After the election I’ve seen quite a few articles trying to rationalise what just happened, and a common trope was that reflecting some sort of liberal guilt — that we’ve somehow failed to reach out to the other half of America, to hold them within our arms of tolerance as we claim to hold people from minority groups. I say “we” because it is clear that my world view leans very much liberal, even as I am not an American.
I feel that this stems from a misunderstanding of tolerance. Tolerance is not an attitude extended blindly out to everyone, especially people who insist on hating certain groups of people because of their identities. Clearly, there is no room for both attitudes to co-exist; tolerating prejudiced attitudes sends a signal of condonance, implicitly expressing approval for these expressions of hate that very much decrease the quality of life of people these expressions are targetted at.
Hate is very much an active, invasive action; it seeks to expand the space of the group who expresses it, and reduce the space of the other.
As such, there is a similarity between the concepts of tolerance and free speech — while free speech, on the surface, means that everyone should be free to say anything they want, speech that aims to silence someone else contradicts that principle, and hence should not be included in the protections the law affords. It’s a violation of the social contract, where we strive to gain collective security by surrendering some of our freedoms. Simply put, hate speech should be outlawed, in a society that promotes free speech.
Another issue that this election has exposed is the appalling absence of checks for candidates running for political office in the USA. If we give citizenship tests to immigrants who want to become citizens of the country, how can we not have any sort of vetting criteria for the most powerful office in the most powerful nation of the world? Democracy is the best system of legitimacy we have, alright, but surely it is flawed democracy if there are no safeguards to prevent such an ignominious man and probably criminal from being considered in the first place, much less be elected. Perhaps it is a difficult, even impossible, job to get voters to care about the truth of rumours, but tests to ensure a BASIC knowledge of the political process and the economy’s mechanisms for everyone who wishes to run for president are surely easy enough to implement. SURELY. Not to mention, candidates who do not have a criminal record, and have no pending trials for crimes they might be found guilty of. Heaven knows, every other job vets potential employees thoroughly for criminal backgrounds; and yet the highest office in America doesn’t? What kind of joke is this? Now that attaining the office of president means that this man is above the law for crimes an ordinary person could go to jail for, it really makes a joke of judicial law.
To elect a man who acts on IMPULSE, who lacks so much knowledge in what he is going to have power over, as president, that is the very definition of DANGER.
And of course I can tell myself, well, I’m not in America, I don’t have to care so much — not about the minorities, women, and immigrants who will now have to fear for their future. Sure, except because America enjoys so much power, many countries’ futures are arguably at stake, not to mention the freaking environment which affects the not so distant future of our planet. As a couple of world wars have shown, it only takes a few crazy, power-hungry men to fuck over the world.