In the aftermath of the election I wanted to lay low. I live in a fiercely Republican district. But recently some people whom I respect for many reasons, people whom I cherish and care for deeply, posted some things which almost made my head implode. I genuinely want to heal and reunite, but I can’t stay silent when people complain about anti-trump rallies or when they accuse progressives of failing to put America first if they hope that Trump’s plans will fail.
I beg your pardon? So where were you when Rush Limbaugh charged that exactly that should be the right-wing’s goal when Obama was elected, or when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel announced that the same was the GOP’s entire legislative agenda?
People aren’t protesting because their candidate or party lost. They’re protesting because a hyper-nationalistic, xenophobic misogynist who incites, encourages and leverages anger, fear and racist hatred has come to power. They’re protesting because the last time a right wing extremist came to power this way it led to not just authoritarianism, but unspeakable, incomparable human suffering.
I realize that many people think that this is unfair hyperbole or irrational anxiety, but it is a very real, very present concern. Does healing and unity mean that those who opposed Trump must simply shut up and accept it? Is it suddenly disrespectful or even treason to criticize the president-elect?
Have you forgotten that this president-elect is the very person who led the false accusations that the incumbent president was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii? Why didn’t you accuse him of being disrespectful or treasonous back then?
So for all Americans, I share with you some important reminders about descent:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Protests are free speech. Demonstrations are freedom of assembly. Criticizing, complaining, satirizing and especially exposing the hypocrisy or deceit of a public official is petitioning the government for a redress of grievances! It is freedom, it is liberty, it is American, it is necessary for the very survival of democracy itself.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”
~Evelyn Beatrice Hall, ‘Friends of Voltaire,’ 1919
Principles not parties or politicians, people!
“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”
~ President Teddy Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star, May 7, 1918