The only thing I can add to the clamor surrounding the situation in Charlottesville is to condemn hatred, white supremacy, and anyone who seeks to make certain Americans feel uncomfortable in their own homes and skins. I’m so grateful for Heather Heyer and her fellow protesters for taking a stand, and I mourn the loss of one and the injury of several voices for good.
The march in Charlottesville terrifies me because I thought our country had come so much farther than it apparently has. Of course I knew that there were a few small, pathetic enclaves of white supremacists still hanging on here and there, but to know that there are that many people who are excited to wave the Nazi flag without even covering their faces, whether they’re fully committed or just “weekend warriors” chills me to my core. In some ways it’s those “weekend warriors” that scare me the most, those who thought they’d shout a bunch of racist threats one afternoon and then return happily to their comfortable lives and jobs, because if this past year in the United States has taught me anything, it’s the danger of large groups of people being unable or unwilling to see the obvious future consequences of their actions.
I’ve been Facebook friends with a close relative of one of my best friends for a while because of a project we were both involved with last year. Last night, this guy posted a big, long rant (something he’d obviously copied and pasted from someone else) about how no other American president and first lady have been insulted, scrutinized, made fun of, etc. the way the Trumps have. Now, if someone’s going to go and complain about how the current president and their family are being treated unfairly, I will admit that that’s a matter of opinion, even if I disagree with the sentiment. But facts are facts, and I can’t stand people who try to rewrite history, so I pointed out the inaccuracies of this guy’s statement. Completely ignoring everything I’d posted, he responded with a statement about how happy he was to have voted for Trump. Then this happened:
I already knew this guy was no Einstein, but this floored me. I know there are people out there who voted for Trump without a thought for how their vote would affect the women, LGBTQIA+ people, black people, etc. in their lives, but at least a lot of them are able to seem properly ashamed of themselves when you point it out, like the man my sister talked to the night after the election. This guy has posted more than once in the short time we’ve been Facebook friends about how he became a Christian while in prison a while back and is involved in a ministry that serves current prison inmates — and this is his attitude? My heart breaks for this guy’s sister-in-law and nephew, knowing this member of their family doesn’t see or care about the very real danger Trump poses to them. My heart breaks for his beautiful little daughter, who was a flower girl in my friends’ wedding. She’s white, and she immediately became friends with the other flower girl, who was black — she even told off her brother for bumping into her new friend and knocking her down on the dance floor at the reception. Will she continue to set race aside when making friends as she grows up, given the kind of values her parents are going to be teaching her? Will she learn the importance of consent and the ability to stand up for herself and her bodily autonomy while growing up in the household she’s a part of? How will their sons learn to treat women, or anyone whom society declares weaker or less worthy than themselves?
I care very strongly about the kind of leadership the president of our country provides because it has a profound impact on my life as a woman and a person who loves a whole bunch of non-white, non-male, non-straight, and non-cis-gendered people. It’s become very clear that the attitude set by the presidential administration creates either a favorable or an unfavorable environment for the disgusting actions we saw in Virginia this weekend.
I’ve always relied on facts and figures, as well as personal experiences, to bolster my arguments and help me make my points. But now we are dealing with a huge crop of people in this country who will deny facts, figures, and primary sources until they’ve gone past blue in the face and have simply expired. I don’t know how to deal with that. I don’t know any other way to get important messages across.
I’m currently in the middle of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I’m reading for (I think) the sixth time. Voldemort has divided the British Wizarding community through terrorism and the spread of misinformation, to the point that the Ministry of Magic is literally asking Muggle-born witches and wizards from whom they stole their magical powers. It’s insane. Those Muggle-borns bought their wands in Diagon Alley when they were eleven years old just like any pureblood wizard, and it’s impossible to steal magic. But Harry and his friends are determined that love and truth will win out, and though it’s a long, hard, sometimes dangerous slog, I know they’re going to be victorious in the end.
As always, Harry Potter gives me hope when little else does.