On Trump’s win, and why we’re angry

I am the first to admit that I tend to consume publications and move in spaces that are dominated by left-wing, liberal ideas. It is very true that I am a so-called bleeding heart who will happily defend the rights of any group that is treated unjustly: gays, Muslims, the poor, women, the non-gender-binary – the list is long. And I know that many of the people who consider my concern unnecessary or exaggerated don’t think so because they are terrible evil humans who want to live in a dystopian society ruled by antiquated and untrue stereotypes, but rather simply haven’t taken the time to investigate or understand the full extent of the various injustices that occur every single day.

I realise too that I might seem unrealistic, overly optimistic and naïve, to be trying to support all these different causes. There are obvious difficulties and complications, and no inequality can be completely fixed by passing one law.

I realise that I might seem hypocritical, or lazy, or insincere, because I talk a lot about doing the right thing but don’t actively devote my time to organising rallies or feeding the poor.

I realise that it is never right to attack people for expressing their own opinions, desires and perspectives, no matter how much it might clash with your own.

But right now, with Trump as the new President of the United States, I am genuinely scared of the perpetuation of inequality, as well as new injustices, that are likely to follow from this election.

Already, people are using Trump’s success to justify vile and offensive practices, whether it is demanding American citizens ‘go back to their own country’ or threatening and inciting sexual harassment, even in countries as far removed from the US as Australia, in my own university. But there are extremists in every political group and even the ever-growing number of travesties committed in Trump’s name isn’t enough to condemn him.

What’s really terrifying isn’t that the fringe-dwelling extremists are making full use of this opportunity; it is that a majority of the American people chose to elect this man despite his open acknowledgement of his own racism, sexual harassment and a blind denial of climate change.

It is that people are still defending his actions, and claiming that his gross disregard for human rights does not disqualify him for being an acceptable leader for a nation of more than 300 million, of which the majority belong to various groups that Trump has expressly demonstrated to consider as less worthy of humanity and fair treatment than himself –  that is to say, women, Muslims, Mexicans and people of colour, among others.

It is that the people most likely to negatively affected by his policies are being told to ‘accept democracy’ and ‘face the facts’. I thought that by eighteen, the minimum voting age, we’d all learnt that just because everybody else is doing something doesn’t make it right. Apparently, I was wrong about that.

People’s fear and shock at Trump’s winning this election is not just about a personal hatred of the individual. It is an abhorrence of the proof that there remain so many people who support such cruel injustice, and with this in mind, I cannot support anyone who fails to respect the extreme sadness and outrage with which people are meeting this outcome.

Further reading:
Aziz Ansari’s essay
The New Yorker: Who Believed in Trump, and Who is to Blame (Benjamin Wallace Wells)

 

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