Suddenly the poor are the enemy – but with a difference. It’s not those who used to describe themselves as middle class and who now see themselves as poor – disenfranchised by the decline of manufacturing or the erosion of the middle class. It’s extended to those who are different – different in skin colour, different in religion, different in language, different in culture, different in sexual orientation – and different in gender – not only trans gender.
Fear of the stranger has always been with us and it seems to be part of human nature as a form of self protection going back to very primitive times. But what we are seeing now is a demonization of the “other”. As a person who tries to practise a Christian faith, it is particularly disturbing to find myself in any way identified as part of this group, when I could not be further from the belief and practice of the Christian fundamentalist right. In contrast, I count myself blessed to be part of a local community that includes all the people others appear to be so frightened of. It is our common humanity that enriches us.
Where does one go with this? Two New York Times have different prescriptions this morning. One columnist says be careful not to demonize the voters rather than the policy makers in the face of all this – and I agree. Another says one has to stand up for the bigotry and hatred that the policy makers are supporting – and I agree with that too.
We will have to stand up in our own ways. But sitting this one out is not an option.