These six words frame our call to action.
Dear President-elect Trump, Good people exist. Save good people. You are the only person who has a particular power at this moment in time; an immense power that does not come with a set of codes in a briefcase, capable of destroying the world.
It's a unique power to save many good, innocent people, children and adults, from brutal teasing and bullying, assaults, arson, and even murder.
People are invoking your name as they harass and attack others. Attackers are basing their assaults solely on the color of their victims' skin, their clothing or head coverings, their last names, the inflections of their speech, or some other factor that is not the intrinsic core of who they are. The team you are assembling includes people who have generalized and smeared entire groups.
But when you first announced your candidacy, you spoke these profound words:
"Some, I assume, are good people"
You were speaking of Mexicans, at that moment. I'm quite certain you will never walk back from this true statement; that you will never declare that entire groups contain no "good people" whatsoever. Your recognition of the existence of "good people" within this or any enormous group is profoundly significant and is, perhaps, the most consequential linchpin of your future presidency.
Multitudes of various individuals--in addition to being "good"--may be Mexican, may be Muslim, (or Sikh or Hindu or Coptic Christian, or others perceived as Muslim), may be Jewish, LGBTQ, female, black, disabled, aged, or any particular ethnicity, religion, gender, color, configuration, size or shape. Only the most evil and reprehensible people would claim that they are willing to destroy the "good people" who exist among swaths of whole groups.
Your enormous power, right now, lies within your acknowledgement that some percentage of all people...are "good people".
Your choice is to use that power or to allow true suffering to be directed at good people. Your voice has struck a deep and resounding chord in multitudes of those who have granted you the trust to make decisions upon which many fates will rest. You know that there are good people. It is an indisputable fact that you must emphatically repeat, and insist those around you acknowledge. Good people do not deserve to be stereotyped, smeared, mistreated, or destroyed--psychologically or physically--because they are hated without reason; because attackers don't bother to question whether or not their victims are "good".
Your lovely daughter, Ivanka, is Jewish, as is her family, her children, your grandchildren. In another time and place they would all be tagged and designated as disposable, without regard as to whether they are "good people". Opening a Pandora's box of stereotyping, here and now, including anti-Semitism, will release attitudes and effects from which even great wealth cannot shield your own child and grandchildren. It is unfathomable that you have appointed Stephen Bannon—whose anti-Semitism is blatantly naked—and others of the same ilk.
Anne Frank was lovely and good, and was generalized and hunted by people who did not know or care about her goodness. She survived long enough to write her famous diary only because of the supremely courageous non-Jewish friends and allies who supported her family in hiding, at their own dire risk. Ultimately, Anne could not survive the irrational terror that had been unleashed. Terrorists do not care about innocent "collateral" victims of their destruction. You’ve renounced terrorism, but such renunciation is meaningless, unless we renounce the attacking of innocents.
In 2015, three beautiful young adults, a newly married couple, both aspiring dentists, and the new bride's sister, were murdered in cold blood in Chapel Hill, N.C. simply because they were Muslim. You should click this link to see who they were. Anyone justifying their execution is purely evil. Since 9/11, numbers of totally innocent, truly good people have been murdered in irrational hate-crimes with many multitudes more subjected to abuse, assaults, mayhem, teasing, bullying, harassment, and torment.
Our future First Lady, your wife, has vowed that her area of special care and concentration—her ardent mission—will be to effectively tackle teasing, bullying, and harassment, and she has voiced her deep concern for the effects upon young people. She has committed to be an ally addressing this goal, which I am sure you endorse, and which we should all support her in. So both you and she have acknowledged concern for "good people", for vulnerable people, and concern for the ravages that result from stereotyping and smearing good and innocent people.
It’s not a crime to be born into any religion or ethnicity, but people have historically been tormented and exterminated, en masse, for this alone. It is, likewise, no crime to be born in whatever body one is born into. Every single one of us—including you, and the people you love—have bodies. Most bodies do not meet the standards which the media tells us are the 'ideal'. Even those bodies which do meet those standards, inevitably age or succumb to losses, accidents or illness. You know this. We all know this.
Our external factors are not the measure of our intrinsic worth. We don’t choose physicians to cure a loved one's devastating illness, on the basis of doctors' outward features, but on their skills. (By the way, approximately 5% of American doctors are Muslim, while Muslims comprise just 1-2% of the American population. Muslim physicians chose their healing profession in an over-proportionate ratio to the general population. The general prejudices that are routinely directed to Muslims overall could well target and destroy perhaps the very physicians who could cure cancer.)
