Recovering White Supremacist

Fellow White Dude,

It sucks to be told that you’re racist. Or misogynistic. And at times it seems totally ridiculous and feels like a personal attack. I get how it can seem like people are asking you to be guilty for something you never did, and to apologize for simply being a White man. You might also be surrounded by other White men, maybe your Dad or your grandfather, who are telling you that it used to be different for us. That our way of life is under attack. Maybe not. I’m not here to speculate about you, I’m here to tell you about my own journey and how I came to realize that I was a part of White supremacy culture.

Before we get started let me say that I am not judging you. I’ve been where you are; I’ve felt that I was under attack and that people were expecting me to feel guilty or ashamed of being White. Nobody worth paying attention to thinks that, brother. They just want us to get woke. And that’s why I’m here. Because I went through a process of awakening and I know some of the emotions that arise. I’m here to walk with you, to support you, to help you work out some of the stuff. Because we can’t ask POC to help us with this, at least not with the heavy lifting; they have their own work and education to undergo. We can meet with them further down the line. Until then, we can be really honest about how some of this stuff makes us feel.

Now, let’s deal with this term White supremacist. You probably think of this right away, no?

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The problem is, too many of us who are White stop here and think that as long as we are not burning crosses we are not White supremacists. That we are not part of White supremacy culture. But we are. This is what acceptable White supremacy looks like:walsh

You may not see it now, and I’ll be honest that it took me years of reading, studying, listening, and getting beyond my own defensiveness to see it. It appears to be a patriotic, tough-talking post that places a value on police lives and is meant to fill with dread those who would assault our public servants, right? But look at the language. Can you imagine what would happen if an African-American member of Congress told a White president to “watch out”? Examine the assumptions embedded in the language: “Real” Americans are not those who would say “Black Lives Matter.” No. Real Americans are ones who go after “thugs,”a label disproportionately applied to non-Whites, even in similar situations. And look at that threat of violence. Real America is coming. Does that mean the military is going to be unleashed on citizens? How will they know the Real Americans? Could it be skin tone?

Ever notice the difference in media coverage for a sports riot and an uprising in response to injustice? That’s White supremacy right there.

How do we get here? Look at what we’re taught from an early age: that the United States began as a way for people to escape religious persecution. We celebrate Thanksgiving Day, and from the time we are 5 we have internalized the ideas that Pilgrims and Indians were great friends, terrible lies that make us resistant to the true narrative. We learn almost nothing of the wholesale slaughter of Native persons. Few of us read A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies (click here for full text) until college, if at all. More of us got a brief unit on Native Americans, maybe with a trip to a local site, and then went home to play cowboys and Indians while we wore cardboard mockups of sacred regalia and imitated cries we do not understand. We celebrate Columbus Day, which is cast as Italian pride, despite the incredibly long list of atrocities perpetrated by a man who got lost and “discovered” America much like I “discover” pizza in my neighbor’s fridge.

God knows, most of us don’t do this with malice. Nobody’s saying we do, at least nobody worth listening to. We do it because it is what is modeled, what is accepted. Check this: We grow up being told that America is the land of opportunity, but the issue of slavery is rarely, if ever discussed seriously. The Civil War itself is being redefined in textbooks to teach us that slavery was not a central issue. And we’re told that we should care about this because our white heritage is under attack. But this is a lie: over half of the European immigrants that came over during the colonial period were indentured servants. Freedom and opportunity were for the wealthy. That is how the system was built from day one. Is this what we are supposed to be loyal to?

But lemme ask you, man. What is it that makes us “White”? Skin tone? My wife is White, but her skin is olive hued, to such an extent that she has been mistaken for Asian and Middle Eastern. Her family is from Hungary. My father’s family is from Finland. My mother’s, Ireland. Very different places. Very different customs. Very different histories. And woe unto anyone who calls me a Brit. Nothing against the British. I have good friends who are Brits, but I’m an Irishman, thank you very much. Until I’m Finnish. Until I’m American. What the hell is this “Whiteness” they are talking about?

