What the recent election accomplishes

Yesterday morning, I heard a familiar voice on a public affairs program on the state public radio affiliate. Someone I went to grad school with who took a job at a private university in the state. They were discussing the primary for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. My grad school colleague endorsed a candidate who has admitted that he and the other challenger to the incumbent (a third person) had colluded to divvy up control of the state school system if one of them wins; bribes to leave the election may or may not have been involved.

I mentioned it to another friend of ours on FB. Well, she said, he was always a bit of an opportunist. He probably wants an office.

***

A former student just flooded my email with information about how there is no male / female wage gap.

You do remember the report our employer compiled on the wage gap at the university where we both worked at the time? I wrote back.

No, she wrote.

There was a several thousand dollar wage gap between men and women at the senior level that could not be accounted for by any other factor, I wrote. In fact, it was so severe that the university counsel suggested raises in redress to avoid discrimination suits they thought the university could not win.

I don’t remember that, she wrote, but that explains it. Just predatory faculty trying to get more money out of the state. I’m only interested in facts.

***

Running errands for dad in town today. On the street corner that leads to the mosque, there are a handful of demonstrators with signs that say “Islam is Terror.”

(To be honest, I have only known that there is a mosque in town, and that that is where it is, for about six weeks.)

I see red. I can’t drive like this. I shake a second. I decide I have to say something. I get out of the car.

Thanks for your support, the man says.

I’m not supporting you, I say. Do you know any Muslims?

No, the man says.

Can you imagine how hurtful it must be for them to drive past their house of worship and see this?

They want to hurt us, the man says. We want them to go home.

[home — to where? I think. Milwaukee? Green Bay?]

I can guarantee no Muslim in [this town] wants to hurt you, I say. I’d lay my hand in fire.

They’re planning to attack us, another man says.

Has there ever been an attack by Muslims in [this town]? I ask.

They’re biding their time, the first man says.

I realize I’m giving them what they want — attention — and turn away as someone else pulls over. I don’t pause to listen to the next conversation. I just hope the next person isn’t agreeing with them.

I call the police department. We can’t do anything, it’s free speech, they say. As long as they aren’t doing anything or bothering anyone.

Is intimidating the heck out of the people who use the mosque ‘not doing anything’ or ‘bothering anyone’? I say.

I call the doctor’s office in front of which they are standing. Of course it’s Saturday. I leave a message and say, Is this the type of message you want your practice associated with?

I debate calling the paper and then think, no, that’s exactly what they want.

***

On FB, I ask rhetorically if people were always this way and I am just noticing now.

Yes, a friend of mine says, what this election has done is made it acceptable for everyone to articulate and pursue their most base thought or prejudice as a political program.

I wonder if that applies to me, too.

~ by Servetus on February 18, 2017.

30 Responses to “What the recent election accomplishes”

  1. Oh Serv… This is all terrible. As you know, there are similar tendencies here as well. I think we need to speak out and we need to argue rationally. However, that is very difficult. It also is emotionally draining…

    • Yeah, I wonder if my base tendency that is going to be brought out is my inability to stay calm.

      The thing about rationality is that if people don’t accept the rules, they don’t accept them. And then it doesn’t matter.

  2. Watching the news from the US is an endless horror show at the moment. And I am neither American nor do I live in the US. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for you. Especially as you are encountering people whom you know (and like/d) on the opposing side.
    Kudos to you for stopping at the protest and questioning them. I agree with you that ignoring them (and refusing to give them more PR) is a good way of dealing with it. The other option would be to organise a counter-demo – showing support to your local Muslim community by “shielding” them with a chain of people. I have no idea whether that is feasible in your town, or whether the political climate there allows for that. Just as an option for other readers here to consider.

    • I’ve been reading about the Muslim community here a little this afternoon on the web and it looks like there have been a few public shows of support, and also that the mosque considers their direct neighbors very supportive. But I’m definitely going to get more involved now in whatever the community is doing to support them.

    • I’m involved in a few groups, even joined a PAC. I have found that I have to limit my exposure to Twitter, FB and news in general because I become very depressed and it becomes counter productive.