"Goodness" and human worth cannot be assessed at a glance, by tags or vague classifications encompassing enormous swaths of humanity. There are many good, and some not good, people in every single group.
What is your definition of leadership? You, above everyone—in this country, at this time—can effectively speak with absolute clarity by loudly and repeatedly declaring it is absolutely intolerable that anyone invoke your name in the act of harassing or destroying another on the basis of unjust stereotypes. You and our next First Lady can begin your legacies, immediately, by utterly repudiating what has been deemed the "Trump effect", multitudes of acts of bullying directed at school children, and masses of insults and acts directed toward innocent others, perpetrated by those who believe they are following your cues. If you do not absolutely and repeatedly renounce and denounce this, Mrs. Trump’s proclaimed mission is pure lip service and you are, effectively, sanctioning these attacks, violence, damage and destruction.
In the midst of your awesome new responsibilities, this is the easiest and most important thing for you to do, immediately. You should repeatedly insist, with presidential authority and conviction:
"I do not sanction--rather, I utterly repudiate--anyone justifying hatred and stereotyping of any group, and bullying, teasing, mayhem, assaults, or worse, directed to any groups or individuals. This will not be tolerated within, or under, my administration."
You must renege appointing anyone who does not join you in this. They, too, will be remembered for doing so, or not doing so. It is the responsibility of every civic, public, organizational and religious leader, and of everyone, to stand up against the irrational destruction of good people. You should be exhorting and leading all of us. And we should be exhorting and supporting you, and one another, in this regard.
When I was a child, my father traveled at times to Washington, D.C., and he would report back that the President asked him about each of my sisters and me, by name. For a time we believed this. We thought the President's job included knowing every single person in the country.
All Americans...(for whom you’re making this country great)...
You are undertaking a role in which you are, significantly, responsible for every soul in this country; to “make America great” for all of them. Enormous responsibilities have been entrusted to you. I hope you will care for every corner of this country, and for every soul, in the United States. You already made this promise, in your election night speech: "I pledge to be President for all Americans,” and you added, “this is so important to me."
A power for good—on behalf of good people...
You must demonstrate your absolute commitment to that pledge, and recognize that your cues, appointments, actions and choices also impact many other souls as well, beyond our borders...vast multitudes of good people, throughout the world. Mr. Trump, you have a tremendous power, for good, if you use it for good, and for vast harm, that will be long remembered, if you use it for ill.
I am sincerely grateful for your attention to this letter.
Recipient, Spirit of Anne Frank Award
Note: Anyone who is inclined to leave hateful comments regarding this letter is: 1) demonstrating the exact reason why you, President-elect Trump, must unequivocally denounce and renounce any such speech and actions, and 2) demonstrating that they are comfortable with hateful speech or acts directed toward enormous groups, or to innocent individuals. Only truly reprehensible and evil people are indifferent to good and innocent individuals being hurt or destroyed.
To: Individuals, organizations, faith communities, and leaders: Please sign on to this letter, via the comments section, and share it widely. (Your ‘likes’, ‘shares’ and requests in the comment box for the Huffington Post to feature it, will help it go live to be viewable by readers at large at the Post.) We all have a role to play in this. We should support one another, and support the incoming First Lady to succeed in her stated mission. We must put extreme effort into exhorting our incoming President, to protect the multitudes of good people who look to him to play a vital role in their safety and well-being.
#MelaniasMission , #Trumps6Words , and #SomeGoodPeople are also where we can connect.
Anya Cordell is a writer, speaker, and recipient of the Spirit of Anne Frank Award, bestowed by The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, for her work against the designating of any group as “Other”. She taps into the universal experience of the injustice of “appearance-ism” (appearance-based judging of ourselves and others), as a core issue, to inspire everyone to combat all types of bias.
She is the author and illustrator of RACE: An OPEN & SHUT Case, which unravels traditional presumptions of what we call “race.” Articles include “Sikhs Bearing Pizza”, “Grieving in a Sea of Sikhs”, “Hate Speech Against Muslims Incites Violence”, “Would You Let a Muslim Save Your Life?”, “Islamophobia; Why Care or Take a Stand?”, “Shall We Dance...With Intolerance, Islamophobia, Xenophobia and Hate?” , “Burkini Bans, Muslim ‘Hygiene’, and the History of the Holocaust”
Her programs for children through adults tackle “appearance-ism”, teasing, bullying, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, age-ism, homophobia, and all stereotyping. See www.Appearance-ism.com
Getty Images photo, by agreement