On July 22, 2016, around the time of the Republican National Convention, I posted this to Facebook:
I spent my 4th of July evening on a plane flying home from across the country. When the sun was out, I saw craggy desert that gave way to the Rocky Mountains that became flat farmlands. When it got dark, far below me, blinking on and off all over like lots of multicolored fireflies, were the fireworks shows. From above, on its special night, I watched my country sparkle. And under the sparkling were the people, in all the various terrains within our borders, from all walks of life, enjoying a cozy summer evening and watching bright flashy colors across the sky, saying “ooh” and “ahh” and “oh, look, a plane”. Diverse yet with a common bond. That’s who we are. That’s what it means to be American.
Yet, we have a presidential candidate and the major political party behind him peddling paranoia, xenophobia, bigotry, greed, and violence. Worse still, these things are being touted as “American”, that these things are not only desirable but are part of our national identity, that they are what makes us “great”. And the thing is, as the primaries have shown us, this is resonating. Maybe it’s because so many, of any political persuasion, whether in support or against, really are buying the idea that this is what it means to be American.
So let’s maybe drop that idea already. It is a dangerous lie. Don’t lend it any credence. We’re a diverse land and people who value freedom and human rights and other nice stuff like that. And when some ultra-narcissistic loudmouth seeks the highest office in the land by supposedly speaking for us all when he promotes fear and hate and the ugly manifestations thereof, we have to say NO! SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN! THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE!
The Orange Thing’s campaign seemed like a bad parody of white conservative American intolerance, from the longing for some imagined “great” past to the hostility toward Hispanic and Muslim immigrants, with the explicit notion that those white conservatives who have these beliefs are the only “real” Americans, that the rest of us either don’t exist or aren’t important or don’t belong in our own country. The rest of us make up the vast majority of the country, and surely, I and so many others thought, what he’s saying is so blatantly toxic and against everything we’re about.
But then, on the night of November 8, 2016, I reshared that post with the added comment:
THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE!
*looks at electoral map*
The following January, a few hours after Orange Thing made it official in front of probably anyone, at a resistance event at WES, I read the above post in the open mic portion. In person, through a microphone, with my actual voice, to a room full of people, I recited: “…And when some ultra-narcissistic loudmouth seeks the highest office in the land by supposedly speaking for us all when he promotes fear and hate and the ugly manifestations thereof, we have to say NO! SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN! THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE!” Followed by a round of applause.
It’s a year and a half later, and so so so much has happened, much of which I don’t even remember because it’s been one thing after another with this administration. There isn’t exactly anything great going on, that’s for sure.
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