Monday, November 14, 2016

Why I won't tell anyone to calm down about Trump ... by gimleteye

I never knew my grandparents on my father's side of the family. They were Hungarian Jews exterminated at Auschwitz, murdered at the end of the war. They had nowhere to go, and no time left to escape. Perhaps they imagined that their national leaders had accommodated Hitler, and that they would be protected by the secular tradition of adaptation and assimilation. I never had the opportunity to ask them why they stayed.

So when my friends say, don't worry about Donald Trump, the nation can survive his four years, I strongly disagree. For my adult life, nearly fifty years, I have watched our government buckle under relentless attacks.

Donald Trump calls into question the durability of compassion for the weakest and values we take for granted in the United States: mutual respect, diversity, and tolerance of others irrespective of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or creed. The fear-mongering and outright lies through which President-elect Trump gained access to the highest office in the United States has already had a terrible impact.

When my father arrived from Europe aboard a ship to Brooklyn Navy Yard, with fifty cents in his pocket, he passed the Statue of Liberty whose foundation includes these words:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

If President-elect Trump wants the nation to now calm down, he must forcefully repudiate every word and every action of his supporters stirring the pot of hatred. And if he does not repudiate those behaviors, no one should be surprised at the next behaviors or what happens next, after that.

Alarmism saved my family from Hitler: Why I won’t tell anyone to calm down about Trump
NOVEMBER 10, 2016, 6:31 PM
Hugo Schwyzer is a freelance writer and editor and father of two, living in Los Angeles

I look like my father’s father, Georg. I’ve been told that since I was a teen, and having studied the old black and white photographs, I can see it is so.

I am older now than he was when he died, so the resemblance has started to fade.

In 1938, when Hitler took over Austria, Georg was a successful Viennese family physician, a father of two, a devoted and mild-mannered husband to my gloriously temperamental grandmother, Elsa. Georg was Jewish. Elsa was half-Jewish. The family was not religious in the slightest; they were fully assimilated to the cultural life of the glittering Austrian capital.

When Hitler came in, my grandfather shook his head. “There have always been anti-Semites,” he said. “We’ll stay quiet, and things will get better.”

My grandfather was a master soother. Children came to his office terrified and would leave in giggles. The terminally ill found his voice and his touch to be immensely comforting. In private, my father told me, Georg was depressed and moody. In public, he was charming and kind.

Georg was an optimist. Hitler was just another colorful rabble-rousing politician. Things would settle down.

Elsa knew better. She knew what was coming, even if she couldn’t fully name it. Within a few weeks of Hitler’s takeover she was working to get the family out of the country. She tried contacts in the US, New Zealand, France, and even India. They all came to naught — until she learned of a special program in the UK that would allow Jewish doctors and engineers to emigrate with their families.

Georg didn’t want to go. Elsa told him she was taking my father (then 3) and my aunt (then 6) and going, and he could stay behind and look for another wife if he liked. My grandfather, protesting all the way that my grandmother was overreacting and having delusions, reluctantly sold his practice.

My family settled in England, first near Manchester and later in rural Oxfordshire. As you might guess, nearly all the rest of my father’s extended family perished in the Holocaust.

My grandmother’s fear saved the family. My grandfather’s sweet confidence and optimism would have killed them.

So when you tell me, a noted soother and calmer of others, that I should tell Muslims and women and people of color that they have nothing to fear from Trump, I think that perhaps you want me to be like my grandfather.

And I think that perhaps for once in my life, I am not going to counsel calm and preach perspective and rally the kids for sixteen comforting verses of Kumbaya.

People are scared. They have every right to be. Trump’s words speak of an intent to violate fundamental liberties; Trump’s words inveigle violence; Trump’s words abrogate a social contract that says that we should quietly respect election results.

Perhaps Trump will be a better leader than we thought. The burden is entirely on him to prove that his campaign was an act, and that he and his followers pose no threat to women and minorities. Until then, suspicion. Until then, fear. Until then, anger.

Until then, I’m thinking like Elsa, not Georg.


Priya Sridhar said...