  3. Good for you for getting out of your car and confronting them face to face. I would not trust myself to hold my temper if I had to speak with such ignorant people. I predict that I would lose it and call them names (hardly productive, I know). I think your friend is right: it is now acceptable for people to say and do hurtful things that they would not have done maybe five years ago. I think Guylty is on to something good — maybe some people could go and let the mosque members know that they are embraced and valued in your community. In a nearby town, I noticed one of those electronic billboard signs outside a big Anglican church which said something like, “We embrace and love our Muslim brothers and sisters.” It made me want to weep with emotion.

  4. Thank you. There have been many days in the last few weeks that when I clicked on your website, (which is listed in my Favorites, by the way) I have been flooded with relief — Relief that I’m not the only one feeling like I’m living in the Twilight Zone. When feeling tense from all the news of late, I’ve been comforted by your spreading of cheer through RA images, posts, & vocabulary. I have been following your blog for at least two years but have not posted a comment before. Today’s post in particular compelled me to write. I am American, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants. I am Muslim. I am an RA well wisher. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for using your voice to be an ally to so many people. For as long as I have been reading your blog, I have seen your well wishes for different faith holidays, prayers for people devastated by traumatic events, and information on historical and cultural contexts behind different topics. It means a lot to me that you are so inclusive. You could have chosen to not write about these tough topics and focus to RA only, but you have chosen to do otherwise. Thank you. I hope and pray for everyone’s safety, everywhere.

    • Thanks for the comment and welcome — and for letting me know that my self-medication is helping you as well.

      I am honestly stunned that this stuff is happening. Not in the sense of “I didn’t think the current president would do things like this,” (he said he was going to), but more in the sense of “I didn’t think there’d be such widespread support for them.” I have a good African-American friend who’s essentially said to me, look, things were always problematic, you just didn’t see them — now they are out in the open, and I think there’s something to that, but I also think something else is happening now. I was raised by political conservatives but this is not normal political conservatism. It is the Twilight Zone.

      Thanks for the kind words about the blog. I’m glad we all want the same thing — everyone’s safety. I really hope that’s what most people in the US still want — although my faith has been shaken the last month.

    • You know, Shk2j, the other thing — you have the right, we all have the right, to expect that our friends and neighbors will stand up for inclusiveness and against injustice and bigotry.

  5. “I ask rhetorically if people were always this way and I am just noticing now” Exactly what I keep asking myself.

    • If people always were this way it’s really exposed a lot of very disgusting corners of prejudice in our society.

  6. People said just give it time and wait and see what happens… well we are now seeing and it is not only the muslims. I was reading that hatred groups have increased in membership across the US since the election. Surprise, Surprise. But this is what was wanted by the people that voted him in, they knew what his base was….God help us all…who is next on the list?????

    • Wisconsin is the capital of “give it a chance” and I was prepared to do that — but we got no chance to give it a chance, I feel. He was inaugurated on 1/20 and five days later he was signing an executive order about the Wall and seven days later the Muslim travel ban. I’d been hearing claims all fall that he didn’t literally mean a Wall, but he did, and then he writes laws that flagrantly violate the Constitution. That’s kind of the point at which “give it a chance” was finally over for me.

  7. Thank you for confronting those protestors. That took courage. Maybe it won’t change any minds but you did interact in a positive way.
    I am lucky in way, I live in Northern California and there is a lot activity and organizing against Trump and his policies. I join in, I have my modest action plan, my self care plan but I realized yesterday that I’m heartbroken. Have been since November 9th. And everyday there is more bad news. I’m not young and I do feel the weight of history in all this and I don’t understand how my Trump voting relatives don’t see how destructive Trump’s actions are for our country.
    So I’m finding comfort where I can and Mr Armitage is like a nice, rich bite of dark chocolate. I’m very grateful to be here.

    • I’ll possibly write another post about this at some point, but I think it’s really important that no one say about this in retrospect (as many Germans said about the 30s), we didn’t see it coming, we didn’t notice it happening. We have no excuses — this stuff is in the open and we have to not stick our necks in the sand.

