I scan the news, afraid of what I’ll miss if I turn away. I sift through the white-noise of Facebook. I scroll through countless tweets with incendiary hashtags. I feel a deluge of fear and anger rushing towards me from politicians, media pundits, and regular citizens alike.
They tell me to fear immigrants. They push these men, women, and children into the shadows. Or they drag them away in broad daylight, while their daughter watches in terror. They check their papers like stars pinned to their clothing.
They spew hatred for those in hiding, those unable to qualify or afford DACA, the ones hoping for the passing of the Bridge Act. Some claim undocumented immigrants are violent criminals. But they aren’t the ones I’m afraid of . . . no, I’m afraid for them. Who am I scared of? It’s not immigrants. It’s not refugees, escaping horrors we can’t even imagine. I’m scared of angry white men.
When I was preparing to go to the Women’s March in Los Angeles, I wrote my emergency contact in sharpie on my arm “just in case.” My friend and I came up with a plan in the event we were separated amid chaos. I was afraid of an angry white man with an arsenal in his closet, filled with hate for women. Thankfully, this time there was no reason to be afraid.
A Litany of Hate
Elliot Rodger. Ted Kazinsky. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Eric Robert Rudolph. Adam Lanza. Dylann Roof. James Holmes. They are the men who hate. They are men with extreme views, personal vendettas, and/or severe mental illness. They hate women, or the government, or innocent children attending school, or African Americans gathering to pray.
Elliot Rodger spent thousands of dollars in prep
Given our current political landscape, the perception of protests seems to be changing, at least for those of us on the left. Prior to Election Day 2016, if I’d said I wanted to bring my young kids—two and four—to a protest, the snide comments and sideways glances would have been loud and abundant. But things can change drastically in a couple of months, and today the attitude on protesting with kids seems remarkably different.
That doesn’t make it easy. Taking my two kids to normal places, like the grocery store or to daycare, involves a level of patience I very rarely manage to achieve. Don’t even talk to me about going out to eat, where I spend most of my time fishing things off of the floor. I’d rather light my money on fire, so how could it be possible to handle kids during such an emotional event like a protest? In the past three weeks, I’ve been to three separate–and different–events. Here are my suggestions to help you voice your opinion without going completely mental.
I am a kindergarten teacher. I am blessed to have a job that I love. Each morning, I am greeted by five-year-olds who teach me as many important lessons as I teach them. They teach me to remember the joy in the little things: using markers to color a picture, reading a word that yesterday they could not, singing a song about numbers. My students inspire me each and every day.
Today, I don’t feel joyful. I don’t feel inspired. Today, I feel angry. I feel disgusted. I feel confused.
But I also feel proud.
I am proud that half of the United States senators made the right choice today. Fifty senators realized that Betsy DeVos, the nominee for Secretary of Education, was not the right choice.
I am proud of the millions of Americans who have reached out to their senators and shared their views on Betsy DeVos. According to the National Education Association, “the three days ending last week resulted in the most calls into the Capitol switchboard in history.”
In history! I am so proud of all of the people who are standing up and saying that they need to be heard, on this issue and many others facing our country right now.
The other emotions I am feeling—anger, disgust, confusion—those are reserved for the other 50 senators.
The senators who had voicemail boxes filled with calls urging them to vote no.
The senators who had been elected to represent their constituents, and then chose to vote for Betsy DeVos anyway.
I have asked myself many times over the last few months how any person could listen to her views, listen to her confirmation hearings, learn about her plagiarism on the Senate questionnaire, and still think she would be a good choice to lead the Department of Educatio
(1) President Trump has promised to make America Great Again, but his actual plan—closing our borders, limiting immigration, implementing trade protectionism and limiting our role in the U.N. are far more likely to cause us to lose our place as the world’s primary superpower, a role we’ve played since the fall of the Soviet Union.
This is what Vladimir Putin is after, of course, and it’s also what many of the most strident critics of our foreign policy—including the likes of many fans of Wikileaks—have wanted for years. They see our country as irretrievably compromised and our influence as profoundly negative, so they want to see our country crestfallen. Of course, these critiques of the U.S. focus largely (though not exclusively) on our country’s foreign policy failures, especially those involving the CIA or the military, and ignore the very real benefits of American power abroad.
For proof, consider the state of affairs when the Soviet Union collapsed; its influence was quickly replaced by American influence. Generally speaking, the former Eastern Bloc countries, including East Germany, became more democratic and markets opened up; some even joined NATO. This stability ensured widespread, albeit not total, peace on the Continent for the last 40 years. We have reaped incredible benefits from this—each year trade between the U.S. and the European Union accounts for more than a trillion dollars.
The same is true for China. A stable, decades-long relationship with China is now in serious jeopardy thanks to Trump’s sudden disavowal of the “One China” policy and his careless threats to impose tariffs or label the country a currency manipulator. Of course, Trump ignores or is unaware of what we get from the relationship (as flawed as it is); according to the U.S. government’s own statistics, in 2015, we exported $161.6 billion to China, importing $497.8 billion from them.
The question is, what happens if the status quo shifts?