America was born in Philadelphia, a city that stands for liberty, civil rights and unity. It was here that we, an Arab-Jewish couple, could love each other despite differences in nationality, ethnicity, religion and politics. In a world that fights against this love, we found a bond in this city and this country.
November 9th in Philadelphia was supposed to be the day of broken glass ceilings; and instead, on the anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass, we woke up to swastikas on the windows of our city, and to news that the first world leader to announce his congratulations was Egypt's al-Sisi – a bloodthirsty authoritarian celebrated by his supporters for the torture, murder and ruthless detention of his opponents in the name of his own tyrannical vision.
Our day in Philadelphia began with the scapegoating of minority lives by the hateful and acquiescent followers of a ruthless demagogue. The morning after Trump won the presidential election, we must remember Germany, we must learn from Egypt.
A Trump victory cannot be disentangled from the rise of ugly anti-Semitism and the broader history of scapegoating the minorites in our societies. We have seen months of Jews being targeted on Twitter and the internet, the rise of neo-Nazism, and the general promotion of vile stereotypes that, for centuries, have endangered Jewish lives, without any acknowledgment or true condemnation from Trump. His final ad was an admonishment of the supposed global economic elite nefariously undermining “true” Americans.
We cannot let scapegoating continue to hurt the marginalized in America today, whether sexual survivors, disabled, LGBTQ, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Latinx, African-American or any of the other identities targeted by the Trump movement. History cannot repeat.
Authoritarian tendencies and scapegoating, when mixed, endanger everyone. We fear that Trump will take a page out of Sisi’s book, turning his supporters against the bedrock values that have motivated people from all over the world to become American. On August 14, 2013 we witnessed the conclusions of illiberalism; Sisi encouraged Egypt’s intelligentsia to became partisans of the slaughter of Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers, one of the worst massacres in recent history. Trump’s rhetoric uncomfortably echoes Sisi’s hateful and amoral rhetoric.
A country where so many citizens found refuge from scapegoating else, one that has always aspired for a polity ruled by expansive human rights and liberties, must now look ahead to a president who dreams of neither. Trump betrays no appreciation for the horrors of the 20th century, or today’s authoritarians in the modern Middle East, or the struggles that countless Americans have fought to ensure that the US would avoid such terrors and tyrannies. Such a callous handling of history and human rights worries us greatly for the state of the union.
We must resist the urge to normalize authoritarianism, hatred, and systemic bigotry. We cannot acquiesce. We must learn from the suffering of those who cannot vote today, who cannot tell us what they’ve learned because they’ve been disenfranchised.
Love is stronger than hate. Love can transcend race, nationality, religion, and politics. We are proof of it.