Opinion — 28 April 2017

By Ian Jones @IDJonesPhotog

A few weeks ago, a friend was verbally accosted in public, apparently for merely existing. My friend isn’t Black or Latino. My friend isn’t LGBTQ.

My friend was trying to get to a disabled parking spot, only to get cut off at the last second by an able-bodied person who was picking up her dog at the groomers. After my friend protested, she was told that she had less reason to exist than the person’s dog.

Her story hit me in the gut, and has led me to wonder whether I could be next. I expect to be the target at some point, whether it’s verbal or physical assault. It’s just a question of when. My guard is up almost all of the time these days.

How did we get to this point? It’s painted by the media as pro-Trump versus anti-Trump, when in fact, it’s pro-fascism vs. anti-fa(scism). Even the concept of the “antifa” is hotly debated. For the love of God, why? Let me ask: what did America fight against in World War II?

The answer: fascists, whose ideals involved scapegoating and violence to achieve their goals. We’ve done this before. It didn’t end well. Do we really want to go through Nazism 2.0? To see the specter of fascism and hate gaining such momentum in this country is surreal at best, and frightening at worst, especially since the disabled were among Hitler’s targets in the holocaust.

The concept of “civilized discourse,” one of the cornerstones of American society, seems to be crumbling, and it seems to be getting worse.

As a white, cisgender male, I have undeniably benefited from white privilege (oops, I think I just lost a few readers) to some degree.

The thing is, it seems that due to my disability, I don’t have the “full” privilege package, at least in some people’s eyes. For example: before this incident, I didn’t really think about the possibility of being attacked. That’s changed. I look over my shoulder more, no matter where I am – another friend was attacked in his own neighborhood earlier this year.

It’s made me consider carrying pepper spray, or learning adapted self-defense techniques. I have prominent pectoral muscles from pushing my chair all the time, and I figured that would be a deterrent. I’m not as convinced now.

There was an anti-fascist demonstration in Berkeley not long after my friend was abused. One woman there was infamously sucker punched in the face, allegedly by a well-known white supremacist.

I  say, “Enough is enough.” We need to preserve the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all, and negating someone else’s right to live should not fall under your “pursuit of happiness.”

Members of all the different minorities – African American, Asian American, Latino, LGBTQ, disabled, left handers and even women, who have had a particularly tough time under President Trump’s rule, should stand up, as applicable, to send a message: “we’re not going to take it. This should not happen again.” To be clear, I am not condoning violence. I just think minorities should speak up for each others’ rights.

We’re in this together. I’ve got your backs.

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