Message to Trump Supporters: Sorry

I am a committed to peace, and this requires me to acknowledge the dignity and worth of all humans. I fiercely defend human rights and work to promote equality. But I have a confession to make, when it comes to the people defending Donald Trump I come up short, and I must eat my crow and apologize.

I have watched people call you names, and I have been shy to come to your defense, but I should have because you deserve the respect that all people should enjoy. I get you. We do not have all of the same values, but we have enough in common that I understand. The name-calling is gratuitous; there is no reason for people to call you stupid—you have skills, you are hard working, you care about your families. I have written about the disrespect that people have shown my mother. She immigrated from Holland, and English was her fourth language, so it makes me furious when people belittle her for having an accent or occasionally slipping on word choice. Some of you misspell words or make grammatical errors, like we all do, but either way your points are clear enough.

Many liberals do act like Trump supporters are just bumbling rednecks. The truth, however, is two-fold: one, there is still no reason to be pejorative, and two, support for Trump is found in affluent neighborhoods just the same. This truth has been reported in many ways, but the trope lingers just the same. Sure, there is name-calling that goes both ways, but that is no excuse.

I get that it is hard to trust the media and the government. The lies about weapons of mass destruction were used as a fraudulent excuse to start a war for most of my adult life. Stories are sometimes spun and other times they are outright propaganda. I teach students to generally have a healthy skepticism, because I want to be vigilant against fake news, and I worry that it’s getting tougher to tell the truth from lies.

Here is who pays with their lives when America goes to war: you. Working class Americans get caught up in the “economic draft” that results when education is expensive, the GI benefits seem to help veterans earn advanced degrees, and so the ranks are generally composed of aspirational members of the very folks who have been wooed by Trump. It is absolutely sensible, and so, when he campaigned on getting us out of endless wars, that was a big hit with those on the front lines of risk–you.

Now it’s time to ask if he’s still your man. I beg you to do so, out of respect for yourself and your children. He’s now relying on the US intelligence services to explain why he ordered the assassination of the Iranian general and up until now he’s dismissed and waved aside all the reports from US intelligence that reveal him to have conspired with our old enemy, Russia, to get himself elected. You of all have the right to wonder, which is it? Trust US intelligence services or not? It makes a difference, right?

The truth is, “I am the person Republicans have been complaining about.” I posted it in celebration of the two articles of impeachment. I added, that it was not about hatred it was about affirming my love for peace and justice. I have called out Trump’s lies and failures since the beginning, but I have never given him credit. The truth is that Trump did more to oppose the dishonest campaign against Iraq than Hillary Clinton did and his targeted assassination of Soleimani is not so different from the countless extra-judicial executions ordered by Barrack Obama. Though it is worth pointing out that both the context and consequences are radically different, it is hypocritical when two different standards are applied.

The worst part of all of this was crystalized for me at an anti-war protest two days after the assassination. What I saw would make it impossible for a person who voted for Trump to join in. I know many many of you are disgusted by the thought of another endless war, and I have heard the complaint “I didn’t want to vote for Trump but I couldn’t vote for Hillary” hundreds of times, but there was no opening for conservative voices to oppose the war. There is no excuse for this failure and I want to acknowledge that.

Conservative friends and strangers, I believe the country needs you more than ever. Conservatives used to be dedicated to and driven by principle. I may not have always agreed with your principles and values, but I sure want to wake them up. Please join us—accept my invitation—on January 25th in cities all around the world there will be a Global Day of Protest: No War On Iran! Please call your representatives in Congress and the Senate and tell them “I voted for Donald Trump because I thought he would protect my values, but I don’t want him dragging the U.S. into a war with Iran…” Talk with your other conservative friends, let them know that Republican senators are increasingly calling for no war, and reclaim your party and your values.

To every Trump supporter who was called racist instead of getting a chance to explain yourself, you deserved better. To those who know Trump is a bully, but who think he deserves a chance, calling you names was hypocritical. Civil discourse and dialogue is sorely needed if we’re ever going to return to honest debate in this country. Research on opinions shows 86.4 percent of Americans feel the military should only be used as a last resort, so it is important for conservatives to let their feet do the talking too.

Trump is not thinking about a “last resort” he is on a fast-track to another unwinnable war. Great things can happen when we are united, right now 80 million Iranian citizens and all Americans need us to be united in calling off the dogs of war. These innocent people are not our enemies and they will bare the brunt of the casualties if Trump’s reckless campaign is not halted.

Wim Laven has a PhD in International Conflict Management, he teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution, and is on the Executive Boards of the International Peace Research Association and the Peace and Justice Studies Association.