I don’t like Donald Trump.
I don’t like Hillary Clinton, either.
This election was the worst. I know we say that after every election, amid jokes about having to choose the lesser of two evils, but this one went to an extreme that I hope to never see again in my lifetime. I vowed not to discuss politics on social media or here on my blog, and I’ve done my best to uphold that vow.
So this isn’t about politics.
It’s about something I saw on Facebook early this morning, posted by a man I have always respected. Until now.
Let me just go back for a minute and say that I think it is ridiculous to end friendships over differing political beliefs. So what if you liked Bernie or you voted for Trump or you thought Hillary was your personal savior? Big deal. I don’t care. Different strokes for different folks and all that stuff. I may think you’re an idiot from time to time, but you’ll probably think the same of me once in a while too. Good friendships can weather the occasional bouts of idiocy.
But today, I ended a friendship over something indirectly political, and I want to explain my reasoning.
This man posted a long diatribe on Facebook about the Obamas leaving the White House, and most of his vitriol was aimed at Michelle Obama. He called her a “he/she” and a “shemale” while comparing her to an ape. He said the only way she and Barack should have been allowed in the White House at all was through the servants’ entrance as slaves back in the “good old days” before the Civil War.
This is an educated man. He used impeccable grammar and punctuation as he went on to talk about getting some class and dignity in the White House. He spoke of his hopes that the new administration will punish “faggots” and deport “terrorists” and “camel-jockeys.”
I didn’t know what to say.
I don’t want to believe that people like this actually exist. I can’t even begin to comprehend that I counted this man as my friend.
Looking back over our friendship, I can remember now that he has made similar comments that I took to be jokes. Bad jokes, inappropriate and unfunny, but I excused them because I didn’t want to believe that anyone really thought those things. Felt that way.
And you know what? That makes me part of the problem.
I despise those sensitive snowflakes who take offense at every little thing and actively look for reasons to get their feelings hurt. But damn it, sometimes we have to take offense. Not because of political affiliation or because we want to be some kind of Social Justice Warriors, but because we are human beings.
I should have told my friend that his jokes were offensive and unfunny. I shouldn’t have excused him. At the very least, I should have re-evaluated our friendship. As a parent, I’ve often told my kids that “right or wrong, you are judged by the people you surround yourself with.” But I feel sick now when I realize just exactly what I have chosen to surround myself with. My silence implied approval, whether I intended it to or not.
This election has changed me. It doesn’t matter how you voted or what you believe in politically. I don’t care if you voted for Trump or Clinton because, let’s be honest, neither one was a great choice.
But if you spew hatred, you will no longer be a part of my life. Even if that hatred is part of a joke, followed by your suggestion that people need to lighten up.
Go ahead and tell me that you think about religion or sexual orientation. Talk to me about politics. Sing your praises of whichever political party you think is going to save our world. I welcome intelligent, opinionated discussion whether I agree with you or not.
But I do not welcome hate.
I don’t use the word “hate” lightly. I think it has lost its power in recent years. People whine about “haters” and make jokes about “hater-ade” and basically toss the word around until it means little more than “dislike.” But Webster’s defines it as:
intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury
Think about that. Intense hostility . . . deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.
I’m done excusing people like my former friend who is so full of hate for anyone who isn’t white, Christian, and conservative. I’m done looking the other way and staying silent when I hear unfunny jokes that try to mask hatred behind a so-called sense of humor.
Folks, this is the world we live in. Black, white. Gay, straight. Christian, Muslim.
Deal with it.
C’mon, enough is enough. It has to be.
Love wins, love always wins.– Mitch Albom