‘Let us remember what the once exiled, imprisoned and now universally loved Nelson Mandela and what he said after the fall of apartheid.
“If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation’s humanity.”
So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.
The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.
As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history.
Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause.
Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right; let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds … to do all which may achieve and cherish—a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”’
I’m not thinking about going anywhere. Maybe this is surprising because of the already large increase in reported hate incidents since the election. Maybe this is surprising because I am the child of a refugee from the Nazis who managed to escape just in time whose parents were not able to leave because they left it until it was just too late. Despite all this and the dark reality we have arrived in and the previously unimaginable darkness ahead of us I am not thinking of leaving and these are the reasons why:
Because dissent and bearing witness to injustice is a patriotic duty and expressing love for your country is something that you do when it is hard and not just when things are going well for you.
Because if the idea of inclusiveness, of full citizenship for all and not just for the members of one ethnic / national group, dies here where it was created, then it dies everywhere. Then there is ultimately nowhere safe to go to, or at least nowhere to go to where it will be possible to live without a permanently packed bag.
Because leaving and running to somewhere we feel is safe is a privilege that is not shared by tens of millions of less privileged vulnerable Americans who are counting on us to to stand by them and speak out with them.
Because when the Nazis came for my family they were vulnerable because no one was left to stand by them.
Because as Americans we have the example of our forbears who have stood against much greater darkness in the past who did not run and doubled down to force a flawed nation to try harder to live up to its founding principles.
There may be a time to leave – My family should have run much sooner – But this is not it.
We stay because we have the example of the descendents of enslaved people who maintained their dignity as human beings through centuries of racial injustice and stood up and marched and bore witness to injustice and awoke the conscience of a nation.
We stay because they did this in the face of solid organized state repression, Hoover’s FBI, lynchings, bombings of churches and other acts of domestic terrorism and the original overwhelming indifference of the majority of white America.
We stay because of the those who travelled south and stood by them and withstood beatings, dogs and the threat of renewed McCarthyism.
If they could rise up and stare down what they faced then and bear witness to injustice then what we are being asked to do now and what we are facing ahead of us are small things. We stay.
“I have personally been on the ballot in Nevada for 26 elections and I have never seen anything like the reaction to the election completed last Tuesday. The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.
“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear – especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.
“I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics. Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands. American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president.
“I have a large family. I have one daughter and twelve granddaughters. The texts, emails and phone calls I have received from them have been filled with fear – fear for themselves, fear for their Hispanic and African American friends, for their Muslim and Jewish friends, for their LBGT friends, for their Asian friends. I’ve felt their tears and I’ve felt their fear.
“We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.
“If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate. Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans. Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try.
“If Trump wants to roll back the tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately.”