There was an election…

Posted: November 19, 2016 in General

There was an election.

It didn’t go as well as I would have liked.

That may be the understatement of the year.

The results have impacted me pretty hard. Friends of mine have lost people. People have actually died as a direct result of bigots emboldened by our President-elect. I didn’t have the fortune to know those people myself. Yet my world is still darker, because the light they brought to my friends, my friends brought to me.

Impact twice removed.

Impact once removed: my friends have been physically harassed. My friends have had to stand up and defend others who were being harassed.

I say “harrassed” like it’s just something that happens. And staring at it written on screen makes me feel sick inside.

One of my friends stepped in and physically defended the property of someone he didn’t know, because some racist bigot was defacing it. I’d like to say that my first instinct was to applaud him, but it wasn’t. My first instinct was fear. Fear that he might be shot by one of these donkeyfuckers. Fear that I might lose a friend of mine because he simply stood up and said, “No. You can’t vandalize stuff you disagree with.”  Fear because he had to physically intimidate the bigot to get them to desist. Fear because…


I’m afraid.

I don’t want to be afraid, but I am.

I’ve got the good fortune to be white. I’ve got the good fortune to be engaged to a wonderful white woman. I’ve got the good fortune to be able to pass for what these donkeyfuckers think the world should look like.

And I feel guilty.

Because I am not what these donkeyfuckers think the world should look like.

I’m a stark raving scientist. An atheist. Bisexual. A poet. An artist. One of “those people.”

And even though I have the REALLY GREAT FORTUNE to be able to hide behind my white male skin, I know that these donkeyfuckers would string me up on a tree if they got a whiff of what I really am.

And I feel guilty. Guilty because I can pass.

And now I watch our President-elect’s surrogates, WITH A STRAIGHT FACE, argue that the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II gives them legal precedent to implement a registry for Muslim Americans. I watch as our President-elect nominates a man who’s only problem with the KKK is that some of them use drugs. I watch as he nominates a man who rejects science as the head of the EPA.

As a scientist, I’m terrified of what Donald Trump can do with the power of the presidency. I don’t have words to describe it. I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m sure I’ll try again, because I don’t have a lack of opinions. Or data to back them up.

My real worries are immediate.

For my friends. My (soon to be) family. Those who don’t have the good fortune to be white, and male. They have been suffering, for decades. Centuries, even. And thought it was getting better. Now they’re coming face to face with the reality that it’s not getting better. Almost half of the country doesn’t see them as HUMAN FUCKING BEINGS.

But I love them. And I want them to have a wonderful life. And I am willing to put myself between them and anyone who would tell them otherwise.

But I can’t be there. My friends are scattered across the country.

Some of them are strong.

Many of them are not.

Some of them are safe.

Many of them are not.

And all too often, there’s nothing I can do to help the people I love.

But that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is that for the first time in my life, I’m genuinely scared of an actual, honest to god, straight up nuclear war.

I lived through the height of the Cold War.

I watched the fall of the Berlin Wall on television. I saw the collapse of the Soviet Union in real time. I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Doing a lot of things that I don’t talk about. Mostly nuclear forensics, and a bunch of dull boring materials science, but I did collaborate with people who pay attention to which direction the nuclear wind is blowing.

And they’re scared.

Frankly, so am I.

We’re teetering on the brink of REALLY BAD SHIT.

And the majority of the country just said, “We’d like to eat shit sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! (And fuck your Oxford comma).”

So when people in that majority come out and physically, emotionally, or otherwise abuse my friends, my family, or my CHOSEN family, I am willing to stand in that gap and defend them with every fiber of my being.

I have my fear. I have my anger. I have my despair.

What I’m looking for is hope.

In 2008, a junior senator from Illinois showed me what it was like to have hope for the future. A hope I hadn’t seen since the time Bill Clinton was elected. He showed me that hope wasn’t something you sat back and watched, it was something that you got dirty and worked for. And work for it I did. And I spent the next eight years working hard to fill my life with hope for the future.

This election did a number on the progress that I made.

Yet, I will not be defeated.


I will donate to causes that will make a difference: The ACLU for certain, and of course my professional societies as a physicist (APS, ACS, AAAS, and ACM). I will offer shelter to those who need a place to rest from the ongoing (and coming) storm. I will do all that I can to help them stay safe in these more than troubling times.

I want to believe that this is not as bad as it looks.

I beg my Republican friends to show me that it’s not.

So far, no one has stepped up to the plate.

I still can’t find my shocked face.



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