Back in November, I made a brief announcement post that I was planning on writing my personal response to ‘Surviving 2017 in the Trump Era’ and the reoccurring theory that college students are being brainwashed into becoming liberals. This is exactly that.
NOTE: This is my own reflection. I am not assuming a voice for all those opposed to Trump. Anyone has the right to disagree or agree with what I am saying but do realize this is my own personal response. I am not looking for battles or arguments. I think it is beneficial for people to reflect on an entire year like this one, in one form or another to help them gain insight into themselves and the changing world around them.
The results of the election last year were devastating. Not only had Trump won but suddenly the surreal feeling of living in a twilight zone-like reality began. Watching Trump’s inaugural speech on January 20th on TV, the strange and gloomy streets as he paraded in Washington D.C. Suddenly, it felt like something had dramatically changed. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it but now I think I’ve realized what it was that I felt. This was the beginning of a new time, a new block of time that would have to be sectioned off, highlighted, and analytically picked apart day by day in the future. It has been termed an Era: The Era of Trump. I think this term is correct because now it is apparent 2017 is the start of another chapter in U.S. history.
The Women’s March, protests, petitions, and rumors of impeachment have all added to the growing feeling of tension and unrest in the U.S. Two sides were emerging; in support of POTUS and vehemently against. This divide has become stronger and more resolute as news coverage, tweets, and speeches which all contribute to the obvious reality that the POTUS may be extremely irrational and dangerous. There is little room to breathe when his ego is threatened when his words are analyzed and questioned when his behavior is criticized as being inappropriate and extremely insensitive. But the division between pro and anti-Trump supporters is creating unsafe spaces full of animosity and possibly dangerous eruptions.
After the first month, sleepless and admittedly paranoid, it felt like everything suddenly went into full gear. Every week on the news, every day, Trump words and actions have become a horrifying reality show in that his actions have actual repercussions throughout the U.S. and the World. I have come to terms with the fact that now I have to spend the next three years watching this man puff up and prance his way through international relations. That his arrogance now puts Americans at risk and that his agenda, selective and suspicious, is equally threatening to minorities in America. It has become more and more apparent that Trump’s ideologies may be reflecting in his actions as POTUS.But it hasn’t only been Trump’s behavior that has made the first year of this Era disturbing and shocking but its been his reactions to the horrible and tragic events throughout the year including protests, shootings, and hurricane devastation.
Charlottesville was a turning point. The protest turned violent and deadly, the POTUS fumbled and went back and forth on his own response to the events. The ‘Unite the Right’ rally featured white supremacists, who try to camouflage their hate and identity with terms such as ‘white nationalist’, protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Counter protestors were present and violence quickly ensued. Finally, counter-protestor Heather D. Heyer was killed when a white nationalist plowed his car into the crowd.
Trump’s response was inappropriate and strange. I think his words will be highlighted and remembered forever as he said there was blame “…on many sides.” This did not make sense, it still doesn’t. Suddenly people who do not believe in hate, racism, and bigotry were equated with white supremacists? Both parties were somehow guilty? This is when I think America finally began to understand where the POTUS stood in terms of hate, racism, and bigotry if they hadn’t already clued in with his behavior before the presidency. It was so apparent when his quick on the draw tweets and responses were delayed…possibly for once a response was being thought over by Trump himself before coming out of his mouth.
Personally, I was not surprised by Trump’s response but I was devastated by the violence and death. I have been conducting research since then on white supremacist groups. My findings are horrifying and I am now more aware than ever that America may have to again fight against racism (a never-ending fight) on a publically large-scale level similar to that of the civil rights movements of the 1960’s. (Oftentimes I found that white supremacist groups say they are not racists but just have certain beliefs regarding who should be a recognized citizen, including who should have rights, which for them means only specific people of white European-descent. Their definition of what an ‘American’ is, rests solely on their beliefs of race) Not only have I realized this but as a college student, I have been approached by multiple people who tell me I am being brainwashed to become a liberal.
After some research on this theory, I learned that the infamous Ben Shapiro has written a book on this ‘brainwashed liberal’ concept among many other self-proclaimed conservatives. Ben Shapiro actually came to my University this year and gave a talk, it was highly protested and at the same time, his supporters (fellow students) were large in numbers which is unsettling and disturbing. I recognize now that since this event my campus has felt completely different. I have also noticed how Salt Lake City’s local news appears to have their own biases about events such as this. This is not new and it has become harder and harder to find a reasonably unbiased news source that will tell the truth and report what happened without taking their own spin on stuff. This little theory (liberals are brainwashed) is not new but has been present for a very long time. But this is the first year ever, in the six years I have been a college student that anyone has told me this. Now I am left feeling confused and offended. I have worked my ass off to graduate next spring. I have had to save my own money, pay my own tuition, and just this year take out two small loans so I can graduate. To be told that somehow my education is brainwashing me is humorous and ridiculous.
If being taught that diversity and unity among all peoples regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, and religion (to name a few) is wrong, this belief only tells me that people opposed to a higher education don’t believe that our society can function if it is diverse. I am assuming here that being deemed a ‘brainwashed liberal’ means that I am being brainwashed to believe in equality and rights for everyone; brainwashed to believe it is possible that one day people will be judged on the quality of their character not the color of their skin, sexual orientation, gender, or religious or cultural background.
Higher education isn’t available to everyone and is treated as more of a commodity than anything else and I can understand how this commodity can be manipulated to indoctrinate young adults into particular beliefs and ideologies both pro-diversity and against. But it does not makes sense to me that a higher education means I am being brainwashed. If anything I have been taught to read carefully, analyze, extrapolate, and critique everything that is available to me. After all of this, I am encouraged to give my own response, pull from own experience and education, and ultimately think. It should be noted that at my own university there are Ben Shapiro and Trump supporters and possibly even white nationalists. I am never forced to believe anything, I am given the opportunity to choose, as I think most people do. I am taught to think critically. I am also continuously taught to question my own education, including my university. If being brainwashed means to question everything, think critically, and believe in possibility then fine. I would rather be deemed a brainwashed liberal just because I have a higher education than believe everything on the news, believe the words of our POTUS, believe conspiracy theories in circulation and believe in the fear of change. I never proclaimed myself a liberal but have been labeled one from the very beginning. If this is what I am recognized as by those labeling me then so be it.
Also, If having Trump as POTUS is what it takes for the U.S. to wake up and realize we need to address specific issues that have continued to be swept under the rug or falsely believed to be ‘solved’ then so be it. This is the time for change to happen. This is not a time to be silent and pretend that something isn’t already happening in our country. The political turmoil, the continual protests on “both sides”, the issue of sexual harassment, these events are crucial in understanding that right now is not the time to stick our heads in the sand. We must be vocal and supportive and uphold the rights that we have worked so long and so hard to gain as Americans. If a diverse society cannot be, or cannot function, if a belief in rights and equality for all people in this country is not possible then our country would be exactly the same as it was in previous centuries. If it is not possible then why did change happen in the past?
Ultimately with everything that has happened this year and my own personal experiences, I have come to the conclusion that there it is no survival but endurance.
This is already a long post, and if you’ve read this far I want to thank you for your time. It has been difficult trying to put my thoughts into words and try to come to some kind of conclusion. If I do not stop now I could go on for pages about these two topics forever. How I feel now versus at the beginning of the year has changed that’s true but I find myself instilled with even more passion than before. I have more courage now to write.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my writing. I hope you will return in the future.
To my regular readers and loyal followers Thank you so much for your support.