We all know the saying, “As American as Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet”. I always liked that saying, because although I’m not a car guy and Apple Pie isn’t my favorite thing in the world, at least those 3 things, I do like baseball a lot, have the ability to contribute positively to people’s lives. So if Apple Pie and Chevrolet are to be associated with things very American, that only stimulates and strengthens my patriotic impulse. Unfortunately in the time passed since the election, it appears that a large segment of society thinks there is something else that is the American way, and that is the ridiculing of feelings.
I am white, I am Jewish, I am straight and I am male. So in all fairness, as much as I genuinely am not pleased with the outcome of the election, the worst of Donald Trump’s campaign statements and his new administration’s potential upcoming policy agenda, at least on the surface won’t impact me directly. So if I would speak constantly of ongoing sadness and despair, although I would have every right to feel it, I could see the rationale in calling me a cry baby. But what about those, potentially at least, who feel they will be directly impacted?
The LGBT community has watched as the country has elected a ticket with a Vice President formerly in favor of using HIV funding for conversion therapy and once signed a bill to jail same sex couples in Indiana who applied for marriage licenses. Are gay people whiners if they express concern and even fear? Is the cast of Hamilton really harassing the Vice President elect as stated by the President-elect Donald Trump because they use their platform to first welcome him to their show and then call on him to be a public servant for all Americans? Are the feelings of people whose lives could get directly impacted by policy or attitude wrong for having feelings? Not in my America?
What about law-abiding, patriotic American Muslims. And yes, for those of you on the right rolling your eyes and wondering how a proud Jewish man and proud Zionist could say such a thing, there are significantly more of those types of Muslims in the country than there are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. Are they wrong for being scared? Are they wrong for feeling fear of the backlash caused by comments by the President-elect and his new National Security adviser during the campaign? Are they wrong for feeling as though they are being made to feel less than welcome in what is also their America? Is it OK to see them as a threat merely for being born into the religion they were born into? Not in my America?
But no other group has been made to feel more deeply isolated and frightened by what has taken place during this election cycle than the Latino community. Addressing those Mexicans who are murderers and rapists in a way that left it open to be interpreted as all Mexicans, rallying people behind the building of a wall between the US and Mexico, and most significantly garnishing support by proposing rounding up all undocumented aliens and deporting them, was all it took to create an atmosphere of fear and despair in much of Latino America. This is about much more than Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric. This is also about how so much of the American public took to the rhetoric. Blaming undocumented immigrants for your poor lot in life is at best a precursor to a dangerous racist society, at worst the creation of it. So I ask you, were Latinos who were shaking and crying the day after the election crybabies and whiners? Not in my America.
I have often said that you can dispute facts but you can not dispute feelings. Someone is not wrong for how they feel. Their feelings may be based in the perversion of fact, but questioning the legitimacy of feelings is as illogical as saying someone is wrong for liking Pizza or Star Trek. People like what they like and feel what they feel. Furthermore, when a large segment of society feels a certain way, especially when those feelings are based on things they have consistently heard for over a year and a half, who is anyone to ridicule those feelings? Are people who have been the basis and so much of the foundation of Donald Trump’s success wrong for feeling targeted? Not in my America.
Just as we should not ridicule the feelings of those decent people who chose Donald Trump because they found him to be the best choice moving forward, so too we should not tolerate the ridicule of the people who are not happy with the result. Particularly those who feel their lives might very well be negatively impacted. You might say that protesting will do nothing positive and may just make it harder to move forward. I understand that viewpoint. Rioting and causing damage to property and loss of life should be met with harsh and immediate punishment. Without question I get that. But is ridiculing feelings as much a symbol of this great country as Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet? Not in my America.
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