What I’m about to say is worth losing Facebook likes over:
If you voted for him, you are wrong.
There. I said it. And it shouldn’t have been this difficult or taken this long.
You may have noticed an uncharacteristic amount of silence from me in the weeks preceding yesterday’s election. That’s in large part because I couldn’t bring myself to carry on talking about coffee and zombies as if the question of whether this country could yet pass a test of basic human decency was not on the table, or as if this question was not important.
I also couldn’t bring myself to speak openly about that question itself, because of the standard industry wisdom that a new author should not discuss politics, should not discuss anything that might offend or alienate anyone.
The wisdom that while we can write diverse and revolutionary stories in our books (because who’s going to read what’s in a book anyway?), we should not be publicly seen to discuss anything of substance.
I accepted that wisdom as a necessary evil, until yesterday, when a man who says whatever vile thing pops into his head – no matter how objectively offensive and wrong – went up against a woman who is polished and politic to a fault, and won the White House.
I’m tired of being quiet and polite about everyone else’s opinions while a man who can’t be polite about other people’s basic human rights is lauded and rewarded for “telling it like it is.”
He’s wrong. If you support him, you are wrong.
I don’t care if that’s impolitic to say. It’s also impolitic to label an entire ethnic group rapists while bragging about your own history of committing sexual assault. And it’s so much more than impolitic. It’s wrong.
Yes, everyone has the right to an opinion. Everyone has the right to express that opinion out loud and in writing and, in the case of adults who aren’t convicted felons, with a vote. These are sacred rights that must be protected. Thoughts and information are far too important and powerful for any person or organization to be trusted with controlling and regulating them.
Everyone has the right for their opinions to go uncensored. Yes, everyone.
This does not mean that those opinions have the right to go uncriticized, or that every opinion is equally valid, or valid at all.
Everyone’s vote deserves to be counted. I’m not suggesting (in spite of the unethical and wildly illegal suppression of key voter demographics he’s openly admitted to orchestrating) that he didn’t win enough legitimate votes to be elected, or that those votes shouldn’t be binding.
I’m saying, America, you voted wrong.
You voted for racism. You voted for sexism. You voted for homophobia and xenophobia and religious intolerance.
These things are wrong. I will not take that back. I will not waffle and qualify that remark with placating pleasantries.
They. Are. Wrong.
These things are the essence of social injustice, of evil itself, of the worst of human history that good people have worked so long and so hard to free us from.
And yesterday, this country demonstrated that those good people remain the minority of the population to this day.
It’s not that I don’t understand how people fall into the trap of bigotry. I do. When you’re born into an arbitrarily lucky category, it’s tempting as hell to cling to any rationalization for why you deserve your special advantages, and when you’re living a less than charmed life, it’s even more tempting to cling to any rationalization, however arbitrary, for why you belong on top of someone else, anyone else. Power corrupts, and poverty and ignorance turn people on each other.
I understand these concepts. I can see the nurture aspect of what turns people into bigoted assholes. I believe that changes to people’s environments can reduce or even eliminate these arbitrary prejudices, and that’s why I will continue to vote and advocate for anything that improves the average person’s living conditions, educational level, and access to communication with other people of diverse backgrounds.
It’s why I will continue to create and advocate for art that challenges the long-standing bigotry rationalizations of the straight-white-American-male-centric media, rather than reinforcing them.
I want to be a part of creating a future world that respects equality and diversity, and I believe nurture-based changes can do that.
But I do not excuse anyone from responsibility for his or her own bigotry.
Bigotry is the shameful heritage of every culture and every individual on this earth, and the only way things ever get better is through people standing up, in defiance of whatever prejudice they’ve been taught, and saying, “No. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
It is the responsibility of every individual to reject the darkness of the past, and if you were one of those who failed in this responsibility yesterday, it doesn’t only speak to your upbringing. It speaks to your character.
And if you are one of those who did your best for justice and equality yesterday, I beg you to join me in seeing this as a wakeup call.
We are not safe. Inequality and ignorance will not fix themselves. Good people are desperately needed right now.
Do not be quiet because you fear being less “liked,” in any sense of the word.
I’m still working out my next moves. I’m currently lucky enough to be able to manage some spare time on top of my full time work creating art brimming with protest and anti-stereotyping. After yesterday, I’m looking to put some of that time toward volunteer work, hopefully helping to get more books into the hands of more kids, in the hope of a more thoughtful, understanding, and enlightened future.
Your options for helping will be different from mine, but do something. Something other than joking about running to Canada. Something to help make this country and planet a little better, a little kinder, a little fairer.
Today, I’m starting by no longer being too afraid to say something so radical and obvious as this:
What happened yesterday is unconscionable. It is indefensible. It is wrong. And we have a lot of work to do to recover from it and keep moving in the direction of what’s right.