I’ve blogged only once since Trump became president—a blog about white supremacy. Helplessness and fear do not inspire blogging, yet may I share my despair?
Recently I went to a rally in support of DACA. Before the rally even got underway, we were told that the previous night ICE had taken away four Princetonians. I imagine men in black bullet-proof vests, ICE stenciled on the back, pulling up to a house in the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood. The house is dark and peaceful, its occupants sleeping. Suddenly the door bursts open and four people are dragged out—to detention camps, to deportation. ICE is not the nice Princeton cops who obey Princeton Council’s resolution to protect immigrants and who trust me with the key to the Suzanne Patterson Building, no questions asked nor ID needed. ICE is strangers who invade my town against my wishes.
Can I help? I march and chant with 200 others. I choke up when a Dreamer takes the mic and asks “Couldn’t you have given up part of your Thanksgiving for me?” She’d been on a four-day hunger strike before Thanksgiving to call attention to her imminent deportation. She’d sat, hungry, outside a Congressman’s office and been ignored. She and others had tried to interrupt the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade to state their case. They were removed. Now she’s crying. She knows no country other than the United States. In coming here her father had wished only to give his children opportunity. Is that a crime? Time is running out and she is desperate. With the others I cheer my support. But what clout do I have with the five New Jersey Republican Congressmen who don’t support a clean Dream Act?
Thanksgiving—and the Girl Scouts publishes an essay arguing that little girls should not be forced to hug relatives they may see over the holidays. I’m shocked at this attack on family. My granddaughter not hug her grandpa, my husband? And then I remember hearing from friends about sexual abuse—abuse committed by inebriated fathers or by that dear old friend of the family whom they’re told to call “Uncle Jimmy.” My skin crawls. How can men do this to little girls? The Girl Scouts are right. But what do we do about those fathers?
During Thanksgiving grace, I give silent thanks that North Korea has not yet fired a nuclear warhead at the United States. If it hit Seattle, I’d lose my daughter and granddaughters. If it hit Manhattan, my son would be vaporized, never saying good-bye to his children. No matter. They and I would have little time to mourn him as radiation drifts across New Jersey. Is it worth treating my melanoma when Kim Jong Un may rain cancer down on all of us?
And then there’s the tax reform bill. Medicare and Medicaid slashed. Deductions for property tax, income tax, and student loans gone. “Personhood” inserted as part of the attack on abortion. Little tax relief for those earning under $70,000—which is everyone earning minimum wage—and a huge tax break for the 1%. Any attempt at fairness is obliterated.
And so I write the nine Republican senators who haven’t yet agreed to support the bill and beg them, in individualized emails, to vote against it. Beyond signing thirty online petitions per day, it’s all I can think to do. Then on NPR I hear that Senator McCain, the one I counted on, the one who saved Obamacare, has thrown his support behind the bill. And before I can post this blog, the Senate has approved the bill.
The world as I knew it, the world as I wanted it, is being destroyed and I feel helpless to prevent it. Are words enough?
As you always do, you express so much so meaningfully — the sense of “what can I do,” the frustration that what we can do just does not matter, the loss and pain and impact on those who can least afford what is being done to them. What can we do? I don’t know, I just don’t know. It all seems so hopeless. But I do know that something has to be done. Like you, I’ve written letters, email, etc., and I support politicians who I hope can turn this tide. Living in California, sometimes it feels even more futile. Telling my senators how I feel? They feel the same way, and can do so little. Telling my member of Congress? She is already on board. How to get to those who do not officially represent me yet need to be persuaded to open their eyes and CARE about the people whose lives they are impacting. I think, perhaps, the most effective thing we can all do is work on getting the apathetic young out to vote and care, to speak up. To me, that’s where I’m going to be putting my effort.
You may have blogged only once since the Trump election debacle, but when you now have, it’s impactful. I value your voice hugely.