It is a fiction, broseph. And I know this sounds like conspiracy stuff. But there are entire university departments that study the creation and impact of Whiteness.  It arises around the 17th century as part of the slave trade, but it has devastating impacts on the development of American capitalism and society. The lie of White supremacy was used to manipulate and control poor Whites into accepting their place in society because at least they were better than n*****s. For centuries, the poorest White lady in the county could walk downtown and the wealthiest Black man would have to take off his hat and step off the curb. If he didn’t he would be killed. The most downtrodden White man could get drunk and hang a Black man for fun, and get away with it by telling the police that the man looked at a White woman wrong. I know, it sounds wild and conspiratorial. But money is the root of all evil, and this business of whiteness is a cash cow. Seriously, that link is a mind blower man. And this one will help you see the various ways whiteness has been studied.

This happens by defining personhood within the law. Let’s hope that the American educational system hasn’t totally failed you and you know that only landowning White men were able to vote until 1850, and that African-Americans were counted as 3/5 a person, not so that they could have rights but so taxation and legislative numbers could be figured out. Think about this: the very foundation of our Bill of Rights did not apply to anyone other than land-owning, White men. But not all White men. Not Poles. Not Italians. Not at first. Not until they started to buy into this notion of White supremacy which passed as assimilation. Americanism was code for non-ethnic Whiteness. Look at our television shows. I Love Lucy is an attempt at Leave it To Beaver with a fiery Cuban. Think about it, man: by the time most of us White men hit the age of 18, we have always assumed that we are the norm. Ads and television are geared toward us and disproportionately represent us; women are told to emulate what we like; other races and cultures are measured against us as a beauty standard, whether we want it or not. In terms of social progress and protection, we “White” men have been at the top of the list even when we weren’t. There’s never been an example in the history of the United States in which White men (again, this designate should piss us all off) have gotten a right after a woman or a non-White person. The system was built for us. Kinda. More for us than anyone else, but more for the making of money than anything else.

Here’s what sucks. We benefit from White supremacy. We do. It doesn’t matter if we have Black friends. It does not matter if we listen to rap. It does not matter if we have made love to a Black person. We can see every Spike Lee movie out there and we still are products of White supremacy culture. We are part of a system that enslaved Black bodies and built wealth based upon their uncompensated labor. We live on land that was either stolen or secured through genocide. We live in a culture that regards women’s bodies as sexual objects for our amusement, or baby-making machines that must be regulated by men. Mainly White men. How does that make us complicit? Because we haven’t dismantled the system. We may feel outraged by the odd slight to someone we know, but it is too easy for us to simply shrug our shoulders and say, “Life sucks, but everyone’s got problems.” We’re complicit because we benefit from a system that values “White” names over “ethnic” names.

The truth is, we have to make it a priority to read, study, listen, ask questions, and face some hard truths. Nobody is saying that White people don’t have hard lives; nobody is saying that things are easy for us, or that we’re all rich. What is being said, though, and we should listen, is that we are not persecuted because we are White; we are not denied opportunities because we are White. I’d add men on to this again, but I think that’s another conversation. We’ve got stuff to unpack there.

Look, I know chances are that you like everyone unless they are an asshole. Good policy. I follow that, too. But what we cannot do is say that we see everyone the same so others should adopt that philosophy as well. People of color (POC) don’t have that option. Their race and ethnicity is noticed wherever they go. Further, too often when we say we don’t see color we are saying that we see everyone else like us, and if they don’t fit then they are the problem, not us. Think about it, though. That’s kinda true, isn’t it? As a culture, we tend to remove ethnicity from celebrities, and then criticize them when they speak from their experiences of race. Look at what is happening to Jesse Williams, who is being labeled as both too Black and not Black enough.

White supremacy culture is having millions of African-Americans take to the streets, the airwaves, social media, from all corners of public and private life to speak about how racism and prejudice impact them and having their words twisted into being “racist,” which is impossible without state power; White supremacy is pointing at dead bodies and finding excuses or reasons for why they deserved to be shot and killed. White supremacy is a legal system that rarely prosecutes police for shooting citizens, and even more rarely convicts. Non-Whites are disproportionately impacted. White supremacy culture is hearing people say, “Stop killing us” and responding, “Well…”

