I Don’t Want To Go Back

I have been numb for the last number of weeks and have maintained a semi-comatose composure in order to avoid saying something out of anger.  I know if I had of spoken earlier on this it would have been from a point of anger, not facts.  If I speak from anger I have brought myself down to the level of the haters I’m speaking out against.

I am more than numb, I’m a little freaked out by the level of hate I am seeing.  My faith in my fellow man feels like a cheap cut of meat getting pushed through a meat grinder.  When my faith fails I begin to question my purpose.  When a major part of your life’s purpose has been to promote the development of a more inclusive society this election has ripped that carpet from under me.  Is this really what my fifty year involvement has brought us to as a society?

When it becomes acceptable for a Presidential candidate to denigrate a person with a disability, to demonize a segment of the community based on their faith/race or repeatedly spout false information I have to withdraw from society.  I have lived in that world where it was quite acceptable to use the “N…” word.  I have lived in a world where burning a cross on someones front yard while the perp hides behind a white conical mask was acceptable.  Mississippi Burning is not just a movie to me, I was there (not in Mississippi but part of the civil rights movement) participating as a disabled 14 year kid who though he was cool.  I don’t want to go back to those days.

yonge-street
Looking down Yonge Street, Toronto

I was around when you could be arrested and thrown into City cells simply for holding the hand of another man.  Or when police could kick in your door and haul you off to jail simply for catching you in bed with the same sex.  That call to the police use to be a way for landlords to evict what they consider “degenerates”.  I know, I’ve seen it done.  You didn’t have to be in New York at the time to understand how impactful the Stonewall Riots were on the advancement of the LGBTQ community.  I was 19 and living in Toronto.  The reaction to Stonewall resulted in a parade of drag queens, leather queens and every queen in between (sorry guys no insult meant but that was the terms of the day) along Yonge Street between the St. Charles and the Parkside.  The gay community was starting to see some protection of their sexual choice without fear of breaking the law.  I don’t want to go back to those days.

Kent State shooting
Pulitzer prize winning picture of Kent State victim, are we heading back there?

As a student activist of the day I lived with the impact of the Kent State Massacre.  These were simply students protesting for the end of the Vietnam war, not to further complicate it by invading Cambodia.  The result, the Republican Governor, James A. Rhodes, order the National Guard in which resulted in 4 student deaths when the Guard opened fire on unarmed protestor.  This was followed by two tumultuous months affecting over 500 colleges/university with protests and demonstrations.  I don’t want to go back to that.

I lived through the days of forced sterilization and mass institutionalization of persons with disabilities.  Alberta was the last province to repeal the Sexual Sterilization Act in 1972.  I had to hit the road at age 16 to avoid getting scooped up in that net so that is not ancient history to me.  I don’t want to go back to that.

On November 22, 1963 I had my first experience with what was seen then as a pivotal moment in American political history.  I was a 13 year old sophomore at George Vanier Junior High School and the immediate impact on me was the rest of the day off school.  We had just finished our lunch break when the school PA system announced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and we were all send home.  Rosa Parks was the face of the 50’s civil rights movement but the assassination of Kennedy kicked the civil rights movement into high gear.

As I stated at the beginning, when it becomes acceptable for a Presidential candidate to denigrate, stigmatize and demonize whole sectors of the community then we have left the true “land of the free, home of the brave”.  However when that behaviour is rewarded by receiving the keys to the kingdom something has gone drastically wrong with our society.  I suspect we just witnessed the newest watershed moment in American politics.

On November 8 many American’s choose fear over fact.  America now has a President that feels racism and exclusionary practices are quite alright.  Since November 8 the rate of hate and abusive treatment of certain groups has jumped over 500%.  Is this to be the new America?

Just one man’s opinion…

 

4 thoughts on “I Don’t Want To Go Back”

  1. This is a brilliant commentary – Thank you! And as a pofessional writer, I say BRAVO for an beautifully-written piece of journalism!

  2. Terry, thanks for voicing what we’re all thinking. It’s a sad time for the USA, but this will also serve to legitimize the far right in many other countries.

    1. It’s already emboldening the far right in Canada and I think the recent heavy bombing in Syria is just an example at what less developed countries have in their future, kind of like “if America sneezes the world catches a cold”…thanks for reading

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