The last few weeks have been politically turbulent for the United States. Women's March, March for Life, Inauguration, Trump's first acts as President and more. Under normal circumstances, I'd say this is all great and most people would agree: the peaceful transition of power and peaceful protesting that goes with it are indicators of a civilized and strong society. They're things we've built into our constitution and people should use those rights as outlined.
But that's not what happened.
The last few weeks have been as violent as they have been partisan. Beatings in the streets leading up to the Inauguration, physical attacks at universities, riots, and more. The political divide widens with each passing day and increasingly, people must fear for their physical safety if their opinion doesn't line up with the people around them.
One of those people attacked in the days leading up to the Inauguration was Cesar Subervi, a 21-year old immigrant from the Dominican Republic. Subervi, a personal trainer hoping to join the military, was dragged and punched roughly 30 times after filming himself inside a crowd, saying some of the more iconic phrases from the campaign. Cesar did not punch back, in an effort to avoid becoming a "violent Trump supporter" headline.
The deepest irony for Cesar was the predominantly white crowd chanting against fascism while beating a man of color for using his first amendment right. The incident simply cemented his belief that "the greatest enemy of a person of color is a white liberal". The belief that they're helping minorities, he says, hinders the ability of people of color to make progress for themselves. Worse, if they do not adopt the same ideologies for themselves, they're not treated as equals who disagree. They're treated as enemies who must be destroyed or misguided and foolish children. According to Subervi, "These people do not want dialogue." Below is the video of Cesar's attack:
Speaking to Daniel Herrera, a leader in Turning Point USA's Latino Caucus and a friend of Subervi's who was present during the attack, he was optimistic for the day we could return to a world with a peaceful exchange of ideas. But, for that we must return to the basics: a good education. But what happens when the education system is not a safe place for the exchange of ideas?
A meeting at West Virginia University between the Campus Left Alliance and Turning Point USA ended on a bad note when the president of the Campus Left Alliance Kelly Denham began physically attacking the members from Turning Point. The meeting, which had begun on the premise of hosting a debate between the two clubs, is yet another incident of words being met with violence.
America used to be a country that prided itself on the ability of its people being able to cohabit peacefully while having very different ideas. Tolerance was the name of the game and Americans were the best at it. Unfortunately, false acceptance and closed-mindedness took over and it became dangerous to have your own opinion. Civil disagreement stopped happening and, in its place, punches and kicks and beatings. Antifa may have replaced the Brownshirts but Mussolini would've been proud.
I don't know that we'll ever get back to that place where people could say "agree to disagree". That would mean that people were actually open to other ideas and that's rare these days. In the meantime, I do know this: I do know that our disagreement does not give you a license to cause me harm. Words shouldn't incite the use of stick and stones to break my bones. I know that my constitution will always protect my right to an opinion and the rights of those around me. So, I'll leave all my optimism vested in that.
Good luck America.