Editorial: The powerful safety pin

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Last Tuesday evening, thousands sat glued to their television screens and smartphones as the 2016 presidential election results poured in. As the night wore on, it quickly became clear who would become the winner. Donald Trump won the election in an unexpected fashion, as many polls predicted Hillary Clinton to win.

Millions of American citizens are in shock. Millions are scared. Their fears of what happens because of a Donald Trump presidency have become true. Reports of potentially related racist, misogynist and homophobic violence are all over social media. Middle school students started a chant of “build the wall” in Michigan. A group of men publicly assaulted a woman on the subway. Right here on the University of Toledo’s campus, a young woman was told to “go back to ISIS” while they pulled on her hijab.

Only a week has passed since Election Day, and thousands across the United States don’t know what to feel. They can’t describe the mixed feelings of fury, terror, sadness and even disappointment.

This isn’t about wishing the election would’ve been won by someone else. No, this is much deeper than that. This is wondering how there has become such a large cultural divide in America.

This election has shown us that there are basically two sides in America (with a handful of variations on each). There is the old mindset of what is typically the older generation: less government, more religion, less immigration and more “freedoms” (e.g. gun rights). Then there is the new mindset of what is typically the younger generation: more government programs, less war, more equality and less restrictions on immigration.

This divide has raised intriguing questions about the future of the United States. Where do we stand? What do we do about our differences? How do we fix our problems?

We don’t have a solution. In fact, we are just as scared as the rest of America. We are terrified, and there’s nothing we can do to fix this giant dumpster fire. We can protest and make our voices heard.

We can stand in solidarity together. Inspired by Brexit, a small show of support has made its way to the United States. These bigoted attacks and harassment are all so very similar to what happened to in Great Britain during Brexit to many Brits and immigrants. The prime minister, David Cameron, even publicly stated that the Brexit vote was not an excuse to commit xenophobic abuse.

It was at this time that the Brits realized the power of the safety pin.

Yes, a simple safety pin can mean so much. In such a big world, we’re all just strangers to one another. It can be hard to reach out and offer comfort in scary situations. The safety pin represents all of that (solidarity, support and safety).

There’s now a widespread effort in the United States to start wearing safety pins on our clothing in the face of post-election violence. It’s a way to signal you’re an ally to someone who feels frightened.

It’s time to step up and rally together. Help us bring the safety pin movement to Toledo and unite in saying no to hurting others. How do we ever rise if we’re constantly bringing others down?

In the words of UT president Sharon Gaber, “We are committed to ensuring that all individuals are treated with respect and compassion. We believe that our diversity is our strength, and that the inclusion of people with different ideas, from different cultures, of different races, genders, religions or sexual orientation, allows us to make better decisions.”

Let’s work together and make America safe again.

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Editorial: The powerful safety pin