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Opposing Kaliyuga in America

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It still feels like a nightmare that I keep trying, and hoping, to wake up from.

Its been 48 hours since the election of —I cant even bring myself to say his name—so like Harry Potter and his friends fighting for the triumph of good over evil, I’ll refer to him-who-must-not-be named as the Dark Lord.

What is really getting my goat—beyond the obvious dawning in the USA of the Kaliyuga, or the Dark Age marked by strife and conflict as predicted by Hindu scriptures (Hindutva accolytes of Trump don’t seem to realize they are wishing doom and destruction upon themselves according to their own scriptures!)—what is really upsetting me, is the normalization and naming of the Dark Lord as our legitimate leader. For Hillary Clinton to say to her fellow citizens in her concession speech that we “owe him an open mind” and for President Obama to state on an even more positive note, “”We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” is to flag our entry into an Orwellian universe in which down is up, wrong is right, and bippity-boppitty-boo: the Dark Lord is annointed the Apostle of Light of the so-called free world.

Yeah, I get it: we have these classy leaders who are modeling good behavior for the President-elect—the opposite of what he had threatened to do had the results swung the other way. And like my husband argued with me, “what do you expect Obama to do? Incite riots? He is the President of the country, for goodness sake—he must do the right and responsible thing.”

Yes, Obama is our President (sadly, only for another scant two months)– but I cannot agree with him urging us all to  “root for” his successor’s “success” . The right thing—the responsible course of action—is not to normalize the election of a racist, sexist, Islamophobic xenophobe to the highest office in the country. As Lawrence O’Donnell elaborated clearly on MSNBC on Wednesday night, also opposing this normalization of the nightmare:

Respect for the office. You will be told that you should have respect for the office of the presidency. But respect should never be given automatically. The office of the presidency has committed crimes…The office of the presidency has supported slavery. The office of the presidency has supported racist policies. The office of the presidency masterminded the genocide of the Native American tribes. There is nothing to respect in that office other than the man who occupies it [sadly, yes, only men have occupied that office to date], and no man should automatically be given respect. Respect must be earned. It must be earned or it is meaningless. Respect for the office is a phrase invented by politicians.

So President Obama is being a politician in asking us to “respect the office of the presidency”—whereas O’Donnell makes clear a sentiment millions of Americans share: “I have never once in the public record of [you-know-who’s] life seen anything that is worthy of respect.” Let us therefore refuse to become politicians, to compromise our principles!

And that is precisely why we saw so many spontaneous protests breaking out all over the country the day after the election, and continuing on. Along with some of my students I too was part of the rally in NYC that started at 5 pm in Central Park West and Broadway, and after listening to amazingly inspiring speeches about the need to unite in a fight for our very lives against the Dark Lord’s destructive plans, made by young progressives representing an array of social justice movements, accompanied by music and chanting, “He is Not My President”—we started marching toward his abode. We joined up with thousands more who had started out from Washington Square Park until the throng swelled to at least ten thousand of us, marching and chanting our refusal to legitimize other-hatred, misogyny, racism by falling prey to politician-think, to  blindly “respecting the office of the presidency” instead of the person who is president.

To all those who say, well, aren’t you advocating precisely what you would have opposed had the shoe been on the other foot–I say ofcourse! Because that “other foot” wouldn’t be, is NOT THE SAME as this, healthy one. THAT “other foot”–is gangrenous, so if I want to live, I must cut it off; just as we all need to cut off the gangrenous, cancerous, diseased part of us that is spreading at an alarming rate throughout our body politic.  Harry Potter had to kill off the Dark Lord part of him—so that what is good and ethical and right could triumph. There is no contradiction here.

That’s why I agree with Michael Moore who also joined the NYC protest on Wednesday evening and told Don Lemon of CNN in no uncertain terms, “Donald Trump must be opposed, and he must be opposed now.”

There! I said it, I took his name. Because there is nothing to fear except fear itself.

Let us continue to unite in our opposition to Trump. He will never be my president.

 

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Fawzia Afzal-Khan holds a Phd in English from Tufts University, is University Distinguished Scholar at Montclair State University in NJ, and currently a Visiting Professor of the Arts at New York University in Abu Dhabi.

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