The Fear of Speaking One’s Mind in Trump’s America.
Yesterday evening, a large contingent of supporters chanted “Send her back!”, at a Trump rally in Greenville, NC in response to the President’s unashamed display of demagoguery concerning an American elected official.
Following a week of racist attacks, Somalia-born US citizen Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, again came under attack from the President — who contends she, alongside three fellow female Democratic officials of color, should leave the United States if her agenda does not mirror that of the administration.
As a citizen of the United Kingdom who has now held a green card for five years, I am now eligible to become a citizen of the United States. While I am thrilled I finally have a chance to become naturalized in the country I love and respect most, I am terrified of what the citizenship process may now entail due to the Trump administration’s increasingly hardline approach to immigration. Despite having obtained three degrees in the United States, and being married to an active duty Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army, I fear that speaking out against the President’s divisive rhetoric will count against me during the immigration process. And it shouldn’t.
In 2016, I chose to leave my career as an orchestral conductor to pursue a career in politics. Being a UK citizen, BREXIT served as the initial catalyst for that decision but later, in November of that year, Donald Trump’s triumph at the polls was the deciding factor for me to leave the career I loved. An ardent Hillary Clinton supporter, I was endlessly impressed by her relentless pursuit of equality, and her steadfast admiration for the US Constitution. Further, I desperately wanted it to be time for women to finally shatter that glass ceiling so they could have an equal voice in government, and beyond. However, I mainly left my career in protest; I simply could no longer agree with the direction the US was heading in, and wanted to do my own small part to enact change within the government.
It hasn’t been easy. My decision to leave classical music has forced me to go back to school to obtain another degree, this time in political management, and my lack of professional experience within the political world has made it nearly impossible for me to get my foot in the door in Washington. While feeling isolated at times, I continue to find solace in that many have made similar sacrifices.
The international outcry from women, and their allies, has rapidly catapulted equality to the forefront of our national dialogue, and brought with it a new wave of political warriors who have a score to settle. The four female freshman Representatives who have sought to make America a better place, are at the helm of this effort. To deride their earnest efforts as unpatriotic—while using their race as a weapon—is unconscionable and dangerous.
Those who continue to counter the discordant tone coming from the White House, have done so by amplifying messages of unity, mutual respect, and dignity for all. But for those who have chosen to blindly parrot the misguided chant of “Send her back!”, it should be understood that history will not smile kindly. Throughout history, the global community has encountered racism and hatred of this ilk that—while wielding damning results in the moment—have eventually failed, only to fizzle out over time. This time is no different, and here’s why:
Even though many leaders have tried, patriotism can be owned by no one man. Much like his real estate, Trump’s name acts merely as a superficial branding of what lies within; a hollow idea of what being wealthy really is, and an incomplete realization of what patriotism really means. It seems clear that his supporters have thus far been unable to sniff out the phony, illogical brand of patriotism Trump represents. But in time, his support base will come to realize that Trump is only as good as his word, and that they may be next to find themselves on the chopping block.