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Yesterday, I Took Time To Grieve. Today, I’m Ready For Action

As a gay, Jewish man, I’m not helpless just because America elected Trump. And neither are you

Hundreds of protestors rallying against Donald Trump gather outside of Trump Tower, November 9, 2016 in New York City. Photo by Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Like millions of Americans, I’m still in mourning. As I watched the news trickle in Tuesday night, what I was certain would be a commanding Clinton victory—every single poll, pundit, and newspaper predicted it—turned out to be more like watching a plane crash in slow motion. Only that plane was carrying my country, one that I love and respect more than I can express. As a Jewish, LGBT man, I have felt, especially over these past eight years, even more proud to call this place home. We have been moving towards more inclusion, diversity, and tolerance. And I worry that all of our progress is at risk.


[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]To be forced awake into an entirely new way of perceiving the world is painful. But I am not helpless. Neither are you.[/quote]

I've long been a political junkie. Even before the conventions, I refreshed Five Thirty Eight and the Upshot almost every hour, like an addict needing his fix. I was more invested in this election than any of my lifetime—almost embarrassingly so. I wrote articles about Hillary Clinton, donated to her campaign, spent countless hours defending and extolling her on Facebook. The stakes have never been this high, the Republican nominee never so terribly, uniquely awful. Surely the America I know would never elect this buffoon president.

But America did.

Once it became clear Hillary would lose, my first reaction was to immediately post on Facebook that I was seriously considering leaving the United States. “I say this with great sadness and gravity,” I wrote. “If Trump wins, I will be moving out of the United States. I can't stay in a country that votes for him.” I was distraught. I could not imagine living in a country that would elect this monster president. I spoke to friends who, like me, were not deeply rooted in their lives with families, careers, and other obligations. I could move. I still might do it.

With every passing hour, however, I'm sensing my emotions mutate. The shock is still there, the despair and grief now making way for anger. This is expected: the gradual unfolding of the stages of grief. Like me, I'm sure many of you have cried, experienced anxiety attacks, couldn't sleep the last two nights, barely made it through the day. I know you've reached out to friends and family members in search of comfort, consolation, solidarity. I know you've considered the unprecedented national nightmare that the next four years might bring, and how those years may irrevocably alter the fabric of our nation.

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]We are not defined by our fears, but rather by how we respond to them.[/quote]

Now I understand: I spent the past several years asleep. My personal dream was a life spent in a liberal New York City echo chamber, one that scoffed at the possibility of a Trump victory. A city comprised of so many people who’d fled smaller towns (though I was born in the city) where they were afraid they might not fit in. My home now is a safe space of like-minded individuals—but safe spaces can easily become bubbles. I knew Trump had millions of followers. But I did not understand these people and their rabid disdain for Hillary Clinton. I didn't understand their lives, or even bother to think much about why we were seeing our country through such vastly different lenses. I didn't think I had to bother, because so many Republicans had disavowed him. Surely, an overwhelming majority of people would have the common sense not to elect someone who sexually assaults women, who doesn't pay taxes, who is a pathological liar, a failed businessman, a narcissist, a Putin apologist—a list of disqualifications so long I diminish it by listing only a few here.

To be jolted from this dream, to be forced awake into an entirely new way of perceiving the world around me, is acutely painful. It gives rise to despair, makes me feel helpless. But I am not helpless. And neither are you. In these moments as we move from sleep to wakefulness, we must process our grief. And once we're done grieving—once we are fully awake—we must understand that there are better ways to channel our energies than to wallow in despair or throw in the towel or move to Canada.

We are not defined by our fears, but rather by how we respond to them. We are a resilient nation, and we have faced these struggles before. And now I've come to realize the only thing we really need to fear is our own complacency.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]We must be ready to make sacrifices of our time and energy, put aside our minor squabbles, and rise up with a collective voice.[/quote]

It's time to organize. Time we stop taking our liberties for granted, fight hard for what we believe in, and stand up for those who might be especially disadvantaged by a Trump presidency: immigrants, Muslims, minorities. We must be willing to do more than pay social media lip-service to these causes, sharing petitions, articles, and “likes” as if this somehow could ever be enough. We must be ready to make serious sacrifices of our time and our energy, put aside our differences and minor squabbles, and rise up with a collective voice to each and every threat to our values.

We must run for office, for county seats, state legislatures, even for Congress. We must be ready to engage in repeated large-scale nonviolent protest. We must disrupt: through boycotts and strikes. Protests such as the Million Woman March currently being organized for inauguration weekend in Washington, D.C. National walk-out-of-work days, for Hispanics, African Americans, LGBT people, even women. Imagine an entire day when women decided not to work, and what kind of message that could send. Instead of rallying around the idea of moving to Canada, we can rally around the idea of moving to a swing state.

We must be innovative, fearless, and relentless. Yet we must do this with compassion: trying whenever possible to forge some common ground with those people who felt like Trump was their best option, without ever sanctioning bigotry, racism, or xenophobia. Many of us may have family members or friends who voted for Trump. We cannot simply “unfriend” them now as if this will somehow make them disappear. We have to explain to them our fears, and ask them to join with us to stand up for things that they too find intolerable or unjust. We may be pleasantly surprised at their reactions when we ask.

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]I hope everyone starts asking themselves, every day, if they have done enough.[/quote]

Even as I write this, I realize how inadequate my words are in response to what has happened. Yet this is exactly what I hope everyone who reads this begins to think about: How inadequate it is to write or read an essay, or comment on it, or even share it. That’s great—but it’s only a start. I hope everyone starts asking themselves, every day, if they have done enough, or if there's more they can do. I for one have already attended meetings with friends about our next steps, and hope to organize an event in D.C. in February at the large gathering of writers for the Associated Writers and Writing Programs festival. This, too, isn’t enough. But it’s a first step. I do this—we do this—because we must. Future generations are relying on us.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Communities
Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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Politics