Out of nowhere, a man interrupted the Emergency Boston Rally, a solidarity rally in Harvard Square after President Trump signed the immigration ban Executive Order, yelling that Muslims hate and kill gay people. While this caught many protestors—including myself—by surprise, we responded quickly, and without malevolence, chanting: “No hate, no fear! No hate, no fear!”
Blatantly bigoted stereotyping opened the doors of the White House for President Trump. On his campaign trail, he fed on the fears of conservative Americans by taking individual, specific acts, and using them to characterize entire minority groups.
I remember Barack Obama’s 2004 DNC speech in which he proclaimed that “We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.” For many, this display of unity and nationalism inspired the hope that we could be more than a people fragmented, acting solely for their own benefit, and that instead we could work for the benefit of all if we inculcate ourselves with love rather than hate.
Now, more than ever, we need to remember this, and extend this quotation from Obama’s DNC speech abroad. Everybody on this earth is one people, and while we may all pledge allegiance to a different flag, or worship a different god, or have a different skin tone, we are all still people working toward the benefit of the world we live on. Because we all inhabit the same planet, rash and malicious decisions in one country—especially the United States, which is often viewed as an international leader—have severe global impacts and repercussions. Actions taken in one country are not internationally isolated.
Trump’s presidency does not serve to unite American people—let alone the people of the world—but instead separates us along the lines of race, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship status, and many other identifiers. President Trump and his policies present themselves as a hydra of hate—when one head is cut off, more grow in its place. Defeating this serpentine, acid-spitting beast is no easy feat, just as defeating the hatred spewed and normalized by President Trump will be an arduous task requiring communal effort.
At the rally, one of the speakers noted that “We need to conjure that unity” necessary to protect our fellow citizens of the world, not through hate, but through love. As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” We need to come together—to put aside our prejudices—and fight through love. If President Trump and his policies do not divide us, we will survive the next four years.
The Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches, which attracted millions of people globally, proved to unite people through intersectionality against hate. However, it is important not to forget fellow citizens, such as transgender women who felt underrepresented at the Women’s March, yet are arguably the most vulnerable and attacked women.
As more and more protests and rallies are being advertised as an effort to continue support for one another and resist President Trump, it is important to remember love. It is important to not only fight for the rights that will benefit us as individuals, but to also fight for policies that will aid others. People who are not Muslim should attend rallies for Muslim rights. Straight people should resist acts like the First Amendment Defense Act and Mike Pence’s views on conversion therapy. People who were born in the United States should battle for the rights of immigrants. Those who attend private schools must oppose Betsy DeVos even if her proposed policies will primarily impact those who attend public schools.
If the rights of one are taken away, we all lose. Self-interest, self-motivation, and selfish disregard for others put President Trump in the White House. We cannot fight him with those same strategies. One of the final speakers at the Emergency Rally quoted Wael Ghonim, stating that “The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power.” Together, we can preserve each other’s rights in the face of hate, but only if we work together and for each other.
The heckler at the Emergency Boston Rally may have believed he was advocating for gay rights when he intruded with Islamophobic speech. However, we cannot condone such actions when fighting for our rights. The fight for the rights of one community should be equal to the fight for the rights of any other. The United States is a melting pot of peoples and cultures. That is what makes the United States special. There is no room for hate, there is no room for fear. Everyone is welcome here.
Elijah T. Ezeji-Okoye ’20 is a Crimson editorial writer living in Wigglesworth Hall.