Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 & beyond

From "The Empire Strikes Back: We thought women would break new ground in 2016. We were wrong," by Michelle Goldberg for Slate.

However freakishly contingent his triumph, it forecloses the future feminists imagined at least for a long while. We’re going be blown backward so far that this irredeemably shitty year may someday look like a lost feminist golden age. The very idea that women are equal citizens, that barriers to their full human flourishing should be identified and removed, is now up for grabs. A pastor warming up the crowd at a post-election Trump rally in Louisiana promised that with Trump in office, the White House would be a place “where men know who men are, women know who women are.” The massive power of the American state is about to be marshaled to put women in their place.

We might well lose Roe v. Wade in the next four years. Trump has said the issue would then go back to the states, but there’s no reason to think that Republicans would settle for anything less than a national ban. There is a particular insult at the thought of a sybarite like Trump, who still won’t say whether he’s ever paid for an abortion himself, imposing a regime of forced birth on American women. When and if Trump strips us of bodily autonomy, there won’t be any illusions that he’s doing it to protect life or the family or sexual morality. It will be because he has power, and women’s hopes and plans for their own lives don’t matter to him at all.

Controlling the course of our own lives is going to get harder in many different ways. We can say goodbye to Department of Education pressure on colleges to address campus rape. We can expect the end of federal aid for Planned Parenthood and of federal government action to promote equal pay and fight sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. The Women’s Bureau, the one department in the federal government tasked with responding to the needs of women in the workforce, will now fall under the aegis of former Carl’s Jr. honcho Andrew Puzder, whose company is known for commercials featuring near-naked women in orgasmic communion with sandwiches. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis,” he said. “I think it’s very American.” Like top Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Puzder has also been accused of assaulting his now-ex wife.

Happy 2017.

Friday, December 30, 2016

love doesn’t always win

There’s a sign popping up around my neighborhood in various people’s yards. It’s produced by a group called Nasty Women Get Shit Done PDX (that link goes to their Facebook page). Proceeds from sales of the sign go to producing more signs for sale and to Lutheran Community Services NW Emergency Housing Fund, which provides financial assistance to incoming refugees. Here’s more information on where to buy the sign.

I think it’s great that these women have produced these signs, and I’m pleased to see them around town. The sign says:

The text:

In Our America
All People Are Equal
Love Wins
Black Lives Matter
Immigrants & Refugees Are Welcome
Disabilities Are Respected
Women Are In Charge of Their Bodies
People & Planet Are Valued Over Profit
Diversity is Celebrated

I don’t have the sign in my yard, and that has surprised some neighbors that know me.

Again: I'm pleased to see the sign - I like that people are taking such a strong, public stand. It's nice to know I'm surrounded by people that don't agree with the incoming Presidential administration. It gives me a great deal of comfort.

But I have three problems with the sign:

1) I really hate calling the USA “America.” The USA is a part of “America.” So is Canada and Mexico and all of Central America and South America. I get told off on this point every time I travel and meet people from these regions. It's an exhausting conversation.

2) The sign should say “Immigrants & Refugees Are Welcomed”, with a “d” at the end.

3) This is the really big one, the primary reason I don't have the sign in my yard: because of the part that says “Love Wins”. Because love doesn’t win. Unfortunately, very often, love loses. Very often, love doesn’t even come into play in the fight.

Love didn’t free the slaves in the USA - a war, a burning sense of social justice by many people (but not the majority of people), legislation and a minority of people with a lot of power did.

Love didn’t win World War II - the better militaries did.

Love didn’t prevent the Holocaust.

Love didn’t give women the vote in the USA.

And love didn’t win on November 8, 2016.

I have a huge amount of respect for those that are responding to the horror in the USA with a sense of love. That’s great. Good for you. I'm not telling you that you shouldn't have that value.

But I just cannot manage love in the face of evil. It would be hypocritical of me to put that sign in my front yard.

It will take something monumental to restore my faith in humanity, for me to believe that love wins, and, quite frankly, I think it’s impossible.

I haven't given up on life, or this world, or even this country. I’m going to keep fighting - non-violently, of course. I won’t repeat myself on how, I’ve said so quite plainly in earlier blog entries. But I confess that, for me, love has nothing to do with it. I fight because I value ethics, justice, humanism, equality and the planet. Not from a sense of love as much as a sense of righteousness.

