Bigotry Makes Me Scared To Put My Liberal Views On Display

by Kristen Mae
Originally Published: 
A Black Lives Matter sign sits in a window behind a memorial for Charleena Lyles at the apartment bu...
A Black Lives Matter sign sits in a window behind a memorial for Charleena Lyles at the apartment building in which she was killed on June 20, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. David Ryder/Getty

On just about every block in my neighborhood, at least one house boasts a Trump 2020 sign in the front yard. One enthusiastic supporter even flies his Trump 2020 flag on a tall pole right alongside the American Flag, as if America and Trump are synonymous. Driving anywhere in my town, it is not uncommon to see pickup trucks with Trump stickers, or the pro-police black and white American flag with the blue line in the middle of it, or stickers proudly supporting the Second Amendment, even with explicitly violent messages like “Gun control means hitting your target“ or “If you can read this you’re in range.”

I’m a liberal. I believe Black Lives Matter. I’m queer. I don’t think a person’s uterus should ever, ever be legislated. I am in favor of democratic socialism — the popular adoption of policies that promote equity. Do I subscribe to every single progressive agenda? No, but it’s fair to say I’m a bleeding heart liberal. A progressive. A snowflake.

And proud of it.

But you damn sure will not find any evidence of my liberalism in my yard or on my car or on my clothing. Why not? Simple. Because I’m scared. Because liberal friends who have posted liberal or progressive signage on their house or car have had their property damaged. At best, their signs get stolen or defaced. At worst, they themselves are verbally or even sometimes physically attacked.

It’s fascinating to me, and by fascinating, I mean terrifying, that in a country like the United States, a supposedly free country whose most sacred liberty is the freedom of speech, one side of the political spectrum could be afraid for their physical safety when it comes to expressing their political views. In a country supposedly so free as ours, I would expect that people with opposing ideologies would be able to have a reasonable discussion about their views, perhaps even arguments, but that they’d never, ever fear for their physical safety. And yet this absolutely is not the case.

Robert Alexander/Getty

I find it ironic that the side that is supposedly most in favor of personal liberty, most pro-constitutional rights, is the side that makes it clear they can kill you if you disagree with them. Their sense of rightness is not merely a stance of having ideas they hold dear—it is aggressive and violent.

To be clear, I know that not every Trump supporter is violent. I also know that not every single person who calls themself a progressive is free from guilt. But I am convinced that the most violently political are Trump supporters. Many progressives like me feel that it is dangerous for us to express our political views. Pro Trump people are proud to visibly show their support. They’re not scared, and yet many progressives are, and rightly so. I wonder why the rest of the political right has done nothing to collect their people, or why they don’t question where their loyalties lie.

A friend of mine was shopping at Walmart one day a couple of weeks ago and was approached by a man wearing a Trump hat. My friend was wearing a rainbow watch, and the man came up behind her and verbally accosted her, telling her homosexuality was an abomination and she was going to hell and would have to “answer to god.” When she moved away from him, he moved on to another customer who wasn’t wearing a watch but, like my friend, was wearing a mask to cover her mouth and nose. The man accosted her too, telling her the virus was a government hoax and asking her why she was wearing a mask.

The man in Fort Myers, Florida who threateningly shouted “I feel threatened!” at a woman in Costco was wearing a shirt that said “Running the world since 1776.” This is not a shirt a progressive would wear. It’s fair to say it’s extremely likely this man is team Trump.

And then there’s… this guy.

A friend of mine just endured the heartbreaking experience of her mother blocking her daughter because her daughter had the audacity to call her grandmother out for posting hateful rhetoric on her Facebook wall against all liberals. This young teenager gently reminded her grandmother that when she says hateful things about liberals, she is talking about her granddaughter’s friends and family, good people whom she loves. In the Trump camp, grandparents block their grandchildren.

I refuse to believe Trump supporters don’t know about this behavior. Why do they not collect their people? Why do they not call one another out? Why is such hateful behavior tolerated? Not that it’s any surprise given the kind of hateful, divisive language Trump uses. Because he uses aggressive, stubborn dialogue and actively shuts down or fires anyone who dares question him, he encourages the same in his followers.

And so people like me are often afraid to put visible signs of their liberalism on their house or car or person. We know that people who oppose our views are angry and violent-minded like the man in Costco, in Walmart, and on the road, and we also know these people are statistically more likely to be armed. And don’t @ me with “not all Trump supporters” or “that guy is just giving good Trump supporters a bad name.” These guys are everywhere. They are menacing and hateful and violent, and every Trump supporter needs to ask themselves if that’s really the camp they want to align themselves with.

Because I would like to feel safe putting a Biden sign in my yard, and I really don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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