The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
The election night shock felt from coast to coast and reverberated around the world seems a distant memory after many have endured sleepless nights, wept for this country and the people they love, and struggled to make sense of how it happened.
This initial shock was only the beginning. As announcements of key leaders to places of power and influence continue to come, the country is plunged into a deeper despair. There is no time for recovery. With each announcement the shock and trauma of what’s happening to this country, the civil rights of its citizens, and future of the free press is felt all over again.
White-supremacist, anti-Semitic, racist, and hate-filled ideology have no business near the White House much less any other government office. Nevertheless, this is where we are. This is the reality that must be faced. Being “nice” is not an option.
In a masterful essay worthy of reading again and again, Sarah Jones, insightfully insists that we must not be nice to bullies. She writes:
The road to peace isn’t paved with passive “niceness”, even though way too many on the left approach it this way – as an idea that can be achieved through subservience tinged with blind hope.
There’s a theory about the tyranny of niceness — our culture, well liberal cultural and Democratic values of peacemaking and cooperation, can confuse people into promoting inauthentic niceness over reality. This is what is being asked of you now – that you do the “nice” thing, instead of the “right” thing.
The right thing is to call out hate and stand together, arm in arm, fiercely defending your neighbors’ and friends’ rights and safety. The right thing is to do this without violence. The right thing is do to this without hate, but not to confuse vigorously calling out hate with hate itself.
She is right. We must stand together for we are stronger together and fiercely denounce all manner of hate and bigotry without resorting to violence. There can be no compromise with racism and hate, as Senator Elizabeth Warren boldly asserted regarding the potential nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.
More we must refuse to accept any attempt to normalize any of this from the media or any other source. Nothing about this election or the resulting appointments and nominations is normal.
Nevertheless, amid the ongoing shock and trauma of this election and its aftermath and the struggle each day to face the fight for justice that is before this country, I grieve for the lost attention to this planet and its vulnerable inhabitants.
Climate change cannot be ignored or treated as anything but the most urgent issue of this time. We neglect planetary health at our own peril. And it seems the new administration is prepared to do just that. So amid denouncing the hate and racism that is coming from the halls of power, we must lift up the plight of our planet and not let it be forgotten in the struggle to save the civil rights of all our neighbors that have been hard won over decades and centuries of struggle. And still, there is work to be done for equality and justice in the policies, systems, structures of our society.
The necessity of confronting misogyny, sexism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, white supremacy, antisemitism, and all manner of assaults on the First Amendment from the freedom of religious expression to the free press is taking time, effort, and energy from the systemic issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness. Amid the necessary fight for the freedoms and values of our country, we must not lose sight of those who do not get to choose sides.
Sarah Jones is right when she writes:
It’s going to be a horrible ride, but for people of courage, this is the moment. This is the moment to stand up and be counted. To object loudly. To demand accountability. To reject the normalization of hate.
The shock and trauma of these days will not have the last word. We are a resilient and courageous people and when this fight is done our deepest moral values as a people and nation will be embedded firmer than ever before.