Good luck out there, everybody.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

silence means approval

The day after the election, my family here in Oregon didn’t turn on the TV. We barely spoke. We stayed off of social media and news sites. Instead, we listened to music, watched some mindless movies, walked, and thought. We were shell shocked. And terrified.

On Nov. 12, I told my husband we had to have a talk. We talked about what our lives were going to be like over at least the next four years, our fears, if we were going to move to back to Europe much sooner than we planned, etc. It was a slow, quiet, sad conversation.

(For now, in case you are wondering, we’ve decided to stay in the USA, as job prospects in Europe aren’t bright and the darker forces right of the political aisle are poised to take over more European countries as well.)

And then I told him that I had thought very carefully over the last few days, for many, many hours, and that I had decided something that I needed to talk to him about. I said that he may or may not have noticed, but since 2011, I’d kept my offline, in-person political conversations very light. A lot of times, I wouldn’t say a word while people were joking about this or that politician, and I’d make some kind of excuse to leave if another guest at a gathering truly bothered me with political comments. I had avoided people that I found reprehensible politically, but I didn’t speak out, not for five years, when I found myself in the presence of such, because I wanted to keep the peace, not "cause problems", not cause a scene. In five years, there had been no confrontations, no pointed questions - I had had a policy of avoidance. But, as of this moment, that was changing, and I wanted him to know that, to be prepared. I would be getting rid of my secret Facebook account, where I raged freely about politics and other ridiculously with only my closest friend. I would now, instead, be using only the Facebook account with my real name, and that would become much more reflective of my beliefs - probably never as outrageous as my other account, but much more honest and less polite. I said that I was sorry, to a degree, for the pain and discomfort I would be causing him, specifically, but I couldn’t be polite and silent anymore. I wasn’t bent on making a scene, I wasn’t going to seek out a fight, but I was going to say what I thought if someone in my presence espoused anything that was even vaguely fascist, racist or apologetic regarding Trump supporters, or apologist for such. And if it was in my home, that person was OUT, no apologies. “I’m done” I said, through tears at long last. “I’m done, and I need you to understand that and be prepared for it. You can hope it won’t happen. I’ll hope it won’t happen. But I am DONE. Because I have been a part of the atmosphere that has allowed this election to happen. I’ve created safe spaces for these people by being quiet. I was too focused on being polite and accommodating and not making people uncomfortable. I’m not doing that anymore, especially not in my own home.”

I knew it was coming, and it is here, in force: an incredible pressure from so many, many people, and the media, to accommodate, to appease, the most vile ideas and proposals, to smile and stay silent, because that will help everyone be more comfortable and not have to face what's happening. The mantra: Be friends with everybody, no matter what, or YOU are the horrible person. These Trump supporters are really good people at heart, they just have different ideas. We can find lots of common ground. It’s not going to be so bad. It's not really going to affect you.

The strategy by so many that didn't vote for Trump is that the people that are bad, that are to be avoided, are NOT the people supporting a man that talks about Muslim registries, or talks lovingly about a murderous dictator, or promises to restrict a woman’s right to choose abortion and punish women who choose this option, or encourages followers to be violent, or courts white supremacists, or openly flaunting ethics rules, or refuses to talk to the US state department or the CIA, or promises to undo hard-fought, well-thought out international treaties, or appoints people to cabinet positions that want to dismantle the government programs they will oversee, or lies. No, the bad people are the "alarmists", those that remind you of what's happening, that remind you of the millions of people that will be hurt by his and his supporters' actions, and urge you to do something to counter what's happening. Those people are the intolerable ones, the ones to be avoided, the ones causing problems.

After saying it won’t be that bad, that the President and Congress won’t really do what they've said they would do, while thousands of people scream in delight, what comes next will be this: statements like “well, let’s just let them have this, and then they won’t do the rest of what they said they would” and then “it’s happening, true, but they’ve scaled back the plans, let’s be happy it won’t go quite as far as they said” and then "Well, yes, they are doing what they said they would do, but maybe it won't be that bad." And then "I'm just so busy, I've got my own things to deal with, I'm not watching the news these days, what he's doing is not really affecting me, I don't have time to think about this."