So here are the mistakes I made: I tried to convince others that I was not racist by inserting myself into spaces that were designed to help POC process, and turned the conversation into being about me. Unconsciously, I asked them to expend energy into assuring me that I am not a racist. I made the mistake of saying I was color blind, therefore negating the experience and identity of others. I told people I didn’t know very well that I was sorry for the oppression of their people, without knowing their background or story. I asked my friends of color to be my bibliographers and teachers. In some circumstances, this was welcomed and nurtured. In others, it was wholly inappropriate. It took time and energy away from them being able to do the work they needed to do in order to affect change. I used the word nigga. Sigh. Yes. I did. I almost didn’t admit this, but what the hell. If you’re still reading you’ve been indulging me and I want to be clear that I am not judging. Really, I’m not. An honestly, others won’t if you are actively working on dismantling the White supremacy in your mind. Because POC have to do it as well; many of them have to shake off these categories and ideas and literally learn how to love themselves. That’s what Black Power really means. It is about love. Think about the contrast our people offer. White Power. That’s about hate.

Dude, I love you and I hope this helps. The links embedded within are a good starting point. This blog is as well, and for those who are interested I can put together a reading list. I recommend locating a Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) chapter around you. If you can, attend the White Privilege Conference.

In closing, let me say that I love this country. I believe in the basic tenets, that we all are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights. But I want them to be true. To be put into practice. For us to be the country we claim to be, that we are on paper. I want my friends of color to no longer feel fear and unease in their country. Because it is theirs as much as it is ours. We have to be part of the solution that makes this a reality.

Blessings,

Pastor Aaron

Straining Credulity: Trump the Presbyter

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On January 18, 2016, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump sojourned to Lynchburg, Virginia to the campus of Liberty University, the brainchild of the late Jerry Falwell, Sr., to deliver an address for Martin Luther King Day. The speech, at least to this author, was Trump’s blatant attempt to ingratiate himself to the Evangelical Right, who are disproportionately represented in the student body. Trump regularly claims that the Bible is his favorite book, but until Monday has refused to name his favorite verse. That all changed at Liberty.

“Two Corinthians, 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame,” he said. “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” he continued, conveniently citing the school’s official verse which is displayed prominently throughout campus. Either this is a great coincidence, or Donald found an easy way to avoid cracking open the Bible he purports to respect so much.

I try not to attack other people’s faith stances and attitudes toward religion. I am clearly to the left of many of my colleagues, at least in terms of social issues. I am rather orthodox theologically: I proclaim Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior; I believe that sin and death are not the final words; I confess the four ecumenical creeds that bind Catholic, Orthodox, and Mainline Protestant Christians together; and I serve as a pastor in the denomination to which Donald Trump claims to be “very proud” to belong, the Presbyterian Church (USA).

But I find Trump’s claims that 2 Corinthians 3:17 is the “whole ballgame” to be quite disingenuous. He operates under the assumption that Paul’s “liberty” is the Western, secular, humanist, capitalist liberty of a laissez faire marketplace. Paul was writing within a context in which Christians were deemed atheists because they did not believe in the Roman pantheon of gods. Paul’s liberty–or, more properly, the Christian liberty about which Paul writes–is one that allows a community the freedom to acknowledge and proclaim the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph.

This, of course, is the same God proclaimed by Muslims, the very same Muslims whom Donald Trump wants to keep from entering the country until we, nebulously, “figure out what is going on.” How is that in keeping with liberty? Of course, it is not. But it fits in well with a zeitgeist of American Christian persecution (which, unlike in Syria, does not include beheading but rather the inability to say “Merry Christmas” to anyone without shouting distance).

I cannot imagine that Rev. Dr. King would have been in attendance at Liberty University yesterday, were he still alive, and I certainly don’t think that he would echo Trump’s call to ban an entire religious group from entry into the country because of a woeful understanding of geopolitics and the Constitution of the United States of America. I further stand with the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in his denouncement of Trump’s rhetoric.

Presbyterianism operates on the principle of lay persons serving as elders and deacons for terms of service, usually three years; the term presbyter means “elder.” We are lay-driven and beholden to the Book of Order. We have ancient rules, all of them aimed at creating a community in which the stranger is invited into the community and is encouraged to become a member; we have a long, proud history of being engaged with social justice and civil rights. We are the denomination of Fred Rogers (see the piece by my colleague Rev. Derrick Weston), and we continue to push ourselves to live into the radical message of Jesus of Nazareth.

It simply strains credulity that Donald Trump knows anything about who we are in Christ Jesus.

