I get a lot of flack for being a Pats fan. It should be a no-brainer, considering that I am originally from the Halifax, a stone's throw away from the highly comparable Boston, Massachusetts, and the home of the New England Patriots. Since Tom Brady's not-so-vocal endorsement of Donald Trump, however, the flack has worsened. How could I support a team who is led by a man who champions for America's response to a real life Batman villain? Simple answer: I don't care about his politics. I care about whether or not he can throw a ball.
This response, I realize, is problematic. A person's affiliation for a political candidate can be seen as a direct correlation to a person's moral compass. But like everything, there are thousands of shades of grey, beige, and off-black in the black and white modality of the political spectrum. However, the view of a person's political affiliation can be seen as a double-edged knife, and whatever side you view, the thing still has the power to stab you in the back.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the Super Bowl LI Champions parade through downtown Boston. (Photo: Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)
I'll be honest, I've been in a bit of a slump since the American election. Homeland news has become more depressing than usual, mirroring some scary situations overseas that we have so arrogantly reported as "not our problem" for decades. It's got us all playing the blame game, and a lot of fingers seem to be aimed squarely at Trump.
But that has me thinking -- is Trump really to blame for everything that is happening right now?
Let's go back to the election. The practical person in me thought that it was game over for him the moment that he mocked a disabled reporter (which, although he ardently denies this, is clear as the orange of his skin with a simple YouTube search). Yet, here we are, some months into the impossible having happened and a storm brewing in its wake.
All of a sudden, it was OK for America to get back into hate crimes again. Behaviour that had been previously seen as scary stories from a discarded history text book are suddenly back in the news. Here we are, a long history of "haven't we become so much better" wiped clean with story after story of bigotry, Islamophobia, and Neo-Nazi ideals rising from the ashes. Swastikas have been appearing everywhere. The Klan itself is organizing new chapters.
Yes, the president is a huge part of this. If a priest stands up in front of a parish and says that homosexuality is evil and a parishioner kills a homosexual man in his community, the priest may not be fully responsible for the murder, but he is responsible for the message that inspired it. Donald Trump should answer to his role in making hateful behaviour acceptable again, but is all the blame on him?
Here comes the knife again -- alas, no.
The optimist in me likes to think that there is a silver lining to everything. Like keeping the faith that the Patriots could win Super Bowl LI with a 28-point deficit, I like to think that there is some good that can come from a man who is, whether he says he is or not, condoning a new era of violence in the United States. And, being Devil's advocate, I'd like to think that the big picture will lead to something that Hillary Clinton may not have been able to achieve had she won.
Will Smith said it best when at a press conference in August of 2016, he spoke of Trump's potential to "cleanse" America. According to the Associated Press, Smith said, "As painful as it is to hear Donald Trump talk and as embarrassing as it is as an American to hear him talk, I think it's good. We get to know who people are and now we get to cleanse it out of our country."
The blame game can only go on for so long until we all lose.
Without even knowing it, Trump has exhumed a type of bigotry and racism that had laid buried. Though bigotry has always existed, it has now been laid out on the surface for us to deal with. We realize that we haven't done our homework and now we're paying the price.
Could Hillary Clinton have forced us to deal with this? It's possible, but not probable. Clinton's platform was based on more of the regular political fare, a thing that may have cost her the vote in a lot of key states that were demanding a different, more "relatable" leader. Her democratic ways may have been America's subconscious band-aid, an easy answer to a thick wound that really needed to be bled, stitched, and properly treated before the bandage was applied. As much as we may hate to admit it, Donald Trump is now forcing us to rip the band-aid off and give that wound the attention it needed.
And so we are brought back to the parishioners. Although it's clear that the priest should not have delivered such a hate-fueled sermon, isn't it true that the parishioners are responsible for what they do with that sermon? The blame can't fall squarely on the commander in chief. If we're going to really point fingers, we need to point them at the political climate that built him.
Donald Trump couldn't have been elected if we had dealt with our prejudices head on instead of burying them for other generations to find. The absurdity of the sermon would have caused the entire congregation to walk out. If we're going to demand Trump takes responsibility, we need to take responsibility on our part as well (and Canada is not an exception to this rule). We need to take about the real issues and deal with them accordingly. The blame game can only go on for so long until we all lose.
U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return to Washington, U.S., after a weekend in Palm Beach, Florida, Feb. 20, 2017. (Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)
A candidate's supporters have a lot more power than you may think. Although I love Tom Brady for his ability quarterback like a champion, I can't ignore the fact that he's one of the parishioners who stayed. Even though he has not acted on it, he still had the choice to walk out of the sermon. In the end, it's the congregation that holds the real power. You never know when that double-edged knife is going to be out for more blood, so you must always be aware.
Do I support Trump? Absolutely not, but I will keep the silver-lining view. My hope is having everything out on the table will lead to a better future for all races and religions in North America. I definitely would have preferred Hillary to win, but who knows? Maybe Trump has accelerated the action that will lead towards something better. Even though he has perpetuated a lot of terrible behaviour, it may force us all to finally wake up.
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