Yesterday, the Albany Times Union printed, “No time to remain silent in wake of Trump win.”
A graduate of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, George Payne teaches philosophy at Finger Lake Community College and Niagara County Community College. He is the founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International.
As I see it, the main reason Donald Trump won a narrow victory in battleground states such as Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin (and lost the popular vote by almost 3 million) is because he was willing to pit Americans against each other by exploiting their most superficial differences.
From the beginning, he engineered a political and social media campaign based on the manipulation of human biases through a toxic blend of entertainment, distortion of facts, and fearmongering. He played residents on the border against immigrants looking for work, and Black Lives Matter protesters against law enforcement. He played corporations against China, and cities against rural towns. He played the mainstream media against politicians, and Christians against Muslims. He played men’s hatred of women against the symbolism of a female president, and soldiers against their officers.
Sadly, this vitriol has led to real violence. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been at least 700 cases of hate-based harassment or intimidation since the election. The Anti-Defamation League has issued a report about a rise in anti-Semitic attacks (especially against journalists), and school administrators are seeing a dramatic spike in bullying across the country. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
I plead with anyone who opposes Trump to speak out. This is not the time to remain naive, polite, hopeful, and silent. In the words of M.K. Gandhi, “All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.”