Written By Yasyf Mohamedali, Computer Science & Engineering Student at MIT. Republished with permission. He can be found on Twitter @Yasyf.
Going to jump on the posting unsolicited thoughts bandwagon. There are a lot of people out there trivializing the danger of electing Trump, a man who targets and hates people based on their gender and religion, by making jokes about moving (back) to Canada, etc. I was one of them. Luckily, Aneesh and a couple other friends forced me to think about this in a more serious light. This feels like the end of the world, and making jokes is a great coping mechanism. But we have to approach this rigorously if we want to do it justice.Three points.
1. Supporting Trump is a dangerous, dangerous mistake.
I understand people have different political views. I’m not going to bash you for supporting Trump because of his policies. This is so much more fundamental than that. This is a man who advocates for rape, mass murder, and persecution of religious groups. It doesn’t matter where you stand politically, this is unacceptable. We can not and will not tolerate it.
2. It is our moral responsibility to stand up and fight this.
And I’m talking to my friends at home here too. Now is not the time to sit on our high horses and disapprovingly shake our heads because Justin Trudeau is our PM. Now is the time to show the world that Canadians stick up for their friends. Just like when the Americans stood up for us in our time of need [https://www.youtube.com/watch%3fv%3dtiegfaxfg_w&h=atogwjrmqoc4z80mhzldml17ximut0didmfwgwobaykmffwoaghovbjky2txtij08iq0_0ezmgpp89kzk-hdxvhmcnwqfnh9ap2fgzbfdcdxwxknhzp_ukbu0opjbjs7icnstho0sbjk&s=1_green] .American, Canadian, Mexican, male, female, straight, gay, whatever. It doesn’t matter. We’re so much more than our differences. We’re the generation that simultaneously took to the streets and swept the world’s largest communication channel to fight for things our parents wouldn’t dare to defend. Equal marriage rights. Black lives. Equal opportunities for women. When the biggest threat to all of this manages to take absolute control of the most powerful country in the world, we can’t point and laugh. And we sure as hell can’t run away. A lot of us are lucky enough to be in a position where we can have real influence in the world around us, even at this young age. Don’t waste that. Fight back. Help educate. Make sure that those around you who are most threatened by Trump and his bigoted followers know that you will not let them be persecuted. You will refuse to sit idly by if people attempt to discriminate or disadvantage them. Restore their faith in their communities.
3. There is a very legitimate reason to be afraid.
For me personally, the fear tactics and bigotry of this election hit very close to home. My mother left her birth country at gunpoint, forced to leave because of her religion and ethnicity. Her family gave up everything in the face of a violent, racist dictator who made them feel alien in their own country. She faced intense discrimination from every direction growing up, and her entire worldview was shaped by this childhood. Luckily, the outcome was an incredible set of values, a happy family, and an amazingly strong community in the most loving country in the world. Not everyone in her situation was as lucky. She raised me to appreciate how far they had come, but also to be constantly aware of the threat of being turned into an outsider in your own home, and having everything taken away from you. I’ve cherished this lesson from the first time I heard the story, but it’s never felt quite as real as it does right now. I’m not suggesting that Trump is a genocidal madman that is planning on wiping out all the Muslims in America, but the rhetoric and mentality is eerily similar.For a lot of us, it’s easy to lament the situation this election will put many people in, without fully being able to empathize with them. As privileged people, we’re a bit displaced from the thick of the discrimination, and we often have safety nets to protect us from many of Trump’s policies. We cannot let this cause us to become numb to the very real threat that now exists in this country, and the world at large. The next leader of the USA openly encourages objectifying and sexually harassing women. Do not use this as a way to become complacent of others doing the same. The next leader of the USA advocates for discriminating and harassing individuals because they greet each other with As Salaam Alaikum or start their meals with Bismillah. Do not embrace this with jokes and ignorance. The next leader of the USA is a warmonger who inspires violence domestically and abroad. Do not use this as an excuse for your own actions, or those of the people around you. Acknowledge that there are a lot of people who’s entire lives feel turned upside-down at this moment, and the best thing you can do for them is to resist everything Trump and his campaign stand for. Like Michelle Obama so perfectly articulated, “when they go low, we go high”. We have the power to take a worst nightmare and turn it into a source of inspiration for continuing to fight for what we believe in. Don’t let them take that away too.
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