I Get It, We’re Scared. But That Doesn’t Make It Right.

Disclaimer: I originally wrote this post in June, but I think it’s fitting now. 

I’m an angry-crier. I can’t help it.

If you’ve ever seen me really angry, you’ve also seen me cry. The tears just flow out of my eyeballs like white-hot, angry feelings lava. I can’t help it. I can’t stop myself from caring all over the place.

I also curse a lot when I’m angry – a lot.

I really wish I was someone who could calmly and coolly argue my point when I’m angry. I wish I was someone who could give impassioned, articulate, cry- and curse-free speeches full of grace and panache.

Ideally,  I’d be someone like Dorothy Zbornak, the Golden Girl who was known, in part, for dispatching  indignant speeches with her signature seriousness and sass. (Here’s a video demonstrating Dot’s badassery.)

But unfortunately, I’m no Dorothy, so when I’m really mad about something, I’m forced to write my argument down.

And that’s why I’m writing today — I just can’t take it any more. Trump’s not okay, guys. The things he’s saying, the ideas he’s spreading, the fear and hatred and bigotry he is promoting (overtly and implicitly) is not okay.

It’s WRONG. (As a former reporter, I hate unnecessary capitalization and bold font but I’m keeping it here anyway because I mean it that much.)

I understand we’re living in frightening times. The latest tragedy – Orlando, is horrifying and sad beyond words, beyond reason.

And I don’t know how to change it. I don’t know how to stop it.  I don’t have a solution.

But one thing I do know is that we can’t let our fear make us turn on each other.

I know at times like this, it can be reassuring to hear political leadership throw out ideas, any ideas, to protect our safety. I understand why some people may find a sense of security and direction in some of the things Trump says.

In a way, I see how his comments on banning immigration from primarily-Muslim countries could bring comfort. He’s saying something, anything, and at this point people are grasping for a plan, any plan, to combat this terror. I get that.

But I don’t think this is the right plan. We, as a country, shouldn’t blame the sins of a radical minority on the entire Muslim population. It just doesn’t make sense – numbers-wise, it’s illogical.

As Aniz Ansari recently pointed out in his New York Times Opinion piece “Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family“:

“There are approximately 3.3 million Muslim Americans. After the attack in Orlando, The Times reported that the F.B.I. is investigating 1,000 potential “homegrown violent extremists,” a majority of whom are most likely connected in some way to the Islamic State. If everyone on that list is Muslim American, that is 0.03 percent of the Muslim American population.”

Admittedly, I’m not great with math, but even I can see that 0.03 percent of a population is an extremely small proportion of that group.

That means that the extremely vast majority of Muslim Americans who Trump regularly demonizes, have absolutely nothing to do with Islamic extremism.

Islam is just a religion and for the most part, its practitioners in America and elsewhere are just everyday people frightened, confused and saddened by the recent violence.

Muslim Americans are just regular people. (Here’s a video to remind us of that.) They’re not “just like us”. They are us. They’re Americans who deserve the right to practice their religion without being seen as “outsiders”, as “others” or as Trump so often paints them “as potential threats.”

At various points in his presidential campaign, Trump has advocated for the following things: doing surveillance on mosques, indefinitely banning Muslims from entering the country and seriously, I’m not making this up: compiling a national database of Muslims living in the U.S.

All of these suggestions terrify me.

They don’t scare me because, as Trump might allege, I’m a “bleeding heart liberal” or “obsessed with being politically correct.” (Though I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m convinced that being politically correct just means you know how to act like a diplomatic adult. Being diplomatic is a quality, I, for one, look for in my preferred presidential candidate, and basically all adults I don’t think are jerks.)

These ideas scare me for almost the exact opposite reasons Trump might suggest .

Politically, and as a person, I like to see myself as a mixture of Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation though obviously, I’m not nearly as cool as either.

I’m someone who will cry when given a thoughtful gift or small compliment (Leslie) but I’m also someone who will become furious when someone (particularly someone who knows absolutely nothing about me) tells me what is acceptable for me to feel, think or believe (Ron).

And in this instance, it’s not the Leslie Knope part of me that’s more outraged, it’s the Ron Swanson part.

Because the government doesn’t get to tell you what religion is acceptable. Donald Trump doesn’t get to decide who I can worship.

In a country that prides itself, and was founded on, the ideas of freedom – freedom of speech, freedom of religion – an entire group of Americans shouldn’t be signaled out and vilified simply because of what or how they worship.

Sure, Trump’s suggestions may not scare you now because at the moment they may not affect you. The government may not want to monitor your churches, keep a list of your fellow parishioners, or tell people like you not to enter the country.

Trump’s ideas may not affect you now, but that doesn’t make them any less scary. It doesn’t make them any less wrong.

Is this really a precedent we want to set? Do we really want to start singling out our citizens based on their religion? (Because in the course of human history, people have done that many times before – almost always with horrifying results).

Do we want to chip away at the freedom of religion, one of the very freedoms that makes this country great, just because we’re scared?

Is that really something we want to do?

I hope not. I think we’re better than that. I think we’re braver than that.

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know the secret trick to make us feel safe. But I do know that turning on ourselves, on our own citizens, on the very freedoms that make our country great -is not the answer.

It’s just wrong.

Update, 1-29-2017: If you’re upset about the recent immigration ban, or even if you’re not, donating to organizations like Lutheran Family Services and Lincoln Literacy is a good way to spread a little love right now. Because, unless we turn our words into action, unless we put in the work, we’re not doing enough. 

Advertisements