'You're white, Christine, you don't get it."
"You're straight, Christine, you don't get it."
"You're gender conforming, Christine, you don't get it."
"You're not a Muslim, Christine, you don't get it."
"You're a citizen, Christine, you don't get it."
"You're not a real woman, Christine, you don't get it."
The "it," in these accusations (all of which I've actually heard from people who spend far too much time worrying about what I think,) is persecution.
I apparently don't "get" why people were trembling and angry and marching after Donald Trump's victory because I am not a part of a vulnerable group, at least to the extent that vulnerable encompasses race, religion, sexual orientation and Hillary Clinton voters.
I'm a walking insult to every minority that exists in this society, because I refuse to bundle up tiny emotional care packages for the afflicted and walk on eggshells so that I don't invade their "safe spaces" with rhetorical triggers like "The Electoral College is not a hoax."
In some of the Facebook groups to which I belong, I am persona non grating on every blessed nerve, because I refuse to let testy women tell me that I'm blinded by white privilege, cisgender privilege, U.S. passport privilege and all the other "privileges" the good fairies dumped in my bassinet when I was just a mewling infant.
Not impressed, not buying your hysteria, not bowing and scraping in acquiescence to your pain.
I've tried to be nice, although many of the students and alumni from my alma mater are sending me tweets in classic Greek and Latin, most of which boil down to: "I hope Neptune shoves his trident up your anassa kata" (it's a Bryn Mawr joke; you had to be there).
I get that some serious issues need to be addressed, particularly regarding immigration, and I do not doubt the genuine distress some of the good people in this country feel about imminent deportation. I'm dealing with it; I'm ready to stand between ICE agents and my clients using every legal weapon at my disposal; I do not underestimate the panic. On the other hand, I am not about to gin up fears that the wall will be built tomorrow, because this just allows unscrupulous men and women, including some who call themselves "social activists," to exploit the plight of the undocumented.
If you believe nothing else, believe that.
But just as I feel the pain of a man or woman who faces separation from their children, or has legitimate worries about what Trump means when he says he'll deport the criminals (jaywalkers? People who jump in line at the Acme? People who park in the middle of Broad Street?) I have no time for the hysterical renderings of women who say their vaginas will be registered with the government and they will be forced to breed babies to "Make America Procreate Again!" I have no time for rappers on Broadway who think it's important to lecture future vice presidents about how to be nice to sexual minorities and let them pee wherever the spirit . . . or the spritz . . . moves them. I'm fed up with racial and ethnic minorities who somehow think Uncle Sam will force them to change their names to "Buffy" and "Bentley" and make Afros and accents illegal. Yes, I said that.
And if you have a problem with my lack of empathy, you might not want to continue reading, because it really gets good.
We the people elected a president, and it might not be the president everyone liked or was rooting for or could even stomach without reaching for the Dramamine, this man did not steal anyone's votes. There was no bloody coup a la Augusto Pinochet, no genocidal overthrow like the regime change in Rwanda, no "blink and the Crimea is gone!" executed by Trump's buddy Vladimir Putin.
People went to the polls and picked the guy the New York Times and every other newspaper not written in Cyrillic told them to avoid like the plague. They did it. Many of us were not happy with the fact he won, nor would we have been happy if the woman challenging him had beat his orange tuchus. It was a disgusting menu, and, regardless of who ultimately was chosen, most electoral diners were going to have a four-year case of nausea.
But again, it was done fair and square and this asinine hashtag #notmypresident belongs in some sub-Saharan government where you win by killing your competitor, not in the United States.
Many people called for a coming together in the wake of the election, and many others have called for resistance. I love a nice beret as much as anyone, but this call to take arms against the overlords, as if we were living under the Vichy government in 1944, is laughable.
I definitely believe we should "come together," but apparently that's acquiescing in hatred and bigotry. To some people, including journalists, self-styled activists and big-city mayors, we need to start hiding our gay, female, undocumented and transgender neighbors in the free room we use for winter storage. One of my friends said that if there is going to be a Muslim registry she, a Catholic, will register as a follower of Muhammad. As someone who lived through an earlier Muslim registry called "NSEERS" a little more than a decade ago, I can pretty much promise (a) it won't happen, because (b) it didn't work the first time around, since (c) the government is inept at this sort of thing and (d) the ACLU will justifiably and nobly fight it, so (e) don't throw away your rosaries.
I'm sure the people who like to feel victimized are outraged by my failure to respect their victimhood. It is a powerful weapon, this need to make others feel guilty about possibly causing pain. It is used to keep others in line, a passive aggressive bit of genius to keep dissent at a manageable level. How dare you not empathize with my fear that Trump will dissolve my same-sex marriage! (not happening, as he said on 60 Minutes). How dare you not understand my horror at having to pay for my own birth control (that, maybe, will happen if we can finally tweak Obamacare into a workable system). How dare you not feel my pain at the prospect of having to pee next to a man just because I have a penis I never asked for? (I'll let Mike Pence deal with that one.)
It's the "How dares" that now determine how we deal.
I'm sorry, but I will give every person his or her due respect. I will honor their lifestyles, their beliefs, their political affiliations and even their right to hate me. That is the essence of America.
But I will not be forced to legitimize their fears, fueled by partisan rhetoric, whipped up into a fury by social media, carried to a crescendo by irrational "whisper down the lane" rumors and used against those who made the mistake of not voting for Clinton.
I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best:
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
Christine M. Flowers
Philadelphia Daily News