What can we do? What are we GOING to do to prevent history from repeating?

Barry J White said...

With a fully Republican administration it will be hard to influence their actions and policies except where a majority is required in Congress. Economics underlies everything so, possibly, if companies or utilities benefit from new objectional legislation or edicts boycotting them could be an option.

Anonymous said...

Yes, so much better had our President been elected by a rioting mob.

Anonymous said...

better a mob, if it prevents us from getting an orange sexual predator nazi

Anonymous said...

Anon above re riot: wtf are u talking about.

Anonymous said...

The key is the vote. All those people demonstrating need to register, get everyone they know to register to vote and begin getting ready for the midterm elections. That is the next big play, and we have to get ready. The Democratic Party should not fight among themselves for who will be the leader. We need a full-time 24-7 Chairperson. Everyone else who wants to be Chair and brings something to the table, should be made a Vice Chair of something, whatever they are good at. With 50 states, there is plenty to divide up, and lots of work to be done. There is no time for petty egos, and power plays. We need to have many moving parts, fund them all, and hope some of them work. Everyone who wants to run for something, need to step-up now so the bench can be lined up. We need to be ready for a massive midterm election turnout all over the country.

Anonymous said...

If you want to know why Trump won, just look at the response to his winning.
• The lofty contempt for ‘low information’ Americans
• The barely concealed disgust for the rednecks and cretins who are apparently racist and misogynistic and homophobic
• The haughty sneering at the vulgar, moneyed American political system and how it has allowed a wealthy candidate to poison the little people’s mushy, malleable minds
• The suggestion that American women, more than 40% of whom are thought to have voted for Trump, suffer from internalized misogyny
• The hysterical, borderline apocalyptic claims that the world is now infernally screwed because ‘our candidate’, the good, pure person, didn’t get in
This response to Trump’s victory reveals why Trump was victorious. Because those who do politics these days are so contemptuous of ordinary people, so hateful of the herd, so convinced that the mass of society cannot be trusted to make political decisions, and now those ordinary people have given their response to such top-down sneering and prejudice.
Having turned America’s voters into the butt of every clever East Coast joke, and the target of every handwringing newspaper article about America’s dark heart and its strange, Bible-toting inhabitants, the political and cultural establishment can’t now be surprised that so many of those people have turned around and said… FU.
The respectable set’s allergy to Trump is fundamentally an allergy to the idea of democracy itself.
To them, Trump’s rise confirms the folly of asking the ignorant, the everyday, the non-subscribers to the New York Times, to decide on important political matters.
If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same kind of pleb-fearing horror that greeted the Brexit result four months ago. It’s not so much Trump they fear as the system that allowed him to get to the White House: that pesky, ridiculous system where we must ask ordinary people — what they think should happen in the nation.
The anti-Brexit anti-democrats claimed they were merely opposed to using rough, simplistic referendums to decide on huge matters. That kind of democracy is too direct, they said. Yet now they’re raging over the election of Trump via a far more complicated, tempered democratic system.
That’s because — and I know this is strong — it is democracy itself that they hate. It is the engagement of the throng in political life that they fear. It is the people — ordinary, working, non-PhD-holding people — whom they dread and disdain. It is what got Trump to the White House — the right of all adults, even the dumb ones, to decide about politics — that gives them sleepless nights
This nasty, reactionary turn against democracy by so many of the well-educated both explains the victory of Trump, which neatly doubles up as a slap in the face of the establishment, and confirms why democracy is more important today than it has ever been. Because it really would be folly, madness in fact, to let an elite that so little understands ordinary people, and in fact loathes them, to run society unilaterally. Now that would be dangerous, more dangerous than Trump.

Anonymous said...

About the Dem's leader: It definitely should NOT be Taddeo!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the riots are caused by a spontaneous reaction to a video.

Think they used that one already.

Anonymous said...

Read this profile and tell me if fits anyone we recently elected.
This goes beyond politcs and splitting up the special intersts.

Geniusofdespair said...

