Original version published on the blog “floating, falling, flying.”
The election of a United States president should not be met with fear.
I am in Tacoma, Washington, where the sky is usually cloudy, gray, and dripping with rain. Today, though, the clear blue sky seems to be taunting me. “Look how much better things are up here,” it seems to brag. No clouds, lots of sun… Up there, everything is happy and warm and good. Down here on the ground? Not so much.Across campus, people are crying. Some students are scared to leave their rooms. There have been at least three campus-wide emails sent out today with information about the various safe spaces being formed for post-election reflection, some open to the general student population and others reserved for religious groups or people of color. Still, even on this incredibly liberal college campus in the Pacific Northwest, many people don’t feel safe.
I support the democratic system, and I firmly believe in everyone’s right to choose for themselves and vote as they believe. However, I cannot support the choice to vote for someone who calls for violence and spews hate toward women, religious groups, the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, immigrants, and people who have disabilities.
As a Jew, I can’t help recalling Hitler’s pervasive rhetoric in Nazi Germany. I hesitate to compare anyone to Adolf Hitler, but I can’t avoid the similarities between him and Donald Trump. The parallels are scarily striking. Both rose to power in countries that wanted change and did so with intensely nationalistic speeches and words of hatred aimed at any and all minorities. Both men proposed to better their countries by placing responsibility for economic anxieties on less powerful groups who served as scapegoats. Both men supported, promoted, and incited violence, and both men spent years evading and denying the consequences of their actions.
I can’t ignore Donald Trump’s privilege. Trump has been accused of various scams, as well as countless cases of sexual harassment and abuse, and is currently awaiting trial for child rape – and somehow, he has now become the president of the United States of America. I’m not claiming Hillary Clinton was a perfect candidate, but it says a lot about our nation’s priorities, especially surrounding the treatment of women – or really anyone other than a white male – when a man accused of rape can win a presidential election. If even a single tabloid rumor had suspected Obama of assault of any kind, he would never have even gotten to the White House. Trump is dangerous, not just because of his rhetoric but because anyone other than a wealthy, cisgender, heterosexual, white Christian male would have been condemned from the start for a fraction of these accusations, while Donald Trump seems to be invincible.
Tuesday, Nov. 8 marked the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, when Nazis soldiers ransacked, smashed, and burned Jewish shops, homes, hospitals, and synagogues. Countless Jews were beaten, arrested, and murdered that night. Kristallnacht is considered a turning point in Nazi Germany and is often seen as the beginning of Hitler’s plan to exterminate all Jews from the world.
I am living in America in 2016. I am terrified and angry, because Nazi Germany and its threats to humankind should have been left in the past. But I refuse to let this country follow Hitler’s lead. I will not give in to the pessimism. I will not give in to the hate. I will stand stronger than my fear, and I call on every human being on this planet to stand with me. We can be kind to one another. We can care for one another and spread love and compassion.
We can stand united against the hate, and we can fight the fear.
Rebekah Sherman is pursuing a double major in English and psychology with a minor in religion as a junior at University of Puget Sound.