By Nate Terani –
In these divisive times in America, Donald J. Trump, by touting an unparalleled and unrivaled amount of bigotry, racism, and hatred, has indeed, though not as he may have intended, “Made America Great Again.” How? You may ask. The answer is simple. People from all races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds have been stirred, en masse, in their opposition to Mr. Trump’s hate-filled, nationalistic, and fascist rhetoric. The world has seen this type of rhetoric before, many times, in many different forms spewed by dictators and tyrants. Which is why whites, blacks, Latinos, baby boomers, millennials, rich and poor alike are united in opposition to Mr. Trump.
Americans who would never have imagined themselves being protesters or willingly subjecting themselves to public scrutiny are, many for the first time in their lives, willing to risk physical assault and possible police detention to stand up with one voice, united in cause, bound by patriotism, to speak out against Mr. Trump’s ode to tyrants in his hate speech.
I can attest to this first-hand. I am a 9½-year veteran of the U.S. military, having served as a member of the U.S. Navy Presidential Honor Guard, special assistant to the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, and a member of Military Intelligence with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). In my military career, I have held a number of high-level security clearances and never, ever believed in rocking the boat or, as I used to say, becoming a “hippie protester.” However, in coming to the national political scene, Donald Trump changed me forever. The vile malice of his rhetoric fanned a flame of righteous indignation within my heart as I had rarely known – and I am not alone.
I began to research ways that I might become more active in my protest to Mr. Trump’s incitement of violence and spreading of xenophobia. I discovered that a group of military veterans called Veterans for Peace was addressing Mr. Trump’s hate speech in a campaign called Veterans Challenge Islamophobia (VCI). VCI had been assembled relatively recently in an effort by U.S. military veterans to stand up for religious freedom, stand against discrimination, and shine a light on the hatred and violence being heaped upon members of the American Muslim community. It was through Veterans Challenge Islamophobia that I met fellow veterans, educators, tradesmen, college students, of all backgrounds, who had joined in pure in solidarity against Mr. Trump’s incitement towards violence and the cancer of hate speech.
On March 19, 2016, Mr. Trump was due to deliver a campaign speech at a rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona, and Veterans Challenge Islamophobia planned to meet him head-on. I was joined by a diverse coalition of four fellow activists, new to the scene, but united in purpose. Our plan was to peacefully demonstrate inside the Trump rally by holding banners that read: “VETS TO TRUMP: STOP HATE SPEECH AGAINST MUSLIMS.” Which we did, successfully and very publicly.
The story made headlines around the country and I braced for the impending torrential downpour of hatred, threats, and violence I was sure would follow… But, the hate never came, not a threat, barely an insult. Overwhelmingly, the messages and correspondence I received were messages of love, support and congratulations.
While the media has, largely, been illustrating our divides as a people, I realized that our nation, in a very real way, has actually become united, putting away petty past differences and indifference to evoke an image of a United States of America with no tolerance for rising tyrants and merchants of hate.
While the Trump candidacy has brought out some of the worst of human nature’s will towards intolerance and bigotry, that nature is greatly blunted by the immense unity in the hearts of the un-silent majority, fearless and standing up together for equality and a better future; free of the Trumps of the world. We are rising together and declaring, that never in America will we abide the likes of Mr. Trump as our leader, and we are doing it united as never before. Truly, America is great again and we have Donald J. Trump to thank for it.