Friday, November 4, 2016

The Price of Silence

I continue to see people saying they don’t want to be “political” on their social media pages for fear of offending a customer. Should I have remained silent during the most important election of our lifetimes for fear of losing a book sale? No. I am okay with my political views making a reader or potential reader uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable. I’m so very uncomfortable with the direction this election took. It makes me uncomfortable that racial slurs and xenophobia have replaced political discourse.  It is uncomfortable to listen to the extremist groups that have latched on to the pied piper Republican candidate. It is frighteningly uncomfortable to watch as bigots have seized implied permission to openly hate with fervor.  It makes me uncomfortable to stand by silently observing the worry and fear on my young transgender friend’s face. That silence comes with a price. To remain mute is simply not an option. 

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” —Elie Wiesel

It’s a shame this election comes down to personalities for many. It is important to note that we aren’t voting for personalities, we are voting for policy. When Secretary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination, she undertook to put forth the ideals and values championed in the party platform. Supporters of Senator Sanders will remember he hung in there until he made some positive changes to that platform. While I am happy to be casting my vote for a female presidential candidate, I am ecstatic to be standing up for a platform I believe in. Had it been someone else as the figurehead of the Democratic Party, I would still be voting BLUE.
I believe in the rights of women to make decisions about their bodies. I believe Planned Parenthood offers lifesaving testing and medical care. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I believe in equal pay for equal work. I believe in empowering women. I believe in a fair and balanced Supreme Court. I believe that the obstructionism perpetrated by the current Republican legislature is unconstitutional and, at the very least, selfish and childish behavior. I believe in comprehensive tax reform that does not further burden the middle class. I believe in funding education because I don’t want to live in a dumbed-down society. I believe in affordable medical care and health insurance for everyone. I am a gun owner who believes gun laws need to change before we bury more children. In fact, I pretty much buy the whole Democratic Party package. Beyond my excitement that the Democrats nominated a woman, I believe they nominated a candidate that can work to achieve the party policy platform goals. So, that whole "I don't know if I like her" excuse really has no bearing on how one votes if policy, not personality, is the deciding factor. I unabashedly share my support for the Democratic Party policy platform.

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” —Elie Wiesel

Ignoring the clown show that is the Republican nominee, their party platform should be enough to warrant engagement. Much of the Republican platform is in direct opposition to the more progressive Democratic policy plans. The Republican Party talking points embrace a nostalgic look back at a "Great America," but somehow dismiss our dark history and the struggle to make real the constitutional promise of equality for all Americans. Part of the conservative policy aim is the negation of any progress made toward human and civil rights equality for the LGBTQ community. This returns me to what sparked this missive—reading a posting claiming neutrality and a non-political safe place. There is no non-political safe space this go around.

“But to tell the lonely person that I am not far or different from that lonely person, that I am with him or her, that’s all I think we can do and we should do.” —Elie Wiesel

Our country has sparse safe space for that young transgender kid who feels so very alone. Hearing no supportive voices in his small world, he turns to books in hopes of finding a glimmer of hope. An older lesbian bought a romance in order to feel anything other than the stares and glares in that little bigoted town where she hides her longings. A high school kid reads books about a life he can only imagine, but he knows it exists out there.  Still, while pocketing the royalties from these sales, authors don’t want to voice a political opinion on the presidential race of our lifetimes. The careful marketers will join in the celebrating or lamenting appropriate to their constituency, but currently don’t see it as crucial to stand up to a party that wants to check the genital appropriateness of restroom users. What exactly is being protected here? To whom will the non-politicos sell those LGBTQ books if the community is legislated back underground? I would like to point out book burning seems pretty popular with conservative movements of the past. You know what they say about history repeating itself. 

“Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.” —Elie Wiesel

“I don’t discuss politics on my page…” It may not be necessary to post political commentary to be supportive, but hiding behind neutrality or apologizing for the slightest hint of support for a candidate  is disingenuous. Before this very heated election cycle, I might have taken the stance of non-political discussion on my business pages, but not this time, not when so much is at stake. If I lost a reader because I support the party platform that doesn’t want to put me back in the closet nor return me to the kitchen "where women belong," I’d rather that reader use the money they may have spent on my books to feed a homeless person or buy a pizza for an LGBTQ youth group meeting. 
I’m legally marrying the woman I have grown old with on Sunday.  We have lived together for nearly twenty-nine years, married "unofficially" twenty-six years ago with an officiant, witnesses and friends, cake, the whole shebang, and never dreamed "gay marriage" would become simply "marriage" in our lifetimes. I’m voting for a woman for President on Tuesday—something they told us could happen and we dared believe.  I’m voting to continue the forward progress made by those who spoke up before I was old enough to appreciate the struggle for human and civil rights.  I’m voting for policies I believe in. I’m voting for the rights of my thirteen-year-old friend, for whom this election means everything. I speak now, publicly, before I can be silenced.

“There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.” —Elie Wiesel

#forwardtogether


5 comments:

  1. I agree that you can't be neutral this time around. The thought of a Republican victory is too scary.

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  2. Well said, my friend.
    And let it be said that many people thought they could "sit out" Hitler and that holding the highest office would "cure" him from his ambitions. You know how well that ended.

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    1. It's good to hear from you. I miss our chats. Soon we must make time to visit. :)

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  3. Audre Lorde said it best, "Your silence will not protect you." And, on a personal note, congratulations to you and Deb!

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