There is little need to recap the chaos of the last few days. Certainly to anyone with a social media presence or who reads the newspapers the horrors have been all too evident. The values that make up the very fabric of our societies are being challenged by hate. Our humanity and principles are threatened by a wave of Nationalistic hatred that now legitimately warrants the comparisons to Hitler's Germany.
Donald Trump becoming the President of the USA was so farfetched a year ago as to be laughable. It seemed inconceivable that a man who is willing to discriminate on faith and origins of birth could be appointed to be leader of a country whose very foundations are based on tolerance and, indeed, on immigration. But become the President he did.
Did the tolerant left underestimate Donald Trump or did we overestimate ourselves? Were we so secure in the values of liberal democracy that we neglected to treat the rise of the far right with the caution it warranted? Did we fail to understand the need for change and fail to empathise with the desperation of those who would turn to anyone, even far right haters, if they promised that change.
We certainly overestimated the integrity of the media as we unwittingly allowed fake and misleading news to be consumed by the people who would vote in the crucial Presidential elections. Perhaps we even overestimated some of the people themselves. America put the future of its country, and as a consequence the future of the world, into the hands of many whose only source of political knowledge came from the likes of Stephen Bannon's Breitbart. Among these were people willing to deny the science of climate change, people who supported a ban on abortion but wanted to bring back the death penalty, people who opposed the Democratic President based on his colour and who in many cases were and are genuine racists, Islamophobes, fascists, Anti Semites and White Supremacists.
America gave ignorance a vote and ignorance voted
We are perhaps now as a collective Coleridge's sadder and wiser men. It has taken the events of this week to bring the world at large to an understanding of who and what Donald Trump is. And I stress this, these problems do not begin and end just with Donald Trump. The core of this hatred goes deeper than one man. His entire administration is infected with the Nationalistic fervour to give white American born citizens more human rights than they would grant to others.
As upholders of tolerance and diversity we have learned the lesson that - Left unchecked, hate can flourish - in the hardest way possible but the hope is that we have learned it in time. A Facebook meme commented: The Holocaust started with words not actions and this is deeply relevant to where we find ourselves at the end of this week. We know where the path to hate will take us. We know how easily it is for those well versed in the art of hate rhetoric to take power. We understand the danger of allowing silence to be mistaken for complicity in atrocity.
Everything we ever learned from history is being played out right before our eyes on the stage of 2017
The important thing now is what we do with this knowledge. Those of us who support humane and liberal values are very far from being defeated. People are mobilising themselves en masse to stand up against this threat to freedom that is Donald Trump. Every march, every petition, every tweet, every phone call to elected representatives, every post on social media helps hammer home the point that we cannot and we will not stand back and allow our fellow human beings to be denied their rights and their worth.
As well as protesting we also need to focus on putting good into the world. We need to build bridges between communities. We need to make minority groups feel they do belong in the countries they live in, despite what the hate press and divisive politicians say. This doesn't have to be on a grand scale, even eye contact and a smile can help eradicate the invisible barriers that the far right hate has erected.
Uphold the values you stand for in every aspect of your life. Challenge prejudice wherever you encounter it and be willing to explain why it is wrong and why it hurts people. Educate rather than intimidate people into an appreciation of why it is wrong to discriminate against individuals and communities. We will silence Donald Trump more effectively by educating the ignorant than through any other means. Ignorance got us into this mess but education will help get us out of it.
Whatever you are willing and able to do to fight hate is of absolute critical importance in this current climate. Trump will be impeached, it is inevitable, but the infrastructure he has put in place will continue with his aim to undermine all that is decent in our world. Make no mistake, the far right are not going away, they are engaged in a battle to win the hearts and minds of the populace and we must not let this happen. We must not be the good men who saw the evil and did nothing. We must not be the people who turned their backs until it was too late.
We must not be our naïve selves who once believed hate would never take a foothold in our societies. It did and now we need to stop it.
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