These words are free. Please use them, Mr. President. Or A-O-C. Or anyone on ’The Squad.’
The reason ‘The Squad’ can depict you as racist, President Trump, is you are giving them the opportunity. If you aren’t a racist, you sure sound like one.
It’s the same thing that happened after Charlottesville, VA when you assumed people would recognize you were trying to bridge two warring factions by saying there were good people on both sides. Or when you asked what is wrong with the term, “white nationalist.” (Short answer: it’s exclusionary in a Country that is majority white.)
It was a mistake to say there were ‘good people’ on both sides in Charlottesville. There were scared people on both sides.
On one side, protestors questioned what constitutes a hero, who is worthy of a statue in places once torn apart by slavery and in some cases, in cities now led by their descendants or at least, people of color.
On the other side were families whose legacies were being smashed into pieces. Also on that side those who might have considered the sculptures local treasures. Yes, sculpture is art. I am sure they were scared as they watched monuments being pulled down by impassioned mobs. Or maybe they wondered why history couldn’t remain just that.
If you aren’t a racist, President Trump, stop giving people the opportunity to frame you as one. You are white, wealthy and in the ultimate position of power. Use your power for good.
The appropriate response to any disagreements you have with ‘The Squad’ is to say your falling out with the Congresswoman from Minnesota started with a disagreement about American support of Israel. You can remind people that many of the original founders of Israel were fleeing socialist regimes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, where being part of a religious minority or being gay, for that matter, was against the law.
Why not praise ‘the Squad’ for representing that the American dream is alive and well when a Somali immigrant can run for and get elected to Congress?
Conversation is positive. Name calling isn’t.
What is even uglier than name calling is picking fights with people who are vulnerable in ways you aren’t and in ways you never have been.
We have had a really upsetting time of it lately in the United States. There has been so much provocation and reaction on all sides, it has taken over the front pages of our newspapers and dominated the headlines on social media. I would say the focus on this tit-for-tat is a waste of time and stop there if it weren’t so important to say it is also quite dangerous.
I had a conversation with a young African-American student the other day who was concerned that this President is proving racism never really went away. She says he is proving it was always there, hidden under the surface of voting rights and affirmative action, and that he has given a green light for this latent hate to come to the fore.
What is needed now is a soothing tone, an open mind and an ear leaning into what is shaping up to be a very earnest conversation.
A young man told me there is buzz about the word terrorism and that, to some young people, it is only a negative if it fails. It is a positive, the thinking goes, if it results in revolution.
I wish both sides could recognize that anytime you introduce terror, you are short circuiting your ability to create lasting change. The President needs to recognize words can be terrifying to people who have been targeted by hate. Certain members of ‘The Squad’ need to recognize that radical socialism incites the same sort of terror in many survivors of repressive regimes.
The root of the word revolution actually means two things according to Miriam Webster online dictionary. On the one hand, it can mean turn over or roll back. The other meaning is radical change in the social order. Both can be frightening scenarios if applied to the current political climate. No one wants to roll back rights earned decades ago. Nor do people want a revolution that uses violence as a means to an end.
When I think of revolution, I like to think of the earth turning on its axis so that dark nights are replaced by morning sun, or of a revolving door or a turnstile that doesn’t stop to see which passenger is black or white, rich or poor, urban or rural but keeps rolling because its purpose is to serve many and not just a few.
That is what a revolution of moderates should look like.
Now if everybody could just speak like one.