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American Values

November 10, 2016

At one point last night, I thought I was having a heart attack. My chest hurt so much I could hardly breath. I found myself lying in bed thinking that this election repudiated American values ... Americans have elected a man who makes racism, bigotry, fear of immigrants, antisemitism, misogyny and sexual harassment of women acceptable. I thought those were not American values. And sometime today, I realized I had it wrong. This election repudiated MY values. All the things Trump represents and encourages are American values. They pervade our history, as a country and for many of us, as individuals.


Why do I say this? Here’s some perspective on how I was exposed to these values in my early years.I grew up in a small city in central Pennsylvania. My parents weren't obvious racists but our only interaction with black people was only as maids or service people. That was OK, as long as they didn't get uppity. My city had an active chapter of the KKK. We had race riots, and a mayor later indicted for murder during those riots.

 

And it wasn't just the black people, One winter break from college, I wanted to go to New York and visit college friends and my mother had a fit about my wanting to go see those G-D Jews in New York.

 

My father, whom I adored, bragged to all his friends about the A's on my report card and encouraged my interest in science. However, when I studied chemistry in college many people tried to talk me out of it. It wasn't fitting for a woman. When I went for my PhD, my father asked me if I planned to be a student forever.


From an early age I frequently heard albums of bawdy songs --- so often I remember the words to several of them --- "Roll me over in the clover. Roll me over, lay me down and do it again." Women were only good for one thing ,,, "Get off the table, Mable ... the 2 bucks are for beer!" I think I was a teenager when there was a news item about a woman who sued her husband for a vicious rape. My father swore nastily and said that she married him, she ought to put out. And then there was the incident when I was molested at work and told by my supervisor that I should be glad the guy considered me pretty enough to molest. Is it any wonder I spent years in therapy trying to deal with both my sexuality and my intellect. Any wonder that I am unmarried and have no children (of my own). I won't go in to all the crap I've encountered in career as a strong professional woman,


How I became the person I am, with totally different values, I don't know. I have been fortunate to travel extensively for work and pleasure. I now consider myself a citizen of the world, I love going places I haven't been before. I find other cultures fascinating. As I've traveled the world, one thing I have learned is that people are people --- whatever color they are, language they speak, clothing they wear, or food they eat. Other cultures aren't right or wrong, they are just different. I consider myself fortunate to live in the Mt. Airy neighborhood in Philadelphia. It's a model of how an integrated neighborhood can work. I am fortunate to have friends that are Black, White, Asian, European, gay, young, and old …


And this is why I find Donald Trump and his rabid supporters (not all of them) so repugnant. He embodies all the "values" I have somehow moved beyond. He has condoned, if not encouraged, hate crimes and vile treatment of women and minorities. My fear is not for me anymore. Now I'm too old to be considered "pretty enough" to molest. My concern is for my black and gay and latino friends who will certainly be subject to stop and frisk and more harassment. For the poor women who will have no access to mammograms and health screenings when he defunds Planned Parenthood. And mostly it's for the young girls who will have to deal with all the same sexist crap I did growing up.

 

Just needed to get this out of my system.

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