Li: Time for a Truce on Trump

It’s no olive branch, but it’s time to end the ideological war.

by Lucy Li | 1/13/17 12:20am

One of my best friends has a Donald Trump sticker on her laptop. When I saw it, I was so appalled by this shameless show of support for the president-elect that I proceeded to scratch angrily at the corners of the sticker, trying to rip it off, while she wrestled her computer away from me and yelled something like “That’s my sticker!”

We laughed it off, trying to mask our anger and prevent sarcastic banter from escalating into a real fight. I was angry that someone so close to me could support someone so despicable; she was angry that I ruined her pristine sticker and blatantly disrespected her by rejecting her right to support whomever and whatever she wants to support. That’s what democracy is about, isn’t it?

A few days later, a passive-aggressive text message regarding Trump escalated into a serious argument between us. It made me wonder why, for the first time in my life, I had allowed a political difference in opinion to affect my perception of people. I realized that like Michael Mayer ’17, who wrote a guest column entitled “Trumpism: A Violent Ideology,", for me, Trump had come to represent a malicious ideology that flagrantly went against everything that I am and believe in. This ideology is one in which people of privilege see their entitlement as a birthright; it is misogynistic, racist, homophobic and xenophobic. It perpetuates the message that minorities are not welcome, that women should be objectified, that all Muslims are terrorists and that identifying as anything but a heterosexual white male is inferior. With this in mind, I also realized I was using Trump as an outlet to channel my anger at an unjust world.

Mayer’s piece is a response to Tyler Baum ’20’s guest column “Why I Voted for Trump,” although calling Mayer’s column an attack might be more appropriate. In the immediate aftermath of the election I would have agreed with Mayer’s every word. However, after tending to my hurt feelings and eventually learning how to be the bigger person, I can’t pretend to be blind to the blame and lack of justification in his arguments against Baum and all Trump supporters alike — as much as I would like to remain angrily unsympathetic to the other side. Mayer’s argumentation follows a black and white logic that demonizes Trump — and rightfully so — but also demonizes his supporters and ignores a very large gray area that many Trump supporters fall under. He offers us only two positions: you either believe in everything that Trump is for or you believe in none of it.

I am a woman of color and a first-generation Chinese-American. These identifiers have given me a “minority complex” that is in some ways justified and in other ways an unfortunate manifestation of insecurities and frustrations cultivated by years of rejecting half of myself to fit into a predominantly white society. I remember being 10 years old and confused and unhappy that I didn’t look like a lot of the other girls. I remember being told in middle school that I was really pretty — for an Asian. I remember doing well on tests in high school and having people use my ethnicity to justify my achievements. I’ve had people get in my way and then proceed to tell me to “open my eyes.” I’ve been told to chill out any time I vocalized my anger over racist “jokes” made to my face, as if I was expected to laugh along with their ignorance.

Has this complex actually been detrimental enough to stunt me? I don’t think so. These experiences, if anything, have only given me thicker skin. They’ve motivated me to find comfort in discomfort, a frequent condition when one’s existence is the melting pot of two clashing cultures. I have developed a love for my differences that has almost convinced me that the society I live in appreciates these differences as well. The idea of Trump becoming the next president never crossed my mind until I viewed the election results because the eternal optimist that I am sincerely believed this country could not possibly be so hateful. I was very wrong.

My minority complex has not prevented me from reaching my level of self-acceptance today, but it has made me angry. The election of Trump as the next president of the United States was a slap in the face. It was a political announcement that the world was more backwards than I had realized. I was angry and I still am angry, that Trump’s hate speech is not enough to convince over half the country that he is unsuitable for presidency.

The soon-to-be leader of the free world is a hateful bigot. However, this does not mean that the millions of Americans who voted for him are bigots as well. None of us can pretend to understand the struggles of the people whose lives we’ve never lived, and despite the struggles I’ve gone through as a woman of color and a child of immigrants, I can’t pretend that the life I live isn’t blessed and privileged. My opposition to Trump stems from the fact that I feel personally attacked by the ideology he represents. For a Trump supporter, ideology might not have been the most important issue in this election because of struggles in their lives that I can’t identify with. I can’t blame anyone for that, but I am allowed to be angry about it. We are all allowed to be angry as long as we are also sympathetic.

As I told my friend with the Trump sticker, I can’t respect an opinion that is pro-Trump because I can’t deny myself my right to feel angry. I can, however, choose not to be as ignorant as the Trump supporters who actually are bigots.