America is Silent by Natalie Grant
America is silent. It’s December now, over a month since the election. The electoral college has voted. Donald Trump will be president. And America is silent. The headlines are Rob Kardashian and Kanye West. The protests have stopped. Google Trends reports that searches for Donald Trump have fallen drastically, occurring at 1% of the rate they did November 9th. The silence is deafening.
Silence allows hate to fester and intolerance to spread. Historically, silence is the perfect environment to mainstream bigotry, ingraining supremacy in the veins of our societies. During the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the Ottoman government exterminated over one million Armenians through mass deportation and mass murder. The genocide resulted in the deaths of approximately ¾ of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire. The genocide was not recognized in the United States for a century after the occurrence. Hitler laid out the foundation for the Holocaust in Mein Kampf. One of Hitler’s greatest allies in persecuting, torturing, enslaving and murdering upwards of six million Jewish people was the silence of non-Jewish people. In the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, where nearly one million people were brutally killed, Western powers stood silent.
Silence allows us to forget. It encourages us to move on, to ignore the threats to the lives of millions of people. Silence erases the pain of the past, ignoring the deep and lasting wounds of genocide and hatred. It glosses over the ugly parts of our history. To be silent after an election where the lives of people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, women, non-Christians and other minorities are endangered fuels the intolerance promoted by Donald Trump and his campaign. At stake are the American values we know and hold to be unconditional. His team has proposed a national registry of Muslims, which is what the Nazis enacted with Jewish people. When our first amendment promises us freedom of religion, why are people being persecuted for reading different books? Why do we excuse the intolerance of certain religions and select terrorists as the faces of others? When our Declaration of Independence claims that “all men are created equal”, why are people of color and women paid less than their white male counterparts? Why does Mike Pence want to use AIDS money for conversion therapy? If all men are equal, their rights should be also.
It is our job as global citizens to stand for what we know is right, and to question the acts of intolerance and bigotry we see. Bystanders allow hate to prosper, and when the lives of our friends are at stake, it is our responsibility to fight for them. We have the power to change the way that our world works and prevent the tragedies of the past from repeating, but silence is not going to help us reach equality. Our silence is compliance.