We’re more than a week post-election and many of us are still stinging from the results. We thought that all the back-biting, cross-party fighting, and Facebook friend-blocking would end after the election. We never anticipated the real-life fallout that many people across the country are feeling.
All over our great nation, people are protesting the election of a reality star, business mogul, and proud misogynist to the highest office in the land. People are marching while holding signs bearing ‘Love Trumps Hate,’ and college students are holding ‘Not My President’ rallies across the country. Even high school students are walking out of class in protest.
In response, Trump supporters are crying foul, telling protesters to “suck it up,” and “quit being crybabies.” There has even been some violence by Trump supporters at anti-Trump rallies.
Scary stuff, right? Dark and disturbing times.
Okay, but listen people, protesting after a presidential election is nothing new. In spite of what the naysayers might tell us, in essence the right to protest is what makes this country so great.
Already great . . .
But in our protesting, in our speaking out and sharing our passionate opinions, we have responsibilities, too. We have a responsibility to maintain our self-respect. We have a responsibility to respect other people’s opinions. We have a responsibility to honor our elected officials. We have a responsibility to protect our fellow citizens.
And that’s just what college students all across the country are doing.
In the wake of disturbing reports that minority students are being harassed with intimidation, deportation threats, and racist graffiti, many students have decided to put their actions where their mouths have been (so to speak).
Students on campuses all across the country – including the University of Nebraska, Kansas University, and Baylor – are joining forces to show those at whom the hate speech and actions are directed that love really does trump hate by walking to class with students who have been attacked or who feel fearful of attack. In fact, at Baylor, hundreds of students walked a young woman to class after she reported being pushed and called the “N” word in the days following the election.
While many students are walking out of class, protesting, and using violence as ways to express their fear and disappointment over the election, many Baylor students said simply that they “were not there to speak out against the election results but against the past year and a half and ongoing messages of racism, bigotry and prejudice coming from the campaign and president-elect.”
Students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha have started offering escorts across campus to protect students against intimidation after friends caught wind of a situation that happened to one of their minority classmates. She was asked by a student in a “Make America Great Again” hat if she had packed her bags yet. One student explained the idea to offer escorts to class as ” . . .simply showing that gesture of kindness to them, [to] alleviate that level of hate we had heard people have experienced.”
In Lawrence, Kansas, more than 90 students at The University of Kansas have volunteered to walk minority students to class who don’t feel safe after students on campus said the environment has turned negative toward Muslim women and other minorities since the election. One KU freshman noted that “. . . just having that interaction with another person, I think it makes a big difference.”
And there it is. The lesson we should learn about people in America from a young man who just voted in his first election. These students are showing us what we all know in our hearts: that we all live here together in America. We all have hopes and dreams and goals and families and wants and desires and opinions. While they may not all be the same, underneath it all we are all trying to be happy in a place where we believe we can be safe and make a good life for ourselves.
Maybe that sounds sappy, but I think America needs the optimism of its young people right now. We need to be reminded that we can do small but great things.
One student on the UNO campus quoted Irish statesman Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Doing one small thing, like walking with another student to class, speaks more loudly than thousands of people simply yelling in protest.
I’m going to take my cues from the college students. What will you do?