President-Elect Trump: Don't Expect My Respect

President-Elect Trump: Don't Expect My Respect

A reaction to the 2016 presidential election and the failure of mainstream liberalism

With Donald J. Trump now the President-elect of the United States of America anxiety is, quite understandably, high. This election has been a roiling buildup of demagoguery, reductive politicking and mass media fuelled absurdity. The Republicans offered up a selection of blowhards, theocrats and fascist-lite man-children while the Democrats attempted to sweep their only progressive, left-wing, populist option under the rug in order to seemingly coronate an oligarchic political elite.

The 2016 election has been a mass expression of egocentric politics that has ended up dividing not only the country, but the Left as well. Hillary Clinton is the champion of smug modern liberalism, the status quo fair weather progressive that does just enough to be on the moral high ground when compared to the oppressive selfishness of the right wing. Even seen as the morally superior option she, as is the case with much of mainstream liberalism, represents the oligarchy of political and corporate elitism. A large part of what killed her campaign and set the stage for Trump’s victory was her disconnection from the people and the real problems facing them. Hillary is the opposite of a populist, simply following social media trends and courting celebrities to make up for what many saw as a complete lack of charisma or even minute human likeability. By pushing an individual that many saw as corrupt the DNC and Democratic Party base sealed their fates in the election

All of that being said about Hillary Clinton does not change the negativity surrounding Trump’s victory. After a campaign of racially charged speeches and divisive, strong-armed politics, many people across the country are fearful. From Mike Pence’s strong anti-LGBTQ+ views to Donald Trump’s overly sensitive bullying of others, these are men hardly fit to lead the United States. All we have seen from them, and a majority of their most hardcore supporters, has been embarrassing and regressive, throwing science and social acceptance out the window to appeal to an angry, distrustful, corporate propaganda fed population that has been taught to fear change and hate others. This spike in more outwardly xenophobic rhetoric has been a pronounced centrepiece for the Trump/Pence ticket.

As the divide caused by this election deepens and the population attempts to understand the implications of a Trump presidency, there have been those that have called to “respect” Trump due to his victory and future position. This moderate, “don’t rock the boat,” approach is inherently flawed, especially in an election such as 2016’s. Respect is earned, not given blindly on some symbolic pretence. Trust is built, not spewed with cult-like fervour. To those who say "respect the office and the process" you are speaking from a place of symbology that disconnects you from the reality of an individual. You say this as demographics divide further and people are truly fearful for the future. Do not ignorantly try to be the "good guy" that plays the middle ground, believing that it gives you some sort of self-righteous clairvoyance. You only end up looking like you are trying to take legitimacy from people's fears. If something threatens you and your peace of mind you do not grin and bear it, you steel yourself and deal with it head on.

Cover Image Credit: ABC News

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Thirteen Ways Of Looking At The Boston Marathon Bombing

The Boston Bombing from different perspectives.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Boston Marathon Bombing.


I

Her sneakers slapped the pavement

as the cheers drew closer and closer.

She took a left on Boylston,

her heart beating as fast as her feet.

The finish line was just in reach,

But then came an explosion-


II

He waited eagerly along the finish line,

tippy toes and all.

Waiting to see his dad run by.

The bombs went off before that though,

and the little boy never saw his father

finish the marathon.


III

He broke the ribbon,

claiming first place.

That joy was short lived,

for a little while later

Life as he knew it shattered into a million pieces.


IV

Another Marathon Monday,

another day of chaos.

Though this much chaos the officer did not expect,

until the bomb went off,

and all hell broke loose in Beantown.


V

For the tenth year in a row

she came to watch her best friend run.

For the last time

she watched while standing on two feet.

Before her friend made it to the finish,

her right leg was blown off.

All that was left was a bloody stump.


VI

They stood behind a table

handing cups of water to runners

as they raced by.

Soon, the fleet of runners abruptly ceased-

The marathon was stopped

because of a terrorist attack.


VII

She sat upon her daddy’s shoulders

like a bird at its perch,

waiting to see her mommy run by.

She excitedly waved to mommy,

and then boom-

She couldn’t find mommy,

who was somewhere in the crowd of people,

screaming, crying, confused.


VIII

He couldn’t do it.

He couldn’t help everybody.

Twenty two years on the force,

and nothing like this had ever happened before.

A terrorist attack in his beloved city.

It shook him to the core-


IX

She finished the marathon

with her best time yet.

