It’s bound to happen to anyone with strong feelings against Trump and his platform of hate, sexism, racism, and xenophobia. But I promise you I never thought that the first person I would unfriend on Facebook would be a deeply religious family member. Someone I assumed cared about every life, about truth, and about championing someone who walked an admirable path. Yet here I am, taking pen to paper (well, clicking away on my MacBook) and wondering … what the hell is going on in our world?
Choo Choo! Trump’s Toxic Crazy Train
First, I would like to state for the record that I know well and good that it’s me who couldn’t handle the situation with my family member, I’m not delusional about my role hopping on the crazy train. Until now, I’ve always been up for a good debate and welcomed friendly, impassioned banter that politics, socialist topics, and religion could bring. As a liberal, I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion … and that our world is big enough for it all. However, Trump has brought out something new in me. Just like it has brought out something new in America. Intolerance.
I get that I’m a privileged white Californian and that minorities or the disenfranchised will have already seen intolerance close up and in ways I can’t even imagine. But from where I’m standing, America is freshly divided.
Americans Are Changing
We are no longer conservatives vs. liberals or republicans vs. democrats.
Democrats have changed because of Bernie Sanders and I think a lot of us have become borderline socialists. Or in my case, because I’ve lived in Europe and Asia much of my adult life, I’m a full-blown believer that a diverse community who takes care of each other is the strongest type of society to live in. Not a very Trump-esque view to say the least.
Republicans have also changed. And this seems to be a problem for anyone non-white, for the foundation of American democracy, and for every country that Trump’s presidency will affect. They still believe in a more me-centric society than democrats, and that’s fine. But I ask…aren’t they now complicit by association for the horrors that are already rearing their ugly head in America because they voted for Trump? When it really mattered to take a stand against a bully, against racism, against xenophobia, and against someone unfit to be our Commander-in-Chief, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” as Edmund Burke so eloquently said.
The Unfriending – Why I Lost It
Trump is a pathological liar. I think that every democrat, republican, and independent voter in America can at least agree on this. But with that comes issues in today’s social media world. Some people – like family members of mine – are less concerned about facts than spreading feelings. Over the last week I’ve seen this twice now with the family member I unfriended, and once with another. They believe and then share a graphic, meme, or article without conducting even the simplest of Google searches or going onto Politifact.com and that’s dangerous!!!
Given our access to data, ignorance today is a choice
The first incident with the now unfriended was around Islam and Muslims. I’ve interviewed probably 15+ Muslims for articles over the last five years, I’ve lived in predominantly Muslim countries, I’ve literally lived next to two different mosques – one in India and one in Malaysia, etc etc etc. So when he shared an article about terrorists posing as followers of Islam, and added a comment on the pride he feels over the new direction the president-elect would take ‘cracking down on Muslims’ by raiding mosques and groups, I stepped in. He had made a mistake and was referring to Muslims when I’m sure he meant Terrorists or Radical Extremists. He’s a super conservative Christian. Surely he knew not to brand a beautiful, peaceful religious group with such a disgusting label, right?
Nope. He started quoting things he had been told in church and had read on whatever news source he relies on and it broke my heart. Terrorism in America is mostly unleashed by white men – some of whom are Christian – but you don’t hear the world ignorantly claiming that all Christians are terrorists. Those domestic terrorists are crazy whack jobs, so again I pointed this fact out and he still wasn’t buying it. I’m his relative, I have WAY more experience with Muslims than 99% of Americans but he felt his truth was the right one for no other reason than it sounded right to him.
Then, a couple days later, he wrongly dug in again over the fact that Trump mocked a disabled reporter. My relative believes that this was a nasty rumour that Trump has dispelled. In fact, he believes it so vehemently that it made me immediately double-check the facts myself out of respect for him. It took the whole of 15 seconds from one Google search to learn that it was only sites like Breitbart.com and Catholicsfortrump.com that were pushing the fake news of this being a lie. Politifact.com and all of the other reputable news sources state the truth and the fact that the opposite has become a false news story.
Yet instead of my family member checking the facts out of respect for me, as I did for him, he was insulting and started talking about ‘you kind of people’ instead of the topic we were discussing and I lost it.
How do we continue a dialogue with someone who believes lie after lie and who holds that as their truth? How do we respect someone who says they’re deeply religious but who is fine hurting others to make a point built on lies? My comment to him before I unfriended him – out of a rising disrespect within me and from straight-up embarrassment that anyone might see his comments, realise that we are related, and be offended by them – was, “You should be ashamed.”
How Do We Move Forward?
It seems that some very smart people have turned a blind eye to logic and will believe anything they read on the Internet today. Lies. Half-truths. Ohhh and my favourite – which actually scares me more than anything because it’s terrifying … believing feelings over facts when it comes to important issues!!!! Come on!
I’m not okay with the FACT that the office of the President of the United States of America is going to be turned over to a man who brags that sexual assault is fine when you’re famous, who insults minorities or the disabled or women simply for sport, who encouraged violence at his rallies, and who seems to care very little for our democracy – the foundation of what made our country ‘the land of the free’ … something that no longer holds meaning in Trump’s America.
I’m not okay that Trump is moving a great nation backwards, to a more racist and divided time. He’s appointing (mostly) men who are outspoken about denying climate change, who want to repeal a woman’s right to govern her own body, who believe homosexuality can be cured, who believe that a white America is the ‘right kind’ of America, and so much more.
And I’m certainly not okay with how his campaign has ripped the fabric of American society and is now tearing family and friends apart. I know that I’m to blame for my newfound intolerance and I’m trying to grow as a person but it feels very much like this is going to be an uphill battle, with little joy on the other side.
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