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived and traveled abroad so much. Or because I’m a history nerd. Or because I’ve both studied and seen first hand the consequences of racial supremacy propaganda, of demonization of minority groups, of marginalizing women. Or because I know people whove had a spouse or a parent or a child die in the wars of the two George Bushes, or women who faced horrific obstacles fueled by Reagan and Bush cronies regarding abortion services, or women forced to carry pregnancies to term as a result, or people who lost their savings in the savings and loan debacle of Reagan and the horrific financial practices supported by the second Bush, some of whom now live in tiny apartments or a room in a family member's home because they lost their own home. Maybe it’s because of how often I’ve thought of all the human rights fights in my country that I wasn’t in: the fight against slavery, the fight for women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, the internment of Americans of Japanese descent, and on and on. I have sometimes imagined what I would have done in those historic human rights struggles, what role I would have taken. And then I remember that my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, were not involved in any of those struggles, at least not on the right side of history. They’d either sat those out or, sadly, participated in the oppression. I would have done better had I been there, right?

Whatever the reason, I am not able to pretend there isn’t something horrible happening, and about to happen, in the USA as a result of the 2016 election, or that what a President says and does don't have consequences for millions of people. I cannot excuse someone saying, “I voted for Trump, but I didn’t support all this anti-Muslim rhetoric” or “I didn’t support his children being put into positions of power”, etc. You knew who he was and what he represented, and you voted for him anyway. Take responsibility: without you, it wouldn’t have happened. Own it. Own it as much as I own my words and actions. Silence means approval - if you are silent about it, you approve it.

After being dressed down in my own home three weeks ago by someone that said I was being "alarmist" and "overly-dramatic" regarding Trump and his supporters, that it's not "that bad", that I should be more tolerant and caring regarding his supporters, some of whom are my neighbors, that they aren't "bad" people, that being polite and listening to them would be good for me, and who smirked when I tried to speak up for those that are at risk over the next four years, and feeling the silence of everyone else as they watched and listened, I understand the enormous pressure to stay silent.

However, I cannot be silent.

I have a friend who is a particularly sensible person, a very smart person, and a very privileged person in many ways. But her family has felt under threat for a long while by a neighbor, an avowed Trump supporter who, thankfully, is now in jail for threats against a certain religious group with which she is associated. Here's what she said recently on her own Facebook page:

I vow to not let a single step be taken toward authoritarianism without speaking up. I vow to actively fight against the retraction of rights for LGBTQ people. I vow to rage against the continuing systematic racism that makes life for nearly half our population almost impossible. I promise to NEVER let sexist actions or remarks or attitudes go unchallenged. I vow to never stop fighting for freedom of the press, and of speech and against an executive who is only working to gather power for his own interests and those like him. I vow to continue my dedication to public lands and environmental protections and my firm, unyielding devotion to science. And I vow to support YOU if you are targeted in this new administration or by those emboldened by it.

You fucked up, America. And while I certainly hope my worst fears don't come true, I also hope that you who believed he believed in your success aren't betrayed by his selfish policies and, if and when you are betrayed, can step out of your partisan stance and recognize it. I will do the same if this man who is to become our President surprises me.

I thanked her, I relished at not being alone, and I asked, “Is it really more important to be polite than to make people uncomfortable by pointing out, yet again, that a fascist is taking over the country? I don't want to be an asshole - but I can't keep quiet. I can’t.”

She responded:

I’m going to embrace my inner asshole and let it shine - bc what is happening is unbelievably dangerous. Let's be assholes together.

I hope we can be the most awesome pains in the ass ever. So glad to know I won't be alone.

I now listen to the news on NPR again, as I did before. Now, I also subscribe to the New York Times, and read it every day, before I read any social media. And sometimes, I watch the morning news on TV. But I'm not watching CNN or MSNBC and, of course, never Fox News. I want in-depth, well-researched news, or I don't want it at all. And I want news, not commentary.

