This was a terrorist attack.
Looking at the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election in the United States, that is the only conclusion that makes sense to me. Granted, I’m no authority on such matters, but the evidence points to a large number of voters who did not respond to polls, organized and mobilized in large numbers, and took action to undercut and disenfranchise a progressive movement that, while stymied thanks to the DNC, still has momentum and promise.
A lot of people are terrified as a result. And that is the goal of a terrorist attack.
Not the loss of life. Not the damage to property. The fear.
We don’t talk about white terrorism a lot in this country. It doesn’t get a lot of press. It doesn’t sell headlines. And even if it would, the white businesspeople in charge of the news media don’t normally allow such things to come to light. It’s always been easier to foist blame upon the other and alienate those who are different. It’s deflection. It’s projection. And, most disgustingly, it’s worked for millennia.
I know this might be coming off as hysteria or paranoia, but this is the only way the outcome makes any sense to me. White rural voters — poorly educated, irrationally angry, entrenched in antiquated notions, and/or deliberately misinformed — let their hate fester in their homes and hearts. They ignored polls and pundits. They anticipated election day. And they turned out in droves. Motivated by ignorance, hatred, and fear of their own, they pushed their racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic agendas through in the form of a demagogue, and they’re salivating at the thought of ‘taking [their] country back’ and ‘making America great again’.
If that isn’t terrorism, I don’t know what is.
It was arrogance, on both sides, that allowed this to happen.
I mean, we’ve been on this path since before the “American experiment” began. But I don’t have the room to expound upon that here.
All I can do is look at the facts. Not cast blame, but discuss facts.
The DNC, in its arrogance, turned its nose up at a progressive platform full of motivated, well-educated voters whose candidate spoke with conviction, passion, and honesty. The prevailing Democratic campaign, in its arrogance, did not take the threat of hate-fueled demagoguery seriously. Disgusted voters, in their arrogance, raised middle fingers to the call for a unified front from the very candidate they had backed, and threw their votes away on candidates that did nothing but fracture their own base. And the arrogance of the opposing voter base that they would ‘rise again’ pushed them to take deliberate action that threatens to set this country back decades, if not reshape it into something truly ugly and unrecognizable to the idealists who fought for the freedom of slaves, women’s suffrage, and the rights of the LGBTQ community.
In one way or another, we all have a share of responsibility in how things have turned out in this country.
Which means the responsibility of pushing back against our mistakes and doing better, acting better, being better, falls to us, as individuals, and as a people who need to stand together, believe in ourselves and one another, and not go quietly into the night.
I worry about a lot of people around me. My thoughts are with the wonderful human beings I’ve met who boldly express their nonbinary identities, the indigenous people of this land who have been cruelly and wantonly abused since Europeans landed on their shores, and the women and people of color who now have to wonder what the future holds for them and their families. I’m disconnected from many of those I knew personally. I’ve worked hard to be a better version of myself than I ever have before, in spite of the fact that, in the long run, that work may not matter to anybody but myself.
Every day, that work continues, in spite of the phantoms of my mistakes and this renewed feeling of despair.
But this is not a time to crawl into a hole and cover oneself in dirt.
I feel and acknowledge my fear and my grief, but I will not allow them to prevail over me.
I recognize that my sincerity and integrity and veracity may be questioned, but I will not allow my voice to fall silent.
In spite of all the damage that has been done, through deliberate acts or poor decision-making, on a national or personal level, I still believe we can rise above our circumstances and what is set against us. I still believe in the better natures within us — as Yoda put it, “luminous beings are we, not this crude matter” — that defy basic animal reactive impulses of lashing out blindly, fleeing, or freezing. I still believe that love is far, far more powerful than hatred. I still believe that our capacity to imagine one another complexly is far, far more powerful than reducing one another to caricatures of humanity or spectres of monstrosity. I still believe that, without violence or destruction, love can prevail over fear, knowledge can prevail over ignorance, and barriers set up by established and insecure bastions of power can be smashed by those who stand together, as one unified force of understanding and love, and say
NO. YOU MOVE.
Like so many, I feel like an outcast, disconnected from what I thought I knew, adrift in uncharted territory.
But dammit, I am still holding onto the idea that there is good in this world. And it is worth fighting for.
It may be a foolish idea. I’ve had quite a few foolish ideas in my lifetime. Some lead to horrible mistakes.
This isn’t one of them. This foolish idea, this one, is good, and worth sharing.
And if all I can do is share it with you, tell you that you’re not alone, and that I love you — we may have never met, we may have lost touch, we might never meet, but dammit, I love you — and that we can and will fight back against this — not just fight, but win — then that is what I will do.
With all the strength I have. With all of the love in my heart. With every breath I take until I breathe my last.
I stand with you and for you.
Now. And always.
Let’s get to work.