Gloria DiFulvio: Where will you draw the line?


Published: 12-23-2016 3:39 PM

In a post-election Facebook post, Dan Rather had this to say: “Now is a time when none of us can afford to remain seated or silent. We must all stand and be counted.” The challenges we face after the election are beyond party and politics he continued. “Right now, we must decide which side of history we are on.” His words echo in my mind.

After reading his statement, take a moment, grab a pen and paper. Write down what you stand for. What are your aspirations for democracy? For those who say, “Let’s wait and see,” when will you have waited long enough? What line do you draw where, once crossed, you will stand up and speak out?

I believe in creating a nation where justice for all is achieved. I envision a country where freedom of expression is encouraged as essential to our democracy. I want a world where leaders seek peace and cooperation rather than isolationism. When reflecting on my values and observing Trump’s actions, I know he has crossed my line.

Trump’s racist and misogynistic rhetoric has created a culture of fear, intolerance, and incivility. Incidents of hate crimes across the country have risen dramatically post-election. His silence in response is action.

Choosing Steve Bannon, as his national strategist, the man who gave white supremacists a platform, is evidence to say “Enough!” Nominating Jeff Sessions for attorney general, a man too racist to be confirmed as a federal judge under a Republican Congress in 1986, showed me Trump’s priority — a federal policy that threatens the fundamental rights of those most vulnerable. At what point will you stand against hatred and bigotry?

Truth in a post-Trump world is at risk. Our president-elect has taken to Twitter to espouse lies and threaten penalties for dissent. When Boeing dared to subtly challenge him, Trump threatened “… future Air Force One costs are out of control, more than $4 billion dollars. Cancel Order!” (The cost is actually $170 million to design a replacement for the two Air Force Ones used by the president). Boeing’s stocks tanked in response.

After Trump claimed to save 1,100 jobs for the Carrier plant in Indiana, union leader Chuck Jones, told the truth: Trump saved 800 jobs. Some 550 people would soon be unemployed. Our president-elect chastised the union organizer, “… he has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!”

An onslaught of threats and intimidation by Trump’s online trolls followed. Trump’s silence against this harassment makes him complicit in its purpose and is a threat to our democracy.

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Trump repeatedly repudiates a free press. His tweet on Dec. 11 is just one example of this. “Just watched @NBCNightlyNews – So biased, inaccurate and bad … Just can’t get much worse, although @CNN is right up there!”

I don’t view his words as those of a “thin-skinned” man (though he is). The continued attacks are a strategic effort to make us question truth and weaken democracy. He has crossed my line. At what point, will you say enough? What will it take for you to act to preserve the basic tenets of our democracy?

The latest news of Russian interference in our election has me deeply concerned. In July, Trump publicly called on Russia to hack Clinton’s emails. They did! And now Trump calls the evidence ridiculous and questions the CIA’s validity.

He refuses the president’s daily briefing signaling complete disinterest in issues of national security. He appointed Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil, as secretary of state — choosing business deals over diplomacy. Are you concerned about foreign affairs? Our national security? What more will it take for your wait to be over?

On Nov. 9th, the reality of the political earthquake settled in. At times, I’ve felt powerless in the face of this travesty. But I will not succumb to inaction. There is too much at stake. I’ve committed to remaining informed, reading all I can about the state of the country and world. I’ve hosted house meetings to organize locally with people who are equally concerned.

I’ve prioritized two areas for laser focus: maintaining a free press and expanding voting rights. I’ve contacted my U.S. senators, representatives, and state attorney general to thank them for their commitments to justice. I’ve financially supported news sources, especially those that have come under attack by the president-elect. My line was crossed long ago and I will not be silent.

I ask you, look back at your own inventory. How will you know when your line has been crossed? What will you do when that happens?

Gloria DiFulvio, a former member of the Hadley Select Board, is a faculty member in public health at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.