I'll never go looking for a political fight. I'm happy to avoid talk of politics. I'm happy to sit down with a group and talk about non-political things, and eat, and laugh. But if you are going to say something political, or tell me how really sweet your neighbor is that voted for Trump, I'm going to respond. I won't be creating any more safe spaces for fascists - or apologists for such.

Also see:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What does it mean to be "white" in the USA?

Since American Neo Nazis and other racists (or, as they call themselves, the alt-right) really want me to be proud of being white and embrace my whiteness and blah blah blah - what in the heck does being white in the USA even mean?

There is no scientific nor internationally-agreed definition of white. None. Zilch. A white person is a person identified by society as white and a person that identifies that way himself or herself, however that person defines what white is.

I guess being white also means having most-recent ancestry from Western Europe (have to say “most-recent” because, ultimately, we’re all from Africa) and having an appearance that says so to most people who would look at the person in question.

For me, it also means living in a society where I’ve been in the majority race all my life, as have my parents, their parents, and on and on.

And most certainly, being white means privileges not enjoyed by other races, at least not to the same degree. And it's those privileges that define white people in the USA.

What privileges?:

  • No matter how poor a white person is in the USA, or how he or she has been brought up, if he or she can get into a college or university, and/or get a well-paying, even high-profile job, people in those spheres aren’t going to look twice at that person per skin color and ask “Should YOU really be here?” Even working overseas as an aid worker, no one looks twice at me in my work - unlike my African colleagues, who I've witnessed treated as somehow “less” by local people when we've worked together in the field, such as in Afghanistan. White privilege is global, truly. That doesn't mean you don't sometimes struggle professionally, as a white person - but it means that the perception by American society that you are white does not stand in your way as race does for other people in a variety of situations.

  • In the case of getting stopped by police here in the USA (and most other places), white people are far less likely to be arrested for the exact same offenses that send a non-white person to jail, and far less likely to get a prison sentence for the same offenses that would send a non-white person to prison. When we get pulled over, we do not have the same level of fear that a non-white person has. That's privilege.

  • Most of the police, firefighters, school teachers, elected officials and non-elected officials all around us in the USA look like us. We don't wonder what any of those people might be thinking based on our skin color when we are dealing with them, because they are "like us".

  • If you are a more recent arrival in the USA and you’re from Germany or England or France or Sweden or wherever else in Western Europe, and you are perceived as white, some American white person will say excitedly, “I’m German too”, or whatever, based on some distant relative that had a kind of German name or something. Regardless, you will get a warm welcome: I’m one of you and you’re one of us! - a reception far different than other immigrant groups. Not one person has ever asked my German husband if he's here legally. That's not a privilege shared by immigrants from Africa, Asia, etc., or people of African descent who have citizenship status in Western Europe.

  • It means you probably voted for Donald Trump. The overwhelming majority of white voters did. White voting men went 63 percent for Trump versus 31 percent for Clinton, and white voting women went 53-43 percent. Among college-educated whites, only 39 percent of voting men and 51 percent of voting women voted for Clinton. He received the strongest support from white voting women without college degrees: 62 percent. And if you are a white person and didn't vote for Trump, as I am, it means you probably live in a place where most of your white didn't vote for Trump, as I do, and you are stunned that he won, as I am - though I still have strong ties to the South and could see the passionate, widespread support for him there, expressed on social media.

  • Over the next four years, white people, even those that didn't vote for him, can sincerely say things like “What the President is doing really isn’t going to affect me” or “We’ll be fine” or “I don’t have time to worry about this” or "I'm going to take a break from political talk and I'm just not going to worry about this for a while." They can, and many will, stay silent while Hispanic students are told “hey, go back to Mexico” in their schools, while Muslim Americans are harassed, while women who are pregnant that seek an abortion are forced to carry a pregnancy to term. Those things have been accelerating over the last two years, fueled by state-level events, and now, they will all have a Presidential endorsement and drive - but even so, most white people in the USA aren't going to be affected by such. Most white people in the USA are Christian, or perceived as such, rather than Muslim. Like me, they don’t have to fear family members being deported, have health care that isn’t Obamacare, and don't rely on a government program for the family's welfare, like help with a child with disabilities. White middle class folks will be able to access abortion - they'll be able to take off work all the days necessary to drive to a clinic far away, once for the "official" pregnancy test and state-ordered anti-abortion speech and once for the actual procedure. Most white folks don’t have family members in the military - we put that yellow ribbon on our cars and "like" the Wounded Warriors Facebook page and, ta da, we support the troops! Most Americans, white or not, don’t travel overseas. Most white folks don't live next to a field that a large multi-national company wants to mine or use for oil transportation. Most of us don't live next to a body of water that is polluted by industrial waste, or in danger of being so. Most white people will be able to put together financing so white children can go to college. That's privilege. That's why white folks can say "We'll be fine" and "It isn't really that bad." Because for them, they will be fine, their neighbors will be fine, their colleagues will be fine, and it really isn't that bad. 

