Sunday, November 13, 2016

#Trump = #Brexit ? I Guess We Should Have Seen This Coming?

My granddaughter's mother wants to bring a sign she created calling for peace and love to our weekly vigil on the bridge in Skowhegan. But she is afraid to bring her toddler to the spot where hateful language has been heard and threats have been made by supporters of president-elect Trump in recent weeks.

A reporter for the local paper wants to cover the story of our response to the election. Why us? Maybe the fact that we've been there, creating a public space for communicating about the political reality for years now, gives us some gravitas.

My neighbor Barry Dana, a chief of the Penobscot Nation, received a dozen answering machine messages at home this week calling him and all native people “scum bags” and mentioning one of his daughters by name. Maulian Smith is the leader of the ongoing effort to get Skowhegan Area High School to retire its racist "Indian" mascot. Authorities were called about the phone harassment and an investigation is underway.

But when will this family feel safe again? This begs the question of whether or not they felt safe before.

Maulian has reported nasty messages mentioning her own daughters -- young children -- from haters here in Maine. She often posts humorous dialogues between the two girls trying to make sense of what they see around them. One of them told her sister recently after seeing Trump on tv, He isn't white, he's orange."

In retrospect, the election of Donald Trump with his hateful rhetoric against Muslims, women, people of color, and homosexuals is best seen in light of Brexit. White working or unemployed people slipping from middle class to working poor are scared and angry. They are lashing out against the system that has so dimmed their prospects.

The British were surprised to wake up the day after a referendum to leave the European Union and find that the stoking of these fears by mass media had affected the vote. Such a vote is an attempt at communicating: Something is wrong here! Neoliberals, pay attention: your economic policies are crushing my family's dreams of self-sufficiency!

Nearly half the electorate in the U.S. simply did not vote in the presidential election. The majority of the half who did cast a ballot did so for another candidate.

But this doesn’t negate the fact that a sizable percentage of voters in the poorest areas of the U.S. voted for the candidate who has claimed he will force all Muslims to register as such.

I just took a pledge to say that I, too, will register as Muslim if this dark time ever arrives.

As a history major I always wonder what such people understand about the mass murder of Jewish people and others deemed undesirable by Nazis in the 20th century.
Source: The Free Thought Project
When you see a photo of water protectors in North Dakota with their number written on their arms by militarized police arresting them for standing their ground, does it call up memories of concentration camp inmates with tattoos? It does for me.

The best part of teaching history is sharing the many, many stories of those who stood up to fear and chose love and solidarity instead. The villagers of Chamonix, France hid hundreds of people fleeing the Nazis at great risk to themselves. The Danish people employed foot dragging and subterfuge to stall deportment of their Jewish population, allowing time for most to move to safety. Janusz Korcak, the Maria Montessori of Poland, went to the camps with his beloved children rather than leave them to face hate alone.

Dark times contain within them the possibility of bringing your own glimmer of light out from under cover and shining it for those most in need. That would be us, now. Let it shine.

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