 

Roving Eastwood: Offense on Superbowl Sunday

My father is from Detroit. Even though I am born and raised in Ohio, I grew up rooting for Detroit sports teams, especially the Tigers and the Lions. I would spend as much as three weeks each summer in Detroit, splitting time between my paternal grandparents, who divorced before I was born. While I have never lived there, Detroit is a special place to me. And my family has strong ties to the automotive industry: My paternal grandfather’s second wife, a woman I always considered my grandmother, worked at Ford Tractor for over 30 years.

So as Dad and I sat on the couch this past Sunday, sipping Guinness and eating the most delectable chili I think my father has ever cooked, it was with amazement that we viewed Clint Eastwood’s now famous Chrysler ad. We both remarked on the positive message and artistry of the commercial, and spoke about going next fall to see our Lions play at Ford Field.

I was taken aback, however, when the next day I heard Karl Rove say that he was “offended” by the ad. Rove, who is responsible for some of the most dirty and reprehensible political attacks in modern American politics,[1] said: “I was, frankly, offended by it. I’m a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.”[2] White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, responding to the claims, has made it clear that the Administration had nothing to do with the ad.[3] Common sense could have led up to this conclusion. Clint Eastwood is a well-known conservative; he was mayor of Carmel, California, and at one time George H.W. Bush considered placing him on the presidential ticket, hoping to recapture some of the conservative Hollywood magic delivered by President Reagan.[4] Eastwood himself has made it clear that he is no fan of President Obama, and that the ad was not politically motivated.[5] So the idea that this this “liberal Hollywood” taking up the charge of the liberal president just won’t hold. And Rove is smart enough to know this, so he uses another tactic.

Rove claims that Chrysler has not paid back its loan, thereby intimating that there is not a “real” success story here, or that the automotive industry is akin to the Wall Street firms that were bailed out and then issued record bonuses without repaying their own debt. In truth, Chrysler has repaid $10.6 billion of its original $12.5 billion dollar loan. While Rove may complain that this is not a full repayment—and he would be correct—the fact is Chrysler has repaid all of the money provided under the Obama Administration (about $4 billion dollars was lent by the Bush Administration).[6] Now certainly, this is splitting hairs, and a reasonable person could argue that the first money lent should be the first money repaid. If this is the case, there is still about $1.9 billion outstanding, not a paltry sum, and it falls to the current president to recoup the funds. With that acknowledged, Rove’s claim fits into a larger game: He is attempting to inflict political amnesia on the American people, associating the “auto bailout” with only the Obama Administration. This seems odd, given that GM and Chrysler are back on top, in terms of sales, production, and stock prices.[7] Why is the loan to American car companies still seen as such a horrible sin? Do we object to growing numbers of automotive jobs? Is an increase in consumer confidence about American cars something to lament? What is more American than an ad about the reemergence of American cars owed to the efforts of the American people airing during America’s greatest single sporting event?

Regardless of the differences that Mr. Rove and I may have concerning the wisdom of the auto bailout—especially given the two wars that were started during Mr. Rove’s tenure in the White House which contributed greatly to the country’s current deficit, money that can never be “repaid”—I must say that his use of language seems misplaced and, if I may be so bold, hypocritical. Karl Rove is among those contemporary Republican voices yearning for the time of Ronald Reagan. To wit, through the first ten debates in 2011, the 4othpresident’s name was mentioned 53 times.[8] While there are myriad reasons Republicans invoke the memory of Reagan—appreciation for economic policies, military strength, foreign policy positions—today the prevailing message seems to focus on the optimism of Reagan. For example, at a debate in Florida former candidate Jon Huntsman (R-Utah) waxed nostalgic about Reagan: “I like those days when Ronald Reagan…would ensure that the light of this country would shine brightly for liberty, democracy, human rights, and free markets. We’re not shining like we used to shine. We need to shine again.” Based on Karl Rove’s appreciation for Reagan’s optimism, one could assume that the offending ad calls Americans a bunch of lazy, fat, indifferent slobs. Or even worse, includes an insult to Ronald Reagan.

But such is not the case. Clint Eastwood, in classic Dirty Harry fashion, growls, “It’s halftime in America, too. People are out of work, and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re gonna do to make a comeback. And we’re all scared because this isn’t a game. The people of Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together, now Motor City is fighting again.” What, exactly, is offensive here? Is it Eastwood celebrating the ongoing recovery of one of the most hard-hit, economically depressed cities in the country, that so stokes the ire of Mr. Rove? What, pray tell, could offend Mr. Rove about the optimism and celebration of strength voiced in the ad, which rightly declares that this great country cannot be knocked out by one punch?

