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Post-election turmoil demands cooler heads

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Donald Trump FLICKR PHOTO
Donald Trump FLICKR PHOTO

With a controversial new government taking shape, the whirlwind of sensational journalism and wild speculation from the election has reached dizzying new heights. Every day brings us some new fact, report or rumour about the horrifying years ahead, from allegations of fraud, nepotism and political retribution to reported plans for the forced deportation of millions of minorities.

The maelstrom of rumours is understandable, given the seismic political shift already happening underfoot, but that makes it all the more important to have a clear understanding of what’s really going on, beyond the panic and dread we see all around us. Allow me to throw some water on this raging fire and offer a slightly calmer reading of recent events.

The doomsday predictions leading the news are about two things: selling newspapers and the whinging exaggerations of political sore losers wishing things had gone their way. It’s no surprise the rumour mill is spinning so furiously. The media has aggressively fanned the flames it sparked. They are responsible for enraging the crowds who have taken to the streets in protest of the incoming government and in solidarity with those who fear oppression in the years ahead.

But the world hasn’t spun off its axis. The sun comes up each day. Trustworthy, nonpartisan journalists will tell you that there’s no reason to give in to mass hysteria or a sense of panic about the future – even if our political landscape is going to be rocky in the short term. This is how government is supposed to work.

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Was racism a factor? Yes. Of course. Racism played an ugly, central role in the campaign’s rhetoric, and in the process, it gave voice to a deplorable basket of proud nationalists in exchange for their votes, reviving ugly prejudices. If this election proves nothing else, it’s that a conversation about race is badly needed, a conversation so basic it represents a step backward in the march of human progress.

Still, rhetoric is not action. The bigotry we’ve seen on the rise around us is troubling and threatening, but also the product of a mob mentality and not just the rantings of a single man. Like so many tales told by idiots, these loudmouths are full of sound and fury, but too cowardly to step out of the shadows and stand by their misguided beliefs. (Maybe then they could explain the difference between nationalism and supremacy.)

In the meantime, you can count on this angry language fading into the background as the business of statesmanship comes to the fore.

Many in the Jewish community have been so riled up by the anti-Semitism that they’ve seen in the campaign that they lashed out at fellow Jews who hold different political beliefs, harassing them with accusations that they’ve forgotten the past oppression of their own people and put their own short-term financial interests ahead of our community’s safety.

To you I say: don’t believe every frightening promise that was made during the course of the campaign. As irresponsible as it is to stoke the fires of racial disharmony – and it is – nobody believes that these doomsday scenarios are likely to take place. Several branches of government exist specifically to preventing these exaggerated scenarios from ever taking place.

Are we in for some changes? Absolutely. This was a change election, and the insurgent candidate won – even if it was only with a minority of the vote.

That’s why the rocky transition of power we’ve already seen is no reason to panic: real, meaningful change takes time – even if the media wants to condemn him before he’s spent a single day in office!

So before you rush to judge his plans, or his attitudes towards minorities – and before you pack your family up and move them abroad, let’s just give this Hitler guy a chance and judge him on his actions.

Excerpted from the Wry Bread archive, 1933.


Follow A. David Levine on twitter

Follow A. David Levine on twitter @adavidlevine