Most white people don't have a home, a car, and security handed to them on a silver platter. Most work hard, face obstacles, and struggle sometimes. Many are on the receiving end of injustice, not because of their race, but because of a range of other circumstances. A person isn't bad simply because he or she is privileged compared to other people. And what should white people do with that privilege? That's not the subject of this blog.

The subject of this blog is - what does it mean to be "white" in the USA? Past the aforementioned, I’m not sure how else to define being white in the USA. White people don’t all listen to the same music, don’t all watch the same TV shows, don’t all eat the same foods, don’t all have the same holiday traditions, don't have the same belief systems regarding religion and ethics, don't do the same things on the weekend, don't play the same sports, and on and on. And I don’t believe that being white makes me somehow superior, or inferior, physically or intellectually, to any other people, because of race. I don’t believe I have any particular abilities because of my race. I most definitely have prejudices and privileges, but my experience over half a century has never, ever confirmed racial superiority or inferiority of any group, and, in addition, science has proven racism is bullshit:

We now know that the way we talk about race has no scientific validity. There is no genetic basis that corresponds with any particular group of people, no essentialist DNA for black people or white people or anyone. This is not a hippy ideal, it’s a fact. There are genetic characteristics that associate with certain populations, but none of these is exclusive, nor correspond uniquely with any one group that might fit a racial epithet. Regional adaptations are real, but these tend to express difference within so-called races, not between them. Sickle-cell anaemia affects people of all skin colours because it has evolved where malaria is common. Tibetans are genetically adapted to high altitude, rendering Chinese residents of Beijing more similar to Europeans than their superficially similar neighbours. Tay-Sachs disease, once thought to be a “Jewish disease”, is as common in French Canadians and Cajuns. And so it goes on. -- Adam Rutherford, former geneticist, now science writer and broadcaster in the UK; his most recent book, Creation (Viking 2013), concerns the origin of life, and genetic engineering and synthetic biology.

In other words, I don't think the American Neo Nazis and other racists (or, as they call themselves, the alt-right) want me in the white tribe, despite my oh-so-Western European pedigree confirmed a while back by (still disappointed there wasn't anything at all outside Europe in my DNA).

I am white, I am privileged, and I cannot turn away from the fact that organized racist groups of white people are rapturous at the Trump election, and he's done little to distance himself from them. Trump supporters don't cheer very loudly, or at all, when he talks about jobs or an improved economy or helping people living in poverty; they cheer the loudest when he talks about deporting immigrants from Central America, when he talks about registering Muslims that are in the USA and blocking anymore from coming, and when he talks about locking up opposition candidates. Trump voters vote from and live in a place of fear. They fear that having black and Hispanic and Asian and Arab neighbors, elected officials, police, firefighters and school teachers is somehow going to erode what they value and what they are. They fear that hearing people speaking something other than English in Wal-Mart somehow is going to make English disappear. White people that scream when Toni Morrison is added to a reading list of great American writers for school children to read often haven’t even read Faulkner or Steinbeck or Twain. They aren't at the Shakespeare festivals I enjoy, both because they aren't known for their love of great literature, even when it's written by a white guy, and because, heaven forbid, there's a black American guy playing Hamlet.

But oh, heavens, don't call them racists. Or privileged!

