‘In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again’
I am one of millions in this country who woke up this morning terrified about my rights, my future, and our future as a country. But, I’m still a patriot, and I am still proud to be an American.
I am white and I am female. I am a second-generation Jewish American. I’m also gay. So I check a few boxes on the list of things that our President-elect would like to control, eradicate, and silence. And yet, the day after this election, I have never felt more like an American. My love of country is strong, and it always has been. I am not moving to Canada. I am staying. To fight for democracy, to tell my story.
My family came to Ellis Island and started a new life in New York. My great-grandfather, my step great-grandmother, and my great uncle escaped Austria, then annexed by Nazi Germany, and emigrated to the United States. It was their only hope, as Austria’s neighboring countries’ doors had closed to refugees. They thrived here, and I am the beneficiary of their immigrant story. I would not be here if America had not finally opened its doors – and received what was left of my family.
I’ve heard first-hand accounts of what it was like to see and hear how Hitler came to power ― the political campaigns and propaganda that spurred a nation to, in large part, accept a dictator. The language, fear-mongering, and sweeping generalizations which elected Adolf Hitler to power are at play here, too.
I look at our flag and see color, real diversity, and an openness to evolve. Within this election cycle and perhaps years past, I have come to realize that not everyone looks at it that way. But I believe in humanity, and our ultimate ability to do good. I believe in that because I am a descendant of those examples in our history.
This morning, headlines, posts, status updates and tweets suggest the large majority of those I follow feel like moving to Canada. People grieving the loss of the kind of security that we have when we are able to point to hope and goodness in the world as examples for our children, for the future of this country. I woke up hurt, bereft, fearful - but nonetheless, patriotic. The words patriot and nation have long held their own meaning. Love of country and a commitment to protect our neighbors were values deemed American (even on the shaky, and at-times violent, bedrock on which they were built). So what do we do now? How do we value, acknowledge and represent the different faces of patriotism that, in theory, should all represent this country?
What last night’s election tells us is that we are deeply fractured, deeply disjointed and tremendously disconnected as a country. We must not overlook and squander the rare chance this kind of wreckage brings. We can’t build upon the imminent wreckage that will come with a Trump presidency without a deliberate, thoughtful and honest inventory of how we got here. We cannot become violent. Stronger together must not be a campaign slogan, retired and left printed on banners.
We got this, America.