We are all still reeling from the shock of the election results. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote yet we now must brace ourselves for a Trump Administration. The more I think about it and see the reactions from all sides, the more this feels like the aftermath of an attack ― a literal attack ― on our communities.
The groups that those “deplorables” love to hate and feel threatened by are now under attack: LGBT people, people of color, women, Muslims, the disabled and many others. This election was a hate crime. Not physical but psychological, and one that may well lead to legal and physical manifestations that would very much be categorized as hate crimes.
I saw and heard about such pain and fear on social media and personally as we realized Trump would take the election. And it has not let up. I checked on several people who were expressing a level of fear that seem like it could lead to self-harm. I saw friends saying that they desperately needed to seek support at a twelve-step meeting or some other refuge. I saw pleas for self-care and to not let fear overwhelm us.
So it was already a concern and after finally being able to get some sleep, a vandalized Hillary bumper sticker welcomed me as I got my car to go grocery shopping this morning.
We live in Montclair, NJ, one of the most diverse and progressive places in the state. For the first time in a long time I no longer feel safe. I used to brush off the occasional epithet and frequent misgendering, and have not had to deal with anything overt for some time. I fear that may change, not just at home but as I travel. With a daughter living in Texas and someone who travels for work, this feels very very real.
But does calling this vote a hate crime sound extreme? Not if you look at the definition. A hate crime is one motivated by prejudice, fear or intolerance toward an individual’s national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.
It is not news that throughout his campaign Trump spend an enormous amount of time spewing hate and vitriol at women, Muslims, Latino and the disabled. Brushing things like sexual assault braggadocio off as “locker room talk” and not seeing him held accountable by his supporters, the GOP or more of the media was at best disappointing. Actually is was infuriating. And embarrassing.
We saw protesters at Trump rallies mocked, beaten and arrested. As the crowd cheers along like a mob.
So it should come as no surprise that many – not all – but many of the disenfranchised voters supporting Trump felt not only validated but empowered but this victory. Enough to create a climate where they are far less hesitant to act on their hate. I thought about how after eight years of a powerful, effective African-American President with integrity we now will have a President endorsed by the KKK.
As we all try to wrap out minds around this new reality, as we approach January and the inauguration of President Trump, I hope that the impact of what this country just let happen sinks in. I think we will only see more fear-mongering, and hostility.
I fear that the haters have been handed a sense of empowerment that they will operationalize after years of frustration. We saw it after the Brexit vote, which this is constantly being compared to in the media.
I fear for all those who are now clearly in the crosshairs of hatred. I fear for allies who will speak up and protest a Trump regime and all it may bring. I fear we will be hearing about more than bumper sticker vandalism. I fear.