      Looking at pictures of him IS really soothing. i’ve used that technique before …

  8. What I see is an amplification of the expression of numerous viewpoints. For sure, the bigotry that I believe already existed is now being expressed openly. But I also see people who were normally complacent — well-paid professionals and busy young adults — speaking out in outrage. I know many who are going to rallies and protests, participating in town halls, calling and writing their representatives, etc. who under more normal circumstances might have donated to a political cause but would never have engaged and given of their own time. This activism among a group of people with leadership skills and resources (the professionals) or numbers and energy (the young adults) gives me hope that we will recover from this tragic period in our history.

    • I’m particularly impressed by those participating in workshops this weekend about how to save the data that is being destroyed or hidden.

  9. I greatly respect that you got out and talked to these people. You definitely did the right thing there.

    How ugly all this is! Trump’s election really has brought out the worst in some people. And I see similar developments in other countries, on other subjects or the same ones. We’re living in frightening times.

    I’m grateful for both your serious and light-hearted blog entries. Your self-medication definitely works for others, too.

    • “your oxygen mask on first” — although it can be used to excuse poor behavior — has been increasingly important to me lately. Although I’ve been wondering how much reaction to politics this blog can really take. It’s not designed to be quite so heavy in this regard.

  10. The latest line from his latest rally in Florida along the lines of ‘the loyal will be rewarded’ and his recent ‘the media is the enemy of the American people’ — it just seems to be escalating so rapidly — I feel sick. I knew there was still, even in what I think of as an advanced modern society, prejudice and bigotry – but on this level? – it is astonishing. And I can’t begin to comprehend why, other than that is how one is raised. And yes, we certainly did see it coming and as much as Trump lies about a multitude of things, these ugly actions he is following through on. But how to stop it when those in power are seemingly so complicit, so willing to go along in order to fulfill their own agendas and ambitions? It took personal courage to stop and confront those protesters on your own and in your town – I admire you all the more. But I don’t know how to sway people of this mind-set – they seem to want to feel and believe what they want to feel and believe and reasoning or reality does not see to matter much. The sad thing is they seem so full of fear and it is channeled into hate.

    • I suppose it’s easier to stop and object when you feel you’re among the disadvantaged yourself (as I feel I am at risk of being).

      I feel like the “Islam is Terror” people are a classic example. They have retreated into something like fear and facts will not jolt them. I’ve stopped supplying people who disagree with facts about the risk of terrorism in the U.S. because either those people don’t care or they think even one incident is too many (which means that they are immovable).

      The “watch out for Sharia” crowd is a good example, too. The US civil law is in force; there are also Jewish and Muslim and Catholic (and other) religious courts operating in the country; in every case the U.S. law is held superior. This isn’t to say no judge ever makes a mistake but we’re in no imminent danger of Sharia (or halakha, or canon law) taking over the country. And let’s take the case that seems to motivate a lot of people — if we let refugees into the country and they become citizens then they will vote and they will vote to institute Sharia; yes, it’s silly, but apparently there are people who believe this — well, we’re a popular sovereignty. The people rule.

  11. It is a very sad time to live in the US… In my “limbo” status I feel like I must be alert at all times…. My heart aches at the knowledge that people I considered my friends also share this narrowminded view of the world and support this circus of an administration…. xx HUGE HUGS xx

    • it’s been really surprising, and troubling, to see who supports it. My best friend from high school, for instance. I think a lot of us are learning uncomfortable things about the people around us. I’m sending you huge hugs back.

  12. I’m quite late to this conversation, but good for you, Servetus. You did the right thing.

    I just posted to my friends an hour ago about how much I dread coming home from work and turning on the news because every day it seems some fresh hell is unleashed from the White House. Today it’s the endangered species act, and Trump’s much too late scripted statement about the attacks on Jewish community centers. Really? That was the best he could do?

    On the other hand, I’ve downloaded the ap “5Calls” onto my phone so I can more easily make my calls to our senators and congressmen.

    • I agree it’s too little too late — but it actually plays into the conservative / ultra-orthodox Jewish narrative of what is going on at the moment, so in a way I’m not surprised.

      I know what you mean about being afraid of the news.

  13. That was a brave thing to do, talking to the protesters, even though you know it won’t change their minds…
    This hatred has been simmering for a while but now with Trump as president people feel emboldened and things get worse. It’s terrifying.

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