Why I am canceling my trip to the US next week

So, I was supposed to go to the US next week for FSE, but I am not. I am cancelling because of Trump. Why?

On a philosophical note. There is a famous musical in the Netherlands about a famous resistance hero (that actually existed) called Soldaat van Oranje (Soldier of Orange) It is a typical story of resistance, and one of the more horrific scenes of the musical, the young fiancee of the hero (also in the resistance) is shot in the head. That scene stuck with me, of course, but not as much as another scene. In this scene the hero, Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, meets one of his friends from college after the war. This friend continued studying during the war, first while Jewish students were no longer allowed to take exams, then when Jewish professors were being fired and finally when Jews were being deported. The scene is interesting because it is so small. Nothing really happens, but they meet on the street, and they have nothing to say to each other. Maybe the friend felt ashamed. Maybe the hero did. Fact is they grew apart, the people that did something and those who stood by. I think about this scene often, and I do not want to be a bystander.

What can I do as a non-US citizen? Not a lot, I guess, but I can take a stance. I can say: this goes too far. Wanting to: stop immigration of Muslims, cancel ObamaCare, cancel Planned Parenthood, disbelieve climate change, side with the fucking KKK and jail women for abortion, it goes too far. If that is your country, I no longer want to come.

Because, to a certain extent of course, the war did not take place in the Netherlands too, it happened in Germany. I do not want to diminish in any way the Hunger Winter of 44-45, but people like our war hero’s friend could live in relative peace before that. It was a classic case of “first the came for <category x>”, except they never came for white Dutch people, unless they sided with the resistance. So, not me. I do not care where this war is starting and where it might go. I am with the resistance. If one is started, come find me.

On a personal note. Although I will not be shielded from it at home or anywhere, I just do not want to look at more analyses, read more about what Trump is or is not going to do, how he is or not is like Hitler (he is) and I do not want to chat with people about it now. And I know will happen at a conference like one I was supposed to visit. I know because I moved to the UK days after the Brexit vote, and we talked about it for weeks. The lie I and many other have been living by is broken, and I know I will come home exhausted for having explained sexism to ignorant people most of the week. I am just not up for that right now.

2 Comments

  1. Dale Matt

    Thank you for your heartfelt and sincere essay. As a US citizen I am embarrassed and ashamed.

  2. Bediako George

    You should still come. Here is why …

    More people in the US voted for Hillary than Donald. It is only because of the US electoral college voting system (a holdover from slavery) that Donald Trump won.

    You are going to Washington State … Hillary beat Donald by 17 percentage points there and in the city you are going to, Seattle, she probably won by 30 percentage points. It is quite possible that during your entire visit you will not meet a single Trump supporter.

    I hope you are still able to make it.

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