Most Trump voters aren’t racist, but hopefully they can understand …

Three days after the election, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are still dominated by post-election chatter.

A well-written, insightful piece by college student Cassie Hewlett has popped up numerous times on my feed, shared by numerous friends who were Trump voters. Cassie states it perfectly:

With the results of the presidential election stirring up a vast amount of emotions, I think it is important to clarify something: just because I am Republican does not mean I am heartless.

She is right. I was heartbroken when a student of mine came to class feeling like she could not express her happiness with the election results in classrooms because academia is – let’s face it – dominated by liberals. And claims like “Trump voters are racist, sexist, homophobic” caused her to naturally become defensive, because she is not any of these.

Harsh rhetoric automatically shuts down any chance of conversation. It makes one automatically defensive.

Ironically, the frustration expressed by many Trump voters of being labeled “racist” comes from the same emotional place as the anxiety expressed by those disappointed in the election results. So many of my minority  (racially, religiously and sexuality) friends are posting messages of genuine fear and a sense that they don’t belong in America. These feelings stem from the harsh rhetoric Trump has used at one point in the campaign, for instance saying most Mexican immigrants are “rapists and murderers” or calling for a complete ban on Muslims.

Again, harsh rhetoric automatically shuts down any chance of conversation. It makes one automatically defensive.

For us to truly come together, those of us who dislike Trump need to stop applying blanket labels to his voters. And Trump voters need to understand that many minorities are scared, not because their candidate lost, but because of a genuine fear that has been instituted by the past rhetoric of our President-elect.

Please, tell someone who is genuinely afraid that you respect them, support them, love them and that you will be there for them.

I cried this morning, but not for me

I cried this morning, but not for me.

As an upper-middle class, gainfully employed, relatively healthy, Asian/white male, I will do great under a Trump presidency.

I cried for my Latino friends, like my 9-year-old son’s friend who last spring in 2nd grade was fearful he would have to go “back” to Mexico, a place he doesn’t ever remember being.

I cried for my black friends, who for the first time since before the Civil Rights movement, have a President who refused to strongly denounce the support of the Ku Klux Klan, and who believes stopping and frisking them for no reason is an excellent crime-fighting tool.

I cried for my sick friends — those with “pre-existing” conditions –who now face the prospect of losing their health insurance, again.

I cried for my gay friends, who now will have a vice president who truly believes their sexuality is an illness and supported conversion therapy as a legislature.

I cried for my Muslim friends, who will face the prospect of being deported simply for their religious beliefs.

I cried for my female friends, like my wife, who have worked so hard to break gender stereotypes, who now have a President who finds it totally appropriate to judge women solely on their looks and use them as sexual objects.

I cried for my children, who will grow up under a President who thinks its OK to bully others you disagree with, calling them names and using social media as a bullying tool.

I’ll be OK. It’s my friends I’m worried about.

It’s Time to Ban Semiautomatic Weapons

Originally published on Athens Patch on Dec. 17, 2012.

Like all parents of young children, I was shaken by the tragedy in Connecticut, especially as the events unfolded while my kids were at their own elementary school.

I cannot imagine the pain the parents of the victims must be feeling, and hope the outpouring of support from the nation lets them know they are not alone in their mourning.

Since the tragedy, much has been written and said trying to make sense of the events of Dec. 14, and the seemingly increasing senseless violence in our country. Over the past six years, the United States has seen some of its worst mass murders in history:

•April 16, 2007 – Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., 32 killed;

•Dec. 5, 2007 – Westroads Mall, Omaha, Neb., 8 killed;

•Feb. 14, 2008 – Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., 5 killed;

•April 3, 2009 – American Civic Association in Binghamton, NY, 13 killed;

•Nov. 5, 2009 – Fort Hood, Texas, 13 killed;

•Aug. 3, 2010 – Harford Beer Distributor in Manchester, Conn., 8 killed;

•Jan. 8, 2011 – Rep. Gabriel Giffords appearance in Tuscon, Ariz., 6 killed;

•July 20, 2012 – Movie Theater in Aurora, Colo., 12 killed;

•Aug. 5, 2012 – Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis., 6 killed;

•Dec. 14, 2012 – Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., 26 killed.

Each event featured one sole assailant, and these murderers of the 129 victims have one thing in common — they all used legally purchased semiautomatic weapons to conduct their killing sprees. In nine of the 10 cases, the semiautomatic guns were purchased by the perpetrator himself (the Westroads Mall shooter stole the gun from his stepfather). Assault weapons serve one main purpose — to kill multitudes in a short amount of time. It’s how 10 killers single-handedly murdered 129 people in the aforementioned tragedies.

In 1994, with overwhelming bipartisan support, the federal government passed an assault weapons ban. The ban expired in 2004. During the 10 years the law was in place, there were eight mass shootings resulting in 51 deaths. According to the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, six of the eight massacres involved semiautomatic weapons purchased legally before the assault weapons ban took effect in 1994. The two mass shootings featuring illegally acquired weapons — Columbine in 1999 and Edgewater Technology in 2000 — resulted in 20 combined deaths.

Doing the math, over the past 18 years, mass shootings involving legally purchased assault weapons resulted in 160 innocent deaths, while mass shootings involving illegally purchased assault weapons resulted in 20 deaths.

Obviously, assault weapons and the ease of purchasing them is not the sole reason 160 people have lost their lives. However, one cannot deny the link between the spike in mass killings and the expiration of the assault weapons ban.

For the 20 children shot multiple times in a matter of minutes last Friday; for the 129 murdered over the past eight years by legally purchased semiautomatic weapons; and to reduce a legitimate threat to safety of all Americans, the government needs to restore a ban on semiautomatic weapons.

9-9-9. Yes We Can. Got Details?

Recent polls suggest that Herman Cain may emerge as the Republican nominee. Cain arose from obscurity with a flash — in the form of three numbers, 9-9-9. It’s a catchy phrase, albeit the thought behind it seems a little too simplistic to solve the nation’s budget problems. But Obama showed that sometimes it’s the flash that counts. Got Hope? Yes We Can. Got substance? Not quite.

It’s a disturbing problem with American politics, and it’s not all the politicians fault. We live in a soundbite society. Despite three 24-hour all-news channels, American media — and the American public — is drawn to the soundbite.

Want details on a three-tiered plan to pare down the nation’s deficit and reform the tax code? Boring. 9-9-9!

Want information on how we can change the course the country has been taking the past eight years? Yawn. Yes We Can!

But it’s not all the media’s fault.

The internet has allowed us to access an endless flow of information. Smartphones give us the opportunity to access that information from virtually anywhere. Putting these elements together, one would think that our electorate would increasingly become more educated about their candidates, forcing them to give more details on their websites.

But the information explosion has backfired on our political process. Perhaps because of an information overload — fun distractions like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — our brains cannot handle the capacity to discern American politics. So we fall on the catchy phrases and the unachievable promises.

So whose fault is it? Perhaps we should look in the mirror and think about our priorities. Before you get mad, consider this less popular slogan from the Barry Goldwater campaign, “In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right.”