Titles, and being bigger than them

64693880cfe34592ee29b82b881c9a9aI’m part of an author’s group. It’s truly a wonderful resource to help a writer figure out if he or she wants to seek traditional publishing, go independent, and even who to hire for editing and design. Really, I’ve been so impressed with my fellow authors, their experiences, and their drive to see their books in print. We’re a wide range of people and, aside from writing, we don’t necessarily have a lot in common. We’re from several countries, from all races and classes, and we write in nearly every genre from non-fiction, to literary fiction, to sci fi and fantasy. It’s a bottomless resource.

Lately, though, I’m finding there’s one thing I disagree strongly with most of them on. There’s been a running thread, a fairly one sided discussion really, about how political agendas and opinions have no place on an author’s platform. The thought being that authors are alienating half of their potential readers by expressing any partisan ideas. However, with everything that has been going on in the new regime, there are some things more important than book sales and courting an audience. Some things, like human rights, inclusion, equality, and free speech are more important than money or fame. Some things are bigger than one career, bigger than pleasing everyone.

There are parts of me that I will not hide, just as there are ideals of mine that I will not keep quiet. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am the daughter of an immigrant, the mother of two beautiful blue eyed bilingual babies. I am the granddaughter of a Lao king whose family was forced into camps by communists. No one, not a single soul in the older generation, talks openly about their experiences there. My cousins and I knew a few details; there was hunger, there was extreme poverty, there was a need to escape as quickly and quietly as possible. The family scattered. Some ended up in France, some in the USA, some in other European countries. Their father stayed behind. My dad was able to visit him once before we lost him, and I’ll never forget the sadness I witnessed in him after that trip. I was too young to understand it, too young to be able to fathom the depth of longing for family that a person feels after a separation that long and a reunion that short. My father had built himself a beautiful life from hard work, had a wife and daughter that his father was never able to see.

Yes, I am an author but that may be one of the least important titles I hold. Recently, I became a resister. I am quite proud of that.

Yes, I am proud to be an American, proud of my mother’s family’s roots which were established in colony soil in the 1600s. They came over from England, and we have been here ever since. I am also proud to say loudly, repetitively that though Trump may hold the title of President, it has no meaning to me. He is #notmypresident. He is a caricature of a super villain more appropriate to DC comics than the highest office he holds. He is a new age, technology dependent oligarch in the vein of Hitler.

And, frankly, I’m sick of people not recognizing that or saying it’s a dramatization. It’s not. Any time someone tries to limit the reach or authority of the media, it’s a bad, bad thing. Think of this from the Holocaust Encyclopedia, “The elimination of the German multi-party political system not only brought about the demise of hundreds of newspapers produced by outlawed political parties; it also allowed the state to seize the printing plants and equipment of the Communist and Social Democratic Parties, which were often turned over directly to the Nazi Party. In the following months, the Nazis established control or exerted influence over independent press organs.” Another huge red flag is Trump’s fear mongering concerning Mexicans, Muslims, and refugees. NPR said, “From the beginning, Hitler and his followers were convinced that the Jewish people posed a deadly threat to all that was noble in humanity. In the apocalyptic Nazi vision, these putative enemies of civilization were represented as parasitic organisms — as leeches, lice, bacteria, or vectors of contagion. “Today,” Hitler proclaimed in 1943, “international Jewry is the ferment of decomposition of peoples and states, just as it was in antiquity. It will remain that way as long as peoples do not find the strength to get rid of the virus.” Trump said to Minnesota voters, “How stupid are they to allow this to happen? … Here in Minnesota, you’ve seen first-hand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without  your support or approval, and with some of them then joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over our country and all over the world.” All untrue, but we’re at the point where we have to ask ourselves if the truth matters or if what people hear and believe matters.

I asked my husband the other day how much worse it has to get before people in government walk out, before they can’t be a party to the hate and fear. Then, though, all one has to do is look at the cabinet candidates Trump has surrounded himself with, including a known racist and anti-Semite, to see that scenario won’t happen. These people would not be ashamed of the overt discrimination by their leader.

I, however, am ashamed. I am standing up, speaking out, holding out my hand to those I know who are Muslim, who are refugees, who are as American as I despite our differences. You belong here. You make us better, brighter, more diverse. That is the America I know. That is the America I want to make certain my daughters know. I saw a tweet the other day that asked, “How long until we’re hiding people in our attics?” I’m terrified that it will come to that, and I’m terrified future generations will study this time in history and ask, “How could this have happened?”

I will say that I don’t know, that even though I saw it I am as equally confused, that I fought it. And that is more important than getting you to buy my books.

 

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