Karl Rove has now found himself in the curious position of denouncing an ad which is meant to rally the American spirit and encourage optimism, Reagan’s most celebrated quality. [9]

Well, I’ll tell you what offends me, Mr. Rove: Corporations being given rights to unlimited speech when an independent filmmaker is arrested at the U.S. Capitol Building at the request of Republican lawmakers.[10] I’m insulted by how, as a result of the Citizens United decision,[11] your Super-PACs American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS are able to fill our airwaves with factually shaky ads, while you are legally protected from disclosing the sources of your contributions. And, honestly, Mr. Rove. If we are going to talk about being offended, let’s be serious. I am offended that children go hungry in this country; I am offended that the reproductive rights of women are under increasing assault. I am offended that the cost of a college education–which you never bothered to complete–now means that a growing number of people in my generation are saddled with debts we may never repay. I am offended that certain Christians claim to be a minority under assault, while at the same time persecution of and violence against LGBT persons continues at alarming rates. I am offended by the loss of statesmanship in this country, by how politics has become an out growth of professional wrestling. And while I readily admit that I like to spend my free time watching classic rasslin’, I like to leave it to the in-shape professionals and not our elected officials. American politics should not be WWE, but it has descended to such a level.

To me, Rove being offended boils down to this: It seems that an American car company cannot be patriotic. Or a conservative cannot take part in an ad celebrating the recovery of the automotive industry because political forces such as Karl Rove regard it as apostasy to party loyalty. It never ceases to amaze me how many times the words “liberty” and “freedom” are bandied about in GOP politics—generally as a way of intimating that we no longer have either—yet “freedom” and “liberty” don’t include the right to acknowledge a reality: Chrysler is back, and our country is trying to recover. That is not a partisan message, it is a sentiment that we all need to hear. We have gone through one of the most trying periods in American history—the most trying in my lifetime—and while we have not yet emerged completely, things are getting better. I think Ronald Reagan would approve of this optimism, regardless of policy opinions.


[1] For a full accounting, see James Moore, Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential. The documentary film of the same name is also worth a view.

[10] politico.com/news/stories/0212/72298.html

An Open Letter to the Republican Presidential Candidates

I am an American citizen, 35 years old, and I rely upon the federal government. The fact is, we all do. Our roads, post offices, libraries, public schools: these amenities come from tax dollars and are the product of our social contract. But such arguments have been made time and time again, and seem not to gain much traction. So let me speak from the heart.

I rely upon federal assistance.

I am an American citizen who is quite upset by the tone coming out of the GOP debates. To wit, Mr. Gingrich’s recent standing-ovation-receiving comment that President Obama has put more people on food stamps than any president in history, a line that seeks to identify a lazy entitlement class established by the so-called “liberal elite.” Gingrich touts an administration will that convert food stamps to paychecks, ala Jesus changing water into wine. Certainly, this is an admirable goal, but the trope overlooks a basic fact: A vast majority of Americans who receive food stamps are children, the elderly, or those who are disabled; in other words, those who can’t work. Further, a great number of recipients  do work. Sometimes two or three jobs. The simple fact is, wages have not kept up with inflation and cost of living increases.[i] But pointing this out constitutes “class warfare” or “socialism.” If one is to defend these programs, one is frequently accused of selling out “real Americans” who “work” for a living. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney intensifies the charge. He claims that President Obama is dividing the country with the politics of envy. And given the fact that Mitt Romney has not held a job, by his own accounts, for four years, I do not see how his income from capital gains—which are taxed at only a 15% rate—constitutes “work.”  But maybe that is just envy speaking.

So, in summary, two of the major candidates accuse Americans who receive assistance (or perhaps,  only those who support President Obama’s policies) of both laziness and envy.

Doesn’t really make one want to run out and vote for you, candidates.

