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America: What have you done?

November 9, 2016

Last December, a man stepped in front of news cameras and broadcasted to the world that the United States of America should ban all Muslims from entering our country.

That statement was so completely shocking that I could not believe someone said that out loud where people can hear. Being raised in a small, sometimes racist/bigoted town, I had heard talk like that before, but no one would say that out loud in public. That talk was kept behind closed doors because even the bigots knew that was inappropriate talk outside of the bigot bubble.

For almost 20 years, I have been a teacher and I have strongly condemned bullies, racists, bigots and sexists. I have taught my students not to use this kind of language and to see their fellow humans as more than a label. I believed with all my heart that these kids who used this type of language were being raised on the fringe and that our country agreed to condemn bigotry, racism and sexism.

He said “ban Muslims” out loud, on camera, with the world watching.

“The country will condemn these words,” I thought. I felt so sure that our country held the values that I had been teaching.

Our country did not. Many people were emboldened to come out of the fringes and share this view that our country could and should discriminate against people based on their religion.

“Just temporarily,” many would say when I protested.

There is no temporary in bigotry. Once you judge an entire group as bad because of their faith, you don’t get to go back. The damage is done.

Soon, it became apparent that bigotry was not a fringe problem; our country was infested.

Then, racist comments became ok.

“Mexicans are rapists.”

Then sexist comments were fine.

“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married.”
“I did try and fuck her. She was married.”
“Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

I feel like a naive child who’s parents had always told her that adultery was bad, only to find that they have been cheating on each other her whole life. The premises that I was so sure we valued as Americans are gone.

My naive innocence has been ripped away. I no longer see the United States of America as a champion for good in the world.

America, you elected him President. You elected an openly sexist, racist bigot President of the United States of America.

What do I do now?

When I go to teach, do I continue to stop the bullies and condemn that hateful remarks? Or do I give up and accept that our values as a country are not what I thought they were?

This morning, in the wake of heartbreak, I am trying to remember the voices of my heroes.

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Today, I will keep doing the right thing. It may not be in my power to stop what is happening in all of my country, but I know that teaching children not to judge who people groups by their skin color, religion or sex is right. I’ll keep doing that today…..and tomorrow…..and they day after that.

My fellow fighters for human rights, keep going. Don’t give up. Hope remains that if we keep doing good, good will result.



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