Overjoyed, she set off towards the crowds

to look for her fiance.

Simultaneously, they reached out to embrace,

just as the backpack laying a few feet away

exploded with no warning.

Their lives would never be the same again.


X

Boylston Street was a sea of runners,

as it always was this day.

He would soon realize

today was not like every other Marathon Monday.

A lone wolf escaped the crowd of onlookers,

and then something exploded amidst the crowd.


XI

The call she would never forget.

There was a bombing at the finish line,

motives thought to be terrorism.

The screams of agony,

the blood, the limbs.

The shock, the confusion,

the lifeless body of a little boy.


XII

The news alert popped up on my mom’s phone;

A bomb exploded at the marathon.

We did not yet know

it was much more than a bomb.

Nobody in the mall did.

I never imagined it would happen here,

but isn’t that what everyone always thinks?


XIII

I didn’t want to do it.

Tamerlan left me no choice.

And now, I must pay.

Cover Image Credit: The New York Post

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Dear Convocation: What Are You?

Are you a pulpit, a political tool, or a public space of ideas?

If you're a student at Liberty University here in Lynchburg, Virginia, you know that Convocation is nothing short of incredible. It's a dizzying experience at first, being surrounded by 13,000+ peers and staff, joining in a communal worship service, and being able to hear speakers whose names may be passed around your dinner table during school breaks.

Every residential, on-campus student attends Convo three times a week. We sit in assigned sections. At Convocation, it is a humbling experience to recognize that you are not just a student, but part of a student body, part of the body of Christ.

But a growing part of that student body is now beginning to question not just who is speaking on a said day, or what was said, but what Convocation actually is.

According to Liberty's website, Convocation is not a chapel service, despite the 15-20 minute worship held before speakers rise to the podium. This distinction allows them to host any number of diverse speakers, as Convocation "allows people from all walks of life to compel, equip, and challenge our students to think clearly and with conviction."

Guests at Convo are chosen by “relevance,” and if the speaker happens to “possess a message that will contribute to pivotal cultural conversations that stretch both the hearts and minds of our students, faculty, and staff.”

In these past few years, however, it's not been hard to find students in the halls or at the gym or simply walking down University Boulevard and hear them dreading yet "another political Convo" and "another pastor selling a book," or squealing, "I can't believe so-in-so said that!"

That's not to say that these kinds of speakers are featured prevalently at our school—but they come often enough that we notice and make memes like the brilliant millennials we are. As far as political Convos go, it's no secret that our school president, Jerry Falwell Jr., supported and continues to support now-U.S. President Donald Trump.

But just how much of that support trickles into our Convocation remains to be seen, as right-wing commentators, journalists, and Trump Campaign affiliates have often been under the Convocation spotlight.

What pains me personally about Convo, however, is that last semester, (including those in panels and grouped speakers) only 22% of all Convocation speakers were women. Only 30% of female speakers spoke unaccompanied. While it is uncommon, and in many cases unheard of for women to speak with authority from a Christian pulpit, Convocation is clearly defined as separate from Chapel.

Considering that the majority of undergrads at Liberty are women, this poses a interesting question: If Convocation is not Chapel, then what is it, and do the same traditional criterion of the pulpit also apply to Convo?

An initial response may very well be, no, of course not; we've had speakers all the way from Social Democrat Bernie Sanders to Republican Ted Cruz and his presidential bid in 2015, from Christine Caine and her "Propel Women" initiative, to the Robertson family of the A&E reality show, Duck Dynasty.

However, if that truly were the case, then why do these numbers exist in 2017? Why is the ratio of female speakers to male speakers so unequal?

Dear Convocation, what are you?

This is not to say that male speakers are unable to teach, preach, or persuade female students at Liberty; rather, this is a matter of representation. Of the percentage aforementioned, only 33% of female speakers were of color, compared to an even more disappointing 23% of the male speakers.

In the world of #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, or #timesup, where does Convocation fit in?

If Convocation is not Chapel, if it is meant to enrich our college experience by exposing us to diverse and culturally relevant speakers in order for us "Champions for Christ" to better engage with the world around us…why are those beautiful and powerful and culturally-relevant discussions on fighting racism, domestic abuse, sexism, why are they so few and far between? The voices we hear matter.

Dear Convocation, are you a pulpit, a political tool, or a public space of ideas?

Let me know when you've figured it out. In the meantime, I'll go find my seat in section 101, and I am looking forward to what this new semester will bring.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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