There are things associated with white people, particularly white people in the South, that I do, truly love: I love old-time country music, the more honky tonk the better. I grew up Baptist, for the most part, but church-hopped, and though I'm an atheist, I'm pretty much always down for a church potluck. I love fried chicken and mashed potatoes and grits (things that the white people around me here in Portlandia are not at ALL down with). I laugh at old episodes of Hee Haw. I listen to NPR and read The New York Times. I love Shakespeare. I love The Beatles. I love the standing stones of Northern France and Scotland. I love Celtic anything. I love men in kilts. Damn the term "cultural appropriation": I welcome anyone, no matter what race or culture with which they identify, to enjoy all those things with me, or not. Let's go listen to some old-time country music, let's eat grits and watch Hee Haw, let's go dance amid standing stones in a kilt to The Beatles, if any of that floats your boat - I don't care what your results say nor where you were born.

I'm fine with being white - but I'm not fine with being privileged. I'm ready to be lead by people that aren’t white, that aren't privileged. If you are going to lose your health insurance because of a repeal of Obamacare, please tell me what you want me to do. If you are an immigrant, or have family that are immigrants, and you fear for their safety or that they will be deported, please tell me what you want me to do. If you are a Muslim living in the USA, please tell me what you want me to do. If you are a woman that's been denied access to abortion, or that lost your job because of the time off you had to take to access abortion services, please tell me what you want me to do. If you are a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe or any tribal group here in the USA that are fighting for jobs, fighting for land rights, fighting against environmental degradation, please tell me what you want me to do. Point me in the direction of that nonprofit, that activist group, whatever, that ISN’T lead by white people and is trying to address social justice, environmental issues, public school education, women's rights and all the other things I care about. I’ll stuff envelopes for them, I’ll keep the web site updated, I’ll write social media messages, I’ll monitor the press, I’ll write press releases. And I’ll stand in the back, or off to the side, at organizational meetings and at public events, and let the non-white leaders stand in the spotlight, stand in the center of the video frame, and frame the message, and deliver the message. I'm ready to be lead. I'm ready to learn. And I'm ready to be an ally.

Also see:
Disclaimer: I’ve used the terms white and non-white. That’s offensive or, at least, inappropriate, to some people. But I reject the term Caucasian for race - it’s a racist term created by a German physiologist who believed that white people originated in the Caucasus region of southeastern Europe. And I don’t like the term people of color, as it implies I, as a white person, have no color. White is, indeed, a color. Vanilla is, indeed, a oh-so-delicious flavor. So I went with the word white.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A citizen of nowhere

The British prime minister, Theresa May, not a Brexiteer before the referendum, called members of international-minded elites ''citizens of nowhere.''...Trump deliberately tapped into the same animus against citizens who are not ''real people.'' He made offensive remarks about Muslims, immigrants, refugees and Mexicans. But the deepest hostility was directed against those elitist traitors within America who supposedly coddle minorities and despise the ''real people.'' The last ad of the Trump campaign attacked what Joseph Stalin used to call ''rootless cosmopolitans'' in a particularly insidious manner. Incendiary references to a ''global power structure'' that was robbing honest working people of their wealth were illustrated by pictures of George Soros, Janet Yellen and Lloyd Blankfein. Perhaps not every Trump supporter realized that all three are Jewish. But those who did cannot have missed the implications.

This is from a long, very-much-worth-your-time essay by Ian Buruma, a Dutch writer and historian who lives and works in the USA. He has been the Paul W. Williams Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College since 2003. The essay is in The New York Times, which I now subscribe to - online only, but it's the first newspaper I've subscribed to since the 1990s.

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said today that the spring election in France will pit nationalists and patriots such as herself against supporters of globalization, the European Union and immigration. "You know, I don't believe in this left-right fracture. On the one side are nationalists, patriots. On the other, globalizationists, Europeanists and so, by definition, immigrationists," she told reporters, as quoted in an article also in The New York Times.

And I'm afraid.

When George Bush was sorta kinda elected President in 2000, I took heart in one thing: that he probably couldn't do damage in eight years that our country couldn't survive. I knew - most sane people knew - that the USA would re-invade Iraq soon after he was elected, and that would destabilize Iraq, kill at least several thousand Iraqis, and kill at least a few thousand American soldiers, and I mourned all that long before it happened, before even election day. Still, I had hope, telling myself: survive this, campaign all you can for a Democrat, put pressure on the Democrats not to move even farther to the right, and my country, and the world, will be okay ultimately. Plus, I lived in Europe and Afghanistan for all but two weeks of Bush's term, and it was wonderful to be a part of the world community in that time, rather than isolated in fear in the USA.

