For while “Je suis Paris” may be true, so is “We are Syrians.” Almost all of us are descendants of refugees of some sort.

Consider Daesh’s primary proaganda in fighting Western powers is to combat the western enslavement and abuse of Islamic peoples. Daesh, while an acronymn that literally translates ISIS in the Arabic tongue, is a word in its own right (rather than an acronym) meaning ‘a group of bigots who impose their will on others.’ So now we have American conservative bigots supporting the Deash bigots’ logic and their justification to enact atrocious acts of terror.

Perhaps Thanksgiving 2015 is a time to consider what this country still believes in. I hope it remains freedom and tolerance. If so, this outbreak of fear-driven racism should pass. We should embrace Syrian refugees and help them stand up and find a path to a more prosperous life in the United States.

After all, freedom begins at home. If we can’t practice the principles we espouse to the world in the United States, then being “American” stands for nothing but hypocrisy. Our brand of freedom should not be a condition of race, creed, or belief. And for that reason alone we should allow screened Syrian refugees to relocate here in America.

Thank you to all of our ancestors, those that left their homes for a better life in America and those that embraced the refugees of yesteryear, helping them find their way. I am grateful for what you built. I hope this generation continues those principles.