I stated above that I rely upon federal assistance. My continuing education would not be possible without the FAFSA loan program. If Congressman Ron Paul is to have his way, this program will be cut.[ii] This makes sense, because if you can’t afford to go to school in order to get a well-paying job you don’t deserve the education that will secure you that job. So if you are on food stamps or other forms of public assistance, good luck pulling yourself out of the systemic poverty that keeps so many Americans from realizing that ever-elusive American dream. While Mr. Paul may have been able to work his way through medical school without accruing debt, that is not an option for well over 99% of people who pursue graduate degrees. Times have changed; wages, unfortunately, have not. Most of us have crushing student loans debts that rival mortgages, and little hope of paying off said debt in a timely manner. Most of us will carry our debts for decades.

I am an American citizen. In fact, I am the “average voter” that so many of the GOP candidates want to target. I am a white male, culturally middle class, and a Christian. I have held a job since I was 13 years old, and I am a hard worker. Just ask any of my friends who frequently tell me that I work too hard. But I don’t have a retirement account. I moved back in with my family because I cannot afford to pay both my student loans and rent at the same time. To be sure, I also help my aging parents, and I do so gladly. I have knowingly chosen a career path—a theology professor and, God willing, a pastor—that does not result in vast dividends. I willingly make the necessary sacrifices because I believe in what I am doing, and my treasure is not to be quantified in monetary terms. But I resent the idea that I or others like me are asking for a handout. I, and many others I know, work multiple jobs. Yet we rely on Medicaid, SNAP, WICA, FAFSA, and a variety of other programs because we are the generation that has been left behind. And the GOP is demonizing us, calling us lazy and envious. Telling us that the brass ring is there is we just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. But many of us don’t even have boots, or if we do they are owned by Bank of America. Corporations can receive bailouts, can have the status of personhood, and seem to get all the privileges of citizenship without any of the responsibilities, but we do not.

I must ask, Do you really want to live in a country where citizens go hungry even while they work? Are you so out of touch that you do not realize that the minimum wage is neither minimum nor a wage? We can do better. We must do better. But until we do, social safety net programs have to stay in place. And humiliating those who utilize them is not the answer.

According to the recent rhetoric, we who rely upon social assistance or entitlement programs, apparently, are not American enough because, at the end of the month, what we owe exceeds what we have taken in. We have to make a decision between food or rent, education or heat. When we note that such a choice does not seem congruous with the promises given to us—that an education will lead to a good job, stability, and rewards for hard work—we are told to shut up. We are told to love it or leave it. We are told that we are failures.

This is not hyperbole; it is fact.

I am in a better situation than are a lot of people I know and a great number of Americans who are struggling right now. I am able to live with my parents, and my fiancée has agreed to marry me and move in to the family home. I really have no other choice if I want to pay off my debts and contribute to society as a whole. I do not want to be taken care of; I am not lazy; I am not envious. I accept the fact that my yearly vacation, most likely, will comprise of a stack of books and a long Netflix queue. I have realized that quite a few of the “necessities” in my earlier life are no longer necessary. I use my yearly tax return to pay down my debts. I do what I need to do in order to make ends meet. But I don’t like being called lazy. I don’t like having my American-ness challenged. I don’t like the fact that I can see the writing on the wall, and when I read it aloud, I’m told that I am filled with envy. I don’t like needing to rely on FAFSA, just like the people I know who utilize other assistance programs don’t like having to do so. We wish things were otherwise. We wish that education was not so expensive, or that companies would receive incentives from the government to keep jobs here rather than to send them overseas. We would happily pay more taxes if it meant that average wages could be increased so that the dignity of an honest day’s work could be rewarded with the luxury of a filled refrigerator and a consistently heated home. We would love that, but for many of us this is not the reality.

So I will not accept the politics of feudalism. I will not be a silent vassal that does what the overlord demands. I will not sit by as the gilded class seeks to dismantle the social safety net our forbearers wove for us so that we may not know the horrors of child labor, or unregulated food, or millions of elderly and disabled people starving on the streets. Because that is what the GOP candidates seem to be gunning for; and most horrifyingly, it receives a standing ovation.

I am an American citizen. No matter what you say, GOP candidates, you cannot take that away from me. I will not allow you to disrespect the work a vast majority of us perform, day in and day out, with no expectations of praise or standing ovations. I will not accept charges of envy and laziness, when many of you earn more money by delivering one speech, calling me lazy, than I do in an entire year working hours that would make you collapse. Stop saying that you speak for me when your speech seeks to ridicule and marginalize me.

My name is Aaron Maurice Saari, and I approved this letter.