How do I begin this?
How do I talk about this feeling of frustration, sadness, of anger, of grief that wells up inside me?
I recently found a link on Facebook which shows people in your feed who have “liked” Donald Trump. As a rule, the circle that I associate with has the same view about Mr. Trump’s presidency as I do. Namely, it’s been detrimental to the environment, democracy, minority interests and rights, and highlighted the importance of white privilege–make America great again is for a certain demographic only, at least that was my belief.
Once upon a time, I was an ultra-conservative. I’m ashamed to admit this, and actually, I’m feeling a little sick thinking about it, but need to share this story. I worked for someone who had conservative views, who believed that all you needed to succeed in the world was to work hard, and be a good person. I however took it a little bit further. Even though I identified as gay, I believed that because my hard work wasn’t giving me everything I deserved to have, it must be the fault of people whom I didn’t see as working at all. Anyone who received a hand out was clearly not working as hard as I was, and because those individuals weren’t white, I developed certain views that were racist. You could have a happy life provided you worked hard and achieved what I, as a cis-gendered white man, could accomplish. It never even occurred to me that privilege was something that existed, and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to because recognizing privilege would mean giving up the ideas that it was someone else’s fault that I wasn’t happy, that the problems of the world could be dealt with by action that I could support, and take part in.
Slowly over time I began to question these beliefs. I began to meet people who challenged those beliefs, and to help me to see how other people existed in a state of privilege. I met my fiance, who tried in vain to get me to see that there was a reason why police shouldn’t be involved in Pride, why certain individuals were in a state of fear around the police. I didn’t fear the police! I was a cis-gendered white man, why should I be afraid of the police?
Then I heard a speaker, a woman of colour, talk about her experiences growing up in her home in the Caribbean, where queer people are still at risk of being attacked, sometimes killed, because of who they are, how she expected Canada to be different, only to move here and experience the same kind of discrimination.
You see, we don’t see privilege because we’re deep into it. We’ve been born into it, we’re raised into it, and any time someone challenges it we get afraid because we might have to admit that our comfort exists on the backs of others.
When you said, “My political view is exactly that… MINE. We all have freedoms to speak, to believe, to worship as we want, not everyone will agree with you or me, but being respectful and kind is what is important.”, I have to point out that your opinion is one of privilege. If a political view exists on the reality that privilege of cis-gendered white people is what will make a country great, that political view disregards the vast majority of it’s citizens. If a political view is one that wishes to support the diminishing of 2SLGBTQIA+ people from day one, supports a system that backs up the belief that jail is better than harm reduction, that the spending of money on the military budget is more important that supporting literacy, medical health, bringing people out of poverty; if that political view supports a man who holds the Bible in front of a church, a man who has clearly never read nor understands the basic tenants and principles of the Christian faith, a political view which holds the economy over the planet (read, money won’t matter in a world where we can’t produce enough food for our kids and grand kids to eat, and yes that is what we’re moving towards), a political view that values conspiracy of science, then I must disagree. You are using the word “entitled” correctly.
The mistake that you’re making is that this is and never was an issue of politics. This is an issue of morality. I’m not questioning your political views, I’m questioning how you draw your sense of morality from them.
It is a view of entitlement that props other people up to be entitled. And no one in society can be free, or be happy, as long as one group is entitled.
You asked, “Why are you following posts about Donald Trump?” And earlier this year, a distant relative told me flat out to not comment on issues not happening in my country, that I wasn’t entitled to make those judgments.
I’m following because Donald Trump represents what happens when someone holds their entitlement, their privilege, over all other things. He represents what a man can be when he thinks of his wealth and his popularity over common sense, over basic principles of philosophical, logical, and spiritual truth. I follow what’s going on because to have knowledge is to have the ability to act in a way that empowers. And, people who generally support Donald Trump are a threat to me. They’re the kinds of people who scratch my car, shout “fag” at me, and threaten people I consider friends, activists, leaders, because they don’t hold the same political view.
To that end, I have to say that while you are entitled to your opinion, your belief, and your views, I would ask you to take the next hour to ask yourself: would you feel the same if you were a person of colour, someone who was queer, someone who had been raped? Is the nature of your belief fueled by the fact that the political belief you support stands for keeping you in the lifestyle you may be accustomed to rather than one that is sustainable?
Again, when I ask why someone chooses to support Donald Trump, I do so not out of wanting to mock, or bully. I genuinely want to understand how someone can support Donald Trump.
Is your belief fueled by the reality that it protects your privilege? How many lives are worth protecting that privilege, the reduction of quality of life of millions? Is it about making sure oil and gas gets funding so that corporate interests can get fatter? Is it about standing up for a way of life that was never “great” in the first place, but perpetuated stereotypes and biases, a quiet apartheid?
What you support is not conservative. It’s fascism, namely the socialism of a select group of people while ignoring or removing the same privilege from others because of entitlement. While you have the right to believe whatever you want, it places you in a position of moral weakness. That’s what I don’t understand, having known you for a long time: how can you support someone who is in favor of shooting people over listening to them? How can you support someone who isn’t concerned with the interests of the weak, the people who deserve and need our care?
I do not understand how people of good conscience can align themselves to the moral vacuum that is Donald Trump and expect people to believe they have any moral standards at all.