This week, individuals gathered in downtown Portland to protest the election of Donald Trump. The protest which originally started peacefully soon escalated into a riot. The protesters blocked off streets, threw bottles at police officers, and attacked a news crew who was simply trying to report upon the event. Vehicles were destroyed and businesses were vandalized.
The protests have now spread to the rest of the nation, now involving thousands of people displeased with the result of the election. On Saturday, the protests reached Indianapolis, as about 500 people marched through the downtown area. Again, violence erupted as protestors began throwing rocks at police officers, injuring two of them.
As if these incidents were not enough, a shocking video from Chicago shows an older man being ripped from his car by a mob and beaten up. In the video the mob screams “You voted Trump, you gonna pay for that sh*t.” One of the attackers then drives away in the man’s car while his hand is still stuck in the window, dragging him down the street.
It is not clear if the victim even voted for Trump or that he simply resembled someone who might have.
These are only a few examples of the many acts of violence carried out this week, dividing the nation and turning America against itself. Why? Because of a man who has not yet spent a single day in office.
Many have said they are embarrassed by the America that went out to vote on Tuesday. I am far more ashamed of the America that is at this moment, rioting the streets because things did not turn out their way.
I’m not saying you have to agree with Trump or with some of the things he has said and done, I certainly don’t.
You have a right to feel angry, disappointed, or sad as a result of the election. You even have a right to protest if you feel called to do so. However, you do not have a right to destroy property, property that belonged to someone who might not have even voted for Trump, simply because you are angry. You do not have a right to threaten or disrespect those who chose to vote differently than you did.
These things should seem obvious. Yet in this past week, I have heard my own classmates describe those who chose to vote for Trump as “cowardly”, “worthless”, “racist” and “homophobic”.
I find it incredibly disappointing that though we pride ourselves on being a “free zone” campus, we are so quick to ostracize and demean those with whom we disagree.
‘Orange is the New Black’ actress Lea DeLaria has said that she wants to “take out Trump supporters with a baseball bat.” In saying this she is literally threatening more than half of the American population. How quick our society has come to turn upon others, to result to violence and disrespect. We say we want to be a nation that promotes love, equality, and acceptance yet we have clearly not yet learned these virtues ourselves.
What kind of message are we sending young people today? Our nation’s children should be taught that in their lives they will come across many people who will not have their same values. Disagreement does not have to be met with violence and disrespect. Our nation's young people learn from us, instead of hate let us show them the power of rising above.
In the words of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, "People are often unreasonable and self-centered but forgive them anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway."
This election has been an embarrassment to our country not only because of the two individuals we decided to pick to represent us but because of the way they both conducted themselves during their campaigns. Instead of throwing around ideas for a better future, insults and slurs were cast around instead. The debates, which in the past have been referenced as education tools for students, were deemed too inappropriate for children to watch.
Let us not continue the embarrassment now that the election is over. We can do better than this, America.
If you don’t want to listen to me, take in the words of actress Jennifer Lawrence, “If you’re worried about the health of our planet, find out everything you can about how to protect it,” she wrote. “If you’re worried about racial violence love your neighbor more than you’ve ever tried to before — no matter what they believe or who they voted for.”
It is not too late for love to win.