We all know what Trump means when he claims that he wants to make America great again. He longs for the days when bigotry was applauded and when protesters to bigotry were escorted out on stretchers (Trump code for dead).
That much is clear.
A typical and understandable response I hear regarding all the open bigotry these days is that it at least allows us to know who is and who isn’t a bigot.
I agree to an extent. This political season has helped me to weed out a few more places where my kids won’t be playing and unfriend a few more friends from Facebook. And I am sure I have inspired a few unfriendings myself.
Still, I find myself longing for a time when America’s greatness lied in the fact that most people generally hid their violent tendencies.*
There is something to be said for a collective consciousness that prevents people from acting on their base instincts. Because, sadly, so many of our base instincts have been built at the expense of the safety of others. We are a country rooted in genocide and ethnic cleansing. Those are the kinds of roots we should be suppressing, even if they do course through our ancestral blood. We should parse, process, and prevent them. We should not act upon and accept them — not now or ever.
Like the dogs we let sleep in our beds, who could rip us to shreds if we allowed them to act on their instincts, we humans are simply not evolved enough to act on all of our feelings and desires.
Look, if there were suddenly an open pedophilia spree — if pedophilia became something people were acting on out in the open, often in large crowds, and then posting about proudly on social media — I doubt we would resign ourselves to accepting such behavior under the guise of at least exposing the pedophiles. We would work tirelessly to get to the source of the problem and end it.
We know there are pedophiles in the world, but we expect them to suppress their associated behaviors. Likewise, there are always going to be bigots. This election season is marred by Trump encouraging his followers to act on their bigoted beliefs. Erasing years of hard work and too many deaths that I sincerely hope were not in vain, people are listening to Trump and acting on their bigotry, and we are often responding with appreciation that they are showing their true colors.
I don’t want to see those true colors anymore. I want people to shove all their negative and violent behaviors associated with those true colors way down into their consciences, where they belong. I want people feeling shame paired with more shame until they are so filled with shame that the thought of acting upon their bigoted beliefs is as revolting to them as to the rest of us. I want people to feel so much shame that when they walk into that election booth to cast their vote for Trump, they look around them to make sure nobody can see their ballots.
I’m always telling my kids, “It’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to act on that anger in harmful ways.” Well, bigots (that’s every single Trump supporter plus a whole lot of us not supporting Trump as well — let’s just assume it’s every one of us), “It’s okay to be a bigot; it’s not okay to act on that bigotry in harmful ways.”
As I also say to my kids far too often for their liking, “Are we clear?”
Disclaimer: I know that bigoted violence has always been an issue. Here, I am dealing with the rampant ubiquity of the problem, as it is currently manifested.