But I have no such hope for the time we'll have Donald Trump as President, be it four or eight years. And this piece explains why, better than anything I can say. Please take time and read it - all of it.

I pulled out that quote and put it at the start of this blog because I have no doubt that I am seen by many Trump supporters as an "international-minded elite," "citizen of nowhere", an "elitist traitor" who "coddles" minorities, including Muslims, and who despises "real people." An intellectual. Part of the intelligentsia. A multi-culturalist.

And I'm afraid.

I was raised in a household where public school teachers, college professors and scholars were derided, where feminists were regularly described as beyond contempt, where atheists were described as dangerous and even worse than feminists, and black Americans were called THAT word. Not all the time. Not every day. The rhetoric wasn't at all constant. But it was said, more than once.

My parents said teachers were "lazy" and only worked "a few hours a day and not at all in the summer," and I bristled every time, because my public school teachers were my sanctuary in the storm of a dysfunctional and, at times, dangerous family. Those teachers fed my oh-so-hungry brain and hopeless soul with books and thought and questions. I also read voraciously (I still do), often reading more books on the English teacher's recommended reading list than I had to for a class. When I scratched together the funds to go to a public university, I often forgot to take notes in classes, as I sat mesmerized by most of my professors, lapping up all they had to say - even when I disagreed with it. I LOVED getting stoned at parties and debating history, literature, current events, philosophy, ethics... now, I aspire to be a university professor myself, I consider my Master's Degree as one of the greatest achievements of my life, and I delight in how many of my friends became public school teachers. I've also delighted in people that are different than me, and seek out experiences that can shed some light on food, music, dance, and other cultural practices that are far, far, different than anything that could be found in my neighborhood in Kentucky.

I am so much of what my family found contemptible - loving old-time country music and Hee Haw and fried food hasn't been enough to redeem me.

But all these years, I've felt safe - just really uncomfortable at a lot of family get-togethers.

Add on to all this thatI've been to more than 35 countries, I'm studying Spanish, I speak about 10 words of Arabic, I've read the Koran, I've dined with Muslims and Sikhs and Jews and Buddhists and on and on, and I've worked for United Nations agencies. And I'm an atheist. And a feminist. So, not only am I let down for my family, I am everything all the other voters of Donald Trump hate.

And now, I'm afraid.

In the 1970s in Cambodia, under the rule of the Khmer Rouge, people were killed for being academics or even for merely wearing eyeglasses (because reading glasses suggests there's reading, and therefore, thinking, going on, and that was a no-no). During the Spanish Civil War and the following Fascist dictatorship, General Francisco Franco's forces killed an estimated 200,000 civilians, their own countrymen, heavily targeting writers, artists, teachers and professors. Vladimir Lenin derided the non-communist intelligentsia with the expression (roughly translated): 'We have completed no academies,' and the Russians/Soviets killed or deported writers, philosophers, scientists, and engineers who were branded "counter revolutionary." In the early stages of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, more than 2000 Armenian intellectuals were deported from Constantinople (now Istanbul) and most were subsequently murdered by the Ottoman government.

And, of course, there is the German Nazi history with intellectuals, the frequent butts of Hitler's jokes. Nazis denounced rationalists and promoted "non-intellectual" virtues such as loyalty, patriotism, duty, emotion and cultural and ethnic purity and allegiance. Nazi propaganda said it was best to favor "sincere feeling" over thought, because "sincere" feelings, stemming from nature, are simple and direct - natural, unlike rational thought. In Mein Kampf, Hitler complained of biased over-education, brainwashing and a lack of instinct and will. Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls were overtly instructed to aim for character-building rather than education.

None of these movements, none of these human rights abuses, were done by one man, or a small group; populists movements of at least a few million in each country supported the deportations, imprisonments and murders. Many regular citizens not a part of the military were happy, even gleeful, to participate.

Yes, I'm afraid. Why shouldn't I be?