Category Archives: Prejudice
Dear Nathaniel and Hannah,
I am sorry that my generation has failed you.
We have bequeathed you a world that has too many problems, too much fear, and too much hate.
Dad and I tried to raise you to see the good in people, to understand others’ perspectives, to argue for fairness in the face of injustice, to respect the earth, to treat others with respect no matter the god(s) they worship or the size of their bank account or the shape of their bodies or the origin of their passport, and to feel hopeful about the future. Our nation has just elected a man who embodies the opposite of all these principles. He will set the tone from above–but in the end, he’s just one person.
As Bertolt Brecht once wrote, “Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.”
Our nation is, like all others, a work in progress. Right now, it feels like we haven’t made any progress at all. With Trump’s election, we’ve set back the clock on women’s rights, minorities’ rights, environmental protection, civility, predictability, respect for science, and the acknowledgment that (like it or not) we all inhabit a globalized world.
But it’s not the end of the story. There’s always a next chapter to be written, and your generation will write a very different chapter.
Your generation understands the urgency of combating climate change. Your generation embraces difference of all sorts–sexual, religious, racial, you name it–because your online engagements show you every hour how diverse, and how interconnected, the world is. Your generation absorbs knowledge because you know how easy it is to find your way to facts, and, with a little research, to separate facts from fiction.
Dad and I so wished that today could have been a day to celebrate. Instead, it’s a day to reflect on the work to be done. It’s a day to dig deep and strategize about how to create the world we want to inhabit. With a president who revels in abusing his power, mocking his opponents, and ridiculing the disabled, the disenfranchised, and the poor, the rest of us will have to work harder than ever to protect the vulnerable and oppose the bullies.
If Dad and I raised you to be optimistic, we also raised you to be resilient in the face of setbacks. I apologize that those skills in resilience will be called for more than ever in the next four years. But we are confident that you have what it takes.
I love you.
Symbolic anthropologists, take note. What’s in a symbol? Everything, when it comes to politics. Especially, election-year politics. And especially when a major political candidate claims ignorance of centuries-old symbolism used to discriminate against an oppressed minority.
Was Trump being anti-Semitic, or was he being stupid, when he Tweeted an accusation that Hillary Clinton is “the most corrupt candidate ever”–with Clinton’s photo accompanied by a Star of David overlaying countless dollar bills?
For someone who is one of two candidates credibly vying for the planet’s most politically powerful position, either scenario is deeply troubling.
Whatever the political and economic rationales existing beneath the surface, the modern nation of the US was created by European refugees fleeing religious prejudice. The Huguenots and Puritans arriving on the shores of New England helped create a new nation founded with the ideological goal of religious freedom.
Donald Trump is either ignorant of his nation’s history or wishes to rewrite it. If his proposal to exclude all visitors to the nation on the basis of their religious affiliation is taken seriously, the US risks losing its motivational moorings.
With a President Trump, would our national anthem boasting of “The home of the free and the land of the brave” have to be replaced by a new anthem extolling “The home of the bigoted and the land of the afraid?“
There’s surely something to offend every political sensibility in a provocative essay, “Let the Palestinians Have Their State,” just published by Liel Leibovitz in The Tablet. But for that reason, it’s worth reading. Equal-opportunity-offender essays are bold enough to propose solutions that–dare I say?–might just be viable, if all those who are offended actually considered their proposals.