by Conlee Ricketts
It’s difficult to start writing something that I know many of you will disagree with or dismiss without finishing or giving me a chance. It’s difficult, but I can’t stop having the conversation in my head until I try. I’m thankful for my freedom to do so.
Try not to assume you understand my feelings without taking the time to hear me. My frustration this week, next week, last week, has not been about politics. My concerns are not about being a member of one party or the other, the economy, policy—foreign or domestic. For me it is about turning away from the ugliness. Or pretending not to see it. Or choosing not to see it, and by doing so subtly condoning it.
The concepts of “President” and “Role Model” and “Respect” have always been fairly synonymous for me even when I didn’t particularly care for the individual in the role.
This is my struggle.
I am unable to point to our newly elected president and say “there’s someone to look up to.”
Before you leave, or you angrily ask me about all the criminal things that didn’t make the other candidate a role model either, I need you to stop. As I said this is not about politics for me, never has been. It is about hate. It is about words and behavior that are aggressively hateful. It is about abuse. It is about words and behavior that are aggressively abusive. And finally, it is about a sliver, of a portion, of a handful, of the smallest amount of our population—on all sides—who just needed permission to be openly hateful or violent. I am terrified that permission was just granted. When aggressively abusive, violent, or hateful words and actions are ignored and even championed—permission was granted.
One hate crime is one too many. One act of violence upon another human being is one too many.
I can remain friends will all who know me; I can agree to disagree with you without it “becoming a thing.” My life proceeds even when I can’t quite understand why you think the way you do. I don’t force feed you my beliefs hoping you will change your mind and I don’t call you names. I do me. You do you. But I need my friends to know, especially if you are a parent—when the topic of rape, abuse, or violence comes up in connection with our new president, and you respond with a quasi-agreement/rebuttal like, “Yeah, but he…..” then my conversation with you is likely going to draw to a close. As a survivor of sexual assault, growing up with the training that “good girls stay quiet and don’t tell” it is my wish that you will never “Yeah, but he…” to your child, or worse “Yeah, but you…” somehow implying you’re your child was at fault for being a victim of violence and/or hate. There is absolutely no way to finish that sentence that can absolve or erase that violence for your child.
When you try to console me, or compare this situation to any other situation, or talk to me like I’m a child, or talk down to me like I “don’t understand politics,” or tell me this is ridiculous, or that I’m a whiner and you can’t wait for me to get over it and move on, without first considering that a double standard came into play here, and a dangerous precedent of permission was just granted here, you hurt my feelings. I don’t need consoling. I don’t need “I understand what you’re saying, but…” because clearly you do not understand what I am saying. I need much more than “Yeah, but he…”