On Election Day, many members of the Vassar community, let alone the entire nation, were struck with a pang of fear as presidential nominee Donald Trump became President-elect Donald Trump.
Within the past few days, we have already seen a spike in violent incidents towards women, African Americans, Jews and Muslims. Immediately after the election, the majority of Wall Street froze, canceling all private contracts until it became clear how this election will impact the economy.
It isn’t looking good for that economy though, as the U.S. dollar is currently of lower value than post-Brexit Britain and possibly below its value during the late 2000s recession.
As I look upon the faces of my fellow students and teachers day-to-day, it is clear that while they are trying to keep moving forward, they are inwardly panicked–terrified with what the future holds. The very real dangers of a Trump presidency became more and more apparent.
I myself am horrified as well, not for my own safety but the safety of those around me. Being a privileged member of the community, I have fairly little to worry about when returning home with exception of finances and religion, of which I am Jewish.
Yet, it is times like these when we must come together most of all to fight the oppression that is threatening our safety and ability to be who we choose to be instead of who society says we have to be.
The day after the presidential election was the anniversary of Kristallnacht, which, for those not familiar, was when the first incidents of extreme antisemitism in pre-World War II Germany occurred. That night, people went throughout the streets in Germany and threw stones in the glass windows of shops owned by Jewish individuals.
On the anniversary of this event, I woke up not just to find out Trump had won the election, but Nazi swastikas and rhetoric had been spraypainted on glass windows in South Philadelphia. Almost 80 years after the events that led to the Holocaust, it seemed as if we were heading in the same direction.
So I took a walk. I walked around campus, listened to music and took in the somber mien the day’s weather was setting.
And on this walk, something snapped in me and suddenly my sadness and anger focused itself. It turned into determination and said “This isn’t the end. We can’t just cope and weep and mourn for our country. We need to take what we have and defend it.”
It has taken decades for us as a society and a community to obtain the rights we now have. Women can vote, people of the same sex can get married, segregation is illegal and discrimination is outlawed in businesses.
Yet Donald Trump and his followers promise to reverse most of this. While Donald Trump may say he plans to protect LGBTQ+ members, his Vice President Mike Pence promises to roll back all legislature previously made to ensure this protection, including the right for same-sex couples to marry. The President-elect has promised to allow discrimination in private businesses and to deport countless American citizens, many of whom are here legally.
I have heard many people say over the past few days that Trump won’t end up doing most of these things, that his promises are empty, but considering who this man has picked for his Cabinet members, we must take caution and assume that he plans to make every promise happen.
Not only must we believe that he intends to spread this mass-legalization of hatred, we must believe he can, considering the Republican party now owns both the Legislative and Executive Branches, not to mention that they will most likely own the Supreme Court if Donald Trump ends up appointing the next member.
So the question now stands as such–will we let him commit these atrocious hate crimes? Will we just stand back and sip our tea and drink our wine and pretend that everything is going to be fine?
Will we comfort ourselves, learn to cope, then continue with life as usual?
No, we will not let this stand. We will not let our country be ruled by hate. We will not let the decades of hard work, the lives lost, the people who have suffered, be in vain. We will take to the streets and protest. We will write petitions.
We will fight discrimination where we see it and make sure our persecuted ones know that they are not alone and they don’t have to take this abuse.
We are those who study history and those who study history know the power in civil disobedience.
We must honor these traditions. We will honor these traditions.
It is our civic duty.
If they create unjust laws, we will break them. If they threaten us with jail, we will give them our wrists. If they throw stones at us, we’ll turn the other cheek because we have to be better than them.
We cannot promote love and peace if we turn to violence and war. This country has fought long and hard to be free from tyranny throughout the centuries and will continue to fight, but in order to gain sympathy and followers, we must practice peaceful protest.
If they punch you, use self-defense to end the conflict but do not inflict unnecessary harm. If they slap you or kick sand up your shoes, know that they are beneath you and that your cause is greater than that of a petty racist. We must show this country that we will not be oppressed.
This is not just some helpless few screaming into the void–we are a revolution. We have taken the streets of Seattle, Manhattan and D.C. Together, we will unite and our voices will be heard.
Our revolution is no longer about a new president, although many of us would certainly hope that the Electoral voters change their minds before voting on Dec. 19.
This is about showing President-elect Donald Trump–a man so despised that people are refusing to even call him President, just President-elect–that he can take his hate and choke upon it.
We fight for love, and love will always find a way.