I live in NZ, roughly 8,700 miles from Washington DC. So I have refrained from saying much about the recent election. I don’t want voice my opinion and have it feel to Americans as if I am judging them, or speaking out of turn. This isn’t my President and I didn’t get to vote. Instead I have posted articles and supported my friends in the States to voice their opinions.
But this morning I woke up to seeing that the cast of Hamilton had very respectfully and politely suggested to Pence, who was at one of their shows, that they as a cast were worried about their future under his leadership.
Of course, the internet being the echo chamber we all know it is, I saw many of my American friends posting this with pride. The cast of Hamilton was speaking to a man, in person, who many of them will never be able to speak to, and saying something full of compassion and inclusion. A message they approved of.
But then another friend said that the Hamilton face book page was receiving all kinds of hate as a result. I clicked through and the comments made the bile rise in my throat.
It was claimed that Pence was just going to see the theatre, he didn’t need to be lectured. He didn’t need to have someone else’s views pushed down his throat. Some said this speaking up made them sick. That it wasn’t their place as members of a theatre to speak up in this way.
Where this is upsetting is not in the difference between Democrat and Conservative. Those words were not mentioned by the cast. But in the fact that the Hamilton cast was asking for ALL Americans to be considered by the Vice President elect. He said “We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir.”
So when people say, “he doesn’t need to have your beliefs lectured to him” you are saying that it believing that not all people deserve protection and respect is a viable and reasonable belief to hold. You are saying that spouting sexist, bigoted, racist, homophobic, ableist rhetoric is ok, and that we who have a problem with it just come from a different set of beliefs. Racism and sexism and all the rest have been normalised and politicised. Racism and sexism should not sit on the political spectrum. They should not be Republican or Democratic values. They should be bipartisan issues that everyone can agree on. Because they are about human rights. And human rights shouldn’t be up for political debate. But somehow they are.
I have watched my friends, both men and women, from all races and sexual orientations in the States work themselves into a frenzy of worry. They cannot sleep. They have been physically sick. They are making multiple calls every day to their senators and politicians to make change in a way that is powerful and feasible.
They are not sore losers or the whining left. They are not just angry that Hillary lost, they are horrified that this man won. This is not a regular election. This election has resulted in people of colour being assaulted. It has resulted in women being grabbed by their Hijabs as if they are now an object to be thrown around. It has resulted in people with disabilities fearing for their lives due to losing insurance and knowing that a man who openly mocked someone with disabilities is now their leader. It has resulted in women having to worry about their command over their own bodies and the threat of an axe over Planned Parenthood. It has resulted in people in the LGBTQ community worrying about their human and legal rights.
I know comparing Trump to Hitler has become a bit of a cliche. I know that people will roll their eyes at that comparison. But I can’t help but think about how harshly we judge Germans who voted for Hitler and then did nothing when the persecution of the Jews started. I can’t help but think of this as a moment in history when future generations will look back in wonder and horror at how Trump, a man who has been openly racist, sexist, xenophobic, ableist and a climate change denier, could be elected, and then how we as an international community congratulated him.
When a Muslim registry is set up, and abortion is outlawed, will that be enough to make us all see how horrific this actually is?
Will lynchings be enough?
Will soaring homeless rates and suicide rates be enough?
Because that’s where we are headed. And while I know I don’t live in America, and the fear I feel pales in comparison to that of people who do, I do think we need to speak up now, and continue to speak up.
Time will prove the Hamilton crew to be on the right side of history. The side that spoke up when it saw something it didn’t like. That didn’t sit by and let authoritarian, fascist rule go unchallenged.
Just one political party spoke up against his appointment in NZ. I was proud of Metiria Turei and James Shaw of the Green Party, a party I joined the day after the election, for speaking up. In NZ even they were shamed and told to respect the democratic process.
But this isn’t an Obama/Bush election. This isn’t a republican/democrat debate. This is a debate over human rights. This is Trump and this is different and if we don’t speak up, our worst fears will become realised. And it won’t be just America that faces them.