Every time Trump attacks America I wonder what my mother would say. I wonder what she would do and how she would feel. It’s my way of drawing on her experiences to survive the situation we face today.
As I’ve written before, my mother was a Holocaust survivor. She lived with the trauma of being targeted for genocide until the day she died.
My mother was also one of the lucky ones because while wounded, she did survive. She was the strongest person I knew. To be honest, there were moments when I thought she was immortal.
Nothing we experienced together could dampen her spirit. She wouldn’t allow me to mope or whine about disappointment. A consequence of that is the great difficulty I have with expressing feelings, especially negative ones, publicly. That brings me to a recent encounter with someone who got angry because I said you have to be positive to resist.
My interlocutor equated what I see as a survival skill with drinking Kool-Aid.
My point then and today is we have to believe that we will prevail over Trump. Otherwise, we may as well start eating borscht and chanting “MAGA”.
All of this, I mean all of it, is about defeating our minds and our spirits. The moment we give up on America, we give in to Donald Trump.
That is not about being divorced from reality. It’s about refusing to succumb to evil. It’s about recognizing that as bad as things are relative to the day Trump took office, we still have our freedom and we still have our right to dissent.
My mom used to say that freedom is a state of mind when I dared to say I wasn’t free to pursue goals. I can almost hear her telling me what her father told her. We have choices about everything in life except the day we are born and the moment we die. Mom knew about reality. She understood the obstacles of Anti-Semitism, sexism and people who blamed immigrants for their own failures all too well.
She chose her path in life based on her abilities and desires. But she also chose not to allow any form of bigotry to defeat her.
This is not to say that fighting the obstacles of bigotry means we will always get what we want. It does mean that we won’t allow those things to make our choices for us.
By no means does believing in ultimate success blind us to the severity of the situation. It sharpens our focus on achieving the goal.
Before Memorial Day, Trump mused about pardoning war criminals. This past week, the Department of Justice defied a court order to release documents. It’s possible they contain classified information and the DOJ could have argued that point. Instead it’s outright defiance and feels like another “victory” by the bad guys against our democracy.
This was the week that Robert Mueller told us again the facts make it impossible for him to say no collusion and no obstruction. In his 9 minute statement, Mueller outlined Russia’s cyber war on our democracy to benefit Donald Trump. He told us he can’t prosecute Trump because of the DOJ’s policy on indicting sitting presidents.
Then Trump’s staff went full psychological warfare mode. Sarah Sanders made enough truth ash for a life time supply of smoky eyeshadow. Bill Barr broke with tradition and did an interview in defense of the Trump narrative.
They are lying to us and that is dispiriting. The president is nothing but a two-bit grifter and that is dispiriting for parents who used to want their children to emulate the president.
It’s also blatantly unfair that Trump has his army of people to fight his battles for evil, while we have to do our own fighting.
As my mom would tell me, life never promised it would be fair.
If life were fair, Hillary Clinton would be president. Women wouldn’t be fighting yet another war waged on our physical autonomy, as protected under the Constitution. It wouldn’t be possible for bigotry to hide behind a bible as it denied people healthcare, housing, employment and a host of other things that many of us take for granted – like the vote. I could go on for a long time listing the things that would be different if life was always fair.
The dispiriting thing about Donald Trump and others who subscribe to his view of the world is that they believe in an inherently unjust social order where people are rewarded and punished based on their race, ethnicity, gender or religion.
We can either accept that world view or fight against it. Fighting against it means believing in the fight itself and in ourselves.
That doesn’t preclude us from having the whole spectrum of emotions as driven by events. Staying positive means believing we’re on the right side of history. It means resisting because being on the right side of morality is its own kind of strength. The absence of being positive suggests doubt in the merit of our position. It sounds harsh because the situation we’re in is harsh.
The events of the past week are just a drop in the bucket of what Trump has done to our collective morality.
His anti-asylum policy is literally killing people.
There was another mass shooting on Friday. This time 12 people died. It happened in Virginia Beach. It was off the front page in less than 24 hours.
Trump and the Republican Party turned America into a war zone.
Trump’s war on the Constitution is about destroying democracy and following Russia’s lead. Trump’s “friends” kill people on their team of negotiators if they don’t get the deal their dear leader wanted. They beat journalists to death because the journalist said something they don’t like. They commit genocide because they can. All of this and more is what we’re resisting.
So yes, I maintain. You have to be positive to resist. You have to believe that resisting is the right thing to do and that it will prevail. It’s what got my mother through the Holocaust. Bpositive about that fight made winning it possible.
We do have choices. We must choose rationally but feelings will always be a factor. It’s a difference between a picture painted by feelings or one where feelings are painted into it.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.