I’m a forty-year-old writer and mother of two. But today, in my imaginings, I’m the coach of a high school football team and it’s time for a heart-to-heart.
The quarterback has been caught in some criminal-type hazing of a minority student. It’s bullying; it’s hate. It’s obviously crossed a line.
The whole team knew about it. But only two of them spoke up.
After school special material if ever there was.
“Look, team,” I say, oozing rationality and calm. There’s a whistle around my neck. I think I’m wearing a polo shirt, for Christ’s sake. “I just want to understand,” I say. “Tell me why none of you said anything.”
No one from the team will meet my eye.
“When you see something that’s clearly wrong, you’ve gotta say something, or you’re just as bad as the perpetrator.” At this, some look down at the ground, a few thrust out their chins in defiance.
Then I look more closely and realize my entire team is dressed in suits — some with red neckties, but each lapel dotted with an American flag pin. And we’re not sitting on bleachers, we’re in the Senate Chamber.
These are grown-ass people who were elected to be representatives of the people and uphold the tenets of our constitution.
And they don’t have a word to say about an executive order that bans people from nine countries that are predominantly Muslim. They won’t raise their voice to condemn an act that results in families torn apart, or support those who served our government in times of war. They are quiet while our government turns away people who have lost everything and are desperate to escape a regime that threatens their very lives.
And I know why they are silent. They don’t need to tell me.
They are silent because they want to hang on to the power they have. Sticking their necks out could put them at risk of losing that power. Or it could put them directly in the sights of someone powerful who’s known for getting revenge on his perceived enemies. Or they’re just fucking racist xenophobes.
They are in a situation they are not morally equipped to handle. And no after school special talk is going to change that.
But, enormous crowds of their constituents brandishing signs at airports might help. And each one of us in a voting booth in 2018 can definitely help.
I tear the whistle from around my neck and throw it at them before walking away in disgust.
Then the fantasy fades away and I’m out of my khakis and polo shirt and back in my writer’s yoga pants clicking the DONATE button on the ACLU website.