The long post generalizing about elitists and red necks, the educated and the uneducated. What the hell are you trying to say? That people with a room temperature I Q should lead the country?

Anonymous said...

My assessment of Brexit first and then Trump is a major push to turn back the clock 70 years.

Anonymous said...

Those people who voted for Trump, except the very rich, pretty much shot themselves in the foot. Who do you think is going to be hurt by the elimination of ACA? Who do you think will feel the residual financial pain when 11 million people are removed and taken out of the economy? Whose children are going to die in Trump-created wars? Who is going to lose their homes because they lost their jobs and haven't paid off their mortgage yet? If they mess with Social Security, Medicare, and Disability benefits who do you think it will hurt? When the rich get their huge tax cuts, who do you think will have to finance the government and assume more than their fair share of the load? When those 25 cent and 50 cent per hour jobs don't come back from third world countries, who do you think will be disappointed and holding the bag? When the minimum wage is decreased, who do you think it will hurt? When EPA goes, who do you think will suffer when there is no clean drinking water, little clean air to breathe, many fracking earthquakes, and the environment destroyed so rich people can make more money? You have to move beyond envy and resentment of the little others have, to focusing on your own survival,. Perhaps later they can assume some responsibility for the larger community, the country, and the world. But for now they need to focus on their own survival.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post Gimleteye. Excellent.

Anonymous said...

So why did the very rich support Hillary above anon?

Anonymous said...

It is simple. Because they realize they have a responsibility to the world because we are the leader of the free world and have a moral responsibility to lead on a wide variety of levels when we can. Because they realize they have a responsibility to the nation who has made them wealthy. Because they want to help others, particularly the poor and weak among us. And because it is good business, and financially important to them to give hope, and open doors for the masses. Read Hillary's platform, there is a lot there.

Anonymous said...

This country has been at war for too long. Thousands, tens of thousands of innocent people have perished. And the wars we waged continue, almost unabated for those who managed to survive our years of madness, our years of relentless bombing.
Thousands of people are now stranded, many barely surviving in refugee camps, without an end to their suffering in sight.
And this country elects a corrupt Donald Duck as president. I now read about increased racial incidents. And in my liberal, progressive area of town, I a jeep now seen with a large American flag on one side, and a very large confederate flag waving in the breeze on the other side of the jeep.
Obama is preaching patience, as he expects Trump to start moderating his rhetoric - and I suspect he will. If anything good can be said about Donald Trump, he knew enough to put Jeb Bush in his place.
Yet, this country's situation is scary. I'm somewhat afraid a Trump building will be attacked by radicals. Trump is a wild card - but not in a good sense of the word.

From Hialeah said...

Trump won because the hard working citizens, regardless of race, gender, age, college or non-college educated, have been ignored for too long. He won, because everything you find in a store is made in China or somewhere else. He won, because we have a serious issue with "law and order" in this country. Trump won because of national security issues, health insurance, education, social security drying up, the right too far that way and the left too far the other way. And, because there is a complete disconnect in government, the media is even corrupted, and there IS a lot of crime in our cities! He won, precisely, for the continued division on both sides. You can see this division even with these comments here. Trump won because we needed to shake up Washington in order to save the United States. Stop playing the race card and let's unite! Stop this Democrats vs. Republicans - We are either patriots or not? We either love this country or not. We need to save this country! It was a good thing to send this shock wave to Washington and the world. NOW, they might listen and respect us!

Anonymous said...

To the Roger Stone/ breitbart wannabe above: f$@k you. A few tens of thousands of votes in midwestern states, and Trump would be off to the private sector making millions in Russia instead of making life miserable for the free world.

Anonymous said...

Dukakis calls for end to Electoral College
By Gabriel Debenedetti

Former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, who lost to George H.W. Bush in 1988, re-upped his call to abolish the Electoral College after Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump on Tuesday.

“Hillary won this election, and when the votes are all counted, by what will likely be more than a million votes. So how come she isn’t going to the White House in January? Because of an anachronistic Electoral College system which should have been abolished 150 years ago,” he wrote Sunday in an email to POLITICO.