There is so much for me to say. There is so much I could say and should say and probably say, but at this point, what can I say sincerely? What can I say that will not sound like preaching to the choir? How do I make it clear what I believe in without upsetting anyone or look like I crave attention and validation for my stance?
I've learned something that may not answer these questions but guide me as I develop my writing. In the wake of recent events of Charlottesville and Donald Trump's response, being a moderate just is not an option, and that scares me.
After the election, I put out a piece asking what the country's next step should be, and like a mother, I gave some advice before her sons and daughters embarked on a journey into the latest presidential era. In that article, I told readers "It's justifiable to fight and protest against hateful and discriminatory rhetoric, but don't embody it." I did not take into account that the Ku Klux Klan or Neo-Nazis would be taking to the streets in overwhelming numbers (although even if it was just one white supremacist on the street I would still find that one too many). I did not expect our president to say “there is blame on both sides,” addressing not only the white nationalists marchers but its protesters as well.
How do I tell someone how to petition and assembly when one side is protesting against a group that has the most infamously discriminatory rhetoric of all? How do I tell someone there is aggression on both sides when one side is combatting the group that generations of Americans were taught in school to be the most immoral, the most evil people that ever lived? That is when I realized, being moderate will not solve the problem. It makes me a bystander that contributes to the problem.
Similarly, the country cannot afford to act moderate, let alone our president. In times of crisis, presidents are looked upon to be the leader, to sit in the captain's chair and guide its crew through rocky waters and violent whitecaps (or in this case white supremacists). Presidential crisis rhetoric calls for a reinstatement of communal values, rationalization, and a call to action. In a New York Times opinion piece, author Jeremy W. Peters talks to Noah Rothman, an editor for a conservative journal who states "We need to have a conversation about where we are as a country,” referring to how Republicans and Democrats create their own narratives on violence and terrorism in the United States. So to say there is blame on both sides tells me that Donald Trump believes white supremacy is a part of American values, something that I believed we were looking to diminish. To say there was aggression on both sides rationalizes nothing but the Charlottesville rally that only furthers the schism between liberals and conservatives. To blame both sides provides no call to action on how to address any of this violence.
Donald Trump's presidency has given me a lot to take in, and there are times when I feel as though I should say something and other times where it is best to keep my mouth shut. I do not want to feel like I am preaching to a choir that will pat me on the back or bashing somebody else's opinion or lecturing scholars who know and understand the situation with more depth and analysis than myself, but all of that is inevitable when you put your voice out there. I also cannot stay silent with news of this threatening magnitude.
If anything, this piece is more of a reflection of the past week than anything, trying to organize my thoughts and express my feelings. I can only hope this will help me be a little more proactive than our president.