On the Inauguration of a Demagogue
That quote is from Alexander Hamilton's paper, The Farmer Refuted, published on February 23, 1775, in response to Samuel Seabury's pro-Royalist writings.
Today, a man who incites violence ("I'd like to punch him in the face, I tell ya."), encourages hatred of others ("They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists..."), and demands discrimination based on religion ("I'm calling for a total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.") was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
His stance on Muslims entering America is unconstitutional, but people still voted for him.
His insistence that climate change is a hoax is a blatant denial of fact, but people still voted for him.
His constant insistence that he didn't say things that he actually DID say, in print and on camera and on tape, that we can prove that he did indeed say, is evidence of his own "disdain of being fettered by the truth". And yet, people still voted for him.
If only more of us had read and understood Hamilton's writings before now.
I know a lot of you who are reading this feel the temptation to turn away and hide - to pull the covers over your head, to run to your mothers and your spouses and your friends, to lose yourselves in comfort food and light reading.
This is not the time for that.
This is the time for action. This is the time for speaking truth to power. This is the time for insistence that we are equal under the law, and that we will be treated as such. THIS is the time. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now.
It is time to fight.
Not with our fists, but with our words and with our laws and with our actions. With peaceful protests. With marches and petitions. With phone calls to our representatives, not only today, but on every day. With art that will change minds and open hearts. With books that will educate and illuminate. With plays and films and television shows that show us the best of ourselves, so that our children will grow up knowing what is possible.
The battle is here, now.
Not on twitter. Not on facebook, or tumblr, or snapchat.
The battle is in the streets, and on your doorstep. It is in the bookstore, on those display tables at the front. It is in the shop windows that tell us what to want, what to buy, what to pay attention to. How to dress. How to be. It is on the bus and the train; in libraries, and at the mall; at the park, and at the movies. The battle is wherever people gather, and wherever people spend their money and their time.
The culture war has been raging for decades: NPR, or Boom? News at 6, or Celebrity Apprentice? Whoopi Goldberg, or Kelly Ripa? If we are to turn it towards goodness, towards progress, towards intelligent and educated discourse, then we must participate, and we must do so loudly, and proudly, and we. Must. Do. It. NOW.
So, rise up.
All you artists, writers, poets, dancers... Black, brown, yellow, red, white... Straight, cis, LGBTQIA... All you beautiful weirdos.
Sing songs of protest. Hang posters, and paint murals, and write books, and put on plays. Get to know your neighbors, and talk to those who disagree with you, openly and respectfully and with kindness. Put the truth into the hands and ears and minds of those who are the farthest removed from it, and never stop.
You know someone who isn't familiar with the Constitution? Give them a copy and invite them to read it. Hell, read it together!
You know someone who is anti-immigration? Remind them that Albert Einstein and Levi Strauss were born in Germany, and that Dikembe Mutombo was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Joseph Pulitzer, the founder of the Pulitzer Prize, was born in Hungary. Remind them that the people who were here first, the Native Americans, had laws that we broke when we came here and established our colonies and our governments, and that we broke our own laws when we then expanded those colonies into Indian Nations in 1829 and 1830, and with passage of the unconstitutional Indian Removal Act of 1830.*
You know someone who thinks Roe v Wade should be overturned? Remind them of the difference between the freedom to practice one's own religion, and the imposition of their religion on everybody else.
It won't be easy. People are going to argue with you. And arguing is uncomfortable. But we have to do it. we have no choice. If we are ever to have a choice about any of this again, then we have no choice but to do this work, and do it now.
Take to the streets, and march arm in arm in solidarity with people whose lives differ from yours, but who share the same humanity. March with me.
Speak the truth with me.
Speak it loudly, and proudly, and without hesitation. Speak the truth that we are one, not only with one another but with all the creatures of the Earth, and only we can be held responsible for our future. Only we can chart our course. Only us.
It is up to US.
So, rise up.
Speak the truth, and never stop.
*See What is America, by Ronald Wright, pp. 124-126