I am ashamed to be an American.

by , Wednesday November 9, 2016
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I am ashamed to be an American.

We just did a horrible thing.

I wish I could aplogize.

 

    I heard the news that Donald Trump was officially president at 3:30 AM the morning of November 9th. I had gone to sleep soundly - ignorance and speculation was better than anything concrete. But waking up at 3:30, I was overwhelmed with the desire to know who was going to be running my country for the next four years. The next for years - the time in which I would graduate college, turn 21, get my first real job. I wanted to know the tone that was going to be set for these life events; I wanted to consider what major landmarks there would be in America’s life to mix in. Would I remember my 21st birthday because it happened to fall just after LGBT conversion therapy was abolished? Would I be graduating alongside foreign friends who would feel safe in this country? Would I enter the professional world secure in the knowledge that the wage gap was gone, and that I had every chance given to a straight white man? Are any of those too much to hope for?

    I went to bed hopeful that such an important time in my life and in our world would be defined by steady leadership, and I woke up terrified. 

    There have been times when I have not been proud to be an American. America and the people in it are not perfect, and this is always something I’ve freely acknowledged. There have been times where I’ve questioned placing my hand over my heart in a classroom full of students and taking that pledge when we are in the top ten most deadly countries from mass shootings - and no matter what Trump says, not all of those are committed by foreigners. There have been times where I’ve stood in silent protest while everyone else said those words automatically, not thinking about what they meant. But my hand was always over my heart. Because in my heart I knew that I was lucky to be an American and safe from the violence that’s tearing other countries apart. I was lucky to be able to stand there in a well lit classroom with a full stomach and clean clothes, ready to get an education. My pride in America may have slipped from time to time, but I’ve never been as ashamed to reveal my citizenship as I am now. 

    I am ashamed to be an American. 

    I am appalled that more than half my country would walk into those polling booths and voluntarily pull the lever for an unapologetic, confirmed racist, misogynist, xenophobic, islamaphobic, bigoted man with highly suspected narcissistic personality disorder whose entire platform was based off of pure hate. I am only nineteen years old. I haven’t seen the worst things this country or this world has to offer, but I’ve read about them. And when we learned about these things in school - things like the lynching of black people, the Japanese internment camps - they didn’t seem like things that could happen in our America. They seemed a thousand lifetimes away, isolated incidents that we had moved so far beyond that they were only a piece of history. But now, this is part of that history. 

    This proves that the hate of all those years ago has never been erased from our country; it’s just lain dormant, been shifted from scapegoat to scapegoat and has now found a voice in Donald Trump. Imagine in history, if we had elected the leader of the KKK as president. That very thought is horrifying, and would undoubtedly lead to disaster and the physical danger of a huge portion of the nation. It seems so terrifying on paper, but why didn’t that stop us from electing Trump? How is that not what we’ve done -  taken the group with the most bottled up hate and given their leader, their voice, the most powerful position that a single person can hold in our country, if not half the world? I remember when Donald Trump was a joke, nothing more than a meme, a target for comedians, an amusing chrome filter. But those stopped being funny long ago. No one is laughing now.

    What have we done? 

    I keep saying ‘we’ as if I didn’t actively oppose Donald Trump or vote against him at every stage. I keep saying ‘we’ because this still feels like my fault. In twenty years, will I be able to look back and feel that I did everything in my power to keep him from office? Maybe. But all I did was rant to my friends and share some facebook videos and tumblr posts. Clearly, it wasn’t enough. If I had done more, would I have swayed anyone? Either way, that doesn’t change the fact that I am an American, and this is what we Americans chose. We chose hate over unity, fear mongering over logic, the “wildcard” over the solid choice. I don’t know about the other LGBT youth, the immigrants, the refugees, the foreigners of any sort, or the women, but I don’t want to trust my rights and safety to a “wildcard.” But this is - according to America - the best we can offer. This, Donald Trump, is not who we were stuck with; it’s who we chose. It’s horrifying what that says about my country.

    Donald Trump is not my president. He may run this godforsaken place, but that doesn’t mean I have to respect him. In fact, any time the opportunity presents itself, I will actively oppose him. The theory of legal positivism is that legal right doesn’t necessarily correspond to ethical right. Many of Donald Trump’s policies can be called into ethical question: Pro-life, climate change denlialism, conversion therapy, the rejection of foreigners to name a few. Continuing in ethics, civil disobedience is justified in two cases: when these events aren’t a true expression of majority rule, or when the harm being done is so wrong that action is justified anyway. I firmly believe that, if Donald Trump follows through on even half of his “policies”, the latter will be invoked. I am willing, and I am able to defend what I believe in. I will stand outside Planned Parenthood and protest their defunding. I will fight for the illegality of conversion therapy and LGBT rights. If there’s a rally on the legitimacy of climate change, sign me up. 

    In twenty, thirty, forty years when we look back on this presidency, I don’t want to say that I abandoned my ethics, my morals, and my beliefs when I walked out of that polling station yesterday. I want to say that I did everything I could as one single non-white LGBT+ female to protect my rights and the rights of my community.

    So, anyone know of any protests? I’m in the mood for some civil disobedience.

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