Before I leave office, I’d like to send you something to make sure you know how grateful I am to have had you by my side over these past eight years.
I will always appreciate how you’ve stood by me to fight for the change we believed in, to celebrate remarkable victories — and to face down insurmountable obstacles, too. You’ve been a part of everything we’ve achieved during my time in office, and I know you’ll continue to stand with our party and the movement we’ve built together for the fights ahead.
Claudia, I hope you know how proud I am of you.
Sign up today so I can send you a note to say thanks:
Never forget what we did together.
Regrettably, my first thought upon reading the above email, which I received today, was “Why does ‘he’ want my mailing address?” My second thought was, “The last thing I want is my name and physical address on a list that Putin will steal and then hand over to Trump just as his administration is hitting its stride.” Why the last thing I want? Because I’m scared.
When Barack Obama won the presidency, many on the disenfranchised Right were upset. They were angry and bewildered at how it was possible that a black man could be elected to lead all the good, white folks. Some were vindictive; some were vehement. I heard a lot of different emotions after that election, but one thing I didn’t hear was fear. White people weren’t afraid that the NRA membership list would be stolen and disseminated far and wide. None were afraid that some lunatic would find their names on that list and set out to stalk and ultimately kill them. I’m confident that none of them dreamed that the administration itself would order the roundup of individuals on that list.
Call them alarmists (you might be right) but people, lots of people I know are, in fact, frightened that first the lunatics (they have guns, after all) will begin to take pot shots at known or suspected “environMENTALists”, as the rural-Right likes to call those who believe human beings have not only a duty but also a desperate need to protect this planet we call “home.” Some liberal thinking people fear that the authorities will look the other way while random attacks go uninvestigated and unpunished. Next comes loosely organized but tightly impassioned attacks against the Left. Ultimately, yes, those who have read their history fear that the government, itself, will institutionalize oppression and violence against those who are in disagreement with its doctrine and its precepts.
Warsaw, Sarajevo, Beirut, Baghdad, Aleppo: all were thriving cities populated by normal people living normal lives. Then rumors started filtering in. Goods started to become scarce. Still, the people carried on with their lives the best way they could. Armed men became a common, if anxious, site in the streets. A shot was heard. More shots were heard. People stayed out of the streets as much as they could. But still they lived on. Those who could, vacated. Those who couldn’t, learned to scrounge. Fighting intensified. More people fled. Months turned into years. Already some children couldn’t remember a time before the siege, the violence, the fear. It all happened rather slowly and everyday the new norm became the old norm that would be supplanted the following day.
I’m afraid; it’s true. Perhaps it won’t come to the dire straits of the likes of Sarajevo and Aleppo, but still I worry. In random places I have heard giddy talk of turning the country back sixty years, of putting “those people in their place” once again. If the Trump administration begins to identify, catalog, and monitor Muslim-Americans, I guess we’ll be going back a little further than sixty years…back to the internment of Japanese-Americans. If Muslim-Americans can be sanctioned as “undesirable other,“ so can African-Americans, and homosexual-Americans. How about adulterer-Americans? Anyone for a scarlet letter? Just how far back will we go? Where will the list end and the persecution start? More importantly where will the persecution end and the healing start?