Trump’s Amer­ica — a more un­kind, harsher place

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL - Brenna Collins Tulsa, Ok­la­homa For­merly of St. John’s

Re­cently, SaltWire pub­lished a let­ter from a reader who de­cried the “Trump-bash­ing” per­ceived in the pa­per’s editorial con­tent.

By means of a re­sponse, I will not crit­i­cize the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent, but as a res­i­dent of the ruby-red State of Ok­la­homa, I would like to ad­dress how life has di­rectly changed since his elec­tion and sub­se­quent inau­gu­ra­tion.

As well as be­ing a for­mer res­i­dent of St. John’s, I have tran­si­tioned from male to fe­male over a pe­riod of sev­eral (some­times ar­du­ous) years. Dur­ing those years I’d get a few glances askance from strangers, or un­com­fort­able tit­ter­ing, with scat­tered (if some­times in­del­i­cately-phrased) ques­tions from cu­ri­ous neigh­bours. And if some­one didn’t ap­prove of what they saw, it was rel­a­tively rare for them to ver­bal­ize it in front of me.

Shortly fol­low­ing the elec­tion, the lo­cal cul­ture un­der­went an ob­se­quious change; men in denim over­alls would hurl pro­fan­ity­laden threats while women with their sil­ver hair tucked into a flame-red “Make Amer­ica Great Again” base­ball cap would bark ugly slurs, in­jected with bib­li­cal ref­er­ences nei­ther seemed to fully com­pre­hend. Even school-aged kids, stand­ing around out­side the li­brary, be­gan to feel em­bold­ened enough to shout epi­taphs at a stranger they’d never seen be­fore.

What for sev­eral years would be a rel­a­tively scarce en­counter has be­come an al­most-daily re­al­ity for me, in the span of a cou­ple of weeks.

That’s been a very real, en­tirely pal­pa­ble change within the ci­vil­ity of my neigh­bours. In­stead of tacit tol­er­ance for what might have been ex­otic and strange to them at first, with the hope of an even­tual mu­tual un­der­stand­ing of one another, I’m ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a far more vul­gar, over­stated-yet-silent, feel­ing: the de­hu­man­iz­ing sense of in­com­pat­i­bil­ity with this kind of so­ci­ety.

And I can’t help but won­der, was it al­ways thus? Or has this down­wind gust of ha­tred been coiled per­pet­u­ally be­low the sur­face, even of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s “Lib­eral Amer­ica,” wait­ing to strike at a mo­ment’s no­tice? For these same words that ex­press unadul­ter­ated hos­til­ity also breed distrust (even to the point of para­noia) in kind.

The writer punc­tu­ated the let­ter to which I’d ini­tially al­luded with the phrase, “Too bad!” Yes it is, in­deed, “too bad!” when a na­tion as in­flu­en­tial as the United States al­lows it­self to be­come a “bully-state,” where anger, distrust, and wil­ful ig­no­rance are proudly worn as badges of hon­our in the civil war on ba­sic hu­man com­pas­sion.

I don’t know that the elec­tion of this ill-ex­pe­ri­enced leader is the di­rect cause. All I know is that each morn­ing, when that glo­ri­ous golden globe from the fir­ma­ment sends forth its first rays of sun­shine of the day, it glows upon all of us equally, and since the mid­dle of Novem­ber, I’ve been in­creas­ingly thank­ful for each and ev­ery day that I live to see it.

Since the mid­dle of Novem­ber, my neigh­bours seem to have for­got­ten a sim­ple de­tail that my beloved mother taught me from the day I be­gan to speak: words mat­ter.

If we use them ir­re­spon­si­bly, or reck­lessly, the con­se­quences are far-reach­ing. I am but one per­son (amongst mil­lions) breath­ing dif­fer­ent air in Trump’s Amer­ica than we did be­fore. Whether or not that’s fresh air de­pends on whether or not you can un-iron­i­cally look at Trump’s dis­pas­sion­ate face scowl­ing up from any mag­a­zine and say, “We’re win­ning!”

Trump’s abuse has sea­soned the ver­nac­u­lar of al­most ev­ery­thing that’s said around these parts, in some way or another. Even I catch my­self say­ing, “That’s re­ally, re­ally great, so amaz­ing...” not for the want of a more eru­dite vo­cab­u­lary, but be­cause it “sounds right,” even if su­per­flu­ous. But be­cause we tend to re­peat what we hear. Words mat­ter!

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